The Lord bless you and give you his peace in Christ Jesus. As you likely know, the number of COVID-19 cases has spiked in our community in recent days and weeks, chiefly due to the Delta variant. With that in mind, we, the Session, want to communicate a few important thoughts and updates about our worship and ministries at Westminster in the face of this increase of coronavirus cases. Know that we have prayed over this matter, taking into account the great commandments from Scripture to love God with our all and to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40). We have given particular consideration to our callings to corporate worship, unity in worship, and protecting others as we determined guidelines for how we will continue to gather together for worship and other ministries at Westminster. Our guidelines can be viewed in the ‘Current Guidelines’ section below.
Corporate worship. Our journey as followers of Jesus will culminate with the corporate worship of God in heaven. Revelation 7:9 reveals to us the gathering of the innumerable saints of God around the throne, gazing upon the Savior, together. We are called to anticipate that coming heavenly worship by meeting together in our present worship of Jesus (Hebrews 10:24-25). Our corporate worship of God is to be shaped chiefly by the Word. We will continue to consider appropriate guidance from our government leaders (Romans 13:1) about the health risks associated with COVID-19, while being obedient to God’s command to gather weekly in worship of him as his people. We are glad to be able to offer the livestream of our Sunday worship service, especially for those who are home sick or are particularly vulnerable to the virus, but we also want to remind you that watching a worship service is not the same as attending a worship service together with your fellow believers.
Unity in worship. One way we show our mutual submission to God is by our submission to one another (Philippians 2:4) through our union in Christ. In matters of conscience, when Christians may disagree about non-sinful options on a matter, the Bible places the responsibility upon those who are “strong” to care for those who are “weak,” with all of us doing our best not to be a stumbling block to anyone (Romans 14:13). As Jesus did not selfishly guard his rights but gave himself up (Philippians 2:5-7), so we urge your cooperation with our present guidelines out of love for God and one another. Further, let us think the best of one another, respecting the decisions of each person and family regarding matters such as mask-wearing, etc.
Establishing guidance to protect others. When we gather together, we must not callously neglect the Bible’s command for us to reasonably protect the lives of all who gather to worship with us, as well as the lives of the people in our community with whom we interact throughout the week.
With these considerations in mind, we present the following guidelines to you:
- If you are sick, showing symptoms otherwise consistent with allergies, the common cold, or the flu, please stay home. We encourage you to consult your doctor about your symptoms and to get tested for the coronavirus.
- If you have been exposed to someone who tested positive for the coronavirus, please follow the guidelines of the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), staying in quarantine and getting tested accordingly.
- If you have tested positive for the coronavirus, please comply with DHEC’s reporting procedures. We encourage you to share your diagnosis with your church family so that we can pray for you and support you, both spiritually and materially, during your illness and quarantine. Out of love, it may also be wise or necessary for us to alert others of potential exposure if you were involved in any church activities during your infectious period. We will seek to do so in a manner that is respectful and, upon your request, preserves your anonymity.
- Mask wearing is optional at all Westminster ministry activities. Please consult your doctor if you are seeking guidance on this and other precautions you need to take within gatherings of various sizes.
- We have made hand sanitizer and masks available at the entries to the sanctuary and in the children’s Sunday School hallway for anyone who would like to make use of these protective measures.
In the Worship Service
- Masks are optional throughout much of the sanctuary.
- Effective Sunday, September 12, 2021, there is an area at the back of the sanctuary that is designated as masks required seating. Those who choose to wear a mask in the worship service are not required to sit in this area, but it is available to them if they choose to do so as an added health precaution.
- We continue to worship the Lord through corporate confessions, prayers, and singing.
- We celebrate the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper on the first Sunday of each month. Elders will wear masks when passing the elements. Additionally, the bread is served in individual cups as an added health precaution.
- Fellowship after the worship service is an important part of our gatherings. We encourage those with health concerns to maintain this practice by visiting with others outside on the patio or in the courtyard area, weather permitting.
Sunday School and Other On-Campus Ministries
- Masks are optional for teachers, adult participants, and children alike. Masks are available at various locations throughout the church facilities.
- Consideration will be given to group size, room size, etc. when making decisions about gathering in person, via Zoom, livestream, etc. Communication will be made about options for participation.
Community Groups and Other Off-Campus Ministries
- The leaders, hosts, and groups of such activities are encouraged to use wisdom, discernment, and loving humility toward others when planning and carrying out such ministries, whether in homes, private facilities (e.g., retirement homes, hospitals), or in public places (e.g., restaurants, etc.).