As Governor Ron DeSantis’ executive order has moved Florida into Phase 3 of Covid-19 reopening, your pastoral staff and church council have considered what the church’s position should be regarding the continued use of face-coverings, social distancing practices, and other safety and health precautions. Governor DeSantis has been clear that there has never been a requirement or limit placed on places of worship from the State. Locally, however, places of worship were specifically included in an ordinance requiring that masks be worn. So, we have chosen to abide by that mandate and require masks for on-campus gatherings. As that mandate is still in place, we will continue to abide by the mask ordinance at Stetson Baptist Church.
While we are aware that the Governor’s Executive Order impacts the ability of local governments to enforce mask mandates, we do not feel it is appropriate or biblical (Romans 13:1-2; 1 Peter 2:13) for us to openly violate the local ordinance. In fact, even if the local mandate is removed, we believe we have a responsibility as a multi generational and large numerical gathering of people to serve our community by being a safe place for people of various ages and conditions to gather.
We believe it is an opportunity to share the Gospel by loving our neighbors and considering others more important than ourselves (Matthew 22:39; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 15:1; 1 Corinthians 10:24). We continue to monitor state and federal health officials and their recommendations of reasonable precautions to prevent the spread of Covid-19. For now, those experts continue to recommend the use of masks, social distancing, hand washing, and facility sanitization. Thus, at least for the near future, we will continue to employ all of the above actions. We will continue to keep you informed, and will provide further guidance when the time come to make changes to these protocols.