We, your pastors and faith leaders, join the chorus, from the CDC to the American Academy of Pediatrics to doctors and public health oﬃcials in our own counties, to choose to take all necessary measures to keep each other healthy and alive; the pandemic is not over.
Each of us will be the ﬁrst to admit we’ve enjoyed a summer more free of masks. We do not look forward to regularly masking up again. Like everyone, we are tired and want to be done with the virus. But it isn’t done with us.
The science and experts are clear: it is imperative that we get back to previous protective measures in order to prevent further spread of COVID-19. The vaccines are not yet an option for many, including children under 12, and the Delta variant is a more ﬁerce enemy than the original strain.
We are not infectious disease specialists. We lean on their expertise in this crisis. And we urge our elected leaders, especially our school boards, to do so as well.
We are theologians. We understand the impulse, we feel it in ourselves, to rationalize and to theologize reasons to not take any protective measures. We see, hear and think “individual freedom” and “faith over fear.”
But we follow the One who tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves; many of the protective measures are exactly that. Over and over again, we read passages like this in our Bibles: Don’t look out for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too (Philippians 2:4).
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We implore you: talk to your doctor. Get vaccinated. Wear a mask. Stay healthy and alive. And do what you can to help others do the same.
Sister Kathleen Atkinson, osb, Ministry on the Margins
Deacon Alexandra Benson, Heart River Lutheran Church
Rev. Sylvia Bull, Faith Lutheran Church
Rev. Kermit Culver, Legacy United Methodist Church
Rev. Gretchen Deeg, Bismarck United Church of Christ
Rev. Gail Hagerty, Heart River Lutheran Church, Mandan
Rev. Jenny Hallenbeck Orr, McCabe United Methodist Church
Bishop Laurie Haller, Dakotas-Minnesota Episcopal Area & Iowa UMC Resident Bishop
Rev. Derek Harkins, Faith Lutheran Church
Rev. Karl Kroger, McCabe United Methodist Church
Rev. Paul Lint, Wesley Acres Camp, Valley City
Rev. Kris Mutzenberger, district superintendent of the Dakotas UMC, Eastern ND
Rev. Dale V. Nabben, Lord of Life Lutheran Church
Rev. Kevin G. Nelson, Peace Lutheran Church, Lincoln
Bishop Craig A. Schweitzer, Western North Dakota Synod-ELCA
Rev. Leanne Simmons, First Presbyterian Church
Pastor Cory Thrall, Washburn and Center United Methodist churches
Rev. Brandon Vetter, Legacy United Methodist Church
Rev. Beth Walch, Lord of Life Lutheran Church
Rev. Joel Winckler, district superintendent of the Dakotas UMC, Western ND