Changes to the Current Restrictions on Gatherings
North Carolina’s stay-at-home order is scheduled to expire on May 8th. This is dependent on certain metrics being met (a leveling or decreased trajectory of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations over 14 days). Assuming those metrics are met, we'll begin the first of three phases. These phases follow the Presidential corona task force guidelines. Phase 1, set to begin May 8th, allows for more commercial business but still no indoor gatherings over 10 people. This phase will hopefully last 2 to 3 weeks. The plan now is that Phase 2 will allow "houses of worship" to hold indoor gatherings larger than 10 people, but they haven't published the number limit yet. It is in this phase that we expect to be able to begin some kind of Sunday meetings at SGC.
Another important change is that on April 30, Wake County’s ban on gatherings of any size expired. Wake County's order was more restrictive than the governor's state-wide order. We can now hold indoor gatherings for up to ten people, and outdoor gatherings can be larger if there is a commitment to social distancing. The elders will be discussing with the home group leaders what this means for small groups meeting.
Increased Our Love for Fellowship
The quarantine that has occurred over the last seven weeks or so has only increased our love of the fellowship of God’s people as we gather to worship, pray and hear God’s word preached. The elders would appeal to each member of our church to help with the transition that will occur over the next few weeks and months as we begin to gather again and move back to normalcy.
Continue to Pray
The first way to help is to continue to pray. Pray for our country, pray for our governmental leaders at a national, state, and local level. Pray for the elders, deacons and for ministry team leaders as we begin to discuss wise and prudent ways of making the transition back to meeting together. This is no small or perfunctory task. It is an important call on God’s people at all times but especially in times of crisis. May 7th is the National Day of Prayer. If we ever needed any more incentive to take advantage of this day we have it now. We don’t know all the whys or how's or whens dealing with the situation in our country but we do have a God who knows all things and is above all things and whose power is available to us as we call on him.
Be Committed to Unity
The second way to serve others is in our attitudes. We are a diverse people when it comes to how we think about things! When it comes to the core values and truths of our faith we all pretty much agree. But when it comes to other areas of life we have a wide range of opinions and views. How the government is handling this crisis and how we should respond is one of those areas where we have different perspectives.
Amidst our different views we want to keep clear about biblical principles. Romans 13:1–7 calls us to "submit to the governing authorities," and Luke 10:25–37 exhorts us to love our neighbor by being like the good Samaritan and do what we can to help those in physical need. Yet, we also know Christians are admonished not to neglect meeting together (Heb 10:24–25). Knowing how to balance all these is no easy task.
John Stott said that in every stage of our Christian development, humility is our greatest friend (and pride our greatest enemy). May each one of us seek to hold our opinions with a large measure of humility.
Transition to Sunday Meetings
The transition back to meeting on Sunday will take place in stages and with some guidelines that the elders and ministry team leaders will put in place. We realize that some may initially not feel comfortable attending our meetings. If so, please feel free not to do so in the liberty of your conscience and faith. We also realize that there will be some who think we are moving too slowly or being restrictive in the measures we have instituted. That, too, is fine but at the same time be respectful of others including those who have the responsibility to lead and govern and the guidelines they have laid out (and pray for them). Romans 14 is a great chapter for all of us to read and be instructed in regards to living together with different convictions and views.
May God give us a unity rooted in the grace of our Lord Jesus, the love of God and the fellowship of the Spirit.