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Friday, May 22, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters, 

When will we be able to gather for corporate worship again? This is the question on all of our minds. We are encouraged to hear young and old alike express their deep longing to worship the Lord together again! We pray the weekly resources have equipped you to worship in your homes but acknowledge that it just isn’t quite the same as being together in corporate worship. Now approaching our twelfth week of shuttered church doors, the elders wish to inform you of where we are at and where we are going.  

At this point, though frustrated by the ongoing shutdown, it is our conviction to honor state and local restrictions. With the President’s recent briefing declaring church an essential service, however, no doubt we will be together sooner than later! The reasons for our decision are as follows:

  1. Obedience to the authorities as unto the Lord. The Spirit commands us to “submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established” (Romans 13:1). Peter, under the violent, oppressive governance of Nero, reiterates, “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good” (1 Peter 2: 13-14).
  2. Concern for our witness in the community. Scripture urges us to carefully consider how our actions are perceived by our unbelieving neighbors. Peter writes, “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deed and glorify God on the day he visits us” (1 Peter 2:12). While some brothers and sisters in the Lord may applaud a decision to resume church services despite the governor’s restrictions, many unbelievers in our community would view it as selfish and unloving.  
  3. Respect for those in our congregation who would oppose resuming services. Romans 14 commends a godliness which is willing to surrender our own freedom in order to honor and respect others whose conscience does not permit them to exercise the same freedom.  
  4. Care for the most vulnerable among us. Were we to open, experience teaches that those most vulnerable to the virus, the elderly among us, would most certainly be present.  
  5. Continuing freedom to obey God and man.  Though we acknowledge a growing uneasiness about the current shutdown, we do not believe we have met the biblical threshold for civil disobedience. When Peter and the other apostles said, “We ought to obey God rather than man” they were responding to strict orders not to teach in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 5: 28). While we have not been permitted to worship corporately, in no way have we been prohibited from proclaiming the gospel. We have continued to broadcast the Word on our webpage, YouTube, daily devotionals and countless conversations. We pray you are making the most of every unprecedented opportunity with your unbelieving family members and neighbors to give a reason for the hope that you have (1 Peter 3:15). 

For these reasons, we plan to continue honoring the current government mandated restrictions. In the meantime, we are committed to the following: 

  1. We are giving prayerful consideration to the logistics of reopening the church in what we anticipate will be a gradual approach in which social distancing measures will still likely be required.  Please pray for and be patient with us as we seek the Lord's will.
  2. We are joining other local churches in writing a letter to Governor Inslee asking him to allow churches to gather in an earlier phase than is currently recommended. You, too, are encouraged to pray for our government officials (1 Timothy 2:2) and to respectfully exercise your freedom to voice your concerns and/or appreciation to our elected officials. 
  3. We praise the Lord for His provision through your faithful financial contributions.
  4. We ask you to join us in prayer for discernment to know if and when government restrictions demand we must obey God rather than man. 
  5. We encourage you to continue ministering to one another, praying for one another and meeting each other’s needs in Christ’s name as times and circumstances require. As the restrictions continue, tensions heighten, and we become more emboldened in airing opinions, it is especially important, with humility and patience, we bear with one another in love, diligently preserving the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace (Eph. 4:2-3).

We urge you to let us know how we might be most faithful in our calling to honor our Lord by serving you. Don’t hesitate to contact Pastor Ben, an elder or deacon to share a prayer request or inform us of a need you or someone you know may have.  God be with you till we meet again, Second Family.  

In Christ’s Service 
 The Elders of Second CRC