Greetings Hope Ridge Family and Guests,
Last week in this forum I discussed the specific commandment of Jesus; “that you love
one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” I must tell you that in my nine weeks at Hope Ridge, I have witnessed your genuine love for one another. I have experienced for myself your willingness to “embrace the stranger”. Over the course of the last three weeks, I have felt your love and support personally as my family and I experienced the loss of my dear father. I cannot express to you just how much your cards, flowers, hugs, and messages of support have meant to Robin and me, and our extended family.
Today, I must bring you the news that you most likely have anticipated. Some will welcome
this news and others will be upset by it. I pray that we may respond however as a unified body of
faith to continue to love and respect one another even through our differing opinions.
On Thursday, August 12th, 2021, the Ohio Department of Health identified Lake County
as a Level 3 (Red) state of emergency in relation to the recent surge in COVID-19 activity. Since
that time, our entire state has entered that status. The spread of COVID-19 continues to be a real
threat particularly among the unvaccinated. For that reason, at our regularly scheduled meeting
of Tuesday, August 24 I asked our Administrative Council to review our policy on COVID
response. The result of that very good discussion was an affirmation of the policy placing
emergency decision-making regarding COVID in the hands of the Lay Leader, Ad Council Chair, and Pastor.
There was significant discussion around mask-wearing and vaccinations. Arguments on
both sides of the issue were calmly and rationally presented. Ultimately there was agreement that
at this time, it is appropriate to ask our congregation to adhere to the CDC guidelines reading;
“To maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possible spread to others, everyone
should wear masks when indoors in public regardless of vaccination status.”
Friends, I repeat what I wrote last week; “Loving one another is caring for one another. Caring for one another, in turn, requires of us to make responsible decisions in the protection of
each other.” I encourage everyone to continue attending services in person but please wear an
appropriate mask. If you arrive without one, we will have a supply of masks available at the
door. If you feel you cannot wear a mask, I encourage you to attend through our various online
platforms in order to stay connected with this wonderful community of faith.
Our mask-wearing will extend to all meetings and other gatherings inside the church building. Further, during this period of extra caution, the Cafe’ will not be serving on Sunday mornings. I do encourage you to continue to visit with each other in that space, but ask that you remain masked when doing so.
Let us pray that the current spike in cases dissipates as more people receive the FDA-approved vaccines. When Lake County returns to an orange or yellow rating, we will relax our
policy. In the meanwhile know that you all are in my prayers for health, safety, love, grace,
understanding, and patience through this difficult time and always.