Hello everyone. I decided to give Opening Words today because I wanted to give an update on where we are. It has now been more than a year since we closed the Ethical Society’s building due to COVID. In that time we have achieved so much together as a community. We transferred all our programs online; developed many new ones; and have done everything we could to keep this community together despite being physically distant. I want to take a moment to thank our staff: Christian Hayden; Nancy Jelinek; Louise Jett; Kat Wier; JD Brooks; and Terri Arscott. They have all worked incredibly hard to ensure that the Ethical Society of St. Louis remained a community, even if only virtually. I also want to thank all the members who have stepped up to offer online programs: there are too many of you to name, but each of you has made a huge different to the life of this community. Thank you.
We are now actively planning for reopening. We still cannot say exactly when we will be able to fully reopen, but we are monitoring the situation and have a team meeting tomorrow to discuss how to proceed. It is fantastic that vaccines are now widely available, and I am hoping that everyone in a vulnerable category has already been vaccinated: if not, you should get on that immediately. However, I do want to remind everyone that even though vaccinated you can still get the virus, and that we are still in the midst of a pandemic. There is evidence of further spikes in infections, particularly among young people – so please continue to social distance, wear masks, and stay safe.
We have currently planned for virtual Sunday gatherings until the end of this programming year, through the end of August. Ideally we will be able to meet again in person for Platform in September, when we hope to be offering live-streamed and in-person gatherings simultaneously. But we may be able to allow the use of the building for small gatherings before then, so if you are a member of a group, committee, or team which would like to use the building, can you please send me an email with a request? I am not guaranteeing that these requests will be honored – I just want to see if there is interest.
Finally, I want to thank all of you, for sticking with us and continuing to be human, together. I’ve appreciated all of you, and been inspired by you, as we have weathered this storm.