A wise football coach once said, “doing the right thing is never the wrong thing.”
Faith Lutheran will again expect everyone to be masked indoors in accordance with the Minnesota Department of Health and CDC guidelines. It’s the right thing to do.
This decision comes down to the most important fact: our members under 12 are not able to be vaccinated and the Delta variant of Covid, as witnessed by states that have not required masks, is extremely contagious. Wearing masks, for the time being, is the right thing to do.
Protecting the health and well-being of children and vulnerable adults is a way to be faithful and respectful of each other. Wearing a mask may be inconvenient, but it’s certainly preferable to the alternative—wide-spread outbreaks or worse.
I want our members, of all ages, to feel safe when they decide if (and when) they return to the church building. Being masked allows all of us to be in ministry and to learn and grow in our faith together. I hope that this is the last wave of the pandemic and that vaccines will soon be available for younger people. I know our family will sign-up as soon as it’s an option.
Until then, Faith is going to do the best we can to protect our children and community. Thank you so much for understanding and abiding by our shared practices in caring for each other. If you have any concerns about this decision, please reach out to me or the church council for further conversation: or .
Here are more details on what this means for our congregation, especially as it pertains to children and youth ministry:
- What does this mean for Sunday School teachers and Confirmation guides?
- You are expected to wear a mask while indoors, especially in the presence of children and vulnerable adults. If you do not wish to continue as a teacher until masks are no longer expected, please let Pastor John or Cathy Nelson know immediately.
- If you are waiting to attend in-person worship or Christian education programming until your child can be vaccinated or isn’t required to wear a mask, please also let Cathy Nelson know. Your student will still be allowed to attend when you are comfortable sending them!
- What if a child doesn’t want to wear a mask or a parent pressures me about the masking expectations?
- You are welcome to invite the child to wear a mask. You are not the “mask” police. If the child or parent does not comply and you are not comfortable, please ask Cathy for further guidance.
- Is this a mask mandate?
- It’s an expectation on how we treat each other. When Jesus washes the feet of his disciples, he gives the mandate “to love one another as I have loved you.” Unfortunately, the word “mandate” with regards to masks has become a buzzword with negative connotations. We are a community of grace. Since strongly encouraging members to start wearing masks again while attending worship, compliance has increased drastically. Faith Lutheran firmly believes that when we say that you’re expected to wear a mask, we will do it because we love our neighbors.
- How are mask-related decisions made?
- Every week throughout the summer, the staff (and the council in regular correspondence) has monitored the infection rates as provided by the MN Department of Health, especially in our local counties. For much of the summer, Washington County remained in a lower transmission category. Recently, the infection rate spiked and the messaging on masks has changed accordingly.
- Faith is determined to make decisions in the best interest of all of our members and the local community.
- When the CDC recommended vaccinated people could safely remove masks, Faith Lutheran also relaxed the masking policies in the building. Now, the CDC reports that the Delta variant is producing high hospitalization rates, especially for children’s hospitals in parts of the country that returned to school.
- Leadership at Faith has endorsed the following messages since August:
- Recommendations on re-masking to the congregation in worship
- Recommendations on re-masking through the weekly email and social media
- A Forest Lake Times article (and Faith blog) about not being afraid of the vaccination by Pastor John
- A letter to all families explaining the expectations of masking prior to the Faith Fall Kickoff
- The staff has modeled the behavior in worship and during meetings while not in our offices.
We thank you for your thoughtfulness in how we move forward as a congregation. We hope to see more of you this fall and know that we will listen to any questions or concerns that you have. Thank you for your responses and for taking care of each other.