From Pastor Eric and the Deacons,
Whites Run Baptist Church will be resuming in-person services on Sunday, May 24th, 2020. Details of how we will be conducting services will be given in two parts, with the most important part first — our heart attitudes upon returning. The second part, released Sunday, May 17th, 2020, will contain the specific procedures we will undertake. Find it here.
We can summarize three principles that should guide our attitudes as we gather together again to worship.
Our Sensitivity to Others
There are wide-ranging responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. They range from total denial to abject terror. Most people are somewhere in the middle ranging from skepticism to deep concern, and many often swinging back and forth. It is very difficult to find two who agree. Although we may have wide-ranging opinions about the crisis, we must ultimately meet together under a single set of guidelines.
To do this, we will use Philippians 2:3 as our guide: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” This is the biblical principle of putting others first. It is also expressed clearly by Jesus as he says, “The greatest among you shall be your servant” (Matthew 23:11). You may find this article helpful: https://jspoulton.wordpress.com/2020/05/12/three-thoughts-on-navigating-potential-conflict-in-reopening-church/
In Christ we do whatever we can to prevent causing a brother or sister to stumble (see Romans 14:1-15:7). In the present crisis, it is more likely to cause someone offense by not acting with enough caution rather than by acting with too much caution. For this reason, our conditions for meeting together will be on the cautious side, embracing most of the state recommendations concerning places of worship.
Our Standing in the World
Peter wrote, “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable” (1 Peter 2:12). It could damage our Christian witness to be found flagrantly disobeying governing authorities (Romans 13:1-7), even if some of us find them to be unnecessary or overreactive. The only biblically-justifiable reason for civil disobedience is when the spreading of the gospel is being denied (Acts 5:29).
Our Submission to Leadership
Finally, the leadership of the church prayerfully considered the guidelines for re-opening. Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” Any problems with the policy should then be brought directly to individuals that can actually address the concern rather than among others where it may turn into murmuring. The leadership ultimately gives an accounting to God for their decisions.
We all are looking forward to meeting together. Let’s pray that our focus can be upward in worship. God Bless!
— Eric, Jim, Danny, and Joe.