Following CDC and St. Louis County guidance, as of Sunday, March 6, 2022, Arise has a "masks optional" policy.
Letter to the Congregation on 3 March 2022
From the very beginning, Arise has approached the COVID-19 pandemic by highlighting the biblical principles of service and submission. As Christians, we're called to serve one another in love and submit to each other out of reverence for Christ. And in whatever the future holds, we will continue following those principles.
As we make our way through COVID-world with those principles in mind, we believe that certain other information is worth considering as well. First, so far as we can tell through conversation, the majority of people at Arise have acquired some level of immune protection, either through vaccines and boosters or illness. Second, we have a track record of COVID success at Arise, as there have been no person-to-person COVID transmissions at church in our time together. Past results are not indicative of future success, but our seating and spacing and cleaning protocols do seem to have been at least somewhat helpful thus far. Third, as a church committed to respecting the charges of our governing authorities (see below), CDC and St. Louis County guidance allow us to adjust our COVID measures.
With these considerations in mind, while we are not beyond caution and wisdom, the consensus of the Arise elder team is that we can appropriately move to a “mask optional” policy, effective immediately.
You are, of course, welcome to continue wearing your mask while here at Arise—as I will certainly be doing in certain situations. And I do want to encourage you, per guidance, to continue taking precautions if you believe yourself to be immunocompromised or at risk for COVID complications. But—as we have said from the get-go of the pandemic—we leave your masking decision up to your conscience.
And as you continue to follow your conscience, let me remind you to do so in a spirit of service and submission to others. I want to applaud your willingness to live this way this past eighteen months—and I want to challenge you to continue living a life that points others to Jesus in all that you do. Because that’s what we’re all about here at Arise: following Jesus together in community. Thanks for your willingness to continue to serve and submit as we reach those on the fringes of faith.
Grace and Peace,
P.S. If you’d like to talk more about this decision or how the elder team came to it, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org or the entire team know at email@example.com
Principles and Practices
The COVID-19 pandemic and response has presented people and organizations throughout the world with difficult and often unprecedented challenges. Although disease and its consequences have always been part of living in a fallen world, this novel coronavirus—especially when combined with cultural pressures, a global economy, and the information age realities of online news and social media—has been particularly difficult and divisive.
Despite this outbreak and the challenges that it poses, Arise is committed to certain principles and practices:
First, that we continue to proclaim the Good News of Jesus to a sick, confused, fearful, and fallen world that is in desperate need of the hope and eternal life that only the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus truly provides.
Second, that we commit ourselves to serve one another in love (Gal 5.13) and submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Eph 5.21) while continuing our mission to be a church that is a community of conversation and growth for those on the fringes of faith.
Third, that we will submit to our governing authorities (Rom 13.1-5)—particularly those of St. Louis County and the state of Missouri—as a means of combating this disease until such a time as clear biblical principles are violated.
Fourth, that we will welcome conscientious objectors (Phil 2.12, Rom 14.23). We are a “come as you are” church and, even as we submit to our governing authorities, we remain welcoming of those who disagree with our decision. We will ask, however, that conscientious objectors have a sit down conversation about their decision with Pastor Jacob or a member of the elder team at their earliest possible convenience.
Fifth, that we undertake traditional Christian discipleship practices—such as gathering in community, corporate worship, community service, communion, baptism, weddings, funerals, and pastoral care—as safely as possible.
Sixth, that we make as many reasonable accommodations for the health and safety of our church and community as possible, including (as necessary) online emphases, physical distancing protocols, and sanitization procedures.
Seventh, that we follow any additional procedures deemed necessary by the leadership of Arise Church to lovingly and appropriately shepherd the flock of God during this difficult time.
Any updates to this approach will be posted here as the situation continues to evolve. Please direct any specific questions to Pastor Jacob (firstname.lastname@example.org) or the Elders (email@example.com).
Need Some Help?
We are available to assist you during these difficult and often distressing times. Please let us know how we can help you, your family, or another loved one.
For emergencies, please dial 911. For healthcare concerns, contact your primary care physician or follow the directions given by local authorities.