The Pilgrim community has done a phenomenal job of preventing the spread of illness in worship and church activities, thanks to the sensitive and careful practices outlined by Pilgrim's SMART Team and enacted by the whole community. And we have important news to share:
Beginning October 1, 2022, wearing masks at Pilgrim Lutheran Church will be optional.
Some of you wish this could have happened sooner; others of you might not be ready for this change. Information can help us all understand and feel more comfortable. Below is some relevant information in the form of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's).
Why did we wait so long to make masking optional?
We waited for the youngest and most vulnerable among us, children under 5 who were not able to receive the vaccine until recently. Pilgrim values children and their families, and this choice lived out this value. While many of us had moved on, families with young children still had to face COVID without protection of the vaccine. Sick days were used up not only by illness, but by staying home after exposure, meaning no child care while they still needed to work. The pandemic has been particularly hard on them, and the care Pilgrim showed them in this way made a difference.
Why October 1?
If a child under 5 got a vaccine on the first day that it was available, June 22, they will be fully vaccinated on September 21. The Pfizer vaccine (which is what has been primarily available) for those under 3 is a series of 3 shots (with a longer wait between 2nd and 3rd shots), and then it takes 2 weeks after that 3rd shot for full immunity to build. Many Pilgrim parents awaiting the vaccine acted quickly, so October 1 gives a little wiggle room and is a clear date that is easy to remember.
What if I prefer to wear a mask?
Those who choose to mask will be FULLY SUPPORTED. We will leave the masks that we have on hand available for people to take and use as they wish.
What if I feel sick?
If you are sick, please remain at home. We will continue to live stream worship on Facebook Live each Sunday.
What if I am exposed?
If you have been exposed, please wear a mask.
What about Sunday School and the Nursery?
Sunday School and Youth will follow the same calendar as the whole congregation. They will mask until October 1. Then beginning October 1, they can choose whether they mask or not. We encourage parents to coach their children to follow the practices they desire as a family.
We have no plans to reopen the nursery. There was very little use of the nursery before the pandemic. It has been closed for the 2 1/2 years of the pandemic. Those who were born during the pandemic have always attended worship instead of being in the nursery. Pilgrim's focus has been to encourage even the youngest children to be present in worship. There are places on the sanctuary level for parents to be with small children if they are not comfortable sitting with them in the main area. Families have been enjoying a new way of being together on Sunday morning.
What about Communion?
We will vary how we serve communion, the first Sunday with individual cups and pieces of bread; the third Sunday with wafers that communicants dip in red wine or white grape juice. There will be the option of individual prepackaged communion kits for those who prefer them when we have communion.
What about Coffee Hour?
We will have Coffee Hour in place of a Forum on the first Sunday of each month following worship in the Fireside Room beginning October 2. Those who prepare and serve food will wash their hands. Coffee and water will be self-serve from pots. Simple snacks will be placed on a table buffet style. We will have prepacked snacks for those who prefer them.
What if COVID conditions change?
As COVID conditions change, as in the past, we will adapt to ensure safety as needed, ensuring we are following CDC guidelines and local jurisdiction.
Those who wish to offer any feedback can email the chair Pilgrim’s COVID SMART Team, Stephen Bell-Kemp.
Thank you, Pilgrim Community, for your flexibility, understanding, and community-orientedness through all the transitions of the past 2 1/2 years! We will continue to care for each other and our community as dearly loved children of God.