As you have probably heard by now, both the CDC and IDPH have changed their guidance, no longer directing fully-vaccinated individuals to wear masks or observe social distancing when in most situations. That includes gatherings like ours at First Baptist Church. So, starting this Sunday, we will follow suit and relax our mask requirement for fully vaccinated individuals.
This is really good news on a number of levels and we are glad to be taking this step forward. However, these new guidelines mean people who have not been vaccinated should continue wearing masks. We will continue making them available for unvaccinated individuals and for those who still want to wear one. It’s important to remember that our children, our teenagers, and other unvaccinated people are still vulnerable to infection.
Along with this news about masks, today IL is moving into the Bridge Phase of the governors “Restore Illinois” plan. This phase increases capacity limits on public gatherings like ours, but not by enough to allow us to move to one service yet. It looks like the next step would allow that. The move to phase 5 and 1 service for us could take place as early as June 11, so we are looking forward to that. But for now, we will continue with our current Sunday morning schedule: 8:00am worship, 9:30 small groups, 10:45 worship. We hope you’ll join us this weekend!
Before we say goodbye, let me remind you of some of the principles that have been guiding us in navigating this pandemic over the last year.
- Prioritizing worship
- Even in the earliest days of the stay at home order, we sought to provide resources to facilitate worship in your homes. Then, as capacity limits grew, we seized the opportunity to gather together once again, while still providing resources for home worship. When it comes to worship, we never missed a week.
- Caring for our neighbors- especially those who are most vulnerable.
- In Philippians 2 God’s word says “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,”
- Everyone has an opinion about COVID protocols and what they think is best. It has been encouraging to watch many of you set aside your own opinions and preferences in deference to the well-being of fellow members of this body.
- The care extended to the weak and vulnerable, and service to other is Christ-like.
- Considering the advice of medical professionals.
- While I have opinions about COVID and all the things surrounding it, I must humbly admit that they are the opinions of a preacher, trained in Biblical Studies. So, we have consulted with experts in medicine, primarily local physicians who love Jesus and his church. We have tried to let their perspective weigh heavily in our decision making.
- Rightly submitting to governing authorities.
- There is probably no more debated issue than this one right now.
- Of course our ultimate obedience and submission is to the Lord.
- While absolute unquestioned submission to the government is not required, and civil disobedience is portrayed in the Bible, we see clearly that submission to our governing authorities is the norm. The default.
- By God’s grace in this season, we have been able to submit both to the Lord, in worship, in service, in proclamation, and in disciple making, and also to the government, by doing all of that in a way that shows respect to those God has placed over us.
On behalf of your pastors, let me express genuine thanks for your patience, your flexibility, your selflessness, your graciousness toward one another (especially in disagreements), and your commitment to the body of Christ here at first Baptist church. And let me ask for all of this to continue as we move forward.
The Lord has been faithful every step of the way. And we trust Him for the days ahead. I can’t wait to see you, more of you, on Sunday. Have a great weekend!