This past week, Governor Inslee instituted new rules, regulations, and dictates regarding COVID-19. In doing so, his long arm from Olympia has once again overextended into the life of the church.
He reiterated that sanctuaries are to be limited to 25% capacity (that is not new). What is new, however, is that he has dictated that during worship we may no longer sing. Regarding weddings and funerals, he has ordered that those services are limited to 30 people and there are to be no receptions afterward.
Our response and practice going forward is the same position we have held all along. When it comes to the worship of God and the life of the church, God has given us the responsibility to make those decisions. Matters concerning worship, the covenant of marriage within the church, and the burying of our dead do not belong to “Caesar”. They belong to God and his church.
As such, we will continue to offer two worship services on Sunday mornings. The 8:30am gathering will be a service where masks and social distancing are expected. We have been averaging 40 to 50 people in a sanctuary that seats 300. There is plenty of room. Perhaps some more of our members (elderly/health concerns?) may find the spaciousness a better fit as opposed to our growing and much fuller 10am service (225-250 people) which has no restrictions.
Concerning weddings and funerals, the limitations are those you set yourselves. Should you choose, the church sanctuary and Fellowship Hall are available to celebrate marriages and mourn the loss of our loved ones.
Lastly, there is a theological point to be made. It is true we are to submit to authorities God has placed over us (Romans 13:1). That submission is not absolute, however. What is absolute is that Jesus is on the throne ruling over all. The church does not bow to Caesar. Caesar must learn it is his responsibility to bow to Almighty God. Obviously, that lesson is yet to be learned.
We look forward to seeing you this Sunday as we gather to worship (and sing) to the only Supreme Sovereign worthy of complete submission—King Jesus.
Pastor Rich Hamlin
November 19, 2020