It would be absolutely frightening to be a parish pastor right now.
I’m being totally honest, and I’m speaking from a place of privilege because I am not in that position at the moment.
Please know I realize this.
But the amount of fretting I would be having over in-person worship at this moment would probably put me on sick leave, even without any Covid symptoms.
Because the call of the church is to praise God and look out for “the least of these,” and as the Delta variant now accounts for over 90% of new Covid cases in the United States, and as children who, as of this writing cannot be vaccinated if they’re under twelve, are now even more susceptible to this strain, and as some people STILL REFUSE DESPITE THE SCIENCE to get the vaccine (note: some can’t for health reasons…but they’re few and far between), my gut would tell me to go all virtual again.
Or, at least meet only outside.
Or, at least, to ask children not to attend.
Or, at least, refrain from any singing at all.
Or maybe my gut would tell me that everyone would have to show their vaccination card to attend. But, honestly, even that won’t work because break-through illnesses, though mild, have already appeared in the vaccinated.
So I’d probably just ask that families not bring children.
That may seem extreme, I know. And it might be the case that some areas of the country, where vaccinations are on the rise and spread is low, don’t need that kind of restriction. Localized plans are probably necessary.
But at the very least I’d be considering a “halftime adjustment” right now in the reopening plan.
And if you’re reading this and it’s sending you into a bit of a panic, or making you a bit angry, just take a second and imagine the struggle your pastor is feeling right now.
Because, Beloved, it only takes one kid getting sick from a possible transmission within the church building to cause real harm not only to that child (or unvaccinated adult…please, get the shot!), but also to that pastor who wrestled for the last year and a half, survived scathing emails and people leaving the church over a health crisis on either side of the divide, and felt stuck between a rock and a hard place on this.
But all of the above should not stop the conversation and the questions from happening.
If the church is truly about looking out “for the least of these,” and that right now is the unvaccinated (by their own choice, but they’re our neighbors none-the-less) and the children who cannot yet be vaccinated, what should it do?
P.S. If anything, cut your pastor all the slack in the world. Please. For their health. And yours.