Elder Update: Coronavirus Guidelines For Our Sunday Gatherings
Below is the Elder Update given on Sunday, June 21 on guidelines for maintaining social distancing during our worship services. Please read it so you're aware of our guidance.
I want to speak briefly, on behalf of the elders, about our continued efforts to lead the church in the midst of COVID-19. First, I want to tell you that the elders have deliberated together, praying for wisdom, and made decisions to the best of our ability for honoring God and serving this body. I also want to mention the guiding principles that we have considered with each decision: honoring God, loving each other, honoring the government, and being mindful of our witness in the world.
Next, I want to remind you of the decisions we have made to date. Along with the staff and deacons, we have made extensive efforts to maintain social distancing by limiting the number of people in each service, spacing seat groups to provide buffer, controlling the flow of people in and out, making masks and sanitizer available, and sanitizing surfaces between services. We have also asked everyone to maintain social distancing inside and outside the church. And we reiterate that guidance – we have become very lax on this. Please do not stand on the sidewalk as you leave the building. Stand on the grass to talk with others while you practice social distancing. We are happy to be together again, and the body is enjoying being together as we should, but please adhere to the guidance of our government and our direction to maintain social distance.
We have done all of this because, while we are in a unique time that has brought definite challenges to gathering, gathering is a vital part of the life of the body and our spiritual growth, and we want to make every effort to do so. We also understand that there are various opinions and comfort levels on some issues – some don’t feel comfortable gathering right now, so we have continued to make online worship materials available; some are comfortable gathering with a mask, so we have made those available and are requiring masks for everyone in the third service; and some have health concerns about wearing a mask, find that masks make breathing difficult, or prefer to not wear masks for other reasons, so we haven’t required masks in the first 2 services. Along with that, for those who would elect to not wear a mask out of personal preference, we have encouraged, and we do encourage, wearing masks out of love for neighbor.
Now for the update - As you probably know, on Friday, Raleigh’s mayor Baldwin gave guidance for everyone, while in the City of Raleigh, to wear masks “where it is not possible to maintain social distance or where recommended social distancing practices are not being followed”. This order includes grocery stores, pharmacies, business locations, parking lots, sidewalks, and public transit, and it was given in response to Mayor Baldwin observing the public’s neglect of maintaining social distancing.
We are encouraged that we have already instituted processes to maintain social distancing and adhere to social distancing guidelines, and so we don’t see Mayor Baldwin’s directive as requiring masks as we gather. However, we understand that it is incumbent on us all to honor the governing authorities by maintaining social distancing not just in the church building, but outside the building, and as you are in public places as described in the mayor’s order. Remember that we honor God in loving each other, honoring our government, and being mindful of our witness.
We can't be certain how long these guidelines will be in place. We will continue to make adjustments as warranted by prevailing conditions and directives from our government leaders
Again, it is our desire to serve and lead this body well. We encourage you to continue praying for an end to the pandemic, for our government leaders to have wisdom in decision-making, for each other to grow in love for Christ and the fruits of the Spirit, and for the church leadership as we seek to honor Christ in decisions and care for you.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Go in peace.