Dear brothers and sisters, peace be with you! On May 18, Governor Baker announced his plan to reopen Massachusetts in four phases. Phase One started on the same date. Only when the result of Phase One satisfies the government will the plan proceed to the next phase.
Under the first phase, religious gathering is allowed with certain restrictions, which include wearing face mask for all participants above the age of 2, a 6-foot social distancing requirement, and a 40% limit to the capacity of the building. When the plan was announced, a natural question in front of BCEC is: when will the church reopens for onsite meetings? The Churchwide Response Team (CRT) met and decided not to rush into reopening. We heeded the advice of medical authorities that reopening too early might increase the chance of infection. CRT will monitor the result of reopening of the broader society for a period of time before reopening the church. At this time, CRT has decided to continue conducting our ministry online at least until the end of June. Going forward, CRT will meet frequently and, after assessing current conditions, may extend online operation one month at a time.
We have asked our members to complete a survey relating to the impact of Covid-19 on them and their preference for reopening. Over 250 people completed the survey. We are compiling the result now.
Some religious leaders think that imposing restrictions on worship is an infringement on religious freedom. I do not see it that way. Those restrictions apply to everyone in the community. They are not directed only to the church. Also, online religious activities are not restricted. The church observes government guideline out of concern and care for the community. I think this is what the church should do. We understand that the government wants to reopen the economy to avoid a serious recession, which can negatively affect many lives. The government has to make a tough decision between economy and health control. As for us, in a sense our church has never “closed.” Therefore, we have more flexibility to “reopen” at the most suitable time.
We certainly need to care for ourselves during the pandemic. But we also need to care for our society at the same time. Recently, the Floyd incident that happened in Minneapolis highlighted the issue of racial tension and excessive force used by police. As a member of society, we cannot ignore these issues. Whether it is discrimination against Asian Americans or African Americans, we should ask for thorough investigation to make sure that justice is served. On a different note, many of our members who came from Hong Kong are very concerned about the political development over there and the international reaction that entails. I would like to solicit your prayers for the situation.
In a similar way, we should also fulfill our responsibility as resident and citizen of our society. If you have not completed the questionnaire of the 2020 Census, you can still do it online now. The national election in November is just a little more than five months away. Beside electing a president, Massachusetts is also choosing a U.S. senator, nine congress representatives, and state officials. If you are a citizen but have not registered to vote, make sure to register before October 14 this year.
BCEC has not stopped to serve our community during this pandemic. I have mentioned some of these services in the upcoming issue of BCEC Connection. Therefore, I am not going to repeat them here. However, I wish to again express my appreciation to the staff and volunteers for their selfless service in the past months. Their diligence under God’s grace is keeping the church running during this difficult time.
Daniel Chan, Acting Senior Pastor, May 31, 2020