Dear friends in Christ,
As you have likely already heard, Governor Pritzker has reinstated a mask mandate for the entire state, effective yesterday, August 30, 2021. Under this mandate, all people regardless of vaccination status are required to wear masks in all indoor, public spaces.
You may also remember that earlier this month, in response to a dramatic increase in local COVID-19 cases, the Executive Committee took up the question of whether to require masks once again. At that time, we decided not to reinstate a mask mandate at church. Instead, we opted to allow our community to make responsible decisions on this matter for themselves.
However, since the beginning of the pandemic, it has been our position to ultimately follow the guidance of relevant public health officials and experts, chiefly the Illinois Department of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control. And at this time, that guidance says that we must return to requiring masks. We now ask that you wear a mask for all indoor activities at church, including worship services and small groups.
Your church leadership and I know that this may be very frustrating to hear: Many of you have worked hard and made sacrifices to help combat COVID-19. You have stayed away from loved ones, limited your activities, worn masks, and gotten vaccinated. At church, you have endured changes to worship, coffee hour, and virtually every other activity. If you are like me, perhaps you are angry that we must continue to make these sacrifices, or perhaps you are discouraged that despite our efforts, the pandemic continues to rage. It’s ok: These feelings have been earned through a long, difficult ordeal. They are valid. I am sorry that we are back to a place where we had hoped not to return.
But the way of Jesus calls us to live in community with one another and obey the commandment to love our neighbors with Christlike, sacrificial love. As our hospital beds fill up and as our fellow children of God continue to suffer and die around the world, it is necessary and right that we take every possible measure to end this pandemic. As a fully vaccinated person, I will continue to wear a mask in all public indoor settings, including church. This is a matter of faith for me: I believe that God calls me to respond to the needs of my neighbors at all times, but especially in times of crisis.
Even as we return to wearing masks, we do so in the trust that our God works even and especially in the most desperate of circumstances to bring about new life. I pray that together, we might persevere just a little longer until the day we can joyfully and safely see each other face-to-unmasked-face again.
Yours in Christ,