Dear Companions,

Many in our community are now aware of the COVID-19 testing event that took place on the Haywood Street campus Wednesday (December 9, 2020). While initial rapid antigen testing pointed to 17 positive cases, the follow-up confirmatory PCR testing showed that all 17 results were false positives. All individuals at this event who had positive rapid antigen tests, had confirmatory PCR test results that were negative and showed no evidence of infection.

In an attempt to do no harm, and out of concern for each member of our beautiful community we have come to the hard decision to drastically scale back the ministries at Haywood Street Congregation. Because of the stigmas of being unhoused, many of our friends are already physically and socially isolated, and in a way, they are initially more protected from this virus. However, if it gets into our unhoused community, it would likely be devastating. We have realized in this process that the social bubbles of housed people, even when minimized, increase the risk of transmission exponentially. It saddens me greatly to let you know we will discontinue companion involvement at this time, at least through February 1. We will work solely with a skeleton crew of staff until we get through the next 6-8 weeks, which are projected to be the worst of this pandemic.

In the way that this community always does, we will find new ways to stay connected, adapt, and find energy. I know this has been a long ten months, full of grief and isolation for many. In the midst of this pandemic, we now find ourselves in this season of Advent. Together, we are waiting for Light to enter the world. I hope you all will wait patiently with us, staying connected in the ways we can as we continue to seek the Light that is ever-present in our relationships.

With Love and Gratitude,

Hannah Neitzey
Companion Coordinator