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Mask Update - Aug. 19, 2021

By now, we suspect you've already heard about the New Hanover County indoor mask mandate set to take effect on Friday, August 20 at 5pm. And if you read all the way through the press release, we also suspect that you noticed how religious gatherings fall under an exemption to the mandate. However, as those who seek to emulate the life of Jesus, such legal loopholes must take a backseat when opportunity exists to love our neighbors and put their interests before our own. We implore you, just for a moment, to turn off your TV's and social media feeds, and to imagine this scenario:

"In the month of June, there were a total of 217 COVID-19 cases reported in New Hanover County; in the month of July, that number rose to 705 cases; and in the first 17 days of August, there have been 1,152 new cases reported in the county....The cases are overwhelming our health system – with our hospital surpassing record numbers of COVID-19 patients since the pandemic began, their staff once again is stretched to their limits."

When we pause long enough to consider the actual faces of those represented by the above statistics - and not just patients, but also the nurses, doctors, and emergency workers - and then pose the question, "How can we care for and demonstrate Christ's sacrificial love for these people?" the resounding answer from our local health care professionals is: "Wear a mask, regardless of your vaccination status." These are the very same doctors and nurses who deliver our babies, who perform our surgeries, and who write our prescriptions. If we listen to and trust them in those matters, why wouldn't we now?

Many in our own congregation have battled or are currently fighting COVID, and sadly, some of us have even lost family members due to COVID. We understand that emotions run high when considering a response to all this, but also acknowledge that shying away from difficult matters helps no one. Thus, we say directly:

When participating in indoor activities at Winter Park Baptist Church, we encourage you to wear a mask, regardless of your vaccination status.

Any questions regarding this decision should be directed towards Church Council, and if you wish to process these matters in more depth, we encourage you to reach out to your small group leaders and Sunday school class deacons.