Mask Mandate Update
Grace Chapel Church Family,
As most of you know, Governor Kathy Hochul has issued an executive order mandating masks be worn in indoor public spaces (including houses of worship) from December 13 through January 15 in an attempt to curb the infection rate over the Christmas holiday. As an elder team, we began meeting and praying over how best to respond based on the mandate that was given.
In all reality, none of this is easy. It wasn’t for our elder team. You may be asking why we would need to meet and pray over this issue rather than just comply. We all have personal convictions, opinions, and assessments of the moment we find ourselves in. It’s important that the elder team of this church balance the truths in Scripture concerning honoring the government with the equally important truths concerning honoring God and holding fast to our identity and mission as His church.
As we’ve said throughout these past 20 months, we will honor our leaders and pray for them. 1 Timothy 2:1-3 calls us to do so. It is not a recommendation by Paul but an expectation of the Christian in a world hostile towards truth. That being said we must pray for Governor Kathy Hochul, our NYS Legislature, our county officials, and those who God has put over us. In addition, 1 Peter 2:13-17 and Romans 13 have been guiding Scriptures we’ve used throughout these times we find ourselves in and they continue to hold true.
In doing so, we must also hold fast to the truths of honoring God and our identity as the church. In the future we may be confronted with situations that would cause us to respond differently than what the government has asked us to do. One example of this is that if the government decided to mandate proof of vaccination to enter our church we would stand firm in our biblical conviction that this goes against our identity and mission and we would not observe that mandate. This position is not based on our thoughts concerning vaccination but rather the freedom and responsibility regarding the choice we have as Christians with what goes into our bodies.
In light of this specific mandate, at this time the elders are asking that masks be worn from now until January 15. We will not be policing this but respecting each other’s decisions by trusting our people to honor, love, and be a joy to one another regardless of where they personally stand. Furthermore, we have made additional accommodations for our people to worship together with the Grace Chapel family in our additional seating area in the barn, by joining us live online at 11am on Sundays at www.gcskan.online.church, or on demand at www.gconline.org.
We are aware that once January 15 comes around the guidance may or may not change. Based on any new mandates or information, the elders will continue to pray, discern, and lead toward what is best for the body when that time comes.
In closing, we’d like all of us to meditate on Ephesians 4: 1-6. This passage was written by Paul, who was imprisoned in Rome at time of writing, to a church that was being stretched in an ever-hostile culture. Paul writes “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
We love you church. Let Christ be our unified position in light of current circumstance. God bless.
Barry Sisson, Jim Mills, Tim Meier, Matt Hammersley, & Jim Cherchio
Grace Chapel Elder Team
Q: What impact does this have on me as a volunteer and what are the expectations in light of this announcement?
A: As mentioned above, the elders have asked masks to be worn by those within our church family and we trust our people and volunteers. In addition, we will not be questioning your decision and surveilling you while you are serving. Our desire is that you serve out of the overflow of your relationship with God, not because of circumstance. We ask you to consider Philippians 2:3-8 where it states:
“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Q: If I decide that I would not like to volunteer in light of these circumstances, what should I do?
A: Pray and discern the motives of why you are making the decision (Proverbs 16:2). Contact your ministry leaders as soon as you know so we can make adjustments/changes. The following are points of contact for your specific teams:
•GraceKids – Bethany Pitman – [email protected]
•Ushers – Jim Mills – [email protected]
•Worship/Tech Team – Elijah Knowlton – [email protected]
•All others – Michael Tropea – [email protected]
Q: What is the expectation for my kids in light of this announcement?
A: As was previously communicated, we trust our people with their families. The GraceKids ministry volunteers are more concerned with discipling kids’ hearts to assist in knowing and glorifying Christ than any other detail. Jesus expected the children to come to him and our GraceKids ministry team is of the same mindset. As our GraceKids teams’ primary focus is discipleship, we cannot promise that if your child comes in with a mask it will stay on.
Q: I have more questions regarding what this means for my family. Who do I contact?
A: Our GraceKids Director, Bethany Pitman, is able to assist you with any questions you may have. You can contact her at [email protected] or call the church office at 315-685-3071 to connect with her.
Any other questions? Contact the church office at 315-685-3071. Thank you!