Update: COVID Protocols + Vaccine Statement

Posted: December 16, 2021

Dear Church Family,

I want each of you to know that I do consider you to be family. I do not say this lightly because during the short time I have been here we have been through a lot. And as a family, it is important to have open, honest conversations, even if they are difficult. Due to COVID, we have had to have several of these conversations over the last year or so. And like in a family, not everyone always agrees with the outcomes, but we are still family and we need to press together.

I have said it before, but I will say it again, things are only going to get harder the closer we get to Jesus’ second coming. This is the best time and, perhaps the only time, we have to prepare for what is ahead.

With that said, I want to give everyone an update regarding current government protocols. On Tuesday, November 30th, new mandates regarding worship services were issued. Since then a revised Public Health Order (PHO) was issued on December 3rd (click here). The good news is that some restrictions were lifted for the Interior. Here is a summary of the current PHO for Gatherings and Events. This is taken directly from the Interior Health website:

Indoor Events

  • Indoor events can operate at 100% of the venue capacity.
  • Proof of vaccination is required for events with more than 50 people.
  • Masks are required indoors.
  • Dancing is not permitted.

Outdoor Events

  • Outdoor organized events can have a capacity of 5,000 people or 50% of a venue’s capacity (whichever is greater).
  • Proof of vaccination is not required for outdoor events

Worship Services

  • Masks are required for everyone 5 [years and older].
  • There are no capacity limits if everyone is vaccinated.
  • Capacity is limited to 50% without proof of vaccination.

Based on the above indoor events requirements, we can resume the following activities/programs without needing to show proof of vaccination:

  • Prayer Meeting
  • Potluck
  • Vespers
  • Adventurer’s
  • Organizational Meetings
  • Etc.

I want to begin by stressing how important it is for each of us to do our part to keep one another safe. I want to be clear that the most recent COVID-19 outbreak that affected our church community should be reason enough to take extra precautions (please visit our website for current protocols). For some, getting sick with COVID is a matter of life and death or possibly developing a chronic health side effect.

I understand that this is a sensitive and controversial issue for some, maybe even many of us. I know not everyone will agree with the current protocols in place at our church—BUT PLEASE understand and respect this point:
 choosing to wear masks or implement safety requirements that are consistent with Government mandates does NOT mean we are blindly following the Government.

Along with church leaders, we have carefully reviewed and evaluated government mandates on both a spiritual and public health level. The time will come when we will have to obey God rather than men, but for now, it is possible to be faithful to God while following government mandates in creating a healthy, safe worship environment. Therefore, I would like to appeal to each of us, for the sake of your fellow brother and sister in Christ, do your best for them—not because the Government says we need to, BUT because it’s the right thing to do. I share all this cautiously, yet honestly, because it is important to exhort one another to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24). Regarding masks, if you have a health reason for not wearing a mask, then this requirement does not apply to you. We don’t want anyone passing out because of a lack of oxygen or low blood pressure.

What about vaccines?
I have hesitated for a long time to make any statements for or against vaccines. Some have felt I have been biased towards vaccines, others have felt I have been biased against them, and others believe that I need to speak up and say something. So, here it goes…

First, I cannot remain silent while people suffer and die without saying that I personally believe vaccines are helpful—and for the average person it is one of the best tools we have. I know this is a debatable point, but currently, I have concluded that the pros outweigh the cons—especially for people at high risk.

I know this opens a can of worms and that there are valid arguments against vaccines, but this should not be a matter of trying to defend a position. Time will tell the full story and for those who are still in the valley of decision you need to know that there is good honest evidence showing that vaccines are effective—not 100% preventative, but still very helpful on numerous levels.

Like I have said before, the issue of vaccination should not be a matter of shame or self-righteousness. I want it to be 
ABUNDANTLY CLEAR that I respect each person's decision for or against vaccination. I do not believe this is a salvation issue, I do not want anyone to feel pressured to get vaccinated because of what I have shared, and I certainly do not want those who are unvaccinated to feel blamed by the church or anyone for the continued pandemic and variants.

I must also add, I believe it is time to start thinking about or reconsidering the benefit of natural immunity. We can't be afraid of the truth and if it’s true that natural immunity is effective, then this is great news and it should help all of us vaccinated or not vaccinated feel safer. We cannot change what has happened in the last 20 plus months. And I’m NOT saying that we should wait to get sick with COVID so we can have natural immunity. Because again, there can be serious lingering health risks for people who survive COVID. Again, the point is simple. We must be open to all tools available, not just the ones we like or have chosen.

Coming back to the governments' role in all of this. There are honest reasons to be suspicious of how the provincial and federal Governments have acted for almost two years now. And for sake of repetition, I do not believe for a moment that we should blindly trust the Government but we must also be cautious of falling into conspiracy theories. Prophetically, we know the directions things are going, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves, which means here and now we need to walk a fine line of obeying our Government authorities, as God commands(Romans 13:1-2)—and yet, remaining faithful to God.
There’s a lot more I could say, but I think I have said enough. I’m not an expert. I have much to learn and I always want to be open to correction. And if we all strive to have a humble attitude we will be safer and stronger together. As John Maxwell once said, “I can learn something from everyone”.

I apologize for any mistakes I have made in how I have handled this situation. Don’t give up on me, I’m not giving up on you. With God’s help we will get through this. Remember, we are a family and you don’t all have to agree with me or the church. Let’s all just keep our eyes on Jesus and be about our Father’s business.

With much love and Prayers,

Pastor Royce