As Christians, we are called to love our neighbor and our approach to COVID-19 reflects just that. We seek to not spread the virus and care for the health of others while still seeking the same mission and values we are called to by in God's word. We know spiritual health is incredibly important and we wish to help you out however possible. Please reach out to email@example.com if you have any prayer requests or any needs we could assist you with.
Please read the following letter from our leadership team in regards to our response to COVID-19
In our own personal lives and as a community we have endured a great deal of hardship, uncertainty, and fears over this past year. Expectations have been shifted. Dreams have been postponed. Our normal has been altered. Yet, through it all, we hold onto the truth that God is in control. Yahweh, our redeemer, is moving in the hearts of people who have never experienced Him before. The kingdom of God is being established in this world and regardless of the chaos all around, His church will not be moved.
As a church leadership team, we have been in prayer and discussion about how God is leading us to respond in the midst of this pandemic. We feel the pull from three directions to respond in various ways: the Word of God, the government, and the virus itself.
As followers of Christ, we have been called to be people of prayer (Jeremiah 29:12, Matthew 6:9, Philippians 4:6), people of the Word (Joshua 1:8, Matthew 4:4, 1 Timothy 4:13), members of a Christ-centered community (Malachi 3:8, Acts 2:24, Hebrews 10:24), and ambassadors for Christ to the world (Matthew 5:16, Acts 1:8, Philippians 2:15). These callings go above all else. Throughout history and continuing in our current day, persecution, false doctrine, and other forces of darkness have tried to pollute, distract, and disband these sacred callings. Many throughout history and in our current day have been called to lay down their lives in devotion to these commands. We continue in this commission; to be a body devoted to these imperative calls. As a church and as individuals, our greatest hope is that we will never relent on any one of these.
As members of a political community, we have been called as believers to submit to our governing authorities as established by God (Romans 13:1, 1 Peter 2:17). We have been called to pray for them (1 Timothy 2:1-4). We have had to ask ourselves if we have been faithful to this command or if we have let our flesh dictate the actions of our hearts and minds. We are calling us as a church to pray for our governing officials as God has commanded us (Jeremiah 29:7). In the recent days, our governor has called for a renewed effort of lockdowns and quarantines. As it pertains to churches, the restrictions call for mandatory use of masks indoors, for social distancing, and for a temporary hold on congregational singing.
We also recognize that, outside of what we have been called to as a church and what the government has mandated, this virus has affected our daily lives. We have seen the impact even on members of our own community. Some have had mild symptoms while others have experienced it as a life-threatening illness. As Christians we have both a call to love our neighbor and a call to pick up our cross in order to follow Christ (Luke 9:23). This sacrificial life can look like many different convictions. With this virus, we have a responsibility to love our neighbor and do our part in limiting the spread. Regardless of whether it is possible to limit the spread through social distancing and masks or not, we have a responsibility over how our actions are perceived by those around us. If we can do something that makes others experience a degree of love and care, we are called to do so (1 Corinthians 9:19-23, Philippians 3:11).
With all of these factors in mind, we recognize that we are called to respond first to the Word of God, second in love to our neighbor, and third in submission to our governing authorities. We have made three decisions as a church moving forward:
1. We will never surrender to commands of abstaining from prayer, worship, or the reading of scripture. We have been asked to cease congregational singing and limit our time of music to a “solo performance.” We have decided that we cannot give up our command to sing praise, not only as individuals, but as a community (1 Corinthians 14:26, Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16, Hebrews 2:12). We will continue the act of singing praises to our God as a congregation while also complying with the regulation of only one singer on stage. We believe deeply in the importance of congregational, musical worship. We also understand that the act of worship starts with an inner love and devotion to God, and its outward expressions are not limited to just singing. We are going to take this time as a church to learn more about what worship is. We also know that for some, Sunday mornings are the only time they engage in musical worship. We hope that these changes on Sunday mornings from 10:00-10:30 translate into an increase of worship and praise throughout the week.
2. Out of love for our community and a desire to model a sacrificial life, we are requiring masks at all indoor gatherings. The message that a mask sends to others, of intentionality in protecting those around you, is far greater than its impact on the virus. If this new requirement seems like an undue burden, we will continue to live stream our services online. We would challenge you to remember the command that we are given by scripture: to not forsake meeting together. Personal choices may be made to protect those who are of high risk, and we respect those choices. But we would challenge you to evaluate if your decision to not wear a mask supersedes your decision to attend church.
3. Whenever it is possible and it does not conflict with scripture, we are called to submit to our governing authorities. Our decision to require the use of masks and to space out chairs reflects our desire to comply with our governing authorities. We will continue to do what we can to comply with the many requirements wherever they do not conflict with our scriptural commands. This unfortunately includes canceling our upcoming youth family dinners, business meeting, and annual Christmas dinner. We are incredibly sad to have to put a hold on these activities and we are actively looking for alternatives to maintain community-building events within our church body.
We thank you for your continued financial, emotional, and spiritual support over this past year. “Adversity does not build character, it reveals it.” This is true both for an individual but also for a church. We have been amazed and blessed at how our church has shown its character through this moment of adversity. We believe that as we rely on Christ as our strength, we will remain steadfast through whatever else shall come. We lean on one another as Christ’s body; unique in our own callings and talents, but unified in vision to establish His kingdom here. We invite you to call or email us if you have any questions, thoughts, or need for prayer. Please know that you all are in the constant prayers of our church staff, board, and ministry leaders.
Park Ridge Leadership Team
We look forward to seeing you!