Covid-19 & Christian Obligations | October 30, 2020
Your elders met last night (October 29th) to discuss how best to move forward in light of the recent outbreak of Covid in our congregation and the accelerating incidents in our broader community. Adam Post, Director of Business Operations at Spectrum Health, gave the following report:
- "Hospitals are nearing capacity across our community. Current hospital status at Spectrum Health and many of the other hospitals in the community is Yellow. A Red status represents that we are completely full, looking for beds outside of the four walls of the hospital, and canceling elective surgeries to free up beds. We hope we don’t get there.
- Covid + patient census is exponentially increased: This morning we are at 167 positive cases over all of Spectrum Health. This represents a peak 2x higher than we have ever seen before. Our peak in late spring was 80 patients total. Though the length of stay and mortality has been flat, this is still a strain on our resources.
- Positive test percentages are incredibly high, validating that Kent County has experienced exponential spread of the virus and positive members of our community: Yesterday's positive rate was 12%; the goal is to keep this stat under 4% max. If under 4% it leads many to believe that the community has the virus under better control. In the last seven days, the positive rate for Spectrum Health is 9% which is up 300% from the summer time.
- Community positivity is exponentially increased: Kent County has been the third county on the list as far as new positive cases. Over the last seven days, however, Kent County is leading the state in new positive cases. We are seeing significant numbers of staff members from Spectrum Health getting sick with Covid-19 and there are beginning concerns of how we will take care of an ill community if the health care providers are ill themselves."
The Session considered how best to respond to this recent increase by asking, “what are our relevant obligations in light of God’s Word?”
- The 4th commandment calls us to do all that we can to promote and preserve our ability to gather for corporate worship.
- The 5th commandment calls us to honor those whom God has placed in authority over us.
- The 6th commandment calls us to do all that we can to preserve life and one another's welfare.
- The 8th commandment calls us to protect one another's financial interests. (This applies since many Harvest members are required to fill out health forms at work asking if they have been in contact with anyone with Covid and requiring a 14-day quarantine if they have. There are often financial hardships associated with this.)
In light of these commands and the current spike in Covid-19 cases, the Session decided to return to the practice of using masks during all Sunday services while singing and reciting. We will also increase social distancing in the auditorium. There will be slightly fewer seats available in the auditorium but, based on current attendance, enough for everyone to worship at one of the two morning services and the evening service. This policy will be reviewed in three weeks.
More important than our mask policy, there’s the matter of our heart perspective. What are the eternal realities we are setting our hearts on and what are the primary principles we are pursuing in these unusual and challenging times? What do we most desire?
- We desire to glorify God by doing all that we can to love and obey Him and love one another according to His Word.
- We desire to honor the Lord by resting in His sovereignty and good providence and enjoying Him through worship and the fellowship of the saints.
- We desire to see the gospel spread through the preaching of the Word and the loving, patient, trusting, attitude of God’s people. We are not defined by our mask policy! We are defined by our love for Christ and our desire to see His work move forward and His Name be exalted!
- We look forward to the coming day when there will be no more sickness, no more tears, no more sin – just the joy of being with our Lord forever in a new heaven and earth. Let’s thank the Lord for the trials we face now which are preparing us for the glory we will know then!
Yours in Christ,
On Behalf of the Harvest Session
In order to better love our community and promote both their safety and ours, the Session is asking our congregation to observe the following practices:
Prior to Sunday
- Take time to read the indoor and outdoor worship protocols that have been approved by Session. As you can imagine, in-person worship will be different than it was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Public health and safety plays a more visible role than it did before.
- You must submit an RSVP if you plan to attend in-person worship. Each location has limited capacity.
- If anyone in your household is not healthy, please worship via livestream to protect the health of others. We also ask the elderly and immunocompromised to consider worshiping via livestream at this time. (Those who for reasons of health or conscience do not feel comfortable attending in-person gatherings at this time are encouraged to worship via livestream. While we have a command to worship our God, the session wants to preserve the liberty of conscience for all members to fulfill this command either in person or via livestream during these extraordinary circumstances.)
- If you have any questions or need to change your reservation, please email email@example.com
- We ask that those attending the 9 AM service park to the right while those attending the 11 AM service park to the left.
- Auditorium chairs are set up to allow for social distancing. We ask that you allow ushers to seat you to allow the greatest number of people to worship together in the auditorium.
- Please express non-contact greetings to one another from an appropriate distance. Here are a few fun suggestions.
- Please bring your own mask.
- Offering: Offerings will be taken in person. (If you are not able to attend in person, we ask you to consider donating online or through the tithe.ly app.)
- Cry Rooms: Cry rooms are set available in both nurseries (not staffed with volunteers) as well as in classrooms 1/3 down the hall.
- Nursing Moms Room: A nursing moms room is in rooms 5/7.
- Masked Area: The craft room continues to remain a “masked at all times” area. Please sign up to worship here if you prefer.
- Fellowship: Fellowship time will occur between the services from 10:15-10:45 AM for attendees of both services.
This is just the third phase of our reopening. We will constantly be evaluating and adjusting our approach as the situation changes. Some of you may be disappointed that there are restrictions in place and others may be fearful that the restrictions will not be followed. Our responsibility before the Lord and to one another is to navigate these differences of opinion with grace, love, and an eagerness to maintain our unity with one another during this time. We also ask you to be flexible and open to change. Many of the decisions we make are to protect the health and safety of the most vulnerable among us, and this is a dynamic situation that will surely change as time goes on.
As always, please feel free to contact your shepherding elder if you have questions or concerns.
Yours in Christ,
The Congregational Life Team