Dear Summitview Family,
As the world slowly re-opens, we’re all asking when we can get back into the building and resume some semblance of normal church life. We’re all feeling it. We’re missing things that maybe we took for granted. I (Travis) specifically miss hearing the church sing loud praises to God together. I miss Friday service meals in the lobby. And I miss Ching Yu’s hugs and enthusiastic pats on the back.
We appreciate your response to the poll we sent out this week. 241 of you filled it out! This information is very helpful for us as we consider next steps. It was encouraging to hear that most of our church family is in good health and ready to get back to meeting as a large group. Some reported significant financial stress, but the majority of us are still employed. Aaron will share a bit more on our poll results during this upcoming Sunday’s livestream.
I wanted to address the deeper question I think many of us are asking now: “At what point do we call out government overreach and respond by gathering as a large group anyway?” This is a difficult topic. Social trust is currently low, and our entire country seems to have widely diverging opinions on COVID-19 and the proper response to it. We pastors are prayerfully considering what it looks like for us to heed God’s commands in Scripture to ‘be subject to the governing authorities’ and ‘not neglecting to meet together’. Thank you for your many prayers for wisdom regarding this decision.
Some have said since grocery and liquor stores are open to the masses, we should ignore the government’s restrictions on gathering and also reinstate our large church gatherings. But we observe that the government is not specifically singling out churches. Church gatherings have more in common with concerts, sporting events, and large political gatherings than they do grocery stores, and all these large gatherings are canceled as well. Obviously, there comes a time when the church is singled out and civil disobedience becomes our only option, but we believe we are not there at this point. However, it seems reasonable to us to petition the government for more liberty, and collectively as Colorado churches we are making those requests.
Right now it feels like we’re having to wait before we can fully respond. As pastors, we’ve been involved in an on-going state-wide conversation between Colorado pastors and Colorado governing officials, as well as conversations within the Fort Collins Church Network. At Governor Polis’ request, a group of 10 Colorado clergy met this week to provide the Colorado Health Department and governor’s office feedback and recommendations for reopening churches. We’re hoping to hear a response within the next 7-10 days. Gov Polis has said in the meantime he’ll have a statement regarding church gatherings for June by May 24th. Additionally, Larimer County has submitted a request for guidelines to loosen earlier than the state-wide mandate. We’re also waiting for a response from the state to the county’s request. If there are updates by this Sunday, Aaron will mention them during the livestream.
So what now in the meantime? Gathering is an essential part of the mission of the church, but how we gather isn’t as important as why. The how can vary, while the why remains the same. Remember we’re now legally allowed to gather in groups of ten or less. That’s even more than the gathering of two or three Jesus mentioned in Matthew 18. If you’re comfortable with it and not part of a vulnerable population, we encourage you to take advantage of this, while maintaining CDC guidelines, ie. social distancing/wearing masks. We can adapt to our current circumstances and act as disciples of Jesus – we can love and serve, and act as Jesus’ hands and feet in our homes and neighborhoods. It doesn’t yet require civil disobedience to be successful in our mission. In fact, let’s pray together for God to show his sovereign redemptive power during this time and seize the opportunity to lead in love rather than respond in fear.
Remember, “the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor 13:13). Many of our neighbors in Fort Collins are currently experiencing great fear, loss, and anxiety. So let’s look for ways for our church to love them and bring the hope of the Gospel. When our neighbors see we care, they’ll see that God cares too.
Also remember two months ago now at the beginning of the stay-at-home phase, we pointed out that when Paul was in prison, he saw it as an opportunity. The Gospel was being shared with “the whole imperial guard” and many believers were “much more bold to speak the word without fear” (Phil 1:14-15). God uses seemingly negative circumstances to bring about good that we otherwise wouldn’t have imagined. We trust that he is doing the same here.
Travis (on behalf of the Summitview Pastors)
Dear Summitview Family,