While 2020 will likely go down as the year of COVID-19, it will also go down as the year of the mask. Several times a week for the past several weeks, we have come together and spent significant time talking about the steps we can take in order to look out for the well-being of our church family.
We are aware that many in our congregation long to come back to church and attend the worship services now that they have resumed, however, some remain hesitant due to health concerns. Towards that end, we have tried to take steps that might help alleviate some of these concerns, by promoting physical distancing, hand-washing, and the use of face coverings.
Of the three of these, the wearing of face-coverings is the most challenging for us. We have come to understand just how differently these masks are viewed by everyone. We have attempted to follow the guidelines put out by both the Federal and State Government, and are continuing to monitor the guidelines as they change and are clarified.
Yesterday morning the Pennsylvania Family Institute sent out information from the Pennsylvania Department of Health which clarified how the face-covering order applies to houses of worship. The latest information indicates that: “Individuals must wear a face-covering in any public place as well as outdoors when they are in a place where people are congregating and they cannot remain 6 feet apart from persons who are not a part of their household. Individuals should consider carrying a face covering in case they unexpectedly come in close contact with others.” (Underline ours)
As a staff, we ask that you continue to wear a face-covering as you enter and as you exit the services. Unless you choose to do so, it is not necessary to keep your mask on as long as you are able to distance yourself at least 6 feet from those not in your household.
One issue that was not addressed for houses of worship pertains to congregational singing. It is one of the concerns we are hearing from some in our church family who would like to come back and attend services. As a staff, our goal is to look out for our well-being while providing everyone with as much freedom as possible. May we suggest that for those of you who sing, please consider wearing your mask when doing so. We know that this is not ideal, however, we appeal to you on the basis of Philippians 2:4-5 which says, “Each of you should look out not only for your own interests but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” This passage goes on to describe how Jesus took on the nature of a servant. May we do the same, taking advantage of the opportunity to serve those who have also come to worship Jesus.
Thank you for your patience with us as we look to find our way through these days of uncertainty. Please pray for us to have wisdom and discernment as we look for Jesus to lead us. We will continue to pray for you, holding firm to the promise the LORD made to His people many years ago: “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)
The LORD bless you and keep you!
Bill, Ray, Shaun, Chris, Brady