Returning to Physical Church?

I’m curious where folks are at as regards returning to physical church. I haven’t set foot in our building since the pandemic began. I’m now fully vaxed, but still feeling hesitant. I have to admit that remote church has a strong convenience factor.

Our latest direction is to continue both in person and virtual options for both sacrament and second hour. We are going to start allowing singing. We are going to stop blocking pews to promote social distancing. We are going to ease up on sacrament protocols, like putting bread pieces in sacrament cups and disposing of cups separately.

I honestly have no idea how Primary is supposed to work. There aren’t enough adults to teach all the classes; the classrooms are tiny and a lot of people are unwilling to go back to that. I have a feeling that returning to the status quo ante is going to be extremely challenging.

What are your thoughts and experiences?

Comments

  1. I live in Saratoga Springs Utah and we have returned to almost normal activity with restrictions all but gone . The only one left seems to be no nursery for little children. No Sacrament restrictions, no 6 fit distancing, no singing prohibitions. We do still offer zoom access to meetings, and sacrament can only be performed at home with Bishop’s permission.

  2. My ward never took as many precautions as yours regarding sacrament and singing, sad to say. What restrictions there were have been almost entirely lifted. I’m going back for the first time tomorrow, but just for second hour, to teach a particularly sensitive EQ lesson. Otherwise, still attending remotely. We plan to stay remote until our young kids are fully vaccinated or they take away the remote option.

  3. Here in the suburbs of Portland, we are back to full in-person sacrament meeting, no social distancing. Masks are optional for people who are vaccinated, but if you want to go without a mask, you’re asked to send a copy of your vax card to the ward clerk. Children and other unvaccinated people still have to wear masks. They’re still doing all the COVID protocols for sacrament (gloves for those preparing and passing, bread in individual cups). We’re continuing to broadcast sacrament meeting for those who don’t feel comfortable returning yet. We’ve also started a 30-minute version of second-hour meetings, alternating weeks. Primary (where I serve) is singing/sharing time only, divided into junior and senior groups, everyone (including vaccinated adults) masked, plus some social distancing. (Three feet, I think? although it’s not super well-enforced, as you can imagine.) I’m not sure how they’re handling nursery, just that they’re having it. (Probably just increased hand-washing and sanitizing.)

    Personally, I’d be happy if they kept the hygiene protocols for preparing/passing the sacrament forever. I don’t see individual Primary classes happening until everything is back to normal (no masks, no social distancing, no alternating weeks for different auxiliary/quorum meetings) because unless your Primary is very small, it just won’t work logistically. I don’t know yet how many folks will continue to stay home out of safety concerns (or for convenience), but I hope the online version of sacrament meeting continues indefinitely for those who want that option.

  4. Second Saturday’s are the best!

  5. My ward was virtual only, until about January. Then it was in person Sacrament every other week, depending upon last name. Then around March it was everyone was invited Sacrament, with virtual link. I think it was around then that signing with masks on was allowed. This Sunday will be the last Sunday with restrictions.
    When it was every other week in person, nearly every open pew was occupied. They kept every other pew closed, but set up well spaced chairs into the cultural hall, once all were invited in person again. Since they’ve been doing that every row is still filled.
    I’ve heard no talks, testimonies, or statements along the lines of showing faith by showing up in person, or anything like that. There’s been no pressure to return in person, but as far as I can tell the whole ward has.
    It has been handy to do virtual, even when we could do in person when my spouse was having issues, and I was exhausted. But once it was possible to attend in person, I’ve been able to attend most of the time.

  6. Michinita says:

    Here in Northern California we are going back to in person second hour tomorrow. Unvaccinated people are still supposed to wear masks. All other restrictions have been eliminated. I’m primary music leader (and a mother of 3 primary children). There are no restrictions on singing, but my day job is music education, so I’ve been keeping up on the singing/COVID research. I’m vaccinated, but none of the primary children are, because there is no vaccine for them. I have told the primary presidency that I won’t be singing inside with the children, and they are concerned with holding singing time outdoors with possible runners. So I’m planning music time with no singing and hoping that they continue to believe me that regardless of the government/church guidelines, unvaccinated people singing indoors is still not safe.

    I’m frustrated because, from what I can see, neither the government nor the church has prioritized children through this pandemic. For example, in the Summer of 2020 my county opened bars and other businesses, but playgrous remained closed, even though they were outdoors, and at the time very few children were affected by COVID. Our local school district changed school schedules 3 times since March, because…unpredictability is good for children? Our area authority insisted that youth and YSA classes be held on zoom months ago, and then more recently in person, but there were no instructions about primary until they reinstated all second hour meetings. It feels like our leaders are again waving their hands and saying, “I don’t know. Figure it out. We’re not thinking about the children.” while they remove all of the protocols that keep unvaccinated people safe, when children CANNOT be vaccinated and the variants creep closer and closer to their age group.

  7. darylgibsonrviewercom says:

    While we still have virtual options for Sacrament Meeting, EQ and RS, all rules have been lifted otherwise. No one is masked. Nursery is available. Pews are all full. Sacrament ordinance is “normal” other than masked Deacons and Priests. No more “sanitizing” between meetings. I suspect some who say they’re still uncomfortable returning in person are really just more comfortable on the couch. (Other than the few with chronic health concerns.) It was a challenge for me to abandon that comfort and intimacy. When we first shut down, my thought was, “There will be some who don’t want to come back.” I hadn’t expected it would be me. Still, when I’m there in person, I’m beginning to feel the sense of community that I loved before the lock-down. My wish is that the “new normal” will be better than the old — more fellowship, more thought given to lessons and talks, less repetition, fewer meetings-for-meetings’-sake. Still waiting to see what lessons we learned. (Southern Utah)

  8. Marie H says:

    I’m in Ohio. We have basically gone back to mostly normal in my ward. We still have our meeting assignments if anything gets locked back down again (my ward was divided into 4 groups for alternating meetings when we first came back, then 2 of the groups joined for every other week). now it is everyone, no social distancing, masks only required for non vaccinated (including children) according to what the individual wants to do. I wear one because I am high risk and following dr orders to wear one when in a building with more than 10 people.
    they are starting back with primary in very small classes (i think like 5 children to the classes – our ward is fairly small though)
    Sacrament is still on zoom and the link emailed out each week, 2nd hour is only in person though. (right now I can only stay in a building for 1 hr at a time so I miss 2nd hr each week)
    Our time is still an hr later, we share with another ward, than before. I think they are still sanitizing between but not sure on that. they do sanitize between speakers etc.
    I missed Sacrament last week (due to health reasons) when all the last things put in place where lifted, so I’m not sure about the handling of the Sacrament, I will find that out tomorrow.
    Also, we have been back to singing. Except the choir, I am the choir director, and I have said that I do not feel comfortable leading people in singing and practice etc. especially since we have quite a few elderly as well as children in the choir. Since it is summer we have put that off for the fall as of now. We shall re-evaluate when we get there.

  9. We have been told this week that our ward can now go back to full meetings. I think almost every class will be back to normal, except maybe for nursery. For some reason, surrounding wards had been back to 2nd hour for many weeks, but we had not been. Last Sunday we had several rows up front occupied without the alternating benches being left open. This was due to the largest attendance at sacrament meeting since church was shut down last year. The alternating cups on the sacrament trays were eliminated after services had begun. There is not enough room on the sacrament table to put more trays so the bishop decided to have the teachers fill the trays full before the prayers.

    In general, the ward members had followed all of the requested restrictions until the local Covid infection rate dropped to a low risk level this spring. At that point, a few members had been vaccinated, but more and more members stopped wearing masks at church. The other 2 wards in our building were both different. One ward has seen virtual attendance stay high even now. The other ward has many leaders who only wore masks and distanced during sacrament meeting, but would drop most of the rules out in the foyer while socializing after hours. Attendance has increased the most in the wards where fewer people showed outward concern with the safety rules. Several members had grumbled that stake/area leaders were arbitrarily holding back the full church meeting.

  10. John Charity Spring says:

    If the vaccine is effective, as medical professionals and church leaders have assured us it is, then there is no reason to keep meetings in a state a shutdown. Those who have been vaccinated have a minuscule chance of catching the virus and an even smaller chance of spreading it.

  11. Geoff - Aus says:

    In Australia our governments have taken an eradication approach to the virus, which is implimented by requiring people coming from other states or countries that are not free of the virus to quarintine in a gov specified environment for 14 days. They can not leave quarantine until they have tested negative twice. This has been very successfull. Our state of 5 million people (Utah and Idaho together) have had 6 deaths, and none this year, compared to 4500 for Utah + Idaho. Our federal government has failed to obtain sufficient vacinations. We manufacture astra zenica but this is now limited to over 60s, we have to import other vacines, and not enough coming, and only 3% vacinated so far. It is winter here.

    We had church closed for a couple of months last year. At present we still have half our pews removed, our deacons wear masks, and deliver the bread with tongs, and the water cups are social distanced, and deacons carry a second tray for empty cups. No one else wear masks, but still sit well away from other families. All other church programmes have been normal this year.

    We went to church in another state WA which has had 7 deaths (none this year), and church programmes were completely back to usual.

  12. Michinita says:

    John Charity Spring, you illustrated my point beautifully.

  13. I live 20 miles north of Portland, OR. We are only having Sacrament Meeting with most COVID protocols in place. We sit every other row, sacrament in individual cups, and masks required to attend. About 95% of people have followed the mask rule, myself included even though I am vaccinated. I would definitely be staying home and watching on Zoom except I am the organist and they asked me to come back. Our city reached 106 degrees today and the AC in our church building broke, so we will have no church at all tomorrow – no one will be in the building. Our state restrictions will be lifted June 30 and I suspect we will lift most protocols, but I don’t know. We will not be starting second hour until August 1.

  14. Japan English-speaking ward. Currently in hybrid mode since November. Simultaneous in-person and broadcast every week. Second-hour meetings via zoom since end of April. COVID protocols such as social distancing are receding but masks are required and faithfully worn. Given the slow vaccine roll out in Japan I don’t see this changing before end of summer or later.

  15. Pangloss says:

    Salt Lake City. Zoom sacrament meeting is still available, altho second hour is in-person only. New bishop would like to pretend nothing ever happened: no masks (well, they don’t throw you out if you wear one) and no social distancing (if you want any distance, you have to sit at the back of the cultural hall). Have had congregational singing for weeks, and choir practices in the chapel every week. No sanitizing at the mic. No special sacrament protocol. Primary, including singing time, maskless (very, very small Primary; they could socially distance but I don’t know if they do). Everybody makes a big deal of new bishop being a doctor so he knows what’s safe — he is a radiologist, though, not an M.D. or infectious diseases specialist, so I don’t credit him with any more expertise than anyone who follows the CDC closely. Not comfortable with in-person meetings under the circumstances, but expect zoom option to be canceled anyway in July. Not going back for the foreseeable future, but that’s not solely due to health reasons.

  16. I live in Africa and my country has a very low vaccination rate since we have to wait for covax distribution. There are two branches in the country. One is back to two-hour church with little social distancing and almost no vaccinations. The other does a short sacrament meeting that’s also available on zoom plus various other meetings either on zoom or outside. There’s more distancing in that branch and much greater access to vaccines (maybe about 50% of the current membership of the branch is vaccinated). Masks are required for everyone inside the building where we meet and there’s high compliance in both branches. Hopefully zoom church continues forever for the second branch because there are people joining in from another city plus two other countries. We should have been doing it before corona.

    We’re not going to be back to “normal” in our country for a long time because of limited vaccine access. While I’d love to be with the people in the branch that’s meeting normally, I’m not comfortable with their current setup especially when we’re coming off a third wave of cases and there’s a lot of concern about the delta variant taking hold here. We meet in a small rented space that doesn’t allow any distancing in classes, and if most people show up to church, we’re pretty crowded in the sacrament meeting room. If we hadn’t divided into two branches a year ago, it would have been even more complicated.

  17. Michael H. says:

    Our North Carolina ward unmasked three or four weeks ago. (We began singing—through masks—some weeks before that.) The sacrament is still administered according to the COVID protocol. Seating is still spaced. My wife and I went to sac mtg Sunday before last, and we were—conspicuously—the only ones wearing masks. Some people gave us funny looks.

    We’ve only attended church in person a few times during the COVID era, and all in the past couple months. We’ve been perfectly content—happier than ever, in fact—to do church at home, nearly always without the Zoom component.

    Changing protocols aside . . . My past couple months have been wall-to-wall health crisis (heart and stroke stuff), and I’ve finally learned—at sixty—what anxiety is all about. I’ve come to the (hopefully open-ended) conclusion that Christianity, especially Mormonism, is a major anxiety generator. “Here, let’s clutter your mind and your soul with as much stress and gobbledeegook as possible.” My (physical) heart is in a vulnerable healing process, with brand new stents and a truckload of meds; anxiety and its attendant hormones and whatnot are THE major obstacle to my healing. Going to church and listening to the usual, general message that the world is a horrible, terrible place, that people are awful and evil, and that the only answer is worship-The-Brethren/chamber-of-commerce-Republican authoritarianism . . . It’s just not the solace and refuge I desperately need right now.

    I’m hoping that I’ll get better at managing my anxiety and feel safer about dipping my toe into those roiling waters, but for the time being, I’ll need a lot of assurances, over a fair stretch of time, from many trusted advance scouts.

    (Just thinking/writing about this has me thinking I need a lorazepam, and it’s way too early in the day.)

  18. I haven’t attended a meeting since the pandemic hit. I’d say that now I’m whatever the term is for inactive. It’s daunting how fast secular influence takes hold once the habit is broken. I live in Northern Utah, and although they have opened the doors again to our chapel, I wouldn’t physically go there. I know of several people in my ward who refuse to get vaccinated. Although I am fully vaccinated, I’m not risking possibly getting sick because others are too stubborn to do a sensible thing. For me the virtual church method did not work very well either. I think there will be a variety of answers to your question. I noticed the comment above mine, and like that person, I have social anxiety. It got a lot worse during the lock downs and that’s a third reason perhaps why I won’t be attending.

  19. If you’re vaccinated and living in an area with wide access to vaccines and you’re taking extraordinary precautions to protect children, then you’re not following the science. The risk of COVID for children is similar to the risk of the flu. The main reason we have had to socially distance children and have them wear masks is to slow the spread of the virus. But if every adult who wants it can now be vaccinated, there is no more reason to take extraordinary measures.

  20. I live in South Jordan and most restrictions are gone. Those passing the sacrament are to wear masks and accommodations are made for those who do not feel comfortable with in-person attendance.

    If you’re vaccinated, I don’t think there should be too much worry interacting without a mask with others who are vaccinated and even with those who aren’t vaccinated.

    It is an adjustment, for sure, especially given how much we’ve done as a society to stop the spread of COVID. But I take comfort in the statistics. COVID cases are going down in the US and Europe. This means the vaccinations are working. With the delta variant spreading, more restrictions may be put in place, but I’ll wait for direction by public health officials before taking those restrictions. I know in the UK cases are going up. But it may be that the delta variant found its way into groups of the un-vaccinated, which is of course a sign that it is time to get vaccinated if you haven’t been already.

    If you’re hesitant about getting vaccinated, what more proof do you need that it’s safe and effective? Are there risks to getting vaccinated? Yes, but they are infinitesimally small. Just look at the data. Your health risks from coronavirus and its variants are far far greater (so far greater that it cannot be exaggerated how far they are) than your health risks from the vaccine.

  21. Billy Possum says:

    Michael H: Laughed out lout at “chamber-of-commerce Republican authoritarianism” as an image of Church. I’m also from NC (and was a Boy Scout in NC, which fits that ilk). In addition to the Church generating anxiety, I think it may also tend to attract people who have anxiety problems to begin with. Conspiracy thinking, for example, is essentially anxiety-driven. I’ve come to think of the Church (and religion generally) as being most attractive to those who are 1) overwhelmed by anxiety, 2) less than fully capable of addressing it explicitly, and 3) placated by simplistic, absolute guarantees about present and future wellbeing. This is also how cults operate, at least in part. We’re not a cult, but we may attract some people who’d otherwise fit in that universe (like authoritarian Republicans).

    For anyone who hasn’t yet gone back: Have your local leaders revoked the general permission to administer the sacrament at home? This is the last week it will be authorized for us (no exception for those with young children, like us) which makes me want to write a nasty letter.

  22. First week with lessened restrictions in Sacramento, CA. It felt nice to sing (and have nursery) again.

  23. Salt Lake county. No restrictions at all since mid March, but zoom sacramenthas been available. Given the number of vocal anti-vaxers in my ward who are thrilled to remove masks for them and their small children, I continue to keep my own family (with 1 uneligible child) home from church. Signed her up for another year of virtual school, but crossing fingers and saying prayers for a child safe vaccine soon. No matter the statistics you quote, having had 3 very healthy kids whom I love (2 family, 1 friend) in the ICU with covid in the past 3 months has me continuing precautions to protect my family.

    And Michinita is spot on about kids being left off everyone’s equations with regard to covid safety

  24. dortner1 says:

    In a suburb near Sacramento (Rocklin). We have been back in person as a whole ward for sacrament meeting for a couple of months now. Started singing again in person about 3 weeks ago. Masks were required until the state lifted the requirement on June 15th. There are still some sacrament precautions like separate cups with the bread. Full 2nd hour including primary or nursery.

    Our Bishop last week mentioned expressly that people are welcome to continue to attend remotely and not to judge others who choose to do so. I really appreciated him sharing that message even though I am fully vaccinated and have no concerns with attending in person at all.

    I think giving people options is a good thing. But I really hope people choose to attend in person when possible. If you are vaccinated the risk to you is very low and the risk to your children is just as low. But I hope that the option to watch remotely continues to be available for those who choose it.

  25. Oatmeal says:

    Davis County, Utah.
    All wards in our area are back to normal. But there is still a bit of anxiety as people meet in the hall. Attendance is markedly lower. Social distancing is not expected, but the congregants do spread out as they fill the chapel. It will be interesting to evaluate the long-term effects of the pandemic. I suspect many members will date their declined level of activity in the church from the pandemic going forward. I suspect many contributors, including fewer callings and conflicts with social norms, dominance of political conservatism as well as lessened expectations of the benefits of religiosity.

  26. Justagirl says:

    Elle. 🤔👍👍👍

  27. So what if they only allowed vaccinated people to attend in-person church…or those who have an airtight reason why they aren’t vaccinated (I.e. immunocompromised)…

    Some aren’t attending because half the ward is unvaccinated and unmasked and singing with no social distancing and the kids under 12 can’t be vaccinated.

  28. Mid Atlantic mom says:

    Mid Atlantic US region DC, MD, VA) Since I caught the flu from chaperoning a bus full of 11 year olds and lungs are shot from a bout of pneumonia afterward, I won’t plan on attending for a while especially since the mask mandates, social distancing, are lifted and all second hour classes are being held in person (I.e at least until kids are getting vaccinated or the novavax is available). And I’m already vaccinated.

  29. it's a series of tubes says:
  30. Kirsten A Cantrell says:

    Same, we are all vaxxed but not feeling confident about returning. We went two weeks ago because we felt some pressure to return but left after Sacrament meeting and stayed home this week. Our ward has said that if you’re not vaxxed they recommend you CONSIDER continuing to wear a mask. But when we went there were only a few people wearing them. And with vax rates as they are in Utah, there should’ve been about 40% of youth + adults wearing them if they took that recommendation seriously.
    Singing in the first hour freaks me out. Sitting close together in second hour (and for our youth – in VERY small classrooms) really freaks me out. Having to worry about my physical safety at church has made for some very complicated feelings. We are one of the last few holdouts to returning, I believe, so we feel the spotlight on us. We have really enjoyed home church, but know that they are taking back the blanket authority for home sacrament soon, so we once again have to make tough decisions.
    This is so hard and I’m tired of being the weird ones. No one here seems to care, and here comes the delta variant!

  31. Wondering says:

    Whoever is making the decisions about returning to “normal” doesn’t seem to care about recent advice from WHO:

    “People cannot feel safe just because they had the two doses. They still need to protect themselves,” Dr. Mariangela Simao, World Health Organization assistant director-general for access to medicines and health products, said during a recent news briefing. “Vaccine alone won’t stop community transmission,” Simao added. “People need to continue to use masks consistently, be in ventilated spaces, hand hygiene … the physical distance, avoid crowding. This still continues to be extremely important, even if you’re vaccinated when you have a community transmission ongoing.”

    I’m not pleased with our local decision to return to full 2-hour meetings with 3 overlapping ward schedules next month. That precludes distancing and we already have over 90% of attendees not wearing masks.

    As to the pandemic, the fat lady hasn’t sung yet. :)

  32. Northern Utah. We still have those administering the sacrament wearing masks and using hand cleaner in view of all. Rows are staggered, but no distancing required on each row (they only want the deacons to handle the trays for now). We’re also still not using hymnals, though we sing. Only 2 or 3 people continue to wear masks. My wife and I have been vaccinated for months and don’t wear masks anywhere except for medical facilities.

    Our attendance is down quite a bit, but we get the sense that it’s primarily because people are enjoying the “freedom” from a structured Sunday.

    We have enough data now to see what the mortality rates are. We’re very happy to have our lives back to almost normal, and hoping that we take a more sane approach the next time a novel virus hits. Protect the vulnerable and keep the economy going with those who can participate. Too many collateral consequences that, in hindsight, seemed unnecessary.

  33. Geoff - Aus says:

    Tubes, the strategy is to eradicate the virus, part of that is to get everyone vacinated, but there is a shortage of pfyser vacine. There have been a number of cases where the virus (now d ) has broken out, and our state governments are locking down areas to contact trace, and eradicate the spread by quarantining contacts, testing them etc.
    The federal gov are responsible for obtaining the vaccines, and organizing quarantine. They have made a mess of it.
    But there have not been any more deaths.
    Australia is similar land area to the mainland USA but we have only 6 states, so QLD where I live is about one fifth the US, and WA is more than a quarter.

    We are required to wear masks to church this Sunday.

  34. Leadership roulette rears it’s head once again…

  35. My ward in Salt Lake County is almost back to normal, but we still broadcast worship service on youtube.

    If following the recommended Covid protocols are still important why haven’t I heard about any “Super-spreader” events? Throughout the past year whenever people are released and allowed to return to normal the Covidiots always threaten that mass death is just a couple of weeks away, and yet the mass death never seems to happen.

  36. Mark L – I don’t think you’re supposed to publicly point that out. Seems to be a dirty little secret.

  37. Modern Arius says:

    Mark L and Mike – within the US, we have no idea how many super-spreader events have taken place. The virus is spreading enough that we haven’t been able (or willing, at a state/county level with limited funds) to trace cases back to point of origin. We could and did do that at the start of the pandemic, where large spreading events occurred for many churches.
    Despite this, after tracing became impossible several public events such as Amy Coney Barrett’s reception have been linked to large spread of COVID.

    The media has largely stopped reporting on community spread – probably because most people aren’t super interested anymore. So even if health authorities are identifying super spread events – less likely now in many parts of the country due to vaccinations – you may not have heard of them. Of course, since you say phrases like Covidiots I doubt you are consuming the nuanced and balanced media which would report on large spreading events at all.

    Other countries which have low case counts carefully trace all cases to determine how the virus got a foothold in their country. With luck, we’ll be back in that phase of the pandemic soon – and I expect it’s only a matter of time before a largely unvaccinated congregation is identified as the cause of spreading many cases.

    It’s also possible that this late on enough people have gotten bit by the virus or stabbed with a needle that mass spread events aren’t likely. If so most spread will be to only a few people at a time and kill people slowly. Our wards will continue to release their guard and slowly and gradually some of their members will be infected and some will die. This less perceptible suffering is still bad even if it’s only a statistic and not a massive tragedy happening all at once.

  38. You have no idea where I consume my media, but I can assure you it’s much more balanced than Fox, CNN, MSNBC, etc.

  39. In the Upside Down Down says:

    Yeah, like OAN and NewsMax. Duh!

  40. Like I said, you have no idea. If you want balanced information, you can’t limit yourself to one source, or even a group of sources that lean completely in one direction. But go ahead and keep living in your world where everything is black and white.

  41. Geoff - Aus says:

    https://www.theaustralian.com.au/breaking-news/west-hoxton-nsw-superspreader-party-becomes-case-study-in-effectiveness-of-coronavirus-vaccines/news-story
    Here is an example of a party where one covid delta positive person attended, 6 people were vacinated, and were not affected, the other 24 have now all tested positive. But this is in a state with more than twice the population of Utah (250 new cases/ day) having 15 to 20 cases/ day, and in lockdown so the contact tracers can get on top of the outbreak.

    It sounds like some church services could be super spreaders, but would you know?

  42. I believe says:

    Vaccines work. Stop pretending they don’t. The odds of getting infected in most encounters were very low before. It’s astronomically low now for a fully vaxed person.

    The science and data on this is more clear than anthropogenic global warming.

    If you took the risk of being vaccinated, you’re plenty safe to go to church.

  43. I don’t know how sincere Dogheart2021 is. The comment feels like a spam comment to me, and would probably be best to be removed. It’s a comment that could be randomly applied to all recent posts for every blog. It’s purpose is to sow doubt where there need not be doubt. It’s not “just asking a question”. The reason why is because when you are asking a question, it should be a question to which there aren’t easily accessible answers. But there are easily accessible answers to the questions of mask and vaccine efficacy.
    The comment also reminds me of Innuendo Studio’s “I Hate Mondays”. I recommend it for everyone who hasn’t seen it, to watch it. I found it insightful in how there’s a certain mindset where if something isn’t 100% good, then it is bad. Only something which is 100% effective is acceptable. Life just isn’t like that though.

  44. We start unmasked church on July 4. That’s the same day we start having our second hour in person as well, instead of over Zoom, except that both meetings are only supposed to be 45 minutes apiece for now. We’re also returning to sitting in every row on July 4. People in my ward have been very good about following all the regulations, but they were all really excited when the changes were announced on Sunday. Like other people on this thread, however, I’m concerned about the Delta variant. My state is not quite at the 70-percent-vaccinated threshold (close, but not there yet), and although the town where I live is ahead of the rest of the state in that respect, there’s still a generous window for the variant to come in and take hold. I’d think about staying home for a while longer, except that my calling requires me to be on site. Others may not agree with me, but I do wish that we could keep the protocols in place until we reach 80 percent or more.

  45. Mike, there are plenty of things which get posted which I disagree with, and I don’t think should be removed. But Dogheart2021’s comment was particularly pernicious. It has a wolf-in-sheeps-clothing aspect to it.
    @Dogheart2021, I am glad that you are sincere. I’m glad that you are here. Looking at your first comment, given that it had nothing specific in it about returning physically to church, it looks exactly like a comment that a Russian spam bot could be spreading all over the internet with the intent of causing division in the western world.
    When the pandemic started we were just hoping for a vaccine with an efficacy rate higher than 50%. All of the vaccines (with the exception of the Sinovac vaccine) have an efficacy rate higher than 50%. Multiple of them are north of 90%. It’s something that I am very grateful for. And efficacy rates above 50% do make them good. They are certainly not “no good”. They are in fact very good. If they had an efficacy rate of around 99.999% I could have sympathy for the point of view that masks should never be needed for the vaccinated. But this first generation of Covid-19 vaccines aren’t in the 5 9’s territory. But one thing they for sure are is good.

  46. Samurai6 says:

    Sympathetic to all points of view on this. As much as we’d like to say we are driven by data and science, our minds just don’t really work that way. Hard to make us overrule our gut instincts and proximate experiences.

    I live in Idaho. You can guess what our ward is doing. I like being able to sing and attend church again but just like the work environment, I’d like physical attendance to be a flexible thing going forward as well.

  47. Dogheart2021 says:

    But anyway our wards policy is don’t ask don’t tell

  48. Just thought this was important. There seems to be an overall consensus here that the covid vax is safe and effective. This mother thought so too. There are many, many accounts like this.

    https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/mother-weeps-as-she-tells-senator-how-pfizer-shot-left-her-daughter-wheelchair-bound

  49. I attended in person this spring once I had immunity, the ward was split into three for in-person attendance purposes, and masks were mandatory. Now the ward has gone back to almost normal, so I estimate we have at least 150 unvaccinated, unmasked, singing people attending (in addition to the vaccinated folks). It just doesn’t feel safe, especially since this is in a county (Salt Lake County, Utah) with a high transmission rate. So I’ve gone back to watching from home, and unless things change, I won’t be attending in person until the community transmission rate goes down substantially.

  50. If you are immune why would you not feel safe?

  51. Mike, that’s at best a disingenuous question. It assumes things that are clearly false and I can’t understand why you would ask it. But on the (very remote) possibility that you’re actually asking a sincere question: why would he not feel safe? Plenty of reasons. Vaccination is incredible but it’s not a 100% bar against infection. And in fact it looks like vaccinated people are marginally more susceptible to the Delta variant than to other variants. And if Eric lives with a child under the age of 12 or with someone who is immunocompromised (or works with those populations or has family he wants to see with those populations or just doesn’t want to risk long Covid for himself) why would he go to a place where he’s indoors with a high number of unvaccinated people engaging in risky behavior?

  52. No Sam, it was not a disingenuous question. He didn’t mention any of the things you assumed would be the reason, so my question went to those potential issues. I’m vaccinated so I feel safe. I don’t have a family member who is immune-compromised and he didn’t mention any such thing. I simply wondered why this specific vaccinated person would not feel safe, since he didn’t offer anything in his comment that would explain.

    My broader question is why would a person who is vaccinated (and doesn’t have a person in his or her life who is at risk or any other issue you mentioned) not feel safe?

  53. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    I’m vaccinated and do healthcare research. I have read the studies, understand the effectiveness of the vaccines (which is impressive), and am aware of the risks involved for those who have been vaccinated (which are minimal). I am comfortable around others in grocery stores, all outdoor spaces, and at work with those who have also been vaccinated. I am not comfortable in indoor spaces in close proximity for an extended period of time with those not from my household (regardless of whether there is singing). And I live in a state with a very high vaccination rate. I won’t be attending in-person Church for a few more weeks, and probably intermittently after that. That’s partly COVID-related, and partly because I haven’t really missed it. There’s plenty of reason to still not feel safe. I don’t feel completely safe because there are a number of members who refuse to get vaccinated, and numerous others of unknown vaccination status or who may have compromised immune systems (and I won’t know who they are). I am less concerned about myself (I know the research and the benefits) than I am those I may still be able to transmit the virus to at Church. It’s not only about my susceptibility or my comfort level. This new variant is the real deal. It’s going to plow through the subset of the population that hasn’t been vaccinated and will lead to serious problems. Will not be surprised if it becomes necessary to reinstate restrictions in states that opened too early and that have low rates of vaccination (looking at you, Utah!).

  54. npwilkes says:

    Why is there no new direction from the Church Presidency with regards to the rapidly spreading Delta variant in Utah?

    It’s like we’ve all gone back to normal in the State (Utah) and churches are back to normal as well for the most part. Are we not setting ourselves up for a super spreader event(s) with this even more contagious variant?

    One would think that the leadership would be a bit more proactive with this sort of thing. Again it will be “too little too late.” I guess that is the typical reactive nature of humanity. Even with prophetic guidance perhaps we are no better.

  55. If I recall correctly, President Nelson counseled people early on to get vaccinated. Seems like he released a photo of himself getting his vaccination. I can’t speak for him or the church, but they’ve taught correct principles and . . . .

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