As you may know from yesterday’s message, this Sunday, in accordance with the Public Health Mandate issued for Baltimore County, LRPC will require face masks for inside worship. We wanted to give a bit of rationale for our decision and ask for everyone’s continued prayers for (1) those families and individuals impacted by COVID-19; (2) our government – see 1 Tim. 2:1-2; and (3) for us as a congregation – that God would grant us patience and perseverance in this testing time.
We knew that our re-opening would be an uneven process dependent upon many factors, not just our desire to return to what we knew as “normal”. We desire, as far as we are able according to Scripture, to abide by our government’s orders. We further do desire to provide a safe place to worship (knowing that we cannot eliminate all risks) and be as open to as many as could come to the building. None of what we have decided or done is perfect or ideal. The Session has wrestled in prayer as we’ve discussed and debated what to do and we’ve had some missteps along the way.
Our primary concern initially was to improve our online streaming and many weeks and lots of work were put into figuring that out and allowing our particular congregation to pray and praise and hear the preaching of God’s Word together—being together in spirit even though separated physically (cf. 1 Cor. 5:3). We thank God for that platform which allows us to reach so many. But we knew that we cannot be online only; as wonderful a provision as that is, it is not all that we are called to be. We are created body and soul and were made for community that is present physically as well as socially. Thus we re-opened the building in June to those who felt comfortable coming.
As we re-opened the building to in-person gathering, we tried to be aware and address those who could not return in light of the pandemic. We have made a good faith effort to provide options for multiple ways to gather: the live stream has continued to broadcast our service; we are broadcasting the worship service to the parking lot so folks can gather outside (either in their vehicles with their air conditioning, or on the lawn); and most recently we are rotating one space for “mask only” and the other for “mask optional” seating inside. We thank God that we have been able to take these steps forward and long for the day when (Lord willing) all will be able to return.
The most recent order has made us take a small step back. However, restricting those coming inside to “mask only” does not mean that the option to join us outside is taken away. While the wearing of face masks outdoors is recommended, if we maintain proper social distancing (I know some are weary of that phrase), then face masks are optional. We want to see the increase of positive cases decrease and so are willing to do this joyfully in submission. As we celebrate communion there will be pre-filled cups available to those who gather outside.
We look forward to seeing as many as are able to attend this Sunday in person (whether that be inside or out), and are so thankful to all who are attending online and staying home for safety’s sake.
Humbly praying for God’s blessing,