Update Regarding In-Person Worship
May 22, 2020
Greetings in the strong name of Jesus Christ! I pray this letter finds you safe and well. I write to you today to give you an update regarding in-person worship at El Mesías. The Administrative Team and I met Wednesday evening to evaluate the plan we created at the beginning of the month, which we communicated to you in an earlier letter. This plan included a tentative relaunch date of May 31, 2020, with the stipulation that we would be consulting our district and annual conference leadership as part of our decision-making, as well as national, state, and local entities for further guidance.
Considering all these resources, as well as the makeup of our congregation, the Administrative Team and I decided that we should postpone relaunching in-person worship at El Mesías at least through the end of June. We hesitate to provide a tentative relaunch date as we continue to evaluate an ever-changing set of circumstances. We ask for your prayers as we continue to discern the best plan of action balancing science with our Christian faith and will update you in forthcoming communications.
We all want to return to in-person worship, but I believe that we want to return to the comfort of worship that looks as it did before the COVID-19 pandemic began. The fact is that many of the essential parts of worship – passing the peace, congregational singing, greeting at the door – will have to be modified or eliminated entirely to reduce the spread of this disease. If we wish to keep one another safe, abiding by best practices such as wearing masks and social distancing, worship will not look as it did before – at least not anytime soon.
Bishop Schnase said in his latest video message, “There’s no nobility in being the first church to open.” To open for the sake of opening – to prove we are faithful or fearless – is not wise. It does not respect the greater biblical mandate to care for the least of these. God our Father calls us to be merciful and compassionate toward the most vulnerable parts of the Body and to attend to the needs of the community over the individual:
…the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable…God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.
1 Corinthians 12:22, 24b-26
I pray for you and miss you dearly, but I am not willing to risk your health and safety. Remember, the church never closed, only the building. We are the church and Jesus Christ promises in the Gospel of Matthew that nothing will prevail over the church. We continue to be witnesses to his name and his promises as one body, united by the Holy Spirit.
There will be a time when we will reopen our building, but that time is not now. So, we wait for the Lord, placing our hope in him: “For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Romans 8:24-25).
My God give us all the patience to persevere in faith, hope, and love. ¡Firmes y adelante!