On August 2nd, the CV Church Council and New Day Planning Team adopted a policy asking church members, regardless of their vaccination status, to please wear a face covering indoors at CV. This decision was based on the CDC’s most recent guidance as of July 27th that recommends all people to wear masks in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission of COVID-19. Dakota County met the criteria as an area of substantial or high transmission on July 30th. At that time, the Council and New Day Planning Team decided to ask everyone to mask up while inside our facility.
No one was pleased to have to make this decision, and all of us want the pandemic to be over. That being said, we reviewed the latest data and guidance available to us from the CDC and MN Department of Health, and used our best judgment to implement the mask policy as a way of loving our neighbor as ourselves. Being vaccinated is our community’s best defense against COVID-19, but with many still not vaccinated or unable to be vaccinated, masking is our best defense to slow transmission of the delta variant.
Since the policy was adopted, we’ve fielded a number of questions regarding the mask policy. We have selected a few and have responded below:
Q. Vaccinated people are only making up a tiny fraction of those infected with “breakthrough cases” of the delta variant – so why do those of us who are vaccinated have to wear a mask?
A. While breakthrough cases are rare, they can occur and the increased transmissivity makes them more likely. But most importantly, the CDC’s guidance indicates that vaccinated people can carry a higher viral load with the delta variant, and then can spread it unknowingly to others who may not be vaccinated. It’s important for us to have compassion for these people and do everything we can to reduce the risk of inadvertent infection.
Q. Dr. Mark Osterholm said that masks only provide protection for 20 minutes. Isn’t a mask policy just “safety theater”?
A. Again, we are following the best guidance available to us from the CDC, which recommends the use of at a minimum, double layer cloth masks that cover the nose and mouth, and fit the wearer snugly. While Dr. Osterholm has made public comments arguing that compared to a N95 respirator, a cloth mask provides comparatively less protection, he has been clear that any sort of respiratory protection is better than nothing.
Q. Will you be providing N95s for everyone at church?
A. CV already has a supply of surgical masks available to anyone who enters our doors, and we will continue with that approach. These are compliant with the CDC’s masking guidance. If (aside from getting vaccinated), people want the added protection of a N95, we would encourage you to acquire this on your own so that you can ensure a proper fit.
Q. Will you be shortening services to 20 minutes?
A. We don’t have sufficient data to justify this step. If people are uncomfortable spending more than 20 minutes at the church for service, we encourage them to join us for worship online.
Q. Why don’t you just require everyone who comes into the church to be vaccinated?
A. The church is open to all. As one Council member eloquently put it, “Jesus spent time with lepers – surely he would not fear the unvaccinated.” That being said, the best defense for all members is to be vaccinated.
Q. Isn’t the real issue non-vaccinated people coming to church without a mask and our unwillingness to make those people wear a N95?
A. Vaccination is the best protection, both on an individual and community level. We encourage everyone who is able to get vaccinated, and are very excited that the Garage Sale this year will have a free pop-up vaccination clinic. We hope and expect that those who are not vaccinated have been following our pre-existing masking policy.
Q. What does this mean for our ministries targeted to those under 12, or those who cannot be vaccinated?
A. It is important to remember that based on the policies developed by the New Day Planning Team, we successfully ran a robust program of ministries throughout the pandemic even without the benefit of vaccinations. Individual families will need to determine their risk tolerance and comfort level during this surge of infections. This is one reason why we have continued to offer online worship and hybrid ministries – to allow all to participate in our community.
Q. This seems like the Council trying to force their political views on CV.
A. Politics has nothing to do with this decision, and we have lamented that no matter what we decided, this accusation would be levied. We are doing our best to follow the guidance of public health authorities and make good faith decisions that will contribute to the health and well being of our church community and surrounding area.
Thank you for your understanding and compassion as we continue to navigate the contours of this pandemic. It is our sincere hope that we can get through the delta surge, increase vaccinations in Minnesota and across the country, and remove our masks for good soon!
CV Church Council
Aaron Nyquist (President), Pastor Kent Claussen-Gubrud, Barb Damlo, Karl Dobberman, Karin Ilg, Jody McDermott-Baty, David McMayer, Kevin Philpy, Kris Scott, Kristin Schulz, Alana Thureen