Dear Knox Family,
Given that we have been through a cycle of suspending indoor worship, reopening, starting outdoor worship, and then suspending indoor worship again, we wanted to clarify for you the basis on which these decisions have been made. Beginning in March when Covid-19 broke into our lives, we explained that we were trying to be mindful and proactive without becoming unnecessarily alarmist or fearful. We said we would follow the guidance of the Center for Disease Control & Prevention, the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services, and our local Health Department. Along the way, as with the recent mandate from the Washtenaw County Health Department to limit outdoor gatherings to 25 people, we have had to parse out whose guidance we follow. For example, Knox has an Ann Arbor address but is situated in Lodi township, not the city of Ann Arbor. So whose guidance do we recognize – the county or the state? The Health Department mandate exempted churches so we decided to embrace the exemption and continue to hold outdoor worship.
One might ask then why we closed down in-person worship when the Governor’s executive orders states that churches are not subject to penalty? Part of the answer is that the wording of the Governor’s orders do not necessarily provide churches an exemption; they merely state that they will not be subject to penalties. As a result, there have been differences of opinion as to how that should be interpreted. Nevertheless, our judgments have been based on a few principles. We wanted to
- Honor one another; that meant
- Leaders who were uncomfortable re-opening indoor worship in June honored those who were comfortable being back in the building and we opened.
- Leaders who were comfortable continuing indoor worship despite the Governor’s orders in August yielded to those who believed it was best to discontinue indoor worship and we closed.
- Pay attention to local conditions and what our own doctors were saying; that meant recognizing the outbreak in Saline and the return of university students
- Be a good community partner; that meant doing our best not to become a hotspot for infection.
Perhaps there has never been a more universal opportunity for the church to show grace to the world and one another. As followers of Jesus, let us continue to pray for this virus to slow down and for a vaccine to be available so that once again we can worship and gather indoors as the body of Christ. Let us also pray for one another. These times are difficult and each of us is feeling the weight in different ways, so let us continue to keep the gospel in play.
Grace and peace,
Pastors Bryan, Tom, Bob, Mike, and Josh