January 11, 2022

Dear Members of Grace Lutheran Church,

 

Last week, you received a letter from the church explaining new, slightly more stringent, protocols for in-person worship in an effort to keep our attendees as safe as possible during the continuing increase in COVID cases due to the omicron variant.  As you know, the omicron variant, while somewhat less virulent than previous iterations of the virus, is highly transmissible.  Monday’s count of infections for Benton County was about 600 new cases—a continuation of the rise we have seen for the past couple of weeks.
Yesterday, we received a letter from Bishop Laurie and the Synod offices advising us that they recommend closing down in-person worship for at least 2 to 4 weeks.  The Congregational Council met last night and discussed the situation.  The Council’s final decision was to close in-person worship for at least the next 5 Sundays while still continuing to keep track of the infection and hospitalization rates in Benton County in particular and the State of Oregon in general.

Some estimates by the medical community put the peak of the omicron surge around January 27, but following the surge, there will be a few weeks before people have finished quarantine or are released from the hospital.  That is why we decided to extend the closure of services slightly beyond the recommendation of the Synod.

This coming Sunday (January 16), we will re-institute the online worship services followed by Zoom Communion.  If this feels like a “blast from the past”, you are right; it is exactly what we did in 2020 and early 2021.  We believe that this is the best way to keep our congregation as safe as possible while still connecting with the Word of God and one another. We are very thankful for Pastor Dorthy, our Music & Worship team and the Altar Guild who have all worked hard and pivoted from “normal” practices many times to bring us services in this unusual and trying time. 

We look forward to returning to in-person services when it is deemed safe to do so.  In the meantime, we invite you to continue enjoying our online services and to join the Zoom communion following the services. The link to the worship service and to the Zoom Holy Communion will be in Friday’s “This Week at Grace” and on the church website.

Sincerely,
The Grace Lutheran Church Congregational Council
The Re-opening Committee
The Music & Worship Committee and the Altar Guild