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An important updated related to the COVID-19 protocols of Island Community Church in downtown Memphis, TN.
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Church Family,

I hope you're having a good day! I am writing today on behalf of our Elder Team to update you on our church's response to new COVID-19 recommendations from both our city and national leadership. As anticipated, we received new guidance this week from the Shelby County Health Department. In addition, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance and recommendations today for fully vaccinated people. Both inform our church's decisions.

Before I announce our updated policies and protocols, I feel that it is important to give a reminder of how we've made COVID-19 decisions over this past year.  Throughout this pandemic, we have chosen to willingly submit ourselves to government authority. While it was not required by law because of our status as a church, we believed the government to be (a) acting wisely (as best as they knew how) using data and expertise from the scientific and medical community and (b) acting in the interest of the public good (as best as they knew how).

Therefore, over the past year, we made many willing commitments and ministry adaptations to follow our local government authorities and health recommendations including:

  • cessation of all corporate worship services for a period
  • the limitation of size of worship services for a period (forcing us to host morning and evening Sunday services)
  • the cessation of childcare for a period
  • the cessation of communion for a period
  • the cessation of food and drink offerings for a period
  • the requirement of temperature checks for all individuals for a period
  • the requirement of health screenings for all individuals for a period
  • the requirement of face coverings for all individuals from the onset of the pandemic
While these commitments have often come with great heartache and sacrifice for our church family and ministry, we have desired to be a church that would choose three things during the pandemic: TRUST, WISDOM, and SERVICE. In my first email to you a year ago, our church family, addressing the pandemic, I spoke to you about these three commitments: Trust in God. Wisdom to follow God's way and leaders. Service to others for the common good.

I am so thankful and proud of our church family's posture and position throughout this pandemic. I am so grateful for God's grace that has sustained us to this point. While our church could have been divided by distrust, rebellion, or selfishness related to pandemic-related issues, that has not been our experience. Rather, we have been united in these three commitments: trust, wisdom, and service. I am so grateful. Thank you.  

Today, I want to announce that we will be, once again, will be  updating our COVID-19 policies and procedures. Once again, our posture is not to play the role of COVID-19 experts, but rather to choose to submit ourselves in agreement to the recommendations of our government leaders, for the reasons previously outlined.  Just as with every COVID-19 policy update I've given you this year, you may have questions or concerns about our present position. However, I do appreciate your willingness to continue in trust in God, follow the wisdom of the way of God and His leaders, and serve others for the common good.

I also always want to remind you that as your pastors, we will continue in commitment to: (a) keep our posture & policies submitted and flexible to best recommendations moving forward (b) keep our priority to shepherd and serve you in the specific choices you need to make in the upcoming season.  We love you so much.  

Beginning this Sunday, May 16th, our COVID-19 policies will be updated as follows: 
  • We will no longer require face coverings to be worn at church events, functions, and property - whether indoors or outdoors. Instead, face coverings will be optional based on current guidance. Please see the latest Shelby County Health Department and CDC guidance for a list of current recommendations.
  • Face coverings will continue to be required for all childcare workers in accordance to best practices and current recommendations. The primary reason is related to the fact that children of young age cannot self-regulate social distancing and/or be able to wear their own face covering.  
  • In general, the additional cleaning protocols implemented to help protect our church against the spread of COVID-19 will continue
  • Hand sanitizer stations will remain available for the immediate future
  • We anticipate resuming food and drink service in coming weeks (June 2021) in accordance with current health recommendations.  

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please let us know. Let's continue to pray for God's mercy and protection for our church, community, country and world. Let's also continue to pray for our leaders. Can't wait to see you on Sunday!

With hope,


Barrett Bowden
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