Beloved in Christ,
Over the last year, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted every facet of our worship and ministry together. This pandemic has been a lonely, scary experience, and many are wondering what our new normal will look like in the months and years to come.
Yet, through it all, the Church has endured. We have seen new ministry grow and blossom in this unexpected space. We have witnessed the power of community and the enduring strength of our love for our neighbors. We have faced every new challenge together as one church, and through the most impossible of circumstances, we have thrived.
Now, as we emerge carefully from our homes and contemplate our new future, we have more new challenges ahead. As some of you are worshipping in-person at limited capacity and planning to expand your ministry offerings, I ask that you continue to monitor state and local guidelines and take necessary precautions.
As we look to the future, I invite you to reflect on these important reminders.
Remain patient. While many of our congregations have already reopened for in-person worship, some have not. Most are open at limited capacity. Do not feel rushed to resume in-person worship or allow more congregants if you do not believe your congregation is ready.
Remain cautious. I strongly recommend that we continue to social distance, avoid hugs and handshakes, and keep our faces covered. Even after members have received the COVID-19 vaccine, it is important to continue taking necessary precautions.
The CDC recommends the following precautions:
- Correctly and consistently wear a mask that completely covers your nose and mouth
- Stay at least 6 feet away from others who do not live with you
- Avoid crowds
- Avoid poorly ventilated indoor spaces
- Stay home when you are sick
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (or use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol)
- Get vaccinated when the vaccine is available to you
- Get tested if you have signs or symptoms of COVID-19, or if you think you may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19
Remain digital. Though we have reopened our doors for in-person worship, many worshipers continue to attend church from home. If possible, please continue sharing your weekend worship online and maintain your social media platforms.
If you have any questions about digital worship or providing online content, please contact our synod office.
Remain informed. It is essential that we continue to monitor our local, state, and federal recommendations for in-person gatherings. We have many resources available on our Florida-Bahamas Synod website, and more are accessible through the CDC or Florida State Government websites.
Remain connected. Your Florida-Bahamas Synod staff is here to support you. If you have any questions, need assistance, or would like to discuss best practices, please contact the Director of Evangelical Mission for your region or call the synod office.
I thank you all for your careful consideration during these pandemic times. By following these best practices, we can navigate this time safely and effectively together.
Rev. Pedro M. Suarez, Bishop
Florida-Bahamas Synod, ELCA