From the beginning of this difficult pandemic, we have been committed to following the guidelines of the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), local medical authorities, and physicians in the Northside family. We have particularly relied on family physician Jim Martin, emergency physician Bob Frolichstein, and pediatric physician Josh Tardy in guiding us on masking, social distancing, and other measures designed to prevent further spread and keeping us safe.

Thursday, May 13, the CDC announced that it was lifting restrictions for mask wearing and social distancing for everyone who has completed their vaccinations, both for outdoor and indoor activities. This statement is an affirmation of the remarkable effectiveness of the vaccines. People who have been vaccinated are extremely unlikely to become infected with COVID-19, and it is now clear that they are extremely unlikely to pass the disease to others.

However, those who have not been vaccinated are still vulnerable. They are both susceptible to the disease and can pass it on to others. That includes children, who are not yet able to receive the vaccine. Even though children, in general, are not as susceptible to the virus as adults, they can still become infected and it can still become serious. Our commitment as a church family is to always look to the interest of others, especially our most vulnerable members and guests.

Based on the new CDC recommendations, beginning Sunday, May 16, these will be our guidelines:

  1. Everyone who has been fully vaccinated may choose not to wear a mask.
  2. Those who have not been vaccinated should continue wearing a mask. (Remember, the purpose of a mask is not to protect you but to protect others around you.)
  3. Because children are still vulnerable, unvaccinated children and youth should continue wearing masks in indoor classroom settings.
  4. Northside members who are at risk may continue participating in our online services.

No one will ask for proof of vaccination. We will depend on all members to make decisions about how they follow these guidelines with integrity.

We are aware that some of our members have decided not to get the vaccine or are still in the process of deciding. Other members are anxious about coming to church where there will be unvaccinated members, especially if they are not wearing masks. None of our younger children, of course, will be able to be vaccinated for several more months. We urge our church family to become immunized. We all desire to worship God without the constraint of masks. We believe we can best accomplish this goal if we all have been vaccinated. We continue to affirm our commitment to always seek the best interests of all our Christian brothers and sisters.

These have been hard days on us all. Our nation and our church family have been pulled apart by the issues surrounding this pandemic. But our cause is larger than any disease. Our God is still sovereign, and our church family is strong enough to withstand, by God’s power, any threat to our unity in Christ.

We look forward to seeing everyone on Sunday—whether face to face or online—singing and praying together, taking the Lord’s Supper together, hearing God’s word, and encouraging one another to love and good works.