Throughout this pandemic, we have been cautious in our responses and always paying attention to the science and the most vulnerable in our community. We have worked toward inclusion in our worship services and prioritized accessibility. Here are some things we have noticed and named at our most recent Covid-19 Action Team meeting.
- King County is experiencing the longest sustained period of low community transmission of Covid-19 since the pandemic began. Hospitalizations from Covid-19 are also low, primarily happening for those who have other risk factors.
- The vaccines are working! Risk of hospitalization from Covid-19 is significantly reduced if you are fully vaccinated and have the latest booster.
- If you do get Covid-19, there are treatments available to reduce the severity. Studies show taking Paxlovid also reduces the risk of “long Covid.”
- At the moment, there are no concerning new variants on the horizon. New variants have been following a trend of becoming more contagious with milder symptoms – and while that doesn’t guarantee we won’t see another “delta-type” variant, it is encouraging.
- Rapid tests are widely available and do a good job measuring your viral load (how likely you are to spread Covid-19) with this current variant. Please note: a common pattern with this variant is to test negative for the first 2-4 days of symptoms and then to test positive, however, you are unlikely to be spreading Covid-19 until your viral load is high enough to be detected on a rapid test. If you are sick and concerned about Covid-19, we suggest you test daily for at least 5 days and/or schedule a PCR test through your doctor’s office (as the free PCR sites are closing down this month). A prompt and accurate Covid-19 diagnosis helps reduce transmission, and allows you to access treatments like Paxlovid if you are eligible.
How do we, as a church, navigate these next steps of emergence from the pandemic?
As the Covid-19 State of Emergency ends, we recognize that Covid is still with us.
We are entering a new phase of emergence, with vaccines/boosters, treatments, and other precautions (like the upgrades to our church HVAC system and air filters, the accuracy of rapid tests, and the availability of high-quality masks). Accessibility and welcome are values of UCUCC, and we know those with vulnerable immune systems, those with certain medical conditions, our elders, and caretakers or family members of vulnerable folks face challenges in navigating a world with no Covid-19 restrictions. We hold a unique space as a church, and when we gather in person we choose to be in close proximity to one another, to participate intergenerationally, to welcome the stranger, and to sing praises to God.
With all this in mind, here are our updated Covid-19 guidelines:
- NEW: starting Sunday, April 23rd, the church is moving to “masks encouraged” instead of masks required on Sunday mornings.
- NEW: the sanctuary balcony is now a mask-required space, for those who wish to participate in worship with others who are masking.
- NEW: The lounge, narthex, office, classrooms, and other spaces are now mask optional.
- The fragrance-free zone will remain in the main floor of the sanctuary behind the tech tables.
- NEW: Coffee hour will be moving back to the Narthex.
- NEW: Singing in the choir will be mask optional. Choir members who are feeling unwell or experiencing any symptoms are encouraged to stay home, or to mask while singing.
- NEW: masking is optional in all small and large groups, however any group can choose to be masked or “masks encouraged.” Please consider expectations around masking when you plan an event, and communicate proactively to folks can be prepared.
- We encourage everyone to be welcoming and supportive of folks who choose to stay masked. We endorse a consent-based culture where all those participating check in with each other with care and support. Please accommodate those who have higher risk and/or higher discomfort.
- We encourage everyone to stay home from church if they are sick, and participate through our digital worship and online ministry options.
- If you do come to the church building when you are feeling unwell or experiencing any symptoms, such as coughing, we ask that you wear a mask to protect those in our community who are more vulnerable to viruses of any kind.
We know the tools for wellness include being vaccinated and fully boosted, testing when needed, and having high-quality masks. We want to support this in the building and at all times. We have upgraded our building air filtration system and have purchased additional portable filters for some spaces as well. Our church has masks and rapid tests available, especially if you’re having trouble finding them or they are too expensive. We can also help you navigate getting a vaccine or getting boosted. Please get the latest Covid-19 booster! Everyone over 5 years of age is eligible, if it’s been 2 months since your previous vaccine dose.
We also want to encourage you to get vaccinated against the flu and other viruses, to wash your hands regularly and avoid coming to church if you are feeling unwell (and mask up if you have symptoms).
Please reach out and let us know how we can support you. We’re in this together!
If you have questions, you can contact our Covid-19 officer, Kyna Shilling at