The times, and pandemic rules, are “a-changin'”

Greetings St. John’s,

As Bob Dylan sang, “The times they are a changin’.”

Last Thursday’s CDC guidelines state that fully vaccinated Americans no longer have to wear masks or social distance in most situations, including indoors. And just a few weeks ago, their updated guidelines said that vaccinated Americans didn’t need to cover their faces outdoors. Thursday, Governor DeWine announced the removal of all health orders to take effect on June 2. On Friday, he announced amended orders to reflect CDC guidelines, (including that unvaccinated people should still mask-up indoors until June 2) and his orders will remain in place until then, in part so more people can become vaccinated.

The Board of Trustees approved a plan last fall for the steps St. John’s will take to determine how we will emerge from this pandemic. We have already approved small group gatherings. With this new information, we will be able to proceed down that path at a considered pace.

What to do? There are many of us who will rejoice at the lack of restrictions, saying, “It’s about time!” Others of us, including folks who are vaccinated, are still fearful. For them, it will take time and reassurance.

As we are a community, we must consider the whole community. We have children who are not yet vaccinated. There are probably others who for various reasons have not received their vaccinations. Our first principle refers to “the inherent worth of all persons.” This tells me that the feelings and sensitivities of everyone must be considered.

I attended Thursday Theology program when the discussion was about James Luther Adams, a 20th century UU minister and theologian. He said, “All relations between persons ought ideally to rest on mutual, free consent and not on coercion.”

What this means is that each small group gathering may decide on their own rules. If everyone WITHIN that group is vaccinated and comfortable with the state of ‘maskedness’ and social distance, so be it. If someone attending that group is uncomfortable without the wearing of masks, I encourage them to speak up, ask for others to wear a mask, and that the others will comply graciously. The same goes for social distance, hugs, what not. If members of the group interact with staff or others at church, they are asked to honor the mask preference of those persons.

What I hope will never happen is for someone who is not WITHIN that small group to pass judgment on that particular small group. That to me is edging into the arena of coercion. Our relationships should rest on mutual, free consent ala JLA.

AND stay tuned for more information regarding opening the church to larger group, after full contemplation and discussion by the board, we shall follow our approved plan.

Be well, everyone.

Edie Holder, Board President