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COVID Protocol – Updated June 12
Dear Faith Family,
This past Wednesday through Faith News, the Elder Executive Board announced a new “Covid Protocol” for our church. The intent behind our policy was to obey the governing authorities, care for the vulnerable, and take a step toward freedom from masks to better connect with one another. Through this entire process, we have sought guidance from the Lord and talked through many possible scenarios. We are trying to do what is best for the body of Faith.
We have heard from a number of you asking questions, seeking clarification, and expressing concerns. We have listened and learned of unintended consequences it has caused, and for this we are deeply grieved. Particularly around the privacy of health decisions, as with or without mask may communicate. It is putting individuals in uncomfortable positions, and some have already been deeply hurt by comments or assumptions from others regarding vaccines and masks. We are sorry for missing this important factor. We understand, and ask that all understand, there are many reasons for someone to choose to not receive the vaccine – and that vaccination status should not be a cause of judgement or division.
Thus, the EEB has agreed that effective immediately, masks continue to be worn by all at Faith until July 4. In taking this step, we recognize that we are requiring many to surrender their freedom for a few weeks longer. Starting Sunday, July 4, masks will be optional for everyone. July 4 is when Marion County projects they will move to make masks optional for all, based on broad vaccine acceptance that reduces the risk of infection. In the event that Marion County steps back from its current projection, a new state law will be in place which allows churches to step outside of local ordinances that place undue burdens on religious services and ministry.
This pandemic has been challenging and we are asking everyone to extend grace and assume the best about each other, regardless of vaccination status or mask-wearing. The Church is called to be a community that models grace, gentleness, understanding, and kindness. We can worship and serve together regardless of whether or not we wear masks or get vaccinated. Nobody’s decision about such things should ever be a cause of pride, criticism, or division. May the Lord increase our love for one another as we “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph 4:3).
— The Elder Executive Board (firstname.lastname@example.org)