We pray for your health and the healing of our nation as the rise of the COVID-19 Delta variant is causing strain on hospitals and healthcare facilities. As schools begin to reopen, we also pray for children who have not reached vaccination age.
To maximize protection against the Delta variant, the Iowa Conference COVID-19 Re-entry Team encourages you to follow the Centers for Disease Controls (CDC) guidance for fully vaccinated people. The CDC recommends that "everyone wear a mask in indoor public settings in areas of substantial and high transmission, regardless of vaccination status. This decision was made with the data and science available to the CDC at the time, including a valuable public health partnership resulting in rapid receipt and review of unpublished data.”
As most Iowa counties are now in substantial to high rates of COVID-19 transmission, we recommend wearing a mask for worship and indoor activities in our Iowa United Methodist churches. While severe illness is not likely in fully vaccinated persons, there are new documented cases of fully vaccinated persons transmitting the Delta variant of the virus to unvaccinated people who can become gravely ill. Given we still have a substantial number of unvaccinated people in Iowa, including children under the age of 11, the wearing of masks in worship seems a small sacrifice to care for our neighbors and friends at church.
We remember the words of Jesus after he states the first and greatest commandment to love God; “The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” — Mark 12:31. Loving God and neighbor are central commandments in the Christian faith and mark us as followers of Jesus.
We know the road has been long and we are again reminded that we have further to go, but we share this journey with Christ. We may never know who we might save by wearing a mask at indoor gatherings. Neither might we know we have carried the virus to another. We will surely know if we have done what we can to prevent it.
Thank you for doing all that you can to care for your neighbor and the children among us. We pray for our schools to resume with healthy children and for them to remain that way. We pray for you and all of your neighbors and for the hastening of the day when the COVID-19 virus will be a threat no more.