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Metaline Falls UCC pastor shares pandemic experiences

What affects the town of Metaline Falls has affected the churches, said the town’s mayor Tara Leininger, who is also pastor of the Metaline Falls Congregational United Church of Christ (MFCUCC), who shared comments in May.

Tara Leininger, pastor of Metaline Falls UCC. Photo courtesy of Tara Leininger

“Not all churches in our area followed guidelines,” she said. “Many did not enforce masks, social distancing or other recommendations. We at MFCUCC did.

“Thankfully, there were no super-spreader events in the North County, except at the school, but they were handled quickly,” she said.

For the first few months, Tara sent bulletins and a written sermon, which most of the congregation appreciated.

“When we could meet, in late June 2020, it was with social distancing, masks, no coffee fellowship, hymnals or Bibles. Tables and pews were cleared and I was Lysol-ing everything,” she said. “No one in the congregation was ever ill, and those we knew personally who did have COVID were saved from the worst, except some I knew as a pastor in other areas. I knew of some tough cases and three deaths.

In Metaline Falls, businesses struggled, but “they’ve always struggled a little so we were able to support some with COVID grants,” Tara said.

Most followed mask mandates. Some individuals did not, so the town often reminded them to wear them, Tara said.

“We are still feeling a bit ahead of the curve, so there is some frustration about ‘opening up’ more,” she said, “but I keep warning everyone to not let their guard down yet. We’re starting to see the spring tourists arrive—not a lot, but they are on the move.”

Tara said vaccinations have been and are readily available either through the Tri-County—Pend Oreille, Stevens, Ferry—Health District or through the local clinic.

“There was a good initial rush, but we have many anti-vaxxers up in this area so things are slow,” she said. “I think we are below the State average for percent vaccinated, but those of us shot are thankful for it.”

Interestingly, as a mayor and pastor Tara has been able to attend more meetings because they are offered on Zoom and other online means. It saves her the cost of travel and time.

“We are learning that meetings can be effective without throwing in miles and time, and from my corner of the state that is saying something,” she said.

A meeting in Spokane is a four-hour round trip—180 miles on average. A day is shot for a two-hour meeting.

“Online meetings are a blessing,” she affirmed. “We are going to see a great deal of change on how we do business in the future, but for MFCUCC, worship will be the same. With our small numbers of 10 to15, we’ve been social distancing for years.”

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Pacific NW UCC News © July 2021




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