As many of you have already seen, Governor Northam issued a mandate for all healthy Virginians, 10 years of age and over, to wear a mask in any public building as a means to help stifle the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19). The question has been asked how will Hyland Heights Baptist Church respond and really the answers are ultimately very easy, whether we like them or not.
First, Hyland Heights Baptist Church is a church that is motivated by our love of God and love for others (Matthew 22:36-40). Because of this, even if some disagree with the mandate, our pastors and staff are unanimous in our desire to make sure we are doing our very best to use every resource in our means to help keep our members, community, and each other as safe as possible as we gather to worship. I believe our team and many volunteers did an excellent job maintaining safety and cleanliness for all who attended last Sunday and we will continue to strive to continue our high standards in these areas in the weeks to come.
That said, even before we reopened last week, we did so recognizing that the CDC and state officials were still strongly encouraging those in public areas to wear masks. This information has always been available on our website at hhbc.net/coronavirus (see point 9 in slides on site).
Following Governor Northam’s mask mandate, we are re-encouraging our membership, to wear masks to worship and while serving in ministries on our campus unless otherwise able to do so for health specific reasons. While we will not be monitoring the use of masks, we simply ask that each individual act in good faith in this manner.
This Sunday, staff members, ushers, and greeters will be in masks unless they are on the stage area. In a discussion with the Governor’s office we have found that speakers and praise band members are not required to wear masks while speaking, singing, or playing. However, each of us will wear a mask when we are not on stage.
A final word of encouragement: Let’s not let this issue become a point of disunity and division in our church family. We know, for many reasons, people feel very strongly about wearing masks or not wearing masks. That said, let us heed the words of the Apostle Paul to the church in Philippi:
If, then, there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 make my joy complete by thinking the same way, having the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. 4 Everyone should look not to his own interests, but rather to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:1-4).
I have heard it said, “If I can’t see people smile at church I don’t want to go.” And while I understand the sentiment, I love seeing the joy on people’s faces as they worship and fellowship, the alternative is that we don’t come and still don’t get to see the smiles anyway! So again, don’t let this stop you from coming and doing what God has called his people to do, to gather as the body of Christ, and to make much of Jesus. Of course, if you fall into a higher risk category and do not feel you should be in a public crowd we want to say we understand, we love you, and we long for the day (hopefully soon) where you get to regather with us at Hyland Heights!
Because of Jesus,
Dr. Josh Carter