Thanks for the feedback some of you have given regarding the proposed changes to our services, schedule of events, and group activities. We appreciate you taking time to contribute. This comes as an update to several of the issues noted earlier. As always, feel free to give suggestions.
As we mentioned in our recent letter, September 20, 2020, we feel that in respect to the Virginia Governor’s mandate, we should mask when attending indoor services.
Since that letter, we have learned of a Madison County court order dated September 23, 2020, in which the Governor conceded that religious services of fewer than 250 people are only subject to Executive Order 63. This was the original mandate regarding face coverings and social distancing. While this concession does not annul the face covering and social distancing requirement, it effectively places the burden of the face covering and social distancing order on the individual rather than the organization. This means the church would not be held accountable for not enforcing the mandate. We mention this development to acknowledge that we are aware of the ruling and have discussed its implications.
You may be wondering why we did not recommend wearing face coverings for indoor services when Executive Order 63 initially came out May 26. That is a good question. At the time, we reviewed the order carefully along with the Forward Virginia Phase III guidelines. We noted that although the executive order mandated face coverings for social gatherings, the requirement was painstakingly missing from the Forward Virginia Phase III guidelines document referred to in the executive order for additional information. By contrast, the order was reiterated in the Forward Virginia Phase III guidelines for every other venue such as businesses, places of entertainment, and brick and mortar establishments. Our conclusion was that an exception was being made for religious services. With the amendment to Executive Order 67, however, we realized that face coverings were clearly in view with the original Executive Order 63 since part of the amendment was directed towards religious services.
We know that many of you are keeping up with these developments, and we want to be clear on our rationale for our past and current recommendations. With the varied opinions among us regarding wearing face coverings for church services, we ask that we all offer respect and consideration to each other.
Again, we feel that we should observe the mandates of our civil authorities and therefore mask for indoor services. This would apply to those 10 and older with the exception of those who feel they cannot mask because of either health reasons or conscience. Disposable masks will be available at the door. Speakers will not need to mask.
While we will continue to hold services outside as long as weather permits, we are planning our first indoor service this Sunday, October 4, as the weather is predicted to be cool. The service begins at 10:45 a. m.
Sunday Service Format
To give us a little more time to work through the logistics of a socially distanced Sunday school plan, we will wait until after our Communion service October 11 to hold Sunday school. The Sunday school superintendents will be initiating this planning process.
Since we will be wearing face coverings for indoor services, we recommend that we seat every other bench rather than every third bench in the auditorium.
As announced earlier, we are planning separate evenings for counsel meeting.
- Tuesday evening, October 6 for the brothers
- Wednesday, October 7 for the sisters
Details about location and time will be coming later.
We are planning our Communion service October 11. This service would be held indoors and begin at 10:00 a.m.
We plan to use individual servings of the emblems and will omit the feet washing ceremony for this occasion. We see this as a temporary adjustment from our typical practice in order to be sensitive to concerns of COVID spread.
Thank-you again for your support as we work through these sensitive issues. We don’t want these things to compromise the love and care that we show to each other.
Blessings to all of you, and we look forward to seeing you Sunday!
The Ministry Team