Yesterday’s statement from the CDC announcing that masking and distancing would no longer be necessary for those who are vaccinated comes as a breath of good news. It bears hope on the wind around us that maybe we are approaching an end to the pandemic, and it encourages everyone to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. In effecting this change, the CDC looked to science and the small risk of infection and transmission that persists for those who are vaccinated while also leaving room for states, local public health officials, and businesses and venues to decide when and how to implement changes to current policies. I am glad for this, but I also know it will create some confusion.
Bishop Rickel, on the call with clergy yesterday, exhorted us not to abandon masks and distancing in worship just yet. I agree with him, and so, while we are looking to a new horizon when relaxation of those requirements may occur, we are not there yet. If you come to church, you will be required to continue to wear your mask and follow the safety guidelines.
You may say, “But the CDC said I don’t have to wear a mask…” That is the headline, but not the full story, and not everyone who attends worship at Saint Mark’s is vaccinated. I know you are tired of this; I am, too. We are not wearing the mask for ourselves, but for those around us, and the disease is still very dangerous, even deadly, for those as yet unvaccinated, including our children. Wearing the mask still in public worship is about serving others—or to place it in our covenantal context—it is about seeking and serving Christ in others, and loving your neighbor as yourself.
Governor Inslee has identified the end of June as a potential date on which we, as a society, may lift many restrictions. We will reevaluate when there is new local direction. We will find our way as a community. This means there are exciting developments to consider at Saint Mark’s—the return of other liturgies, the gathering of ministry groups at the cathedral, and the return of community groups who use the cathedral as a place of meeting as well. I want to assure you that the cathedral leadership and staff are well along in planning for those eventualities, with a keen eye to everyone’s safety.
So, for now, you will still need to register to attend worship, as we have since mid-March. There is room for more—no need to stay away, there is room for YOU! And when you are here, look around you and see who else is there, and know you wear the mask for them, for just a little longer. Look at those leading worship, and know they are striving to do “this” the best they know how, and with deep care and concern for you. I’m asking you to bear it all with grace and good humor. A new horizon is approaching, and we’ve come this far. Let’s press on, shall we? Thank you.
The Very Rev. Steven L. Thomason
Dean and Rector