Church Update: A Letter from the Pastors & Elders about the Covid Pandemic
Originally distributed to the church body on 6/21/21
Dear Church Family,
As you know, last week Pastor Brock (on behalf of our whole leadership) made the announcement that we would continue to abide by the State’s guidelines for indoor gatherings.
The June 15th LA County mandate reads, “Masks will not be required for fully vaccinated individuals, except [in certain settings]”…It further reads, “Masks will be required for unvaccinated individuals in indoor public settings and businesses.”
In order to maintain unity, we initially thought the best direction was to encourage and require mask wearing anywhere inside our building, including our corporate gatherings.
We want you to know that after much prayer, discussion, and assessment (considering where the body is, and what we now know), we are officially as a church, changing direction. We will no longer require mask wearing in any of our indoor gatherings.
We want to be clear that this new direction is not primarily motivated by the fact that we have rights and freedoms. As leaders we’ve been more than willing to bypass those all this time, choosing to believe the best and do our best, as far as it depended on us, to abide by all that was being passed down to us.
It’s not because we’re all tired of this, and enough is enough.
It’s not because our comfort should ever be our goal.
It’s not even, first and foremost, because we got feedback from the body.
Having said this, we do thank you for your feedback. Your feedback, in fact, helped us realize that we needed another meeting to discuss this. Since we love meetings early in the morning, we met yet again this past week to pray and discuss this further. But we do believe that part of faithful shepherding is listening to the hearts of God’s people. And so we appreciate you having the confidence to come to us, to share how these decisions impact you.
Furthermore, this decision is not because we are anti-government. We believe that submission to government is also a biblical issue. We’re commanded in God’s Word to pray for our government. We should do everything we can to submit ourselves to our government. As you know, from the very beginning we have done everything possible, as far as it depends on us, to walk the fine line of first and foremost doing what God has called us to do: gathering for worship, preaching the Gospel, and practicing fellowship (all biblical mandates). We’ve sought to be faithful to the Lord in these, all the while seeking to do everything the government has asked us to do (also a Biblical mandate).
In all of this our greatest commitment has been to honor Christ, to do what we felt was best for you (God’s people), and to do what we felt communicated the most care and love to the world. To this point, our course has been the right thing to do.
None of those motivations have changed one bit. But if you recall, we said that this was the direction we were charting for now. That for now, as we continued to pray, discuss, and assess things, this is where we were. This was intentional, with an ever-changing, fluid situation, such as the one we’ve had before us. We knew that this situation was uncharted territory for our country, and for us as a church. It’s perfectly okay and wise, in unique circumstances like these, to continue to watch, pray, discuss, and assess decision-making. As we think about all this, we want to confess to you that if you’ve struggled, we have as well, because we want to shepherd you well. I can tell you that this hasn’t been easy. Even up to this week, each of us (and collectively) have wrestled with what is most Christ-exalting, Church-edifying, and loving to the world. And we’ve struggled because these are unprecedented times, where not everything is so clear-cut and black and white. So many of these issues, like mask wearing and vaccinations, as much as people want to make them matters of sin or not sin, of clear violation of Scripture, or not, etc., are simply not of such a nature.
All that to say, that as a unified leadership (though certainly not free of present struggle, or some differences of opinion), we have come to agree that we need to move forward with submitting ourselves to the Lordship of Christ by letting the church be the church. To practice fellowship in a more personable and intimate way. Thus, we will now allow each individual to make the decision regarding whether or not he or she needs to wear a mask. Please know that we will not be policing those who choose to not wear a mask. If you still desire to wear a mask, please do so. No one is to single you out for that if that’s what makes you most comfortable. As we heard in the tail end of the message, love is to motivate and shape how we interact with one another in this. We won’t be requiring or enforcing masks in our corporate services, or in any other context here in our church building.
Also, we believe that vaccinations are a personal, private conscience issue between you and the Lord. Taking things at face value, you are not in sin for getting vaccinated. You are not in sin for choosing not to be vaccinated. This is between you and the Lord, as you become informed about the vaccination, know your own health, and weigh all of your options, etc.
Now let me please reiterate our pastoral concern above all. When it comes to masks or vaccinations, we believe that these are matters that fall under the category of private, personal conscience. And with issues of this nature (in accordance with 1 Cor 8-10), we have freedom and liberty as Christians before the Lord to make personal, informed decisions that we each feel are best. So whatever you or another person decides (one way or the other in these), please do not draw hard, fast lines where you should not, or we’ll be talking to you for sure as your shepherds who love you, and care about unity.
Gracious love is to motivate and shape how we flesh out decisions in this area of wisdom issues. And unity is to also be our highest commitment as we move forward with this change of direction as a body.
Again, please know that this decision was not an easy one. We’ve prayed (individually and collectively), discussed (more than you want to know), and assessed much as we navigated all of this. We haven’t always been on the same page with everything. I believe we can humbly and honestly say that to you as our church family. And even now, we will continue to prayerfully assess as weshepherd you moving forward, for there seems to be no end in sight quite yet.
But here we stand now. Effective next Sunday (June 27th), it is your decision whether you wear a mask or not in our corporate gatherings, or in any events inside our building. As far as your home goes, what you do in the context of your own home is your decision. We will not be policing mask wearing or vaccinations in any way, shape or form.
Beloved, let’s be unified, loving, and above all, let us exalt Christ and fully be the church on mission to make disciples, in fulfillment of what Christ has ordered us to do, by His grace, and in the power of His Spirit. We love you. Please talk to one of us if you have any questions and/or concerns.
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