- We are not going to mandate masks to be worn while people are in the building. Masks will be optional.
- The building will be available for use to those in our congregation but not for rent for outside groups until at least the Fall.
- The Children's Wing will reopen on April 11 to return to age-separated worship. Click here to read the full details of the Kids Church updated procedures and schedule.
Watch this video for a message from Pastor Josh:
How will the new policy will work for Sunday Mornings?
- We will continue to ask that people social distance while in the sanctuary for worship. This means we will keep the “every other pew” policy and ask you don’t sit next to those you don’t already see regularly.
- We will have a section for those who prefer not to wear a mask. We will also have a section for those who prefer to continue to wear a mask.
- The Lobby will be used for overflow if the sanctuary gets too crowded. The Sanctuary has a capacity of more than 240 people. Our goal will be to keep it to 100 people for a time and use the Lobby as an overflow area or move to multiple services if needed.
- If this policy makes you too uncomfortable, I encourage you to engage from home. I also ask that you acknowledge that there have been people who have attended over this past year who have not wanted to wear masks but have so they could participate in corporate worship with their church family.
How was the policy decided?
It was decided jointly by the Elders. We took into consideration what we understand about the virus, the people in our church and possible challenges moving forward. We committed ourselves to submitting to the wisdom and guidance of the majority.
Not all the Elders agreed with each other, but we are committed to unity.
- The vaccine works. The CDC says as much. Here is a direct quote from the CDC, “Currently authorized vaccines in the United States are highly effective at protecting vaccinated people against symptomatic and severe COVID-19. Additionally, a growing body of evidence suggests that fully vaccinated people are less likely to have asymptomatic infection and potentially less likely to transmit SARS-CoV-2 to others.”
- I sent a doctor friend of mine this text: “To your knowledge, is there any evidence that suggests the vaccine doesn’t work to prevent the symptoms or transmission of Covid-19?” He answered with “no.”
- So, after vaccinated, there is little to no evidence you can get the virus and you are unlikely to spread the virus. I don’t know of any research that has shown spread from a vaccinated person to an unvaccinated or visa versa. Yes, the CDC goes on to say that people should still distance and take precautions but they also say that people who have the vaccine do not need to quarantine or stay away from others if they have been exposed. There seems to be mixed messaging. All of available studies we have, have shown the vaccines to be very effective against protecting against the virus - its spread and its harmful effects. I thank God for this.
- The vaccine has been available to the most vulnerable and will be made available to everyone in our state by April 11th. In fact, by March 29th the vaccine will be made available for anyone over the age of 16. Anyone under 16 is more likely to die or be harmed in a car accident than they are by COVID-19.
- The vaccine has caused the number of deaths and cases to decline dramatically.
- We’ve been at this for over a year and I have seen and I am seeing not just the negative physical health affects but spiritual and mental. I am honestly trying to do what is best by helping us come out of a time of social isolation and fear of each other.
What about the governing authorities?
First, if we were going by the CDC’s recommendations over the past year we would have never met in person in this room or in our small groups. (There is also a complex relationship we have with the governing authorities in a Federalist system of government as citizens of the United States. Our President has suggested by July 4th we will be able to have small get togethers. This mimics the CDC’s suggestion that we shouldn’t be gathering at all right now. So, what we are doing at this moment in this room is something that we are told we shouldn’t do from the top Executive in the country and the organization that gives him policy suggestions. Then there is our state, local community and health department to take into consideration. Who should we listen to and when do we need to make our own decisions?)
Concerning the State of Ohio, I’d like to acknowledge church has always had a complex relationship with governing authorities in our country and in every country throughout its history as citizens of the kingdom of God. We are supposed to respect government and be willing to submit to laws that do not inhibit our worship of and obedience to God. I personally feel in light of the vaccine, the current and likely future policies we are being asked to follow are hindrance to worship and obedience. You are free to disagree with this conclusion or that what we are doing is best.
Further, the guidelines by the State of Ohio are not applied evenly. I’ll give a personal example; I can take my mask off at the gym. I go to the gym to stay healthy and prevent myself from the harmful effects the virus. If the local gym with 100’s to 1000’s of members can navigate a nuanced policy where you don’t have to wear a mask we can too.
What about protecting others?
The vaccine works. It may take up to two weeks for it to be fully effective yet the science shows it works. I actually recommend that if you aren’t allergic to the ingredients to the vaccine to get the vaccine. Vaccines throughout our history have saved lives and prevented suffering. My grandmother contracted Polio before that vaccine and now she bound to a wheel chair.
I understand that some at CDC are concerned about a variant of the COVID-19 virus that the vaccine doesn’t protect against. I am thankful for their concern and work. However, there are no active variants in or outside our country that studies have shown the vaccines don’t work against.
Finally, I think we should admit that some of the precautions that we have been asked to take have not been rooted science. There is no evidence that this virus spreads outside yet we have been asked to wear mask even outside while not social distancing or with people who are not members of our household.
What happens if there is a spike or we discover a variant that the vaccines aren’t effective against?
The Elders will reassess our policy and we will ask you to continue to be patient and pray for our church and its leadership.
Here is how I hope we all will handle this moving forward…
- Be patient and show grace to each other. This is not an issue worth splitting the family of God. Everyone has made personal sacrifices this past year to either protect others or show love for their church family. Jesus said, “We will be known by our love for one another.” Paul tells us “love bears all things and is patient.”
- Protect the unity of God’s church. This is still only a moment in time and we have tried to handle this with grace. I do not expect everyone to be satisfied with our policies or believe we have done or will do everything correctly. I do ask that everyone shows kindness, gentleness and respect toward each other moving forward.