Pastor’s Blog Feb./March 2021

Feb 6, 2021 by

Dear Benn’s Church Family and Friends,
We have been limited in our abilities to safely gather, travel, work, recreate, grieve or celebrate, or just live, for a long time now. I imagine you are weary from it, as am I. We miss each other very much, and we miss terribly being able to worship together in both our services and to meet for all the other classes, missions, and fellowship events we used to enjoy. Right now,
only non-worship groups of 10 or fewer people may meet in person. But I know you are made of good mettle, and that with the continued grace of God, you will be able to hang in there yet a while longer. So, I wanted to give you an update on our situation at Benn’s and in Virginia.
An Update about Benn’s Worship:
Benn’s UMC’s Healthy Church Team (HCT)* met virtually the last Tuesday of January to re-assess our mode of worship during the ongoing pandemic. At
present, as you know, we are not worshiping in person but online, using Facebook Live. Dr. Dan Garland, in his work with Obici Hospital, receives
local data on the COVID-19 virus daily. He and the HCT chairperson, Debbie Anderson, who is a nurse, help guide our decisions, for which we are grateful.
The latest data shows that COVID cases in our area remain at high levels and indicate that they will continue to stay high for the next month at least.
Therefore, the HCT and I decided that the best practice for Benn’s is to continue worshiping online only for the month of February. The HCT will
meet again at the end of February to assess the situation at that time. I am most grateful to our HCT and their faithful dedication and hard work.
With the introduction of vaccines, our society and our local area are beginning the long, hard work of defeating the virus so that we may
return to a more normal lifestyle. Meanwhile, our best defense is to continue wearing multilayered masks (especially to protect from new variations of the virus) and social distancing, etc. I give thanks
to God and the scientists who have developed vaccines, as well as to all the medical care-givers and front-line workers in this war against COVID19, for helping us in this battle.

Dr. Fauci Answers Questions about the
Vaccines for Faith and Medical Leaders in VA:

Recently, a group of religious leaders in Virginia, “Facts, Faith, and Friday,” along with several medical groups in Richmond, organized a webinar about the virus with Dr. Anthony Fauci and Governor Ralph Northam. Dr. Fauci said our nation will need to get 70-85% of the population vaccinated before we can reach herd-immunity.
This will take until at least mid-fall of this year, if vaccine supplies continue to reach people steadily. But that is hopeful news! Are the vaccines safe? Can we trust them? Dr. Fauci addressed several questions about vaccinations that he has heard from people. People often ask him if the vaccines are safe, since they were developed so quickly. He said the vaccine
development process went so quickly because of new, extraordinary development of vaccine technology. Secondly, people also ask whether the
quick development of vaccines were being pushed too soon by groups with political or profit agendas. He said, no; there is a totally independent body that makes the decisions to approve these vaccines – the Data & Safety Monitoring Board. He said this board is independent from pharmaceutical
companies and politicians. He assured the listeners that the vaccines are safe.
Do we have to have the second shot? Dr. Fauci said getting the second dose of those vaccines that require one is “absolutely essential.” The first
dose has not been proven to be sufficient alone without the second. One must have the booster shot, he said. New vaccines are also being
approved and coming out very soon, some of which may need only one shot. Can you catch the virus from the vaccination? Dr. Fauci said some people believe one can get the virus from the vaccine. But he said this is not
possible, as it does not contain the whole, live virus. One’s body’s response to it – i.e., the symptoms you may expect to have, if any – are similar to those from a flu shot or other vaccines. He had his first shot and it caused a mild ache in his arm 6-10 hours later. It was gone within a day. Some people get a little fever or an ache. As is the case with a number of other vaccines, a few people may have a worse, allergic reaction to it. There are eleven per 1 million people who have a history of strong allergic reactions, he said. Therefore, it is best to get your shot in a place where they can respond if you have a reaction. Recently on the news, I heard Dr. Fauci talk about his booster shot. He said he felt fatigued, a little achy, and chilly for about 24 hours, but he did not feel sick. After that, he felt fine. Vaccines are Important: I strongly encourage each of you to get your vaccinations as
soon as you are able (unless, of course, your doctor gives you a reason not to). It is very important that most all of us get vaccinated. It will save lives and help people return to jobs and schools, and it will allow us to return to in-person worship sooner. I plan to get my first shot as soon as I qualify.
Governor Northam’s Plan: Gov. Northam said in an earlier news conference that he has a multi-step plan that ups the numbers of vaccinations
as supplies and organization fall into place. He has established a team to organize the vaccination process and appointed Dr. T. K. Obula to oversee it.
Northam will assign the National Guard to help with vaccination. On Jan. 27, he said he is also working closely with pharmacies to speed up the
vaccination process. Gov. Northam said he is asking the Department of Health to set up a statewide dashboard and phone number where people may go to find out when and how they may get their shots in their local area. This will be up and running soon. You may also sign up for your shots through your local health department. Right now, Virginia is allocating shots in the following way: half the doses they have are going to frontline essential workers, including teachers, and the most vulnerable; and half the doses are going to those 65 and older. For more information, see: and For the Virginia Conference of the UMC’s information on COVID19 and worship, see:
Thank you so very much for your love and care of one another and of your neighbor, witnessing to Christ’s love, as you endure (Mt. 24:13) until the virus is finally under control. God is with us and will keep us in the meantime. And may God bless you richly in the coming days!
Yours in Christ,
Betsy Caudill

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