September 16, 2021
Dear St. Matthews UMC Family,
We are writing to update you about new guidelines that will begin this Sunday, September 19, in light of the worsening COVID situation in our community and updated guidance from the Kentucky Annual Conference. You can read the entire statement from the Conference HERE, but their message emphasizes the seriousness of the current situation:
Kentucky is seeing more desperately sick people from the Covid Delta variant than we have ever seen. There are nearly 4500-5500 cases daily. Deaths continue to rise and are exceeding 30-35 per day. The positivity rate statewide is over 14%. Hospitalizations are over 2,500 daily, intensive care units are at capacity with nearly 700 individuals and the cases are spreading among the most vulnerable – our children under 12 years of age who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated.
With a sense of urgency and deep concern, we are asking each of you personally, and as a faith community, to pay very close attention to the current real threat presented by the Covid Delta variant and the current public health crisis.
Therefore, our COVID Reentry Team and our Administrative Board unanimously approved the following changes to our guidelines:
Masks will be required indoors regardless of vaccination status. This includes all worship services, Sunday school classes, small groups, weekly meetings, and other functions that occur at the church.
We will resume socially distanced seating in all of our worship and small group areas.
While the weather is nice this Fall, our Sunday evening youth and tween ministries have made the decision to meet outdoors when in-person and to continue to provide online opportunities. They will not be sharing their normal “youth supper” and meetings will be shortened to just be from 5-6pm.
We will continue to monitor the COVID situation in our community and will evaluate this guidance in 30 days.
We want to continue to emphasize the variety of reasons that these guidelines are so important for our church and our community:
We are committed to protecting those who are vulnerable or immunocompromised.
We are committed to protecting children, especially those who are unable to get vaccinated.
We believe this isn’t just about our individual church, but is a public health concern. We are committed to playing our small part in addressing the overcrowding of ER’s, ICU’s, and COVID units. Just this week, National Guard members were deployed to Baptist Health here in our community to help a short-staffed and overwhelmed hospital.
We want to be sensitive to members of our church and community, who have been personally impacted by illness or loss due to COVID. There is also a significant emotional toll to this pandemic and we want to make our ministries as accessible as possible to everyone.
We believe these decisions are about living out our faith as Christians. In our “3 Simple Rules” series and small groups, we talked about the importance of living out John Wesley’s rules to “Do No Harm” and “Do Good” to all.
So, we ask that you please join us in observing these guidelines. We realize it has been a long, exhausting 18 months and that many of us never thought we would be back in a place where additional guidelines were necessary. Please pray for those impacted by COVID, pray for healthcare workers, and pray for our church as we seek to exemplify the love of Christ.
Pastor Adam, Pastor Renee, Pastor Maikel
And the St. Matthews UMC COVID Reentry Team