Dearest St. Peter’s Community,
I write to you all in the midst of some challenging circumstances. As many of you have undoubtedly seen and heard, our community, state, and nation are experiencing a dramatic increase in COVID cases, in large part to the two latest variants. We are hearing reports of many breakthrough cases amongst the vaccinated (even if mild) and hospitalizations are way up, mostly amongst those not vaccinated.
While we all have longed to be out of the worst of this pandemic, this surge has prompted us to re-evaluate our plans for Christmas and worship. We will still be holding our gatherings in-person, as scheduled, but with some modifications. After guidance from the Diocese of Maryland and in consulting with our wardens, we are taking the following steps for our upcoming Christmas Eve and additional services:
Well-fitting masks must be worn indoors and remain in place for all who are age two and older, even while speaking or singing.
All post-worship fellowship/coffee hours are suspended at least through January 2, 2021.
We will be shortening some portions of our liturgies to reduce the risk of spread.
While people are still permitted to attend in person, we will still be live-streaming all worship. If you have any COVID-related symptoms or suspect you’ve had contact with someone who has COVID, please do stay home and worship with us there.
Of particular concern to us is safety for our children this coming Christmas Eve. While we will still be holding our scheduled child-friendly mass at 4:30pm on Christmas Eve, it will be a shorter service, and we will be asking that families stay seated together during this time. We normally invite children forward for a sermon, but we will be doing something different this year from our seats. If you and your family choose to stay home this year, we totally understand and hope for a wonderful and healthy Christmastide, especially if you choose to travel or gather with extended family.
Finally, as your priest and sibling in Christ, I urge you to do all you can to care for yourself and others in the coming days. The tools we have available to us are masking, distancing, testing, and vaccines. I strongly urge you to get vaccinated and boosted, if you’ve not already done so. Testing is becoming more difficult to schedule or obtain, so please be proactive if you have symptoms or exposure. And while I know we are all very weary, let us recommit ourselves to safe health practices out there and in our congregation regarding masking, distancing, and hand-washing.
And join me in prayer for those most impacted by this pandemic, especially those overtaxed workers in healthcare settings and other officials working to help us make it through this wave.
As always, should you have any other questions or concerns, please reach out to me directly.
Your co-laborer in Christ,