from Pastor Eddie
We have just marked the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown in the United States; what a year it has been. A current review of the pandemic’s effects includes over 530,0000 lives lost in our nation, millions still unemployed, and an economic impact not seen since the Great Depression. All these factors contribute to a current “hot topic” in pandemic discussions; the emotional and psychological toll on survivors and those charged with the responsibility of leading us out of the pandemic to some form of “new normal” over the next 12 months.
But I write now at a time of much GOOD NEWS! Vaccines are being done at a rate approximating 3 million doses a day using three main brands who are also working to increase supply, and a few more vaccines remain in the drug approval pipeline. We are grateful for what is being done and encourage everyone to be vaccinated as soon as possible with whatever brand is available to you. We rejoice at reports that more and more members have received vaccinations, including most of our Elders and our church staff; this is such a blessing.
MORE GOOD NEWS: the increased vaccinations, lower infection and hospitalization rates, and other factors have contributed to significant changes in our nation and state regarding the reopening of normal activities. While Montgomery County and the state of Maryland are not in complete sync, the result of current regulation is that Pathways has significantly more freedom of operations than just a few weeks ago. We will be working through a “phased” reopening over the next several months as safety guidance and best practices emerge.
Most urgently, since it is just a few weeks away, we are pleased that we will be able to hold Easter services open “live” to our church family and the public while continuing to keep public safety a high priority. We have a large sanctuary, so following the 50% capacity guideline means we can welcome folks without using an advance reservation system. We will continue to work within CDC recommendations, so masks are still required in our facility, and we will continue providing hand sanitizer and employ social distancing and other health measures. We are happy to report that our Latino and Brazilian partner congregations are returning to regular weekly services as well.
Longer term, there is still much to be learned gradually. We do not anticipate re-starting on site Sunday School (the smaller rooms are problematic) nor the choir and orchestral ministries (because masking is impossible) until it is demonstrated that such activities can be done safely. Ministries with Students and Children are similarly impacted, though we will learn much as schools re-open and interaction levels increase. We expect some spring and summer outdoor meetings and activities for these younger folks will be among the first options for them, along with attending worship together as a family being an option.
Our Pathways Staff, Deacons, and Elders remain ready to serve. It may be with a spiritual or emotional need, or with food assistance, or a ride to a vaccination appointment. Please call upon us and we will do the best we can for you—that is part of what church family is all about!
May God bless us all as we move into the future that He has for us!