Dear Bonney Lake Attenders,
We have had on-site services for the last three Sundays and I felt that I needed to clarify our Covid-19 safety policies.
The CDC (Whose guidelines are much less stringent than ours in Washington state) wrote with regard to their advice on Covid-19 mitigation and face coverings…
“Encourage use of cloth face coverings among staff and congregants. Face coverings are most essential when social distancing is difficult. Note: Cloth face coverings should not be placed on children younger than 2 years old, anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, and anyone who is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face covering without assistance. Cloth face coverings are meant to protect other people in case the wearer is unknowingly infected but does not have symptoms.”
“This guidance is not intended to infringe on rights protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution or any other federal law, including the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA). The federal government may not prescribe standards for interactions of faith communities in houses of worship, and in accordance with the First Amendment, no faith community should be asked to adopt any mitigation strategies that are more stringent than the mitigation strategies asked of similarly situated entities or activities.”
Governor Jay Inslee has given the following requirements (along with many others) for Churches and faith based organizations…
4. All employees, members, and visitors in attendance shall wear face coverings before, during, and after the service (whether indoor or outdoor).
6. No choirs shall perform during the service. Singing is permitted, but individuals must not remove their face coverings to sing – it must stay on for the duration of the service.
Over the past three weeks we have not been in compliance with the governors “requirements.” Though some believe that these requirements violate our 1stAmendment rights and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act; and even though the efficacy of masks are scientifically disputed, we want to find ways to respect anyone who believes face coverings are vital for the health and safety of others. On all debatable issues there are some who believe solutions are black and white one way or the other. Some believe we must stand up for our freedoms. On the contrary, others believe we must wear a mask to protect others and because our state is requiring it.
In order to be all things to all people, we have chosen to allow each attender to decide for themselves with regard to facial coverings. This is not really a matter of following the rules or not. Even if none of us wore masks we would be in compliance with the rules that are laid out in our first amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.
Due to the fact that singing may project a large number of potentially infected particles into the air, we will refrain from singing during our worship services and/or require everyone singing to wear a mask. We would encourage those who choose not to wear a mask to refrain from singing and instead spend the time in prayer for things like our country, our leaders in government, and for the unity and well-being of our communities and families.
The Covid-19 virus is real and we are taking precautions to help mitigate the spread of the virus. But we will continue to allow some personal liberty for attendees with regards to wearing a mask or cloth face covering.
If you do not feel comfortable attending due to this decision or if you consider yourself vulnerable to contracting Covid-19 please plan to join us for our online services. Also, please remember that some may choose not to wear a mask for medical reasons as was already mentioned per the CDC:
“Cloth face coverings should not be placed on children younger than 2 years old, anyone who has trouble breathing (medical conditions) or is unconscious, and anyone who is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face covering without assistance. Cloth face coverings are meant to protect other people in case the wearer is unknowingly infected but does not have symptoms.”
Anthony Cathey (On behalf of the Leadership of BLCC)
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