May 2021 COVID-19 Protocol Update
For over a year, we have respectfully followed the advisories of U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Idaho Central District Health, the Governor of Idaho and the Mayor of Boise, concerning public assembly and public health as it relates to church activities in light of Covid 19. We have navigated ever-changing and often-contradictory interpretations of the situation. We appreciate the support of the Heritage Bible Church family through this process, and we believe it is time to modify our practices in light of Idaho returning to Stage 4 of the Governor's re-opening plan. In addition to changing our practices, we want to help you think Biblically about this (and all other) matters.
New Heritage Bible Church Covid 19 Policies
We recognize Scripture as our fully-sufficient and authoritative guide for the practices of the local church.
We recognize that each person is capable of, and accountable for, making responsible decisions for their own health and safety. We respect those decisions, asking only that reasonable care be taken to avoid attending church functions if you are not well.
We will continue professional cleaning services of our building twice weekly.
Wearing masks at church gatherings is optional. If you have not had Covid 19 and/or received a vaccination, it is reasonable for you to continue to wear a mask and to practice anti-social distancing whenever possible, if you so choose. One seating section (left center as you face the platform) will be designated for keeping two empty seats between households, for those who wish to continue anti-social distancing.
Physical contact such as hugging or shaking hands will be at each person's discretion and risk.
Children's ministries will be conducted as in pre-Covid days, without limitations. This includes Sunday School, Children's Church, Vacation Bible School, and Youth ministries. Serving food and drink at church functions will be considered case by case as events are scheduled.
We will continue to monitor public health information and review our policies as conditions change.
We will continue to livestream our 10:45 Sunday services, our Wednesday night services, and special events such as memorial services.
In spring 2020 we were led to believe that Covid 19 was a highly lethal plague that would sweep around the world and kill an unprecedented number of people. We submitted to the orders to shut down public meetings. HBC reopened with limited capacity and stringent guidelines as soon as our Governor said churches could do so. We have gradually expanded our public ministries while monitoring advice from our health department, state, city, and medical personnel. We are thankful that Idaho is among the least restrictive states regarding operations of churches, and we continue to urge prayer for churches in places where civil authorities are using Covid 19 regulations as weapons to squash ministry.
It has become obvious that the predictions about death from Covid 19 were far more dire than the reality. 3.3 million deaths are reported worldwide, among 7.9 billion people. That means deaths from Covid 19 are 0.000418 of the population. 159 million cases are known worldwide, with a recovery rate of 98%. Of those who have died, more than half are among people over 80 years old, most living in group homes and having other medical conditions. About 75% of all deaths are among those over 70 years and with other medical conditions. In other words, Covid 19 is most dangerous for the elderly who have other medical conditions, and it is not lethal to most people who get the disease.
The CDC acknowledges Covid 19 is not as lethal as seasonal influenza for children. It has never been logical for schools to be closed in the name of sparing lives of children as a result of Covid 19.
Those who contract Covid 19 experience symptoms ranging from none, to life- threatening. We do not minimize the difficulties it causes for some people. Within the HBC family, only one person has been hospitalized (and recovered), and some have suffered significant malaise for a month or more. Changing our policies should not be construed as scoffing at the disease or overlooking the suffering it can cause.
We agree with the general assessment that more human suffering has been caused by shutdowns than by Covid 19. Loss of jobs, closures of businesses, increased prevalence of mental and emotional problems, delayed medical procedures, and social division over government policies are among unintended consequences of government actions. Christians isolated from other Christians is never a good situation.
Among our church family, many have contracted Covid 19 and all have recovered. A few in our midst have suffered the loss of extended family members due to Covid 19, but nowhere near the level predicted in spring 2020. The number in our midst who have survived the disease means that many have natural immunity, at least for now.
Covid 19 vaccinations are now available to all, ages 16 and over. The majority of HBC people have had the disease and recovered, have been vaccinated, or both. Thus the likelihood of anyone contracting or spreading Covid 19 at church functions is greatly reduced.
There is no such thing as “no risk” living. You are more likely to die in an automobile crash than from Covid 19. You may become sick from what you eat. You never know when you might be exposed to the common cold, influenza, Covid 19, or any other disease. We are encouraging each person to choose to live for the glory of God and to seek wisdom about what risks are acceptable. We respect individual convictions and will always seek to give wise counsel to people of all convictions regarding Covid 19.
It is not a sin to wear a mask. It is always a sin to judge a brother or sister about such a thing. It is not a sin to receive a vaccination, nor is it a sin to choose not to receive a vaccination. It is always a sin to judge a brother or sister about such a thing. We respect each one's personal convictions about masks and vaccinations (Romans 14:1-23). It is not a sin to choose to participate in events that others are not yet comfortable to attend. It is always a sin to judge a brother or sister about such a thing. It is always a sin to stay away from corporate worship when physically able, unless you are known to be endangering yourself by attending. This could include those with terminal illnesses, compromised immune systems, or chronic respiratory illnesses. We are required by the New Testament to practice all the “one another” commands of the New Testament, including assembling together and encouraging one another (Hebrews 10:24-25). It is always a sin to avoid accepting those responsibilities.
What we choose to do within the life of Heritage Bible Church applies only to our church activities. No Christian should rebel against different policies implemented by other groups. For example, if you want to shop at a store that requires masks, your testimony as a follower of Christ dictates you should follow the recommendations or choose not to shop there. We are not claiming to state what should be done anywhere other than at HBC.