As vaccines begin to roll out and we mark the longest nights of the year, many of us are celebrating our first hints of future light and hope at the end of what has been a long and lonely ten months. Your re-opening committee has been meeting regularly to discuss not how to open our church – our church community has always been open – but when we might be able to see one another in person and how we can best do that safely.
These discussions are guided by the science and by our values, grounded in the second and seventh principals. We have considered how our choices might uphold our ideals of justice, compassion, and equity, and the ways in which the airborne nature of SARS-CoV-2 has highlighted just how interconnected we all are. In tandem with our church’s current process of discernment around the 8th principle, we have also done our best to be mindful of how our choices might have the potential to uphold or dismantle the systems of racism and white supremacy which have led to unacceptably high rates of COVID-19 illness and death in communities of color in San Diego and across the country. These discussions have led us to a few guiding principles, influencing our recommendations for when and how to reopen safely:
First, and perhaps least surprising, we will continue to follow State and County guidelines regarding when we are allowed to gather in person.
Second, we will continue to stay abreast of the most recent peer-reviewed evidence and shape our approach accordingly. For example, being mindful that aerosols and not surfaces are responsible for the vast majority of virus spread and so prioritizing ventilation and masking and minimizing any situations which increase the likelihood our church members will need to “share their air.”
Third, we will work to consider how our actions may impact not just ourselves, but our larger San Diego community. It is reasonable to consider our own health and our own household when deciding our comfort level for engaging in different types of activities. However, acknowledging that we are all part of a larger interconnected web and that we are called to see and address racial injustice means that we have a responsibility to avoid spreading a virus that is disproportionately harming Black, Brown, and other marginalized communities.
Based on these three guiding principles we are currently focusing our discussions on how we can continue to sustain and build community remotely while living our values through social justice efforts such as our food pantry and other community partnerships.
The days are getting longer. Bodies are getting vaccinated. Light is coming and the dark and distance will not last forever. We will not get to hug one another tomorrow, but the day will come soon and those hugs will feel so good. We can’t wait to welcome all of you with open arms – but not quite yet.
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