We believe that many – if not all of us – are torn when it comes to the topic of reopening, whether it be a business, nursing home, or church. There is a part of us that wants to be open so we can return to work, visit loved ones in hospitals, and worship as a body of Believers. There’s another part of us that understands the potential risk to ourselves and others when engaged in social interaction.
We have all experienced the ramifications of COVID-19 to varying degrees and in different ways. These personal experiences impact how each of us thinks about reopening. This means that as a diverse community we are sure to have different ideas about what this process should look like. It is our desire as a church, that in the midst of our differences we remain unified and supportive of one another.
Over the past week, Brethren in Christ congregations have been receiving guidance from our denomination’s church leaders on this matter. Last week we received from them some suggestions for reopening, including the following:
Reopen with grace. Clearly communicate to your congregation that a person’s faith in God and their loyalty to their congregation will not be judged by their presence or absence at the reopening of your worship services. Each individual and family has a number of important factors to evaluate personally. We would do well to remind everyone to love their neighbors as themselves, and to offer each other as much grace as possible as individuals and families decide when to return to public worship.
Our denominational leaders have advised pastors and church leaders to remain aware of current guidelines put in place by government and health officials. We will be complying with the State and Federal orders in regard to green, yellow, and red phases. This decision is based on our understanding of the Scriptures, which provide these instructions: “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted. Therefore it is necessary to submit to authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.” (Romans 13:1-2,5)
Franklin County currently finds itself in the red phase, limiting our gatherings to no more than 10 people. Once certain criteria have been met we will move into the yellow phase, where gatherings will be limited to no more than 25. Because we are a relatively large community of believers, it will not be until we move into the green phase that we will be able to hold larger corporate worship services.
While none of us know at what point we will be able to gather without restrictions, we have begun developing a plan for reopening that will cover both when and how. These will not be easy decisions and will require wisdom, grace, and humility from all of us. And so, even now we are asking for you to intercede with prayers on our behalf. We want you to know that we will be looking for God’s guidance and that our love and concern for you – based on His love and concern for you – will be our primary motivation.
As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact Pastor Bill (Board Chair) or Pastor Shaun (Co-Chair).
Your Church Board consists of…
Staff: Bill Shank, Shaun Kipe
Congregational Representatives (elected at Annual Council): Chris Bumbaugh, Peggy Dawson, Brian Egolf, Sandy Gray, Harvey Payne, Angie Petersheim, Jean Showalter, Lin Yoder
Deacon Representative: Ed Herald
Church Treasurer: Ron Strite
Recording Secretary: Christina Martin (non-voting)