Updated: Mar 29, 2020
Dear Church Family,
Governor Mike Parson invited all ministry leaders in the state to participate on a teleconference Sunday, March 22. The deacons and Brother Jared Rivera joined me in that teleconference. Governor Parson addressed and took questions concerning COVID-19 and Executive Order 20-02 in which he declared "a state of emergency in Missouri." The order affects decisions our church must make regarding how we gather together. Please read a portion of the order below:
"In accordance with the guidelines from the President and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, every person in the State of Missouri shall avoid social gatherings of more than ten (10) people. For purposes of this Order, 'social gatherings' shall mean any planned or spontaneous event or convening that would bring together more than ten (10) people in a single space at the same time. [link]"
The order went into effect at 12:01 A.M. Monday, March 23, 2020 and remains in effect until 12:01 A.M. Monday, April 6, 2020. However, Governor Parson told us to expect this order to be extended past that date. Along with sharing information about Covid-19, Governor Parson sought to encourage us as ministry leaders to follow this order and encourage church members to do the same.
After the teleconference, your Deacons, Jared, and I discussed the Executive Order as it relates to our worship service. In that discussion, we weighed two commandments in the New Testament given to Christians.
"Let everyone submit to the governing authorities, since there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are instituted by God. So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God’s command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves." -- Romans 13:1-2
"And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." -- Hebrews 10:24-25
I spoke with the Governor's office to request clarification. The order is not a matter of law for church worship services. Therefore, if we continue to assemble in groups of ten or more, we will not be breaking any laws. Yet, the Governor is strongly encouraging churches not to assemble in groups greater than ten.
As a lifelong Missourian, I love our state and have much respect for our governing officials. I desire as a Christian to submit to governing authorities as they promote righteousness and concern themselves with the welfare of the people. At the same time, as a disciple of Christ I seek to walk in obedience to the Lord and obey all that he has commanded.
The dilemma in this situation is that the Governor's order is given out of great concern for the welfare of the people of Missouri, and that is a good thing. Yet, the Scripture commands us not to "forsake the assembling of ourselves together." Gathering to worship our Lord, as he has commanded, is a good thing also and is for the welfare of his people.
After thoughtful and prayerful deliberation with the Deacons, as Pastor I decided the church house doors will be open on Sunday mornings. I will be at the church house 30 minutes prior to our scheduled time of worship (10:15), ready and willing to worship with whoever chooses to attend under the lordship of Jesus Christ.
No member of Faith Baptist Church should feel compelled to attend unless they are compelled by the Holy Spirit to attend. The personal lordship of Jesus Christ is a foundational Christian doctrine for us as Baptists. Therefore, every member or any non-member who attends Faith Baptist Church must seek the Lord as to whether or not they themselves should gather for our scheduled Sunday morning worship during this time.
Grace and peace,
"Now to Him who is able to protect you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of His glory, blameless and with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority before all time, now and forever. Amen."
*Update as of 3/28/2020: Sunday worship service will be held on the church parking lot (rain or shine) as a drive-in format. The service will be broadcast on 87.9 FM, so no one need leave their car or enter the church house. You must be in close proximity of the church house to receive the signal.