+A message from Bishop Jon Anderson with considerable help from your Synod Ministers
I don’t want to deal with this. I am sure your congregation, your family, and each of you have had it by now with all the losses and frustrations caused by COVID-19. Let’s join in lament about all who have been, will be impacted by this virus.
What then will we do as another variant arrives and threatens our normal, our well-being and people’s lives? As tired as we are, we need to begin to think about our tactics and listen to our local medical leaders as they coach us. I also follow national medical leaders and trust you and your congregation will as well.
Each person, household, congregation, community, and our state will have to make decisions about how we will live through another wave of dilemmas and problems created by this virus. These are some things I have and will be doing.
-The people who are not vaccinated are at the greatest risk of serious illness and death. I am thankful that I was able to be vaccinated last March.
-This week we have been reminded that vaccinated people can carry the illness. Therefore, people are starting to wear masks again. I am wearing one because our county has substantial risk.
- The insidious part of this virus is that you don’t know you are infectious for a few days before you know you are sick.
- While vaccination protects almost everyone from serious illness and death, you may still develop a COVID-19 infection. You can pass on the illness during your infection which most of the time will not have serious symptoms nor require hospitalization.
- That is why you will see me in a mask if inside in groups.
-We don’t understand a lot about this virus. This wave may be better than we fear or worse than we imagined. It is a like a storm. Predictions sometimes work and sometimes don’t.
- We don’t know if the current levels of vaccinations in our town or county will be enough to slow down the virus.
- We know numbers are moving up in Minnesota as a whole.
-We continue to watch the infection rates in many places in our country take off in the exponential growth we have seen in the past. The vaccination rates in these contexts of a high surge are low. Again, vaccination is the best way to protect yourself.
While we don’t want to have to think about COVID and act in response, we know a lot more now about how to protect ourselves and others.
There are things we can do. We can continue and return to the basic healthy activities we got good at before:
- stay home when sick with COVID like symptoms,
- maintain distancing, etc.
- get vaccinated and encourage everyone who can to get the vaccine.
- wear a mask as a way of protecting others and yourself when in groups inside.
- accept that not everyone will be in the same place you are.
- advocate for those who can’t be vaccinated – the young, especially. Be sensitive to those who can’t be vaccinated, and families with children and youth, as you and your congregation shape your local practices.
- remember there are immune suppressed people around you whose vaccination’s strength may not be what most people have developed to protect them.
We can do this and do it well. Last year we learned to adjust to the changes, week by week, even from Friday to Sunday. We know how to do this. Be calm and engage as you need to in your contexts.
I am thankful for each of you who serve as baptized leaders and rostered ministers. May God bless you as you proclaim the Gospel, bear witness to our loving God who calls us to love our neighbors and navigate the challenging emotional and political dynamics of this time.