MARCH REOPENING UPDATE
Finally, after one long year, the church council has approved the recommendation of the reopening committee to start to move the reopening meter. This process may not be a fast as we would like, but at least we know that the light at the end of the tunnel is real and not just a reflection. We also know through our web conferences with the MDH (Minnesota Department of Health) and our local county officials, that the number of positive cases is slowly going down, but we are still at a point where they are recommending no change in the reopening recommendations or very slow changes based on our “risk profile” and the local infection and vaccine rates. Unfortunately, Isanti county ranks near the bottom of the counties in the state with the percent of the population vaccinated. We appreciate those of you who have traveled some distance to get vaccinated and the frustration of others in being unable to get an appointment, but please go to the MDH website and click on the vaccine link for local information or call our local Public Health Department at 689-4071. We know that the local officials are working hard to get more clinics available.
Getting our congregation vaccinated is an important part of being able to move our reopening plans faster. There are two ways to contain the virus. One is to reduce the number of hosts that the virus can infect and the other is to prevent the spread. The number of susceptible hosts is reduced through getting the infection or through the vaccine and reducing spread is through getting the vaccine and/or the mitigation measures (masking, social distancing, good hand hygiene, and avoiding crowds). These measures also reduce the likelihood of variants surfacing, which is one of the new concerns.
Because this whole process is changing almost daily, our reopening committee is meeting as often as there is a significant change that affects our congregation. Proposed changes in the reopening will be communicated through “ministry moments” during our virtual worship services or through the “reopening update”.
The movement of our meter to the second phase will have two effects. First, it will allow small outside groups to use our church building. These will be small gatherings with clear expectations regarding mask usage, cleaning, and limitations to the use of only the fellowship hall. Second, we are planning to schedule times for family units to have time alone in the sanctuary for prayer and reflection. We are planning the first of these times during Holy Week, so keep an eye out for communication regarding how to sign up.
As we move forward we anticipate changes to continue to happen in phases. At this time that may look like the church being open for small groups, then the sanctuary open for households to watch a live-streamed service, then worship services that are a mix of streamed and live, and at some point full worship services in the sanctuary on Sunday mornings. We don’t have a timeline for when each of these changes will take place, so we appreciate all of your patience as we continue to closely monitor the ever-shifting situation.
As always, please contact any members of our committee with your comments and concerns. STAY SAFE…MASK, GOOD HAND HYGIENE, SOCIAL DISTANCING, AND PLEASE GET VACCINATED.
Lowell Becker Frank Wells
Penny Messer Eric Ryberg
Pastors Amelia and Andrew Erika Knight