Health & Safety
From the Elders and Deacons of Westminster Presbyterian Church, November 2020
The apostle Paul reminds us in his letter to the Corinthian church: “…do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Though he is addressing sexual immorality in this particular passage, the foundational truth applies: our bodies belong to the Lord, and part of our worship of God is the offering up of our bodies to the Lord for his own glory (see also Romans 12:1-2). As we navigate a world full of contagions, viruses, and other airborne illnesses, we, the officers of your church, offer the following as information and pastoral guidance.
FAITH, NOT FEAR
Our Sovereign Lord, who governs and preserves all his creatures and all his actions (Westminster Shorter Catechism, question #11), watches over his people. He knows our going out and coming in (Psalm 139). He neither slumbers nor sleeps (Psalm 121); his hand cannot be turned back nor his will thwarted (Isaiah 14:27). God’s people can take refuge in their Savior and trust in his goodness, perfections, and wisdom.
The world around is (and has been since the fall!) plagued by fear and anxiety. Yet the people of God shine light into that darkness and are to be a voice of calm, a voice of hope, a voice of peace through the good news of Jesus Christ. We must not, therefore, become slaves to fear or operate or live out of or from fear.
But we must also be wise as we seek to live in faith! Wise as serpents even as we maintain the innocence of doves (Matthew 10:16). This wisdom includes our role as stewards: God calls us to take care of not just creation and the gifts that God gives to us, but he also calls us to take care of our bodies and of our health and safety.
LOVE THY NEIGHBOR
When we consider issues of health and safety, as followers of Jesus Christ we must “count others more significant” than ourselves, which is the attitude of Jesus Christ himself (Philippians 2:1-11). Accordingly, our decisions regarding our personal health and hygiene must take into consideration the circumstances and livelihoods of those around us. Many in our congregation and community have compromised immune systems. Whether because of illness, medications, or sometimes just age, many in our midst have weakened immune systems that are more susceptible to complications from common contagions like the flu and especially the coronavirus. When making decisions about whether to go to work or school or to attend worship or Bible study we must take into consideration those around us. We must love our neighbors as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us!
WHAT YOU CAN DO
In addition to the precautions we are taking as a church (see below), each of us has a responsibility to love those around us by taking care of our personal health and hygiene. In particular, we recommend the following:
- Wear a mask during the worship services and when moving throughout the building.
- Wash your hands often! Use soap with warm water, scrubbing for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes, using a tissue or coughing/sneezing into your elbow (throw the tissue away, then wash or sanitize your hands!).
- If you have any symptoms, please stay home! (Click here for the CDC guide for symptoms.) Corporate worship is vitally important, and we ought not set it aside easily. However, when your attendance may compromise the health of those with weakened immune systems, we must love each other well by staying home until you have been symptom free (especially of a fever) for at least 10 days.
- If you are sick and are staying home, worship with us using our live-stream or the recording of our Sunday morning worship service, which you can find on our YouTube page here.
- If you are experiencing symptoms that may be related to COVID-19 (coronavirus), IU Health has set up a free online clinic, which you can access here.
- For those 65 years old and older and those with compromised immune systems, please stay home as much as possible and worship with us online using our live-stream or recorded services.
WHAT WE ARE DOING
During this challenging season, in order to facilitate corporate worship and life as a church community while also helping steward the physical health of those entrusted to our care, we are doing the following:
- Extra cleaning: we always thoroughly clean the building each week, but during this season we take extra time to make sure doorknobs and other frequently touched surfaces are wiped down and sanitized. The offering plates will be wiped down in between services as well. Additionally, we have purchased a sanitizing sprayer that we will use to sanitize the sanctuary in between the worship services.
- Suspending the greeting time: during this season, we will suspend both the greeting time and also the passing of the welcome pads.
- Removing frequently touched items: we have removed such items, including crayons, clipboards, hymnals, and Bibles.
- Individual communion cups: for the rest of this season, we will be using individually wrapped bread and juice cups.
- Shortened worship services: to minimize the spread of pathogens in the air, we will strive to keep our worship services under an hour in length; we will also remain seated during most of our singing times to reduce the forceful exhalation of those pathogens.
In addition to our care for your health, the officers of the church are also diligently working to ensure our safety during corporate worship. Some of the safety measures we currently employ include patrolling the hallways during worship services and also locking most of the outside doors ten minutes after worship begins. If you arrive late for worship, you will need to use the main doors on the north side of the building.
Furthermore, if there were some sort of emergency during worship, we strongly recommend that everyone shelter in place, until further instructions can be given. This means: get to the floor and take cover under the pews. By getting down—instead of chaotically rushing to the exits—we minimize panic and reduce the number and level of injuries.
We serve the King of the universe who watches over his people! God also calls us to be wise and exercise good stewardship. Stewardship includes our bodies, our health, and our safety. Please review this information and pastoral advice with those in your homes, and pray for our church and community: pray that God would make us a witness of calm, hope, and peace through the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ.