Of Masks and Vaccines

Of Masks and Vaccines

May 14, 2021 by Gregg DeMey

As of Thursday afternoon, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) significantly modified the guidance for those who have received a Covid-19 vaccine. While this guidance has some immediate...

As of Thursday afternoon, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) significantly modified the guidance for those who have received a Covid-19 vaccine. While this guidance has some immediate and happy implications for this Sunday’s worship service, it’s important to recognize that more than 50% of our worship attendees have not yet been vaccinated. The social distancing and masking protocols for children and those without the vaccine remain unchanged. Here’s a shortlist of three things that will shift on Sunday and three things that will remain the same:

Change:

  • Those who have been vaccinated will no longer be required to wear a mask in the building at Elmhurst CRC. Enter. Talk. Sing. Go in peace. All without a mask.
  • I‘m encouraging those who have been vaccinated to remember that more than half of their adult brothers and sisters in Christ have not yet been vaccinated. While the newfound freedom of maskless worship will be enjoyed by many, it is not yet be enjoyed by all. Let’s be grateful without flaunting freedom or shaming others.
  • If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, consider the change in CDC guidance as extra motivation to obtain a vaccine. They are currently plentiful and in good supply. There remain many reasons (some being private and personal) to forego the vaccine.

No Change:

  • We will still have a signup and registration process for worship services on May 16 and May 23. After six months of operating this way, it would be a little chaotic to pivot away from this and would dishonor the majority of attendees who are not yet vaccinated.
  • We will NOT be creating separate vaccinated and unvaccinated sections in the Worship Center. While our circumstances are different, we strongly prefer not to embody those differences through a segregated seating arrangement. At the risk of redundancy, the social distancing and masking protocols for children and those without the vaccine remain in place.
  • The decision to worship outdoors for the summer months is a good one and remains the best way for ECRC to welcome and include a maximum number of worshippers regardless of vaccination status.* My best estimate is that outdoor worship attendance will nearly double our current indoor attendance even as things continue to reopen. Additionally, the CDC guidance for everybody outdoors (regardless of vaccination status) is the same. Masks are not required because the rate of COVID-19 transmission outdoors is effectively zero.

We need God’s grace to remain focused on what unites us — love for God and neighbors and a desire to follow the lead of our Good Shepherd, Jesus — rather than to indulge in what divides us. Given that the vaccination status of ECRC members is roughly 50/50 at this point, the temptation toward bitterness and resentment toward “the other” is real.

I’d like to offer a paraphrase of Colossians 3:11 in the spirit of unity:

Here at Elmhurst CRC, there is no Gentile or Jew, vaccinated or unvaccinated, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

I can’t wait to worship this Sunday!

Pastor Gregg

*We will also show a live version of the outdoor worship experience indoors in the garden room and on screens around the building for those who may have a barrier to remaining outdoors.

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