Covid Encouragement 4.23.21
Encouragement from the FBC Elders,
I want to reach out with an encouraging note around Covid and our church. We have held together during lockdown and I see us working together as a church as some restrictions are lifting. Let’s keep going strong! We can do this by continuing to reserve judgement and acting in love towards others.
Our church Covid policy is being reviewed and revised regularly by the Covid response team. This policy is helpful to us because it represents a “common ground” that does not embody everyone’s preferences but does allow us to come together to gather as a body. The church Covid policy does still include wearing masks indoors. This practice especially needs to be observed in common areas such as doorways, hallways, bathrooms etc. If you have a health reason to not wear a mask, then it would be helpful to do this in the north side of the sanctuary. That’s the side by the organ.
Controversies and opportunities for division in the early church included how to pray, what kind of meat to eat, what kind of clothes to wear, what to do about circumcision, how to celebrate communion, and many other important topics. As you know we are also faced with some controversial topics in these days regarding how we worship together. I have gotten the chance to hear from many of you regarding your well considered and well researched opinions for and against masks, vaccines, etc. I have also gotten the chance to witness you all loving each other especially loving those with widely differing opinions. This is so good! I’ll put a more detailed discussion in the appendix below.
Thanks for preferring one another in love during this time.
Matt MacClary, on behalf of the elders
Appendix “Further Discussion”
Easter is an amazing celebration of our life in our risen savior! The backdrop of our society is one of fear mixed with some hope; but hope in lesser things of this world like vaccination rates and mortality reporting. Our Hope runs much deeper because we hope in the author of Life!
Jesus said: “A new commandment I give unto you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.” John 13:34-35
Things are changing this spring as some places in the world are opening up due to lower Covid rates. Other places are closing back down under the burden of resurging virus variants. Individuals in our church feel we should be opening up faster or slower than we are currently. You are heard! As we gather, let us not judge each other harshly due to our small differences but prefer each other in love: 1 Corinthians 11:31.
The way we as a church are navigating this time is to try to find some common ground around our Covid response so that people know what they can expect at our church services. There are at least 4 valid stances people in this church are implementing. Each of these should sound reasonable and worthy of consideration even if you don’t personally follow it:
- Some people are implementing isolation and minimizing contact with others. This group meets online or skips meeting unless critical. This stance is reasonable because it minimizes risk to themselves and others. Trading a year or so of a slow social calendar is seen as a reasonable tradeoff to not die or lose friends and family. If a big chunk of society did this then Covid rates would probably fall dramatically in a few weeks.
- Some people think it is okay to meet with others, but that all available safety precautions should be taken. This includes masks, temperature checks etc. This is also reasonable because it allows folks to gather but keeps risks as low as possible. No unnecessary risks are taken and meeting is still totally possible with some restrictions.
- Some people take the expert advice from doctors and epidemiologists by using the currently recommended protocols. If the current state or county policy says you can meet in certain numbers with certain precautions then they do just that. This group may not feel the need to be clamoring for more liberal or more conservative approaches than the established expert recommendations. Just follow the advice of the trained experts like we do in other areas of life.
- Some people think that each individual is best qualified to determine what actions to take to prevent the spread of disease. This group typically advocates reading data about Covid from primary sources and making individual health decisions just like with any other health risk such as cancer, heart disease and car accidents.
I hope that you feel heard and that your opinion is valid and important. Clearly we can’t do all of these approaches at once and still meet as one church. Some people’s needs and preferences are not being totally satisfied by the church Covid policy, but hopefully the policy is something we can agree to live with. I think of it like a road trip with family and friends. It takes some negotiation and compromise to pick important things like, where to go, what dates to be gone, who should drive, who gets the best seats in the car etc. Not everyone on the trip may be excited about the destination or their seat, but the value is in doing the trip together. There is something powerful and lasting about choosing to go to the same place even if you have to give up a lot of your preferences to be able to do it. This is even more true when we talk about living as one body in Christ.
The current church Covid policy does still include wearing masks indoors. I know that if you were to look at some sections of our seating this might not be apparent every Sunday. My ask to you all is to keep following the mask policy even as things are opening up more. One advantage to this is that your brother or sister in Christ who may be back at church for the first time in a long while might not be tripped up by your personal choices. 1 Corinthians 8:13
My additional ask is that if you see someone doing Covid protocol differently than you, that you don’t judge them harshly. Jesus knows what is in our hearts and he judged us worthy of dying for. Jesus’ judgement is what matters. We can’t see what is in each other’s hearts but we can agree with Christ that my brother or sister is valuable and worthy. The judgement of your heart is very important. The Bible talks about what happens in our hearts over and over: Matthew 7:1, John 7:24, Luke 6:37, Romans 2:1, Romans 14:10. While following health protocol is a good thing, following what the Bible says is ultimately our roadmap and standard.
P.s. Our meeting minutes are continuously available and updated monthly here: Link
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