30 March 2022
Dear Friends of Salisbury UCC,
Three weeks ago our church’s “Phasing Forward Task Team” met to review the recent data on COVID-19 infection rates and community risk assessments. We noted, gratefully, that federal and state agencies are reporting a steady decline in risk level for northwestern Connecticut. We likewise noted that schools and churches in our area are gradually shifting away from universal mask mandates.
As we discussed whether our church could safely make a similar change, the group shared a primary concern: we have a calling to keep our Meeting House as safe a place as possible, especially for worshipers who are immunocompromised or are otherwise at risk. Close on the heels of that first concern was our observation that wearing masks has obstructed our ability to connect with one another, and has been a damper on the experience of worship. We decided to ask those who have been attending worship in person whether they would still participate, if mask-wearing were optional. On March 13th and March 20th we asked a question:
If we make masks optional, but maintain distancing (and open windows when the weather permits), would you continue to come to in-person services?
Fifty worshipers answered “Yes,” and two answered “Unsure.” No one indicated that they would stop attending.
Given the responses of our congregants, and given the decreased risk level in this area, we now change our policy from “masks required” to “masks optional” for all church functions. We will continue to use alternate-pew seating for our worship services, as the added space and freer airflow are beneficial. We will continue to have masks available for those who choose to wear them.
Participants in our church life have responded with grace and care to the restrictions stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic: thank you. We pray heartily that the cautious easing of those restrictions will lead to ever more openness.
Yours in Christ,
The Phasing Forward Task Team:
Betsy Beck, Barbara Collins, Peg Heck, Samuel Lord Kalcheim, Janet Kaufman, Kathy Mera, Sue Morrill, Pastor John Nelson, Sharon Tingley