2020 has been a challenging year on so many levels. It seems, for many of us, that every two or three weeks there’s another adjustment to be made. Most recently, it was the Universal Masking Mandate from PA’s Secretary of the Department of Health. Just this week, it’s PA’s Governor who issued a new executive order with increased restrictions on restaurants and gathering size. If you’re unfamiliar with the executive order, as it pertains to gatherings, there is a size restriction of 25 on indoor gatherings and 250 on outdoor gatherings.

While it is true that religious organizations have an apparent exemption from this order, there appears to be some ambiguity in that. What is clear, however, is that religious organizations and “congregate houses of worship” have been encouraged from day one of the pandemic to exercise an abundance of caution in safeguarding the people their organizations serve.

As such, Berwick Assembly’s aim remains a balanced approach to the ever-developing pandemic in which we are living. In addition to our core values (communication, community, creativity & continuity), we’ve consistently considered three things in our processes:

1. Information that is known to be accurate and up-to-date
2. Scripture and its role of informing not just our faith but also our practice
3. Available wisdom and knowledge concerning best practices to serve both our church and community well

We desire to maintain continuity with in-person services as much as possible; engaging the gathered church is a valuable aspect of our faith walk. It is with these things in mind that we have chosen to make the following adjustments to our service schedule in the coming weeks:

* Effective July 19, all services will be online only for two weeks. This will include Sunday AM service, Varsity 1Eighty and Spanish ministry, all of whom have been meeting in person since our reopening.

* Beginning on August 2nd, we will transition our Sunday AM service outside, starting at 10:00 AM at the pavilion. These outdoor services will cover the entire month of August. We’ve chosen to start earlier in order to avoid the hottest hours of sunlight as much as possible. We will ask that you bring your own chairs for these outdoor services in August.

* During these outdoor services, there will be no children’s ministry made available inside the building. Because we recognize the strain this could put on parents, we are actively developing ways to engage the youngest in our church during our outdoor services. We are committed to doing our best to serve kids and parents and to communicate these opportunities effectively.

* Our live stream will not be run on Sundays in August, but we are investigating other means of broadcasting our services while outdoors. As we identify these broadcast strategies, we will communicate them clearly and consistently.

Every significant restriction enacted by the state has caused an equal reaction from the public. We know that not everyone reading this will prefer, or even agree with, the response of Berwick AG. But regardless of your preferences or opinions, we want you to know that our desire is to respond in an appropriate manner that respects the elected state leadership as well as the varying opinions and desires of our church family without ignoring our responsibility to serve both the church and community well.

As always, if you are uncomfortable attending services in our current societal and health context, we offer no judgment on your preferences for your own safety, health and well-being – only support and encouragement. No matter your thinking process on this newest transition, know that we remain committed to doing everything we possibly can to encourage and equip your walk with the Lord and your relationships with others.

Pastor Scott, Bekah & the Berwick AG Leadership Team