Greetings Trinity Church Family,
I hope this letter finds you and your family healthy and well. Over the past couple of months, many of us have received the coronavirus vaccine and now fall into the category of “fully-vaccinated individuals.” The numbers tracked by the State of Indiana (positivity, positive cases, cases per 100,000, deaths, hospitalizations, etc.) for Floyd and Clark Counties are trending in the right direction and have remained low for the past month or so. We are labeled as “blue,” which is the lowest category and implies the virus is under control in our area. All of this is good news.
Last Thursday, May 13, most everyone is aware that the CDC made a public statement and issued new guidelines regarding mask-wearing and social distancing. Here is the link if you wish to read it in its entirety, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated-guidance.html. Basically, what the CDC stated is that fully-vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear a mask for indoor or outdoor gatherings. A fully-vaccinated individual is defined as anyone who is two weeks past their only or final required dose. Also, fully-vaccinated individuals no longer need to abide by social distancing guidelines. Lastly, fully-vaccinated individuals no longer need to quarantine or be tested when they are knowingly exposed to someone with the virus. In summary, and this is my interpretation, the CDC’s new recommendations imply that the vaccine makes you statistically immune to contracting and spreading the virus. Those individuals who are not fully-vaccinated should continue to wear their masks and practice social distancing.
What does this mean for Trinity Church? As we have navigated this pandemic, church leadership has attempted to put in place mitigation practices that limit the spread of the virus so everyone can worship safely at Trinity. Like many other organizations, we have considered the CDC as the expert organization when it comes to drafting our policies and have referred to their recommendations as guiding principles. Therefore, we will accept their recommendations once again. Beginning Sunday, May 23rd, masks will be optional for fully-vaccinated individuals during worship, meetings, programs and other activities. This applies to staff, worship leaders, singers, etc. Individuals who are not fully-vaccinated are strongly encouraged to continue wearing a mask. We will not be checking vaccination status as we are afforded healthcare privacy. Essentially, it is an honor system.
Additionally, we will remove the “ropes” restricting seating in certain pews which has encouraged social distancing. Some of you will be ecstatic as “your regular pew” is now open once again (That’s a joke, laugh or at least giggle). Seriously, all pews will be open for seating. Joyfully, we will also resume congregational singing. However, for the time being, we will not encourage hand-shaking, hugging or greeting with physical touch. We will continue to serve Holy Communion utilizing the pre- packaged elements, distribute bulletins via self-serve basket, and receive the offering at the door as you exit or enter. Also, Choir will resume in the fall.
For those individuals who are not comfortable with those changes or who are not yet comfortable gathering in groups, Murr Hall will continue to serve as the venue for our no-contact, mask-required, live-streamed worship service.
Trinity Church is a grace-filled place that unconditionally welcomes everyone. Please continue to offer each other, and visitors, hospitality and grace as we venture into this new season. For many of us, we need time to adjust our thinking to embrace all of these changes. Please respect the space and decisions of your fellow church-goers that choose not yet to return, choose to continue to wear a mask, and choose to continue to limit social interaction. As we have discovered, we do not all think alike nor are we all in the “same place” emotionally, psychologically, spiritually or physically as we deal with this pandemic. Praise God that we are all unique… I’m not sure the world could handle another Chris Neikirk. Can I get an AMEN? (Yet another attempt at humor, laugh or giggle once again.) Seriously, if you are one who falls into the category of “have yet to return,” please know that you are missed, we are incomplete without you, and we look forward to the day when you choose to join us again in worship.
Small groups, classes and meetings will abide by the same guidelines. However, out of respect for all participants, a group may choose to wear masks because many participants have yet to be vaccinated or other health concerns are present. Again, offer each other grace. I routinely share 1 Peter 4:8 with couples as they approach marriage. However, this passage, along with the verses that follow it, was originally written as encouragement for the local church. I think it aptly applies for our congregation as well: 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Once again, I acknowledge that we have done an imperfect job navigating this pandemic. Thank you for your patience, understanding and support. Please let me know if you have questions, concerns or comments. One of my joys in serving as your pastor is building relationships and human interaction. I welcome an invitation to chat in my office, grab a cup of coffee, or enjoy a bite to eat over lunch… I’m just a text, email or phone call away. Just let me know how I can be a better pastor to you during these challenging circumstances.
Rev. Chris Neikirk Senior Pastor
Trinity Youth will be doing online Sunday morning Sunday school all of December. And we will continue to do Sunday night online activities at 7:00 PM.
Want to join us?
Sundays 10:15 to 11:00, Kindergarten to 5th grade
Thank you to Yanitza Schmit for serving as our online Sunday School teacher through the last six weeks of this year. Please plan to join her as we continue to learn wonderful lessons with the Trackers of Truth!
Want to join us?