November 19, 2020
Dear Anthem Family,
Governor Inslee has announced new restrictive measures in response to the growing number of Covid-19 cases in our state that is causing stress on our medical capacities. We are grateful that this round of measures recognizes the importance of church gatherings and allows for us to continue meeting, although with some safety modifications.
Our plan during this time is based on these important premises:
1. Submission to Authorities as far as possible
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
We do not believe that this mandate can be framed as religious persecution at this time, as this mandate allows for churches to continue meeting. We believe that it would be wise to support this mandate based on it's recognition of the essential nature of church gatherings even during the lockdown, while many other industries are not provided with the same freedom.
2. Consideration of our Hosts
Our friends and hosts at the Best Western Hotel are graciously allowing us to continue meeting based on their understanding of how the measure impacts their facility and business. We cannot take this gracious hospitality for granted, especially given the fact that we are a portable church and would otherwise be displaced.
Our hosts have underlined the need for us to operate in compliance with the restrictions related to churches. This includes a numeric limit, masks to be worn and worship adjustments, but still allows for us to function with a lot of freedom. Our guidelines are outlined below.
3. Consideration of Others
While we encourage everyone to be free-thinking and to have their own conscience-based opinions, we also recognize that the greatest principle of the Christian life is loving others as much, or even more than, ourselves. This guiding principle empowers us to follow the examples of Jesus and Paul in sacrificing some of our own rights and freedoms out of consideration for how our behavior may impact others around us.
As a leadership we are very aware of people whom we love, who span the continuum of opinions related to Covid-19, politics and masks. We realize that there is no decision that will make everyone happy. We have a number of people who are immunocompromised, or who have high-risk situations at home. We are pursuing the path of self-sacrificial love which is willing to curb some personal freedoms out of caring consideration for those who are cautious, and for the greater good.
Please read and meditate on Romans 14:1 - 15:3, and allow us to highlight a few pertinent verses that have strong parallels for application in our current situation:
Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.
One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind.
For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone.
Romans 14:13 - 15:3
Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.
We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself...
The plan to move forward for the next several weeks will entail the following:
1. Our Best Western hosts interpret our numeric restriction in the ballroom at 62. While our numbers in the ballroom have fluctuated around the restriction, we expect some tapering off during the lockdown and do not see the necessity to institute sign-ups for church attendance at this time. We will adjust if needed. Our current setup will be optimized for social-distancing protocols.
2. We are urging that everyone who attends our gatherings wear masks during this time. We know that this is a hot debate and a political/conscience issue for some. We do not want to deny you the freedom of your opinion. If you cannot bring yourself to wear a mask, then we support your freedom by inviting you to stay connected at home as we will be increasing our online ministry during this time. Please check the website and make sure that you are following us on Facebook.
3. We will adjust our worship time from a singing session to a soaking session. This means that we will encourage a personal devotional time between you and the Lord while the worship plays in the background. This is a powerful form of worship and prayer that allows for an intimate and personal infilling of the Holy Spirit in an atmosphere of worship. We hope that those who are not already practicing this at home will be empowered to take this devotional model into the rest of your life long after Covid and the related lockdowns are over.
4. The teaching time will remain very similar and we will aim to end the service around 11:00 AM.
5. Kids will continue to meet in the conference room. We encourage masks for children older than five years of age. We will also be increasing adult supervision and support.
6. We will not provide coffee or snacks until the current restrictions are lifted, as this brings physical proximity and compromised surface issues into the equation.
6. Life Group gatherings will be suspended until the mandate is over, as indoor gatherings of friends from different homes are not permitted at this time. However, we encourage everyone to stay connected by phone, text, and outdoor socially-distanced activities like walking. We can continue expressing the power of the "ecclesia" (2's or 3's) in many different ways.
7. The HeartBeat meeting will continue on Sunday, December 6th after the service. We will meet in the ballroom to allow for proper social-distancing. You are welcome to attend if you consider yourself a member of the Anthem family and are willing to help out in some area of service.
We look forward to the world around us becoming a little more stable in the near future, until then we are so glad that we can walk in peace through the chaos!
Cedric and Angie van Duyn