After a long, dark isolation we are showing signs of seeing the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. As many of our areas are moving to the lightest level of restrictions, our California-Pacific Annual Conference will be adapting also. Due to your faithful following of safety protocols, we have not had any widespread breakouts of the virus in any of our churches. To my knowledge, we have not lost one person who contracted COVID-19 at one of our churches. Again, this is all due to your patience, discipline and faithfulness. I want to thank all of you for helping us during the most challenging of times.
As we set the stage for our own Cal-Pac Annual Conference response, one of our prime objectives is to emerge out of our COVID-19 crisis as safely as possible. Once again, we are not there yet, and we have to be diligent in our safety protocols to ensure that our churches do not transmit the virus.
However, we are not yet at the finish line. We are vaccinating more and more people, but far from the herd immunity necessary to keep everyone safe. Even if one is completely vaccinated, you can still get the virus and pass it along to others. The new mutant viruses continue to proliferate and infect more people. We are still some time away from being completely safe in opening up our churches.
In a recent article from the Atlantic, Dr. James Hamblin of the Yale School of Public Health points out,
“Our social lives can resume, but only when the whole community is ready. The turning point does not arrive for individuals, one by one, as soon as they’ve been vaccinated; it comes for all of us at once, when a population becomes immune.”
I really appreciate this statement because it applies so much to us as the church community. We all get there together, or not at all. We wait patiently for each one of us to cross the finish line. We travel together, rather than alone.
With this in mind, we continue to follow the state, county and city guidelines and tier levels. Our churches can resume in-person worship if they submit their plans to the District, receive the consent of the pastor, Administrative Council, and District Superintendent. At this point, we must wear masks and observe the standard distance between individuals. The difficult issue is singing indoors, and I hope you will remain cautious with this. For safety’s sake, you will need masks on while singing and maintain proper distance from each other.
We are close, but not there yet. If we can hang on just a little bit longer and have the patience and discipline to keep safe, we will get home soon.
Be the Hope,
Bishop Grant J. Hagiya
Los Angeles Area Resident Bishop