Letter from Pastor Andrew
July 2, 2020
As many of you have heard, the city and county are now allowing church’s to regather in limited ways. I sat in on a group call about this from the county of Alameda, and have just a few comments.
1). As I have said before, I truly believe the politicians, and even some of the churches that are regathering, are ahead of the science in this. There has been no change in the scientific recommendations for this time that I am aware of. Cases in our area continue to go up everyday (I know increase testing affects this, but still reflects it is active in our region), and while Berkeley itself doesn’t have as many cases, Alameda County now has the highest rates in the Bay Area. I am concerned that in all this opening up, we are going to see a strong rise in the Covid-19 numbers, similar to what we are now seeing in areas of the south. Because of this, I personally am concerned that this moment might be the most dangerous time we have been in thus far as a community. I truly hope to be wrong, and that I will be laughed at as a “sky is falling” worrier, but that is a criticism I can accept. What I can not accept is rushing to call us back together and watch as people get sick because I was impatient. So, for the time being, we will continue to meet only in an online format. This extends to all Berkeley Covenant gatherings, including services, youth group, prayer, small groups, etc. Coronavirus has not gone anywhere, it is not taking a summer break, and best way to truly kill it is to keep being cautious. To quote Angela Merkel, “This is serious, take it seriously.”
2). Having said all that, I also understand we also have a human need for community. It seems that the science has suggested for some time that the kind of “social bubbles” our officials have advised, in which two or three households enter into exclusive relationship with each other for a time might be a safer way to roll the dice...particularly if these are done outside and with social distancing and possibly masks. This might be a way to begin to get creative in our very real need to be social, but please do so wisely...and not in groups as large as full small groups. As the data begins to come in, if there are more creative ways that we can get together in the future, maybe in smaller gatherings in a park or something, I would LOVE that...Even driving next to each other in “parades” has been such a source of joy. So, let’s keep exploring, being creative, and sharing if there are ways to do more of this, but let’s also be conservative.
3). I also openly acknowledge that I am not an expert in any of this. I am trying to follow the experts as carefully as I can and shepherd you well as your pastor, but I am not an authority and I am not trying to pretend to be. I am always open to your thoughts, to good reasoned arguments, and long to be wrong and for the day when we regather.
4). Lastly, while I am asking for you to listen to me about gatherings that happen in the name of the church, I also fully recognize that every one one of us has freedom and must make the decisions for our life and our family based on what we believe is best. I know some folks feel safe doing more things, and I respect you in that decision. We are a community that can hold together even in a diversity of thought, and hold that tension in love. So, in everything, let’s just keep walking together in mutual love, respect, and trying to do what is best before God and in love for neighbor.
May God leads us to the good, and continue to help us to BE the church.
In His Love,