By now you’ve almost certainly heard about the announcement from the Lincoln Lancaster County Department of Health that we are now in the ‘Green’ on the COVID risk dial. This is great news, both for our Lincoln community and our church. Since early April, we’ve been moving towards reopening our building, and this is a major step for us. When we wrote our reentry plan in March, the step that corresponded to “Green” on the risk dial assumed that everyone, including children, would have access to vaccines by the time we got to this step. Unfortunately that is not currently the case, so we need to modify our plan in some ways. Two that I want to highlight now are our continued mask requirement, and our plans for Religious Education.
We will continue to require everyone to wear masks while on the property at 6300 A Street. This deserves a little unpacking: the CDC suggested recently that folks who have received vaccines can safely go unmasked in many situations. While the CDC’s guidance is valuable for thinking about individual risk and choices, at the church, our focus must be on the community as a whole. We know that our community includes children, who are not able to get vaccinated yet, folks in vulnerable populations that need to continue wearing masks for now, and adults who simply have not been vaccinated yet. The Task Force on Reentry made the decision early on in their process that we would not require proof of vaccination for anyone attending church on a Sunday morning. Because of that, and because a fundamental piece of our faith is care for the most vulnerable among us, we will continue to require masks while on the property at 6300 A Street.
Religious Education is an area of congregational life where we aren’t going to return to normal just yet. Currently, no children under the age of 12 have been vaccinated, and no children under 16 have been fully vaccinated (there has not been enough time yet). Our current plan is to have both an in person and online option each Sunday over the summer: ingatherings at 6300 A Street, and continuing Zoom Sunday School for those not ready to gather in person. This requires volunteers, however, and right now we do not have enough volunteers to run the program as imagined. If this is an area you have thought about volunteering in, we need your participation and enthusiasm.
It is good to be at this place, together. I admit it has happened more quickly than I thought possible, and there are still many reasons to be concerned. But it will be good to gather in June, to see many of you in person for the first time in over a year, and to hear laughter in this building again. Thank you for everything you have done to bring us to this point, and please continue to wear masks, get vaccinated, and do everything you can to ensure that we sustain this success.
Rev. Oscar Sinclair serves as the Settled Minister for The Unitarian Church of Lincoln, Nebraska.