Deans' Note July 11, 2021
Recently there has been some confusing information regarding the spread of Covid-19, viral variants, and appropriate precautions coming from media and public health sources. At St. John's we have developed thoughtful protocols in concert with our diocese, our local authorities, and CDC guidelines. At the outset, please know our diocesan guidelines have emerged as the result of ongoing meetings of a council of advice put together by Bishop Taylor with input from representatives of the 10 deaneries across our five and a half county diocese and other health experts.
The recent increase in Coronavirus cases have emerged almost entirely in the unvaccinated population (99.9%). This is why vaccination is not only essential for your health, but as a means of stopping the developments of variants and viral spread. Vaccination is an obligation for every Christian who is able to be vaccinated for personal safety and the safety of our entire society. At the same time some public health officials out of an abundance of caution have recommended that people wear masks in indoor public settings, but that recommendation has not been endorsed by other health experts. As a result, some members of our congregation have been asking about wearing masks at St. John's during public worship services. We know that some reluctance to come to public worship is the result of personal choices and anxiety. While those feelings may not be warranted as public health measures, they still are real for those who experience them.
We believe continuing with our current protocols correspond with the best public health recommendations and are fully in line with our diocesan policies. Let's clearly state again what these are:
- Our primary expectation is that everyone who enters our property to attend any public event will be fully vaccinated. If you have not been fully vaccinated, please do not attend public events at St. John's at this time. The only exception is for children under 12 who are unable to be vaccinated at this time. Our expectation is that parents will make the best decision regarding their children's attendance and we ask everyone in our congregation to maintain social distance from our children and ask parents please to have children wear masks whenever possible. Also, we ask parents to follow the guidelines from their local school as to expectations about how children interact with others.
- Here are resources to receive a vaccination if you have not been vaccinated already: http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/acd/ncorona2019/vaccine/hcwsignup/
- Public worship now involves singing of congregational hymns. Public health and diocesan recommendations allow singing hymns without masks for fully vaccinated people.
- Masks are not required for fully vaccinated people. At the same time, if you are more comfortable wearing a mask at public events, you are encouraged to do so. Everyone who comes to public worship should feel free to wear a mask or not as they see fit for their own level of comfort. We honor both those decisions.
- Live streamed services will continue every Sunday morning and for Compline services. Evening prayer during the week on Tuesdays and Thursdays also continues. We expect to continue live streaming our public services and Christian Education events going forward.
Should public health recommendations change in the future, we will make appropriate changes in these protocols. Please feel free to reach out to the clergy with any comments or questions regarding our current policies.