The governor has recently instituted new mask mandates for indoor gatherings. We want to tell you what the elders have prayed over and decided as our policy for the time being.
We recognize that cases and hospitalizations have surged significantly. We continue to value life and health in our gatherings. We also value fellowship and personal ministry in corporate gatherings as commanded by Scripture. These realities can be in tension in a public health crisis. And, of course, there is similar tension between Scripture's call to submit to the governing authorities—when their leadership does not place one in contradiction to God's sovereign rule—and Scripture's delegation of authority in the local church to elders, who have the responsibility to care for and shepherd the flock.
Earlier this year, while under our State's previous mask mandate, these tensions reached the point at which the elders of Faith Bible Church determined that, for many church members, masking was hindering their ability to fellowship and minister to one another. Because the spiritual health of our members is our greatest responsibility, we made the decision to make masking optional on our campus, while still encouraging those for whom Covid presented a greater risk to their physical health to take whatever precautions they and their doctors deemed best for their circumstances. Our website's resources page includes our previous statements and teaching on Spheres of Authority, which still applies to this new mask mandate.
To summarize, we believe, based on both the Word of God and the US Constitution, that authority regarding the functioning of the local church properly rests on Christ's designated leaders, rather than with the Governor. However, we do believe that Governor Inslee is correct in seeing a greater danger to public health from Covid 19 at this time, as we've seen in our own congregation in the last two weeks.
Therefore, while masks will remain optional at Faith, we continue to encourage those with elevated risk factors, or who provide care for others who are at risk—whether in your family or your vocation—to exercise caution, and wear a mask if that is what your conscience or circumstances require. You can wear a mask anywhere in the auditorium, however, in order to accommodate those who do need to take more precautions in this season, we have expanded our "mask only" section in the sanctuary, in anticipation and support of your choice to follow the measures recommended by the Department of Health.
For all church members, please continue to be aware when you have symptoms that could be Covid related and refrain from coming to Faith Bible Church gatherings when you have them. We will continue to livestream our services. We have a wide array of people with various concerns during this pandemic. We continue to urge you to be compassionate, loving and patient with people whose circumstances and concerns differ from your own.