After much discussion and research, the Gathering Anew Task Force finds we’re in a wait-and-see mode concerning our advancement through our Reopening Phases. Our reasons for this position are the following:
- Reported Covid case numbers in Clarke County are showing an upward trend that may be exacerbated by the return of UGA students next month.
- We need further advice from our Medical Advisory Panel.
- The wide-spread vaccination of our members may suggest an upward adjustment of numbers of attendees in a given phase (further deliberation is needed).
- We want to have Rev. Lisa’s input when she returns in August.
For now, we must recommend continuing to follow the Phase III guidelines as we monitor the infection rate in the greater community and gather medical guidance.
We hear the strong need of many in our congregation to gather in person on Sundays in the Fellowship Sanctuary. Many may feel you’ve done all the right things – worked, taught, served this community in any number of capacities through this difficult time, self-isolated, and/or gotten vaccinated (if possible) for the sake of developing a herd immunity. When the rest of the world is opening up, wanting to be back in person with one another is natural, and our not being back together yet may not make sense.
We had fully expected that the case numbers would be decreasing so that we could be back together as we met the targets defined and revisited by the Medical Advisory Panel for reopening. We had even hoped we would be fully back together for our annual Water Ceremony.
Given the significance of this past year’s events, Rev. Lisa asked that we wait to have services with small groups of people in person until after her return from her study leave so that she could support the congregation pastorally. We envisioned this as a significant moment from which there would be continual improvement. However, as variants are strengthening and the number of cases are increasing, the path to a new normal may not be as direct. Though we anticipated case numbers could fluctuate, we did not expect it this soon.
Going forward, we will continue in a hybrid format. We encourage groups to meet on site.
Shaye, our Congregational Administrator, works hard to accommodate meeting organizers. Lay Minister Dan Everett has volunteered to help anyone get the technology set up for a combined Zoom and in-person meeting at the Fellowship. Thank you for bearing with this process.