Dear Congregation,

You may have noticed last week that the language in our bulletin regarding “COVID-19 Precautions” has slightly changed. Previously, the language used was “Providence will follow the guidelines established by the Government.” This has now changed to “Providence recommends the guidelines established by the Government.” This change occurred for several reasons. First, we are currently not following the guidelines established by the government to the full extent. If we were to do that, we would not be singing, and we would be meeting outside, or, at the very least, lowering our capacity inside.  But, because we believe these ordinances strike at the vitals of some of our beliefs about the church and her ability to worship faithfully, we have decided to not fully comply with these aspects of the mandates. Secondly, we do not feel it is the best use of our calling as your elders to enforce your obedience to government ordinances, while at the same time we do think it helpful to exhort you to be “in subjection to the governing authorities” (Rom. 13:1). Therefore, a change to “recommend” for the aforementioned reasons seemed to better match what we have already put in place for our weekly services

As your elders, we will personally endeavor to follow these guidelines (mask wearing, gloves while passing communion, and distancing of chairs) as closely as we are able. We also, like the language states, “recommend” that you do the same. Which means that we ask you, for the sake of health and consciences of those around you to follow these guidelines even if you do not agree with them. Not because we will not let you in service if you don’t, nor because we will be policing you during the service to keep them up, but instead to exhort you to “love your neighbor” (Matt 22:39) and “outdo one another in showing honor…and contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality (Rom 12:10, 13). For some, that may look like wearing a mask during service because your brother or sister next to you needs you to do it so that they may feel safe. For others, it might look like sitting outside so that you can be mask free without the risk of offending that brother or sister. Still, for others, it might look like grace to the man or woman that pulls down their mask below their nose so they can feel less claustrophobic.

The point of all this is to say, we ask that you use your freedom in Christ to prefer one another. Our policy has not changed due to our language change, but we believe it opens the door for true love and care for each other to take place, not simply compliance to a mandate you may or may not agree with.

3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus…” Ephesians 2:3-5

The Session of Providence Presbyterian Church

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