On Wednesday, I received two emails within just a few minutes of each other. One emailer suggested removing masks during reading and preaching in church, the other wondering if we, like many other Episcopal churches here and across the nation, were going to suspend in-person services for a time. If the need to attend to COVID weren’t so serious, this would have been funny! Instead, it is very telling. We have people in our congregation with varying degrees of comfort with COVID in general, and Omicron in particular, and as a staff and vestry, we are doing our very best to make decisions that are good and lifegiving for our community.
After meeting with the staff and the vestry yesterday, there is clear consensus to suspend in-person worship (as well as staff office hours at the church) for what we hope will be a very short time, until the COVID case numbers come down. Kitsap County has gone from 80+ cases to 543 cases per 100,000 in four short weeks. Many parishioners have decided not to come to church in-person, or to attend any group gatherings until things change.
While this decision was clear for us, it was not easy. We have loved being able to worship together, share the sacrament, delight in each other’s company, see you when you pop into the office – and we will do all of that again, hopefully very soon! But for now, we will, as we always have, sacrifice what might be our own personal desires, for the greater good of the wider community and the world. We want to continue to be part of the solution to the pandemic, rather than providing yet another venue for this very contagious Omicron variant to do its worst. That said, the vestry is committed to reevaluating each week and getting back to in-person worship as soon as we safely can!
Beginning this Sunday, we will stream our Sunday worship, live at 10AM, and you’ll receive a link to the worship service on Sunday morning. We sincerely hope you’ll join us! We have been “in this together” since the pandemic arrived and will continue our journey together in the best ways we know how. Don’t hesitate to be in touch with me if you have questions or concerns. Thank you for your commitment to St Barnabas, for your prayers and for being the face of Christ, the face of Love in the world.
All God’s blessings on you and yours! Faithfully, Karen†