A Pastor’s Note to Grace Covenant – May 21, 2021

The day that many have been looking forward to has finally arrived. At least the day has come when we begin to see the first steps back toward pre-COVID measures. As most are no doubt aware, late last week the Governor of Virginia, in accord with recent recommendation from the CDC, issued a revision to previous executive orders and issued a new executive order, Executive Order 79. In line with these new directives, Grace Covenant’s Deacons have drafted new guidelines for our church. Grace Covenant Elders have approved the recommendation from our Deacons.

Beginning this Sunday morning, May 23, the COVID-19 safety protocols that we have been exercising will be relaxed, in two phases, as follows:

Phase 1 – Starting with the first worship service on May 23rd, 2021:

  • In accordance with the Virginia Governor’s Executive Order 72 (as amended on May 14th) and the CDC guidelines, masks will no longer be required to be worn for people who are fully vaccinated.
  • In accordance with the Governor’s order any persons aged 5 or older, who are not vaccinated, should wear a mask and social distance to minimize exposure.
  • All seating arrangements will remain in a social distanced set up to comply with Executive Order 72’s requirements for religious activities.

Phase 2 – Starting with the first worship service on May 30th, 2021:

  • In accordance with the Virginia Governor’s Executive Order 79 (effective May 28th) and CDC guidelines, masks will no longer be required to be worn for people who are fully vaccinated.
  • In accordance with the Governor’s order any persons aged 5 or older, who are not vaccinated, should wear a mask and social distance to minimize exposure.
  • Seating will be adjusted to more generous levels to allow for additional capacity in the service as needed.
  • There will be no other facility limitations. Cleaning will be done on an as necessary basis to ensure surfaces are disinfected in high demand areas.

So the short of it is this: Beginning this Sunday morning, May 23, masks will no longer be required for those who have been fully vaccinated. All those who have not been fully vaccinated should wear masks over their nose and mouth whenever they are in the building. Beginning next Sunday, May 30, the other regular COVID-19 safety protocols that we have been exercising, such as physical distancing and room max capacities, will be suspended. However, the cleaning of chairs between services will continue; and we continue to ask people who are not feeling well to worship with us at home via LiveStream.

We understand that comfort levels are going to vary from person to person. It is likely that there will be a mixture of people wearing masks and not wearing masks at our worship services for a while. Please strive to respect the decisions of others and to not make assumptions regarding the circumstances or motives of other people. We have been tremendously blessed by the attitudes and responses of our Grace Covenant family throughout this unpleasant season. For that we are thankful. Now, we thank you in advance, as we continue to work together, and as we do our best to cultivate ministry that honors God, offers due respect to our governing authorities (Romans 13.1-5), and blesses both our church family and our neighbors.

Outdoor Service

On Sunday May 30 we are going to do something a little different – at lease in our first service. On that morning, we will hold our 8:30 service outside, on the front lawn of the church property. There have been some who have requested that we hold outdoor services, and after the great response to our Easter on the Lawn option, it seemed like a good time to try it. Recognizing that there may be some who, due to allergies or other health concerns, would not feel comfortable worshipping in the outdoors, we are only holding the early service outside. Our 11am service will be indoors, as usual. For those joining us at 8:30, we invite you to bring your lawn chairs, and/or picnic blankets, your canopies – maybe even your beach tent – and find a comfortable space on the lawn. We expect to provide some seats, though probably a limited number, for those who might find the camp-style seating a difficulty. It would be helpful to us if you would let us know in advance if you would like for us to set up a folding chair. Advanced notice will give us a better idea of how many we will need. I will provide more details in a note next week. In the meantime, if you have any questions, feel free to contact the church office.

There is a lot going on, but I think these two items are sufficient for today. I look forward to seeing everyone on Sunday – to seeing whole faces on some of you, and not just from the nose up. Have a wonderful weekend!

Grace & Peace,

W. Dennis Griffith, Lead Pastor

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