It seems the longer we must wait to resume “normal life”, the more our patience dwindles, awaiting an end to COVID-19. The Lead Team has outlined our reasoning on why we choose to obey the current Health Department directives on in-person church activities. The Team feels it’s worth reminding everyone on why we need to persevere – quite aside from the fact the “stay home” order is a government directive, enforced by fines.
First, however, let us assure you that Dr. Bonnie Henry, BC’s public health director, keeps in touch with the province’s faith community, including Mennonite Brethren. At times, she has also had conversations with our denomination’s larger churches. So, frequent dialogues continue. She is aware of the issues within churches while considering how to minimize health hazards.
Second, we assure you that Broadway’s Covid guide team (Lenora Bal, Carol Dyck, and Nick Eshuis, with some help from Trish Giesbrecht) are ready to resume their protocols and guidance on safe, in-person church meetings. A court action is underway that, if successful, could be a game-changer, but even if so, we’re prepared. We are grateful for our guides’ readiness, confidence and expertise!
Finally, let us remind ourselves of Broadway’s reasoning on why we remain closed to in-person activity and why we are not among the few congregations pressuring the government to change the rules.
- We believe it is scriptural and suitable to “obey the authorities” when government directives for the greater good are aimed at protecting us from serious health hazards. Peter urges (1 Peter 2:13-17), “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men … [v. 13] “For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.”
In short, what witness would we send to non-believers by disobedience?
- We believe it is important to avoid clearly identified harm, either to ourselves or to others. Although some are stricken only lightly by this virus, others are seriously affected – at times, to a horrible death in misery. Jesus tells us to love our neighbours as ourselves. (Matt. 19:19).
- We believe the health authorities, by keeping scientifically current and considering all possible options, are fulfilling their mandate to keep our province as viable and safe as they can.
Dr. Henry and her assistants are privy to micro-level data we cannot analyze.
- We believe the directive against in-person church gatherings is based on a proper concern for our safety. It is not a question of “rights” or “fairness”. Health professionals study their data to know where the disease is spreading and where it is not. To us, claiming “rights” is opposite to submission, loving neighbours and following God’s will in circumstances such as these.
- We, as a church congregation overwhelmingly have indicated a reluctance toward in-person gathering until it is safe. This showed in polling we have done, in actual attendance in services when they were available, and in personal feedback to our leadership.
For all these reasons, the Lead Team trusts and believes we have chosen the right course, on behalf of our congregation. We all share the frustrations and seemingly endless wait. But we can at least take comfort in two assurances: the conversations continue between churches and Dr. Henry, and Broadway’s Covid Guide crew is ready – and “just a-waitin’ ”.
- On behalf of the Lead Team, Barrie McMaster