Friends, members, beloveds,
I am beyond gutted to have to share this message with you. Know that I wish so badly that these times were other than they are, as I know you do. And yet, we find ourselves again invited to make a choice to preserve community health as best we are able, to trust in our resilience, our love and connection.
On behalf of the staff and congregational leaders, I am writing to let you know that we have decided that, due to a rapidly accelerating spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 throughout the world and increasingly in our immediate community, we are choosing to pivot again from our scheduled programming.
Though new guidance has not yet come from King County, we are following the patterns of caution being shared by other covenanted congregations, as well as the University of Washington which has moved everything online through at least January 9th, and the Seattle Public Schools, who are already raising with parents the possibility that children may not be returning in person in the new year.
We will continue our plans for caroling at 6pm tomorrow evening in the Westside parking lot with cider and hot chocolate and cookies (thank you to the members and families who came to the baking extravaganza yesterday!). We have the songbooks printed already, and will require that folks be masked whenever they’re singing, just taking masks off when actively consuming drinks or cookies.
Unfortunately, the Christmas Eve service will no longer be in-person, and will instead be offered online, using music from last year’s service and some new elements which I’ll record tomorrow morning. The service will be available at 3:30pm tomorrow on our YouTube Channel for folks to watch at their convenience, and I’ll host a shared viewing of it on Zoom from 4:30-5:30pm (https://zoom.us/my/wsuuminister) for those who would like to watch together (leaving enough time after the service ends to then get to the 6pm caroling).
The morning service on December 26th will likewise be online only and we’re sending notifications to anyone who registered to make sure that they’re aware of this. Decisions on any further dates are being held as we monitor the situation, but we are grateful to see emergent news from South Africa today that our renewal of previous precautions may only be necessary for a short-time and that we may be able to come back to our path of recovery in the not-too-distant future.
I know that this message will be very hard to receive for many folks, especially as we only just started meeting again in person and feeling those connections and spirit being renewed. I share your disappointment, and at the same time know that the whole congregation would be devastated were our event to become a source of COVID-19 spread in the community, jeopardizing the health of our members and friends.
If you have any questions or concerns you’d like to share, please don’t hesitate to contact myself or the Board of Trustees. I hope we’ll see you tomorrow as we make a joyful noise and celebrate the blessings of the season (oh, and dress warm and maybe bring an umbrella).
Blessings of peace and love to you and yours in this season,