If you’ve been following our local news this past week, you know that confusion and chaos reigns. One part of our local government issued a mask mandate and another part voted down that mandate. Our state government has gotten involved. National leaders have made changes to guidelines, we think. Overall, we’re not quite sure what to make of all this.
However, from the 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. (See Galatians 5:13 and Ephesians 5:21, especially.) Regardless of whatever unexpected changes and challenges occur in the future, we remain committed to these principles.
Because of these principles—and despite the confusion on mask mandates from our governmental leaders—effective Sunday, August 1, we are making the following requests: Arise staff, leaders, and volunteers should wear a face covering while serving at Arise, provided that such coverings do not inhibit their service. Those attending services should follow their conscience on wearing a mask. We fully expect this situation to change soon, but for now, this is how we’re going to move forward.
As we continue to adapt to our changing situation, we believe that certain other information is worth noting.
- First, there is continued data that the COVID vaccines are an effective means for limiting the spread of COVID, although recent data regarding the "delta" variant has been somewhat less clear.
- Second, so far as we can tell through conversation, something approaching 80% of adults and teens at Arise have been fully vaccinated.
- Third, 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 protocols to this point seem to have been effective.
- Fourth, we continue to leave decisions about masks in small group settings up to the members of that group.
- Finally, as has been the case throughout the pandemic, we continue to affirm the importance of individual conscience when it comes to face covering decisions. We do ask, however, that should you choose to act in a manner other than our request above, that you speak with a member of the elder team about your decision.
We know this has been a difficult and exhausting season for all of you. And we’re grateful for your continued willingness to serve and submit as we pursue the mission to which God has called our church: to be a community of conversation and growth for those on the fringes of faith, regardless of the public health situation. Thank you for being a part of the Arise family as we make our way through this together.
If you have any questions, clarifications, or concerns, please feel free to contact Pastor Jacob (firstname.lastname@example.org), Pastor Kelsey (email@example.com), or the entire Elder Team (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Grace and Peace,
Pastor Jacob and the Arise Elder Team
30 July 2021
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 (email@example.com) or the Elders (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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.