Around 4:00 pm on Wednesday December 22, our Bishops sent us a message about the Omicron Variant. It included the advice they had received from one of their COVID consultants, Dr. Wesley M. Wallace at the UNC School of Medicine: Late Monday evening, the CDC released evidence of [the] omicron [variant’s] astounding growth in the U.S. It left me slack-jawed. When I talked with you Monday morning, available data indicated that in most of the country, omicron was running around 3 to 4% of circulating COVID-19 virus with a high of 13% in New York City. Today, the CDC Now Cast estimates that, in our region of the country, omicron constitutes 95% of circulating COVID-19.
With the information available on Monday, it seemed reasonable to proceed with Christmas worship plans. Now, I urge you to carefully reconsider those plans. COVID-19 case rates are doubling daily, and the danger of individual cases is still unclear. Even if the disease turns out to be mild for most folks, given the large number of people who will be infected, we are headed for health care overwhelm.
Based on this information, the Bishops said: While we strongly urge you to reconsider your plans, up to and including canceling in-person worship, we are trusting local leadership and not issuing a mandate...We should add that while, up until now, we have had a high level of confidence in our protocols and safety measures, there are still questions about the efficacy of vaccines to protect against infection and transmission where the omicron variant is concerned.
Your Wardens, in consultation with Jim Craven, have considered this information from our Bishops. We have also consulted staff and our newly elected Wardens. Despite the fact that most people at St. Luke’s are vaccinated, our in person worshiping community includes many elder members who are at higher risk of complications if they contract this highly contagious variant. We also anticipate having visitors, some of whom may not be vaccinated. Though it was a difficult decision to have to make, we concluded that the best course of action would be to cancel all services for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Sunday, December 26.
We share the sadness and disappointment that we know many will be feeling and yet in this season of giving, one of the most important gifts we can give one another is the gift of safety and well-being.
We will be in consultation with our Interim Rector to determine how to proceed with services in the New Year.
In the meantime, we commend to you the online services from the National Cathedral. https://cathedral.org/christmas/online/
Scroll down to find the links for the following:
December 23 and 24 6:00 pm Lessons and Carols service
December 24 10:00 pm Christmas Eve Eucharist
Scroll down to find the link for the following:
December 25 1:30 pm Christmas Day Organ Recital
Because we have a God who became flesh and was born in uncertain and troubling times, we know that God is with us and will continue to be with us through these challenging and trying times.
May God bless you and keep you safe until we can meet again in person.
Eileen Morgan, Sr Warden
Amy Kiser, Jr Warden
Jim Craven, Priest Associate