Dear Church Family,

As the covid-19 boxing match enters its 9th round, we’re all feeling battered by its many blows. I’ve seen this divide our church in ways I never thought possible; my heart aches. My prayer for us as we move forward is to live out the truths in Romans 14-15 that discuss “disputable matters.” (A “disputable matter” is a moral or wisdom position that the Bible does not specifically address.)

Romans 14 and 15 teach us that wherever we land on “disputable matters” we’re to remember “we belong to the Lord” (Romans 14:8) and we must “make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification” (Romans 14:19). So too, we should prioritize pleasing our neighbors over ourselves (Romans 15:2-3). This means that regardless of where your conscience falls on whether masks are helpful and loving or unhelpful and unloving, this must not become an issue that divides the Christian body. Satan is all-too-happy to see us forsake Christ’s mission and the assembly of believers over this disputable matter. 

Amid this journey, the elders have sought counsel in and outside our body to make our decisions without claiming any position has the “right” or “biblical” view on this disputable matter. 

All that to say, we think it’s an ok time to slightly change our covid protocols this week…

With a continued drop in positive cases for covid-19, fewer hospitalizations, and the 14-day positivity rate across Linn county at 9.7% and trending down (well below the 15% 14-day rolling average deemed significant), effective Wednesday December 16th we’ll step back our church-wide protocols to as follows:

1) The overflow area in the foyer will be reserved as a “mask only worship space” for the 9:25AM worship service. The Facebook Live service will continue for those with health concerns related to corporate gatherings.

2) The sanctuary will go back to being mask-optional/encouraged. If possible, please wear a mask entering and exiting the foyer, particularly in the overflow area. *People with breathing problems, non-school age kids, and those who can’t remove the mask without assistance need not wear one.* 

3) Small groups using the building throughout the week can make their own mask-wearing determinations based on group dynamics and concerns. As of last week, the youth group has transitioned to mask-optional/encouraged on Wednesday evenings.

Please do not forget to consider the Marion Mayor’s proclamation and the governor’s disaster proclamations as you seek to honor your governing authorities (see Rom 13:1-7).

I still love pastoring this church, and I love you. Admittedly, I’m a weary pastor at the end of 2020. Pray for me, pray for your elders, pray for one another. Thank you for your many efforts to carry one another burdens…
To God be the glory.

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Matt

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