It was the merchant prince, J.C. Penney who once said, “Cooperation is not so much our learning how to get along with others as our taking the kinks out of ourselves so others can get along with us.” When Paul wrote his letter to the Christians in the region of Galatia, he addressed Christians who were confused as to what it means to be a Christian and live the Christian life. Does it means keeping all the Jewish law? Does it mean the Jewish Covenant sign of circumcision must be observed in the Christian Church? The differing opinions among Christians, caused dissension and confusion within the church, so Paul addressed it. His answer was that righteousness and salvation are received by genuine faith in Jesus Christ; not by keeping the Law. And the Christian life is one lived not under the written law but in the Spirit. They were free from the law but were to live by the Spirit. Listen to his instructions in Gal. 5:13-15: “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. 16 So I say, Live by the Spirit…” Then shortly after that, he tells us what the ‘fruit of the spirit’ is: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” These are good words for us each to remember in this day of strong political and sociological division. Unity and love within the Body of Christ is always crucial, but especially when the culture around us is so angry and divided. We can hold different opinions in some areas, and still be led by the Spirit, and display the fruit of the Spirit.
During this COVID pandemic with all of its tensions and opposing opinions, churches have found themselves in the difficult spot of trying to please many different viewpoints. Some churches have opted to shut down completely. Others have opted to do only online services. Some have required preregistration before attending a service. Here at Terrace Shores, we have sought to give options for various viewpoints. All summer we have had two weekly worship services; an 8 a.m. indoor service and a 10 a.m. outdoor/drive-in service. We have been able to livestream online the indoor worship service, where we encouraged everyone to wear a facemask and social distance. But we have not sought to enforce that. As the governor’s facemask order notes, there are some allowable exceptions to wearing a facemask. It is not our place to sift out the reasons why someone chooses to wear or not wear a facemask. In fact, HIPAA laws wouldn’t allow asking such medical questions. Our outdoor service however, has allowed everyone to social distance at whatever level they feel comfortable. We have also been able to broadcast a low-level FM signal of the outdoor service to the car radio of anyone in the parking lot, giving a ‘drive-in’ service option. This makes it possible to stay in one’s car and listen to the service while watching in person. These options have worked well for the summer. And we hope to have a few more outdoor/drive-in services, but will make our decision each Sunday by 8 am, depending on the weather. However, in the not too distant future, our outdoor/drive-in service will be finished, so we asked for your input via survey, as to what your preferences are. Thank you for your responses. Sifting through the responses, there was a general sense of unity, but also differing viewpoints within our church family.
As affecting our worship service plans, many of you feel most comfortable worshiping online with us. Regarding those of you who would like to worship with us in person (Once the outdoor/drive-in services end), we have seen two very different views. It seems a small number would feel comfortable coming to an in-person worship service if everyone was wearing a face mask. At the other end of the spectrum, there are those who desire to worship in person but will not wear a face mask, for various reasons. In light of this information, we have decided upon the following schedule of worship options once we end our outdoor/drive-in services this fall.
1) 8:00 a.m. – Indoor service upstairs, with facemasks encouraged but not enforced; recommended but not required. (And we will not question the reasons why someone may choose not to wear a mask).
–8:00 a.m. – Indoor service live feed downstairs, with facemasks required please.
2) 10:00 a.m. – Indoor service upstairs, with facemasks encouraged but not enforced, recommended but not required.
10:00 a.m. – Indoor service live feed downstairs with facemasks required please (We thought keeping the facemask restriction in the same area, without a live worship band singing, would give maximum protection for those concerned that everyone wear a facemask).
– Both indoor services can be transmitted live to 91.3 FM car radios in the parking lot.
3) Online, the worship service can be watched with either the livestream at 8 a.m., or watched anytime with the recorded video of the 8 a.m. service.
-These worship service choices give various options according to the various opinions held in our church family. By following these willingly, we give options to everyone; By following these graciously, we show love, even for those we may disagree with.
-Due to the caution expressed and few people committed to an in-person Sunday School time…..
-We will not have a separate Sunday School hour, but will offer a children’s church during the message time of our late service for age 4 through 5th grade (In the basement lake room).
-There will not be an adult Sunday School class, but we want to encourage everyone to feel welcome to join a mid-week men or ladies Bible Study. A few of you asked about a virtual class. Each of our small groups decide for themselves whether to meet in person or virtually. That will continue.
-There will not be a ‘Welcome to the Family’ class offered this fall, but we will consider possibly doing that in the spring of 2021 (Depending on the conditions at that time).
-Our desire is to offer worship service options that provide for a variety of opinions and comfort levels. We seek to maintain peace and love within the Body of Christ, and above all, to honor the Lord. If you have questions, please feel welcome to contact us. Thank you so much for being part of our Terrace Shores Family, and worshiping with us in the way that works best for you.
Grace and Peace,