The COVID-19 Task Force of MEUMC in its weekly meeting on Tuesday, July 14, 2020, has recommended a temporary pause of in-person worship on our campus. I agree with this recommendation and have decided that in-person worship will pause beginning immediately and be reviewed weekly as to when to begin again.
The Task Force reviewed the weekly data provided by Dr. Karen Chapman, Director of the Okaloosa County office of the Florida Department of Health. Her report indicates that every key metric is in the CRITICAL category. Key factors are as follows:
- Seven-day average of new cases has risen 80% in the past two weeks.
- Seven-day average of percent of tests that are positive stands at 12% on July 12 and is rising, not falling.
- Testing rates are high and stable.
- Hospitalization rates from COVID disease as well as ICU occupancy are very high and increasing.
The Task Force feels that the safety and well-being of our membership are Priority One, and that the current local conditions reveal too much risk to be confident that our protocols, though excellent, will sufficiently protect our in-person worship attendees. Our primary gospel value is “Love your neighbor,” and I believe that this action is the most loving one to take. However, the Task Force and church staff are considering plans to host an OUTDOOR worship service on our campus which would place attendees at reduced risk of infection.
This is not a decision that is pleasant for the Task Force and church staff given the amount of hard work and ingenuity that has gone into the implementation of our protocols and Bishop Graves’ guideline for returning to in-person worship. The Task Force and staff are deeply grateful for the encouraging words that so many in our church family have given on our journey thus far. Please keep us all in prayer as we continue to design and execute excellent online worship services.
If you have questions or comments, please feel free to message me at email@example.com.
Grace and Peace,
The Rev. Dr. Sam Parkes