Small Group Gatherings and the Coronavirus 9.2.21

One of the questions that folks have been asking as they’ve been processing the congregation’s decision to postpone re-opening Sunday morning worship through September (read the announcement), is how do these changes in guidelines affect small groups, and particularly groups meeting in peoples’ homes? I know in the spring and summer it felt like such a joy for vaccinated folks to start to gather, unmasked in each others’ homes. I loved so much being able to be in some of your homes, on your patios, offering and receiving hugs for the first time in over two years.

Unfortunately what we’ve seen (thankfully in neighboring congregations and not our own) with the delta variant’s effect on contagion, has been some gatherings of vaccinated folks who were unmasked all contracting covid, and spreading it further. While being vaccinated might mean that the effect of an infection on an individual may be lessened, they may now be carrying a more contagious form of the virus to people in their lives who remain either unvaccinated or more vulnerable.

We have several members and friends at Westside who have experienced breakthrough infections and are wrestling with their own feelings about having exposed family members or loved ones to COVID. We also have many parents of unvaccinated children who just this week are resuming (or beginning in the case of my son Rowan) attending school in person, and the fear for our children is real.

As we’ve seen throughout the pandemic, there’s more information coming all the time (boosters, child vaccination, etc. will likely all have an effect), and our response and guidance will continue to evolve as we integrate that information. Our recommendation is to be mindful that breakthrough cases amongst vaccinated folks are real and that helping to slow the spread of the delta variant is critical for the health of our community’s most vulnerable, and so to practice an outdoor, masked and distanced hospitality as much as is possible. Also, keep track of people you spend time with, so that they can be notified if anyone does find themselves infected.

Friends, with time this too shall pass, and through it we will continue to seek ways of gathering and connecting, knowing how important it is to be consistently renewing our bonds, knitting together the fabric of our community.

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