Dear New Life Church Family,
The new “normal” for all of our members and regular attenders has once again changed. Up to this point we have only received guidance. We now have STATE HEALTH OFFICER ORDER RELATING TO DISEASE CONTROL MEASURES TO PREVENT THE SPREAD OF 2019-nCoV/COVID-19 PURSUANT TO NORTH DAKOTA CENTURY CODE § 23-01-05(12)
ORDER # 2020-08. This is in effect a statewide mask and social distancing order by the State of North Dakota. The order says:
Effective November 14, 2020, at 12:01 a.m. through December 14, 2020, at 12:01 a.m., face coverings are required in indoor businesses and indoor public settings, as described in this Order. Face coverings must also be worn in outdoor business and public settings when it is not possible to maintain physical distancing. This order applies to all workers, patrons, customers, visitors or guests unless exempt under Paragraph 4 of this Order.
Paragraph 4 only applies to individuals with medical conditions, mental health conditions, or disabilities that make it unreasonable for the individual to maintain a face covering; children under 4; and individuals at their workplace when wearing a face covering would create a job hazard for the individual or others.
So far as this order pertains to church services, we are a circumstance where mandatory face coverings may be TEMPORARILY removed. The order states that masks may be temporarily removed “When an individual is participating in a religious service at a faith based organization, provided that physical distancing is maintained to the extent possible between persons who are not members of the same household.” The phrases “participating in a religious service at a faith based organization” and “to the extent possible” in regard to social distancing are problematic for interpretation. Therefore, we are asking that face coverings be worn until we are seated with the members of our household and actually participating in worship. We are also asking that we social distance and refrain from any physical contact other than those of our immediate households.
There are many opinions on this order, as well as masks and social distancing in general. We would prefer to not make a decision to cancel any church activities and worship gatherings again so we believe it is wise to exercise caution and defer to following the order as befits members of Christ’s church, setting aside our personal preferences in hope to be good witnesses of our faith. These choices should not be made out of pride nor panic, but love for our neighbors and the desire to advance the gospel. We just want what is best for our community.
On behalf of New Life on Main’s leadership and in Christ,
”Let everyone submit to the governing authorities, since there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are instituted by God.” — Romans 13:1 (CSB)