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by Bishop Bob Hoshibata

Dear Members and Friends of the Desert Southwest Conference,

The current reality of the surge in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths makes it imperative that we share this important update with you. Scripture guides our faith as well as our daily living. In Galatians we receive this wisdom:

So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.” – Galatians 6:9-10

In this long season of the COVID virus and now the Delta Variant, we may have grown weary. Our patience, resolve, and vigilance are tried; we are admittedly tired. In our communities and some churches there is a polarization between masks and no masks; vaccination and no vaccination; limited gatherings and no limits. Consequently, people are agitated and sometimes hostile towards each other.

As we find our way through this wilderness hoping for a better time, I’m reminded of Paul’s words to the Galatians to “not grow weary in doing what is right.” He also reminds them to “work for the good of all.” Generally, in our culture of rugged individualism, one often thinks and acts in terms of “What is best for me?” Paul encourages us to look beyond self to others: “What is good for all?” Now, the safety of many is in our hands. We must together work to combat the Delta Variant, all of us being part of the solution, not of the problem.

In looking to the best practices for the good of all in worship and our church gatherings, we encourage you to implement some of our earlier recommendations:

  • Encourage all who are eligible to receive vaccinations; and when possible, a booster
  • For both vaccinated and unvaccinated persons, wear a mask even indoors
  • Practice social distancing in your worship and fellowship spaces
  • Limit singing without masks
  • Wash hands frequently
  • Use sealed individual servings for the Lord’s Supper
  • Clean and sanitize surfaces
  • Encourage those who are symptomatic or test positive, to quarantine
  • Remain updated and implement the most current CDC, state and local guidelines
  • Limit food service or fellowship times
  • Encourage folks to avoid large indoor gatherings where masking and distancing is not practiced
  • Consider returning to online only worship until the spread of COVID-19 and its Delta Variant is once again under control

Your COVID-19 Response Team continues to monitor the CDC guidelines as well as current research and statistics. We place our trust in you and your church’s Comprehensive Plan. And as we wait with patience, we do not despair because we know God is with us. Know that we hold each of you dearly in our prayers with thanksgiving for your wisdom and your caring for each other. And we know by faith that with God’s grace we will prevail.

Be well, keep safe, do no harm!

Bishop Bob, Tom Mattick, and Dan Morley

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