Hope you are well. The elders would like to discuss an important matter with you. As you know, we began the 2 services approach to Sunday morning worship in hopes of serving our church better, realizing that there were different views about the usage of facemarks. The 9am service is mask required and the 10:30am service is mask strongly encouraged during singing and optional during the other parts of the service. So far, it has been a good step as we have seen new faces as well as maintained a spirit of unity.
As we start the new year, we are going to continue the 2 service format. However, we are going to require masks for both services. Let us explain the change. On November 6th, Governor Lamont made a new mandate requiring masks during services. Since Lamont issued this mandate in November, Pastor Bryan has been in dialogue with a lawyer friend, Alliance Defense Fund (a leading national legal organization defending religious liberties), and Family Institute of CT trying to understand whether the mandate is binding. The assessment by all of them is that the mask mandate is legally binding. Interestingly, the US President does not have this authority but state governors do. So there have been quite a few conversations in the past 2 months not to mention Pastor Bryan taking some time off, the Christmas holidays, and waiting to see how the Supreme Court would handle these issues.
Before changing things, we wanted to work through these questions carefully. It has been challenging as Covid restrictions and their legality are unsettled. The US Supreme Court recently weighed in on government restrictions. Their decisions stopped church attendance restrictions but did not address masks. We are learning as we go and doing our best.
Now let us look at some biblical principles. First, we are to obey and honor the government as long as it does not cause us to violate Scripture. This view has been a long-held view within Christianity. While we may not like the mask mandate, wearing them does not cause Christians to violate Scripture. Therefore, we believe it is right to honor the mandate. Second, if new restrictions prevent us from gathering at all, we would violate the restrictions and obey God rather than man. Thankfully, at this point it seems unlikely Lamont would move in this direction given the recent Supreme Court rulings.
Pastor Bryan spoke with the 9am service and they would prefer to keep the 2 service approach even if masks are required. The extra spacing is important to them. We are going to evaluate in the Spring and hopefully at that point we can resume one service at 10:30am.
We will start a two-part sermon series on God and Government on January 17th. Scripture has much to teach about government and our relation to it. After getting a fuller picture, we will hold a town hall after church on the 24th to discuss any concerns or questions. We will make the meeting accessible via Zoom.