We are so proud of CUCC and how we handled ourselves through the pandemic. For two years, Covid was at the top of our agenda. With the guidance of the Path Forward Task Force, we implemented safety precautions like masking and sanitizing stations. We reduced large gatherings and our staff ramped up our online ministries to stay connected while physically distant from one another.
The pandemic has changed, and CUCC has adapted and changed along with it. When the numbers were high, we pulled back from our activities. When it felt safe to gather, we relaxed and had meals together. Thanks to science and medical research, we know a lot more about the deadly virus and have vaccines that offer protection. For those who are boosted, most Omicron cases appear to be mild, and we know from our survey data that our congregation has a high vaccination rate. Hallelujah!
It will take years for us to process how many ways this virus has changed our lives and our church. The death toll alone has been staggering and hard to wrap our minds around. Many of us know someone who either lost their job, got sick, or died. Our hearts swell with compassion for anyone who is living in the world immunocompromised, especially our elderly and our unvaccinated children under 5 years old who are most at risk.
We understand more so than ever that social isolation has emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical consequences. Human beings are wired for connection. For many months, our church building sat empty, but as we’ve started to emerge from our homes and venture back out into the world, we understand more fully the importance of community. We need each other!
The pandemic is not over but we believe it is time to take a different approach. Covid has morphed, and so too has our understanding of how to mitigate risks. With this metamorphosis comes a recognition that COVID-19 won’t disappear anytime soon, but we need to figure out how to reassemble and adapt to this “new normal.”
Wake County Schools have decided to make masks optional for students starting March 7. The Path Forward Task Force has decided to follow suit a few weeks later and make masks optional starting Sunday, March 27. We will also reimplement the children’s message and pass the collection plate. We will stop requiring pre-registration for worship and go back to collecting attendance data via the Caring Roll. On Sunday, April 3, we hope to serve communion by intinction. Once these changes are in place, the Path Forward Task Force will disband. If a new variant arises and we need to once again pull back from our activities or shut down, Council will make those decisions.
Currently, we have the information we need to make informed, individual decisions about our own personal health and safety. For those who have cautiously stayed home these last few months, we encourage you to come back to church when you feel ready. Our worship is not the same without you! We miss the casual conversations, handshakes, and hugs. As we make decisions about what’s truly important to us, physically gathering as a church should be seen as essential. After all, Jesus is the Word made flesh. We worship a God who became human. We celebrate an embodied faith, and the church is the Body of Christ.
Our Mardi Gras pancake dinner in our fellowship hall on March 1 means that we will start eating indoors again. When the weather allows, we will open doors to provide ventilation, or better yet — enjoy our beautiful courtyard. We understand that not everyone will feel comfortable removing their mask. If you want to keep your mask on during the worship service or other communal gatherings, we honor and respect your decision.
Unfortunately, we cannot eliminate all risks. We understand not just the physical risks of gathering, but the emotional and spiritual risks of not gathering. Together, we will move forward with awareness of both, and a deep love for this community.
Thank you for entrusting the Path Forward Task Force over these past two years. We look forward to what this new year will bring and hope to see you soon!