Hello Members and Friends of Grace!
Yesterday, our President declared all churches as “essential” to the community. In so doing, he has asked all state governors to allow local churches to resume their normal worship services and operations. Later that day, our governor, Gavin Newsom, confirmed the unveiling of specific state guidelines and instructions for the reopening of churches. For many, this is welcome news. For others, this raises both uncertainty and valid concerns. I believe this division of opinion is reflected in the results of our recent survey of our community, which you can review here: Grace Reopening Survey Results
Earlier this week the staff and elders of Grace looked over these survey results. In addition, the leadership of Grace considered an initial list of known facts about COVID-19, logistic and operational questions that need to be answered, and the specific tasks that must be accomplished before we can resume on-campus worship services and activities. We trust that everyone will appreciate that there are multiple factors and concerns that need to be evaluated and considered.
While restrictions are being loosened, we should all begin to prepare now for the reality that when we come together again for worship on site, it will look and feel different than before this pandemic began.
Nonetheless, Grace remains committed to formulating and implementing a safe and manageable plan for coming back on our campus. In yesterday’s announcement, this is exactly what our President called for all ministers, rabbis, imams, and other faith leaders to do – to “make sure their congregations are safe as they gather and pray.” To this end, our intention is not to rush in making any decisions but to proceed with a healthy balance of caution, faith in Christ, and respect for all persons involved. In this effort, Grace will continue to consult and be guided in our decision making by local, county, state, and federal authorities. At the same time, Grace will stay up to date with the latest guidance from the most reliable scientific and medical authorities available, namely, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO).
As your pastor, I do not support the argument being circulated that being given such guidance and mandates by our government violates the protection of our religious freedoms. The inability to worship in our building due to safety and health concerns is not the same thing as being preventing from worshipping at all.
Romans 13 instructs Christians to be subject to the governing authorities. The civil authorities have a difficult task and we should seek to be a part of the solution through cooperation and service to our communities, as we relate to federal, state, county, and local officials. Furthermore, following such guidance, rules, and regulations enables us as a legal corporation to remain insured and to be able to offer a viable defense if someone gets sick or is otherwise harmed as we reopen.
We believe there are good reasons for the guidelines and restrictions that have been put in place. In abiding by them, we desire to instill confidence in our faith community that we, as leaders, are complying with the law. In areas where the mandates and guidance of such agencies conflict, Grace will seek to operate in a manner that most affords the safety, health, protection and care of all persons involved.
In the next week, the leadership of Grace will begin outlining a more specific plan for resuming on-site worship and activities. Along with that information, we hope to share a proposed restart date for being back on our campus. In the meantime, we will continue to offer worship opportunities, resources, and support through our Facebook and YouTube pages and our church website.
Thank you for ongoing prayers and support!
Grace and peace,