Dear Church Family,
Recently, the State of Oregon and OHA made updates to the state-mandated mask requirements. As many of you know, there are differences in how the mandates apply to the various ministries of Damascus Community Church, including Damascus Christian School. For the school ministry, and church ministries meeting during school hours, these updates tightened and increased penalties for non-compliance. In response, and serving as the DCS School Board, the Elder Council recently released a letter to DCS families. Please pray for the school ministry and its leadership as they now navigate a more difficult road ahead.
In addition, as we were reviewing the current state mandate OHA Rule 333-019-1025, we noted that the Oregon Health Authority has updated the OHA-3818: Indoor and Outdoor Masking FAQs document which provides guidance for businesses and organizations to make a "reasonable effort" to comply with the mask mandate in their facilities. What does that mean? They now included the following clarification on page 6 of their document:
Q: What does it mean to make a reasonable effort to ensure customers, visitors, etc., are wearing a face covering?
A: At present, Oregon OSHA and OHA consider a reasonable effort to include posting the required signs, ensuring all employees, contractors and volunteers are wearing the required face coverings, and not displaying any signs or taking any actions that undercut the requirement to wear the face coverings or that discourage customers and clients from fulfilling the requirement.
So how does all this affect church gatherings?
As previously shared, the Elders continue to call the church body to obey the mask mandate and will continue to make a "reasonable effort" to comply. Please understand, our commitment to follow the mandate is not a statement of support or approval of it, but instead, based on Romans 13:1-7 and 1 Peter 2:13-17, we continue to believe it is as an act of submission to Christ.
This will mean that you will see signs up around the building reminding you of the requirements, we will continue to require staff, ministry leaders, and volunteers to wear a face covering, and if you are not wearing one, we will continue to offer you one. We also feel it is important to clarify that even with these reasonable efforts, we will not turn someone away from hearing the Gospel during our Sunday gatherings based on whether or not they're wearing a mask, but we will continue to encourage everyone to comply as an expression of obedience to Jesus.
So, as evidenced in recent weeks, even with our reasonable efforts, there may still be times when there will be people attending our services or events unmasked. It is important for the church body to know the implications of this, which include:
- A portion of our congregation that includes those in the high-risk category, those with pre-existing health conditions, and those who are unvaccinated may not feel comfortable attending services and events in person. We continue to offer a live stream of our 10:30 service for those who cannot join us in person.
- There may be an increased chance of exposure and outbreak which may cause worship services and/or other church events to be changed or rescheduled due to quarantine protocols for those involved.
These are painful realities that burden the members of the Elder Council, but we felt it was important to share this information with the church family, both to provide insight on the challenges facing us as a church, and clarity on where we have chosen to stand. And please continue to pray. It is the shared belief of the Elders that we are in an exciting time in the history of the church, and we are anticipating that God will do amazing things through DCC in the days ahead if we will follow Him, united in walking in truth, living out love and building on faith.
By His Grace,
The DCC Elder Council