I write this update to you with a heavy and frustrated heart. I have spoken with many health professionals from the congregation this week, and the rising tide of hospitalizations from the recent increase in COVID-19 is a source of sorrow. I have listened to an individual on our staff describe the tragic and unnecessary Covid death last week of an unvaccinated family member in her 50s. I am frustrated because I thought that we were through this, especially since the vaccinations are so effective in slowing the impact of the pandemic.
As your pastor, I care about all dimensions of your life. While the work of the church is uniquely entrusted with our souls before God, we cannot ignore physical health (see James 2:16). We are called to love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength. Our bodies are essential parts of our faithfulness to God and our love for others.
Most of the people I encounter at Peachtree have received the vaccination, for which I am grateful. If you have not been vaccinated, I encourage you to speak with your physician and (if recommended) prayerfully consider taking that step both for your sake and the sake of others. I have not specifically asked you to do this until now, and my conscience dictates that I be clear on the question of vaccination.
In response to the spread of the Delta variant, the Mayor of Atlanta issued an executive order applicable to entities within the city, which mandates that “all persons in an entity or a public place shall wear a facial covering or mask over the mouth and nose at all times when indoors.” Peachtree Church is an “entity” within the city of Atlanta as defined by the Order. This mandate is imposed due to CDC’s classification of COVID-19 transmission in metro Atlanta counties as “very high,” one category below the “severe” category. Click here for the full text of the Executive Order.
In light of the Executive Order, our ministers and staff will be wearing facial coverings when indoors. We request and encourage you to do the same.
In an effort of full transparency and while I understand the dilemma she faces as our city's leader, I cannot say I am in full agreement with this approach. However, in the interest of the health and safety of you, our staff, and our city, I believe we should take reasonable steps to limit the spread of the disease, just as we have done throughout the pandemic.
Finally, I want to be clear that I will lead our church to move full steam ahead for the Fall. We are not in the same situation as March 2020, without preventative and other measures to help. Right now, the risks are not as significant as they were before, and our community needs the good news of Jesus Christ more than ever. There is more to health than the absence of disease. There is also emotional, spiritual health that requires our being together.
Like you, I am tired of this. It is wearisome and feels like we’re moving backward. God is faithful in both the joys and sorrows of life. Let’s move forward together as a worshipping, loving, mobilizing people of God’s grace.
With anticipation in Christ,