As things continue with the COVID-19, I am very grateful to be back at church and in a building with space that allows us to rearrange as it has. It has been great to be back and worshiping in person with other believers, and I have experienced some very encouraging conversations and fellowship, in addition to the worship and learning. As we continue to be subjected to mandates and guidelines that we are expected to follow, we as elders continue to have difficult conversations and make difficult decisions as we lead.
We continue to ask for your prayers and your grace as there are a wide array of opinions within our church on how things should be handled. As Pastor Marlin recently pointed out, we in leadership are a microcosm of our congregation with their varying opinions, and that is the way it should be. It is healthy to not all be of the same viewpoints and mindset on every single thing. He also made the observation that we can have differing opinions without being divided. Unity is still possible and should be strived for. And that is what I hope and pray we can maintain as a church.
During these times it is so easy to become divided; the opportunity seems to always be right there at the doorstep. I don’t want anyone to feel unwelcome or uncomfortable in coming to church. There are people with legitimate health concerns that have chosen to stay away, and that is fine. What we are now experiencing is that some are choosing to stay away because of mask mandates. Each of these are a choice, but we want everyone to know they are welcome, to feel comfortable coming to the building for Sunday service, and to keep the focus on learning, growing in our walk with the Lord, and worshiping Him as much as possible. It is okay to have strong convictions and to hold to those, and we also need to acknowledge and respect those who don’t hold to the same conviction. One thing that has been pointed out amongst our elder group is that we as elders are not there to champion our own opinions and try to persuade our congregation to think like we do. I agree with that. That being said, we all have the ability to seek truth and hold to our own convictions.
Much is being made of being a good neighbor these days as it comes to health and safety. I think as a church we have accomplished that. We are following social distancing, cleaning, sanitizing, etc. We have made masks available to those who want them, as well as hand sanitizer. We have gone with no-touch options for offering, bulletins, door handles, etc. In addition to the audio recording, Nathan and Christian have successfully created a video option for the service as well.
Isaiah 26:3 says, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Also, please read James 5:7-11. We need to continually evaluate our hearts and motives, and continue to extend grace and be welcoming and encouraging one to another.
Anthony Bermel, on behalf of the Elders