A Pastoral Message on the COVID Omicron Surge
From the Office of the Bishop
Dear friends in Christ:
Grace and peace to you this Epiphany Season.
I last wrote to you in July 2021 concerning the pandemic, and I had hoped that by this point much of it would be behind us. Unfortunately, once again we find ourselves amid another surge of infections. Even those of us who have been vaccinated and boosted are not immune; several pastors, a synod staff member and my son have recently contracted COVID. The Omicron variant, while not bringing as severe illness, is even more transmissible than the previous Delta variant.
In addition to hospitals being strained again, this surge is affecting the ability of schools and businesses to operate due to the sheer number of people getting sick or needing to isolate due to exposure. It is also highly disruptive to our schedules if we must quarantine after coming in contact with someone who tests positive.
Our synod staff continue to mask wherever we go, including in the synod office. We have cancelled or moved online several events in January and February so as not to contribute to the community spread of the virus. We are considering each request for an in-person visit/event on a case-by-case basis and may have to cancel existing events or visits if we believe they will contribute to further spread of the disease.
I recognize that we are all tired of this by now and desperately want it to be over; however, we must stay vigilant for the sake of our communities. We ask that if/when we visit, you also follow safety protocols including masking and distancing.
Your congregation may also be experiencing added stress and frustration due to cancelled plans and quick pivots, and we continue to hold in prayer all rostered leaders, councils, and lay people who are charged with making difficult yet faithful decisions in this challenging time. May God provide us with patience and wisdom as we navigate this surge.
Thank you for the ways in which you make Christ’s love known to others.
Bishop Sue Briner