SEP 9, 2021 UPDATE
With the delta variant of the COVID-19 virus spreading and infecting children in greater numbers, the PA Department of Health has issued a mask-in-school mandate for students and staff. Previously, in submission to governing authorities and with counsel from the medical community, EBIC has endeavored to follow the spirit of such directives and maintain consistency with them where possible. In light of the new school masking guidelines, we are responding as follows:
EBIC KIDS & YOUTH PROGRAMS
- Masks are strongly encouraged for kids/teens (age 2-grade 12) inside our building. However, parents have the ultimate responsibility to direct their children; unless students come in wearing masks, they will not be monitored or reminded.
- As role models and out of love for children who can’t be vaccinated, staff and volunteers in EBIC kids/youth programs are requested to wear masks, except when they are teaching or are physically active.
- Where possible, physical distancing will be maintained and activities will be held outdoors.
IMPACT AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAM
- Because our after school ministry is a community program run in conjunction with the schools, masks will be expected for students and staff/volunteers consistent with EASD guidelines. These guidelines will be revisited around October 1 or earlier if circumstances warrant.
MAY 20, 2021 UPDATE
Dear EBIC Church Family,
Grace and peace to you! I know many have been wondering what recent changes to CDC and state health guidelines mean for our church. Thank you for your patience as our church board has taken some time to digest the changes and plan intentionally for their implementation. In a church of our size and complexity, even simple changes raise new questions, and it is our goal to try to anticipate those questions and answer them as best we can on the front end.
As they have throughout the pandemic, considerations in our planning have included:
- the number of active cases in our area and among our church family,
- the counsel of medical professionals,
- guidance from state and national public health sources,
- the actions of the Elizabethtown Area School District, and
- perspectives from other local pastors and congregations.
While our decisions will not exactly mirror those of other churches, we continue striving to maintain a balance of protecting the vulnerable with accepting reasonable risks for the sake of our ministry and mission. Perhaps we have not always gotten that balance right, but we’ve endeavored to do the best we can in extraordinary times.
Beginning immediately and in keeping with the medical counsel we have received—from public health officials and from medical workers in our own church—the following changes will be implemented in our COVID response:
- Face masks are optional for fully vaccinated people, indoors or outdoors.
- Masks are still recommended indoors for those age 2 and up who are not fully vaccinated, and outdoors when they are in close proximity to others outside their own household.
- We will rely on the conscience and integrity of each household/family to lead them accordingly; no one will be asked to provide proof of vaccination or to put on a face mask if they are not wearing one.
For those who have questions about the various COVID vaccines, our congregation is blessed with an abundance of medical professionals who can share from their knowledge and experience. If you would like to speak with someone and are unsure who to contact, please reach out to the church office (717.367.2651,
) and we will help to make a connection.
Beginning on June 1, physical distancing expectations and room capacity limits will be eliminated. However, we will maintain one section of pews that is roped off (the outer section on the right side), for those who would feel more comfortable with spaced seating. We will also continue to broadcast the service in the gym for anyone who prefers to participate in a less crowded environment.
We will need to update other aspects of our safety plan, but these are the big-picture changes we are making.
As has been the case throughout the other twists and turns of this pandemic, I’m sure there will be a gamut of responses to these changes, from happiness to relief to disappointment. While I would be delighted to come up with a plan that receives universal acclamation, I realize this is impossible, particularly in these polarized times. So, I come back to several convictions that I have:
- This local church, as well as the Church in all times and places, belongs to Jesus Christ alone, not to me or anyone else. On one hand, I take the responsibilities of my role very seriously, and on the other, I take comfort knowing that Jesus is more responsible than I am.
- God speaks, and we make better decisions, in community. The decisions mentioned in this letter were not made by me or any other single individual—they were made by our board and representatives from our staff together seeking to act prayerfully in faith and wisdom.
- Unity and love for one another are still possible, even when we disagree. They do not depend on uniformity or unanimity.
- Our mission depends on our ability to love each other no matter what. Jesus was clear that our love will speak volumes to a watching world, which will decide what to do with him based on us.
However you feel about the changes mentioned here, I hope you will join me in a commitment to loving each other well. Where there are questions or concerns, let’s talk and work through them together.
May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else…May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones. | 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13 NIV
Yours in Christ,