AN IMPORTANT UPDATE - Updated May 22, 2020
In the face of conflicting guidance from state, county and even local authorities, it is easy to feel at liberty to act prematurely in reopening churches.
Many of our church members here in western Washington are understandably eager to return to regular assembly for worship.
UPDATED MAY 27
As conscientious Seventh-day Adventists who proclaim a message of health and wholeness, our stewardship of people should be foremost in our mind. Please continue to abide by the public health guidelines and the reopening phases in your county. The gospel can still go forward even with the challenges that we are facing.
When in doubt about how to proceed, the recommended and safest approach is to follow whichever guidance is the more restrictive. We encourage all local churches and schools to examine all guidelines that apply to their locale and comply with the more restrictive mandates.
As of this week, more counties in our conference territory applied for permission to move to phase 2 of the reopening process. This has not yet been approved.
Please be aware of what is happening in your local county as you plan for reopening the doors of the church buildings. Phase 3 is still the first time in which services will be allowed with 50 people or less. Drive in services are allowed in phases 1 and 2 with additional limited interactions allowed in phase 2. Even with assembly in Phase 3, the worship environment and experience will be different from what you remember because of a continued commitment to health and wellbeing.
Stay tuned to your state and local governments for news on when mandates have been lifted and continue working with your church boards on plans to reopen safely. Adventist Risk Management has an upcoming webinar series pastors and church leaders may want to watch.
The closing of our church buildings for worship has never been an issue about religious rights or liberties. It has been a matter of safeguarding the health of our church family members — especially those with the highest health risks. We want to continue to be part of the solution to avoid the unnecessary spread of infection in our communities.