Bright Hope for Today & Tomorrow
Published April 7, 2021
One of the lessons of the pandemic: learning new levels of resiliency as individuals, families, neighbors, church community, and a global community.
In this pandemic update, let’s talk about you, resiliency, highlights of the current reopening guidelines, vaccinations, and faith-based plans moving forward.
First: About You & Resiliency
How are you doing? You’ve likely had a lot of changes, disappointments, and losses this year. No question, it’s been tough.
When we face the valleys of life, we face a choice: to be defined by the situation or to define it.
A few weeks ago, Pastor Barry and Becky Curtis from Utah shared their “Resiliency Lessons Learned by Accident” with Washington Conference’s pastoral team. This one hour Zoom recording is full of encouragement and insight for bouncing back from difficult experiences. As Barry and Becky share, their lessons in resiliency came “14 miles from Wisdom.”
Resiliency allows us to be flexible, adaptable, and view changes as opportunities for growth. Focusing on our God-given purpose, cultivating healthy relationships, and accepting the hope, healing, and wholeness of Jesus helps us feel like we are not alone.
Which leads into….
Nurturing a Sense of Community
COVID-19 has brought a higher level of isolation and loneliness. If you are feeling these emotions, your friends are likely feeling it, too. Reach out and share some encouragement—it will encourage both of you!
- Practice Kindness: Send a letter, make a phone call, drop off a care package, send a text message. Set a weekly timer to call or text a prayer partner.
- Take Care of Your Mental Health: Make a list of healthy activities that make you feel good, such as walking outside, reading a new book, taking a bath, playing with your children and/or pets, taking a bath, cooking, gardening, memorizing scripture, or getting a good night’s sleep.
- Make Future Plans: The pandemic won’t last forever. Make a post-pandemic wish list. Set some goals for the future.
- Need in-person contact sooner rather than later? Enjoy opportunities for safe outdoor gatherings. Meet a friend at a park. Go for a walk together. Share a driveway or porch visit. Gather with one other family (following common precautions) for Bible study, prayer, and sharing time. Volunteer with your church or a neighboring church to help with food distribution.
Our Collective Roadmap to Recovery
The month of March 2021 brought many new updates with the coronavirus pandemic Roadmap to Recovery in the state of Washington, and these updates impact faith-based organizations.
As of Monday, March 22, all counties in Washington state are in a newly defined Phase 3 (also introduced in March). Every three weeks, each county’s metrics are reevaluated by the Washington State Department of Health. The next marker is Monday, April 12. Staying in Phase 3 or above opens more opportunities for ministry interaction.
Phase 3 Highlights
Each phase has specific guidelines for keeping you and your neighbors safe and healthy. Of note in the faith-based community for Phase 3:
- Indoor Social & At-Home Gathering Size: Max 10 people from outside your household
- Outdoor Social & At-Home Gathering Size: Max 50 people
- Worship Services: Indoor maximum 50% capacity
- Professional Services (e.g. the Conference Office): Remote work strongly encouraged, 50% capacity otherwise
- Weddings & Funerals: Indoor ceremonies allowed following venue’s requirements
- Community Service Centers & Emergency Food Distribution sites are still in operation
- Pastors may still provide essential in-person and virtual counseling sessions
- Potlucks are still not allowed. However, if you do wish to offer a meal, you may separate food ahead of time into individual servings to avoid communal bowls and utensils.
- Indoor singing is permissible once again (as of March 23, 2021); however, singers need to have six feet of physical distance and wear a three-layer cloth mask or surgical mask. Masks also apply for congregational singing. Soloists with 15 feet of physical distance do not need to wear a mask.
- Face coverings are still required to be worn by all during the service except when an individual is addressing the congregation
Vaccinations: Should You Get the Covid-19 Vaccine?
This is a fairly common question: does the Adventist church have a position on vaccinations?
In a word: Yes.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is in support of vaccinations. The decision to receive the Covid-19 vaccine ultimately comes down to you and your health care provider.
The world church’s Health Ministries department, Biblical Research Institute and Loma Linda University School of Pharmacy and School of Public Health offer COVID-19 vaccination counsel.
Two paragraph excerpts:
The Seventh-day Adventist Church places strong emphasis on health and well-being. The Adventist health emphasis is based on biblical revelation, the inspired writing of E. G. White (co-founder of the Church), and on peer-reviewed scientific literature. As such, we encourage responsible immunization/vaccination, and have no religious or faith-based reason not to encourage our adherents to responsibly participate in protective and preventive immunization programs. We value the health and safety of the population, which includes the maintenance of ‘herd immunity.’
As we witness the global magnitude of the pandemic, the deaths, disability, and long-term COVID-19 effects that are emerging in all age groups, we are encouraging our members to consider responsible immunization and the promotion and facilitation of the development of what is commonly termed herd immunity (pre-existing community immunity of approximately 80 percent of individuals as a result of previous infection and/or vaccination).
Effective April 15, all Washingtonians ages 15 and up will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination.
Summer Camp 2021
Sunset Lake’s summer 2021 plans are dependent on Pierce County (where the camp resides) remaining in Phase 3 or higher.
Up until recently, overnight camps were only allowed for single household occupancy in a sleeping cabin. Some communities in low-risk areas across the country last summer went ahead with overnight summer camps for youth and their positive experience is informing safety decisions and mitigation plans for summer 2021.
Private School Education
Washington Conference’s network of 19 private schools successfully operated in-person and hybrid programs for the 2020-2021 school year with Safe Start Plans customized to each campus. Both private and public schools will be moving from a six-foot to a three-foot framework, per CDC recommendations, for the 2021-2022 school year.
120 Church Homes
As more churches reopen in person, each church is developing a mitigation plan to keep congregants safe in the worship environment. Your pastor and church board are working hard to keep your church facility safe for worship and spiritual growth. The conference team appreciates your cooperation, understanding, creativity, and positive focus.
- Wear a mask or face covering
- Stay at least 6 feet away from others
- Avoid crowded and poorly ventilated spaces
- Stay home if you aren’t feeling well
- Wash your hands often
- Keep a positive outlook