Following is a special notice from the ARC Administrative Council
December 11, 2020
Merry Christmas! However we reflect on the year, it is certainly one that has had a
huge impact on shaping our future in so many ways.
Thursday, December 10, Gov. Wolf announced far-reaching social restrictions for
the state of PA. We are experiencing record highs of outbreaks and deaths (3,300
reported for December 10). The stress to our hospital’s Intensive Care Units and the
toll it is taking on our essential workers and ability to provide COVID-19 care is
greater now than during the initial shut down. COVID-19 has affected many of our
congregations in very personal ways. All across our region, committed health care
workers have been putting in long hours putting their lives and families at risk and
their dedication is taking its toll. It is increasingly important to honor their service
and to ensure that Christians are focused on supporting these dedicated servants and
the many families who have lost loved ones.
The Church, while being recognized as being essential and not subject to Gov.
Wolf’s mandate, was called to join the state in stamping back this spike and
unnecessary deaths in our communities by suspending in-person services to greater
then 10 people inside or 50 persons outside and providing safe alternatives during
this critical moment.
• Indoor gatherings and events of more than 10 persons are prohibited
• Churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, and other places of congregate
worship are specifically excluded from the limitations set forth above during
religious services, these institutions are strongly encouraged to find alternative
methods for worship, as in-person gatherings pose a significant risk to
participants at this time. While this an incredibly difficult recommendation to
make, particularly at this time of year, faith leaders must carefully weigh the
health risks to their congregants given the immense amount of community
spread of COVID-19.
We are recommending that our churches would join our communities in this effort.
We believe this is appropriate not because of legislative mandate but because of
scriptural consideration. We are called to be willing to surrender our rights, personal
interests, and individual will, taking on the very mindset of Christ for the sake of
others in Philippians 2. Our truest form of worship is not in a building but comes
from sacrifice in Romans 12. This is a pivotal opportunity for the Church to reflect
the love of Jesus.
We realize that some congregations will continue to meet during this period. While
we urge every church to wrestle with that decision, we agree that with reasonable
precautions, including masking and honest dedication to social distancing,
assemblies can still take place without a significant risk of spreading the virus.
Great care should be taken to ensure that we do not crowd sanctuaries in the name
of worship. The truth of the Gospel cannot be experienced by placing congregations
and communities at unwise risk.
On behalf of the ARC Ad. Council,
Pastor Phil Scott, Regional Director