September 1, 2021
Dear Members and Friends,
Over the last several weeks we have all listened to news reports concerning the rapid rise in cases of COVID-19. Additionally, numerous people in our congregation and community are being affected directly. We have had some cases of COVID in and around our community and others have had to quarantine and be tested because they have been exposed to someone with the virus.
The number of COVID-19 cases in the Vidant Hospital System has reached 169, as of August 30. (That number is up from just 34 in mid-July.) The Delta variant of the virus is affecting younger people, such that about 52% of hospitalizations now are people under the age of 40. Additionally, the number of hospitalizations and positive cases has now reached a level equal to that of last year’s peak.
In light of this, our Elders and leaders met this week to discuss what, if any, changes we need to make in our regular schedule of activities. After a lengthy discussion it was decided to discontinue Wednesday Night Suppers until further notice. The reason for this is that eating meals together in the fellowship hall encourages all of us to spend more time in close proximity without a mask, and thereby increases the possibility that we may exchange the virus, albeit unwittingly. The Elders and leaders feel that the current rate of increase in cases in our community is just too great for us to take the risk.
The Elders and leaders also decided to continue with our Sunday worship services, as a service of Word and Table. However, worship will not include congregational singing, as our leaders are convinced that singing increases the amount of exhaled droplet and aerosol emissions, and thereby exacerbates the risk of passing along the virus. Additionally, we are strongly encouraging everyone to wear masks and practice social distancing in the sanctuary.
Please allow me to assure you that decisions about our church activities and life together are given serious consideration. Every effort is made to make decisions that enable us to schedule activities as normal and invite individuals to participate as they feel comfortable. Events are altered or cancelled only when we feel it is in the best interest of the whole community.
Finally, I highly encourage you to do everything possible to ensure your own good health and safety. There is ample information on the Vidant system web site for helping you to do so.
R. Morgan Daughety