Hillsong-Affiliated Grace City Church in Florida, Asks Congregants to Wear Masks After Pastor and Wife Contract Coronavirus

Grace City Church, a fast-growing Hillsong Family church in Lakeland, Florida, waded into the divisive issue of mask-wearing in Florida Sunday when it announced that it would ask members to wear masks after the church’s husband and wife team of lead pastors revealed they had been infected with the new coronavirus.

During an online service Sunday, the pastors of the church, Andrew Gard and his wife Christina, confirmed their “mild” infection with COVID-19. The confirmation came after they gathered for the first time in person since the lockdown began for a church prayer night on June 14.

Gard said he and his wife chose to get tested due to “some potential exposure.”

In-person weekend services were scheduled to resume last weekend but as a result of their infection with the virus, the pastors said they were pausing that plan until July 12 when they would ask churchgoers to wear masks during services.

“We’re excited to come back and gather again and when we do come back, just want to encourage you we’re going to be creating as safe of an environment as possible. We probably are going to be asking people to wear masks. We’re going to be encouraging that, asking people to do that so that we don’t have to shut down once we open back up because three fourths of our staff get it or something like that,” Gard said.

Gard’s comments on the masks came after he asked the church to pray for Lakeland’s health officials and political leaders, including founding church member Lakeland Mayor William “Bill” Mutz whose proposal to have residents wear masks indoors in the wake of rising coronavirus infections in Florida, did not get enough support from local politicians last week.

“Let’s be praying right now for our city. I know Central Florida, Polk County and Lakeland are experiencing a little bit of a surge in this regard so let’s be praying for our city, let’s be praying for our medical professionals, let’s be praying for Mayor Mutz who goes to our church, and our city council members some of who go to our church,” Gard said.

Florida reported a one-day record of 9,585 positive coronavirus cases Saturday and as of Tuesday had at least 146,333 cases, according to a New York Times database, and at least 3,446 deaths from the virus. Polk County, which includes Lakeland, reached a one-day high of 213 cases last Friday, then reported 404 new positive tests Saturday for a total of 3,182 overall cases and at least 92 deaths.

Amid rising numbers, a mandate to require face masks in Lakeland proposed by Mutz failed to make it to a vote a week ago, according to ABC Action News.

“I am disappointed that we didn’t even get enough interest to get a vote on the topic,” Mutz opined after the vote.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leonardo Blair

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