In response to the current and rapid rise of COVID 19 cases in our own area and across the nation, and the recent cases and potential exposures that we have experienced at Emmanuel, the Church Council has voted unanimously to suspend gathering in person for worship at this time and return to virtual worship/worship by phone only for the next three weeks, to include Christmas Eve worship, and the Sundays of December 26, January 2 and January 9. The Council will meet again on Tuesday, January 11 to reassess the situation and decide how to proceed at that time. 
Given the time of year, this was a very difficult decision for the Council to make. Considerations included  the average age of our worshipers and the current uncertainty surrounding the omicron variant. Additionally, continuing with in-person worship involves not only the pastor, but other worship assistants (musicians, ushers, readers, etc.), many of whom prefer not to meet in person at this time. The Council felt strongly that our best course of action would be to protect the health of worshipers and to slow the spread of the virus. Let us pray for those who are ill and for health care workers, and pray that we will soon be able to worship together in person, safely.