Dear Church Family,
On Sunday morning (3/14/21) I shared with you the principles that have guided our Elder Board this past year as it pertains to Covid-19 regulations for the church. What I shared are convictions of mine that have grown stronger over the past 12 months and are deep in my conscience. I feel somewhat like Martin Luther did on April 18, 1521, when he appeared before the Diet of Worms to defend his doctrines. At the conclusion of his speech, he said, “My conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen.”
If you have not watched or heard the rather lengthy sermon from last Sunday, please take the time to do so on our church app or website. I explained from Scripture that we must be submissive to our governing authorities (Rom. 13:1-7; Titus 3:1; 1 Peter 2:11-20). That biblical mandate (and other principles) led our elders to submit to the Covid-19 regulations established for houses of worship in L.A. County. At the end of the sermon, I shared that we were going to implement new policies at our church because the County Health Department gave us the freedom to do so. In their recent Covid-19 regulations, county health officials removed Appendix F which had the specific rules for houses of worship (the rules we had been observing this past year). With this freedom to decide for ourselves what our policies should be, the elders devised the new policies that we were going to implement starting this Sunday (3/21/21). You probably received a text or email on Thursday from the church office reiterating those new policies. I am grieved to inform you that those new policies must be postponed at this time.
In the most recent Supreme Court decision pertaining to California, churches were granted the right (based on the first amendment) to meet indoors, but they were still required to wear masks and practice social distancing if deemed necessary by local government officials. Unfortunately, our local government officials changed their mind about houses of worship and have now placed us under Appendix A which mandates that we must wear masks and practice social distancing. That mandate came from the governor and was affirmed by city and county officials. It is a mandate, not a suggestion.
The elders were just informed of these new government mandates and met on Thursday evening in an emergency session to discuss what to do. We concluded that we must submit to our governing authorities on this issue for the same reasons we have been doing so for the past 12 months (as outlined in Sunday’s sermon). That is why we are going to postpone our proposed policy changes and go back to our previous policies that require masks and social distancing when in the Worship Center or in any class or meeting on our campus – indoors and outdoors.
I sincerely apologize for any confusion and consternation caused by these changes. Like me, you have been praying fervently that the Lord would give wisdom to our government leaders and that He would restore us to pre-Covid 19 days where we could meet without restrictions. I thought we were taking steps in that direction with the new policies, but those steps will need to be postponed a little while longer. We will implement those policies as soon as we are allowed to by those in authority over us. I am disappointed, but I know our God is sovereign at all times and in all circumstances. I know that His will is always good, acceptable, and perfect (Rom. 12:2). He knew about this pandemic before the foundation of the world, and He is using this difficult time to conform us to the image of His beloved Son. Like Job, I am learning to say, “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21).
Thank you for your prayers for the elders and for your “sweet reasonableness” (Phil. 4:5). Your commitment to Scripture as the final authority in your life, and your commitment to our local church, makes our job as elders much more joyful (Heb. 13:17).
In His sovereign grip,