11/11/2020 COVID-19 PNC Update

Dear Siblings in Christ:

Take a deep breath. Let it out slowly. Take another deep breath. Let that one out slowly, too.

It’s been a while since I’ve sent you two notes two days in a row, but recent news reports warrant it.  Most of you have likely seen articles like this in your local news source within the last 24 hours. This one is from The South Seattle Emerald:

“We should probably all stop socializing for the next several weeks.”

Even though this isn’t a surprise – we’ve been warned about the likelihood of this possibility for months – it’s still startling to read news that is this dire. We’re heading into what will be the worst and most dangerous days of the pandemic.

Take a deep breath. Let it out slowly. Take another deep breath. Let that one out slowly, too.

What we do next will determine how much better or worse this gets. We’ve all taken some calculated risks along the way for a wide variety of reasons, but these numbers make it clear that our level of risk has changed. What used to be low-risk behaviors and interactions are now moderate to high-risk behaviors and interactions purely because of the high infection rate.

Some of you have experimented with doing limited, in-person church in ways that fulfilled the state guidelines. Others of you have pulled together a small group of folks who led worship from your sanctuary and fulfilled the guidelines that way. Based on the numbers presented to us, I fully expect that new policies will be coming to us very soon that more closely resemble the pandemic’s earlier days. I’d strongly suggest that, if you haven’t done so already, you go ahead and plan on no in-person church gatherings through at least the end of January. I think it’s reasonable to expect that we’ll be in this challenging season until at least Spring.

I know this has been a year of changed events and altered traditions. I know it’s hard. However, I’d so much rather this be a year we missed having Christmas Eve services in person than this be the last Christmas Eve we had together. This surge is that serious.

One of this week’s scripture readings in Psalm 90, and it begins with these words:

“O God, you have been

   our dwelling-place

in all generations.”

God invites us to dwell in God’s self. That’s where we start. Whether we worship in a church building or in our homes, we dwell together in God. The pandemic may test that, but it doesn’t change it.

Take a deep breath. Let it out slowly. Take another deep breath. Let that one out slowly, too.

When COVID first came into our lives last spring, there were too many unknowns to count. We were learning everything new. We know what to do now. 

  • Stay home. 
  • Wear a mask if you have to go out. Eye coverings seem to help, too. 
  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, five times a day.
  • Limit in-person contact to as few people as possible.
  • If you feel sick, get tested.
  • Call at least one friend, family member, or acquaintance every day to ask how they’re doing and check in about how you’re doing, too.
  • If you need help, ask for help.
  • Limit the number of times you check the news.
  • Sleep well, and eat well. 
  • Take time to pray every day.

We know what to do now.

And, don’t forget, it looks as though at least one vaccine is on the way. With greater and greater certainty, we can say that we’re not going to be in this strange state forever. There will come a day when we will get to sing together again. There will come a day when we’ll be able to sit across from each other and share a meal again. There will come a day when we’ll be able to decorate the sanctuary together again. These days might seem long ago and far away right now, but they’ll come again.

With hope,



Rev. Mike Denton Conference Minister of The ​Pacific Northwest Conference of The United Church of Christ

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