A Note From Pastor Rick: Wellspring Is A Covid-Free Sanctuary!
As Wellspring begins to offer on-site, in-person worship gatherings we are making the declaration that “Wellspring is a Covid-Free Sanctuary!” What does this mean?
First of all, this is a faith declaration taken from Psalm 91: Because we have made the Most High our habitation, no plague shall come near our dwelling. This is a faith declaration, not a magic formula. In Psalm 91 we find an inherent tension of the BIG promises found in the psalm (no disease, long life, trampling on snakes and lions, etc.) with the realities of life in a fallen world. The psalm makes clear that the promises are contingent upon us genuinely dwelling in the real presence of the Almighty. They are not automatic; but they are realized by cultivating a trust in, and obedience to the ways of the Lord.
By making this our declaration of faith, we are seeking to shift the atmosphere at Wellspring—both our physical location and throughout our faith community—from fear of Coronavirus to trust in the Lord’s protection. Faith declarations are clearly modeled in Scripture: Paul says in II Corinthians 4:13, “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” We want to employ our words to release our faith as a way of cultivating a heart of trust in the Lord—for ourselves and for the entire Wellspring community.
Secondly, in saying that Wellspring is a Covid-free sanctuary, we are stating that for the foreseeable future we will provide both online services and public worship gatherings. You will have the option to choose what best fits your needs and circumstances. We will host a 9:00 am and 11:00 am in-person worship gathering at Wellspring and will ask you to preregister via the website your intention to attend so that we can stay within the state guidelines of 100 per gathering. For the present, the on-line service will “air” at 10:00 AM on Sundays on our website, the Wellspring Church Facebook page and on YouTube.
This is an ongoing accommodation to the real issues of the pandemic. Not meeting has been not normal or biblical. The apostle encourages the believers in Hebrews 10:25: Do not give up the habit of meeting together as some are in the habit of doing. Being together corporately is essential to being the Body of Christ in this world. We hope to return to this New Testament norm as quickly as possible.
However and thirdly, being a Covid-free sanctuary means that if you are ill or if you have underlying health conditions, we are asking you to be responsible and not attend our in-person worship gatherings.
Fourthly, during our public worship gatherings we are asking everyone to follow Wellspring’s Current Safety Protocols. These are published on our website and will be adjusted going forward as CDC and government guidelines and the situation with the virus evolves.
At present these protocols include asking you to wear face-coverings, practice social distancing and using hand sanitizer upon entering the building. Children are to stay close to their families. Our facility will be sanitized (that means cleaned, not sterilized) between all gatherings.
These protocols will not eliminate all risk, nor can any set of protocols eliminate all health risks. “Risk-free” in a fallen world is an impossibility. Our emphasis is upon giving all of you information and allowing you to make responsible choices. We are seeking to help shepherd the congregation out of the place of the real pandemic trauma we have all experienced and toward getting back into more normal rhythms of life.
A fifth component to being a Covid-free sanctuary is the statement: Wellspring is a no-guilt, no-judgment sanctuary. We honor and extend grace to one another by respecting each other’s perspectives, experiences and emotions through this season.
By the way, this concept of sanctuary extends beyond the walls of where we gather to worship. Each one of our experiences over these past three months have been intense, stressful, emotional and traumatizing. Obviously for some of us things have been worse than for others.
A specific application of this guidance is that you don’t need to feel guilty if you are uncertain, cautious or afraid to come to a public gathering at this time. Or if you feel the need for face coverings or are against reopening society in what seems to you to be too quickly. But we are also stating that we want to respect the feelings, opinions and decisions of those who disagree with us. No guilt; no judgment.
A positive application of this principle is a willing and ready ear to listen to one another’s experiences during this stressful season. Therapists tell us that empathetic listening is the number one healing response to someone who has been traumatized—and all of us have been through trauma in this pandemic. None of us needs another argument about Coronavirus; but all of us could benefit from a friendly listening ear and heart.
Lastly, flowing out of this desire, when we say that Wellspring is a Covid-free sanctuary we are saying that while together we voluntarily refrain from discussing Covid-19 politics and policies. This is a positive choice we are making in order to create a sanctuary where we can breathe air that is informed by the perspectives of heaven rather than by the trauma of this pandemic. We believe that we need somewhere that can be a sanctuary, a place of respite, a retreat from all the noise, churn and swirl of the past three months.
So, when together, let’s by all means check in on one another’s health, heart and well-being. But if the conversation begins to drift toward politics or the policy of pandemic response, one of you is encouraged to call out, Sanctuary! We are not trying to be thought police, but we are choosing a discipline that will foster care, healing, unity and the presence of the Lord.
This is our declaration: Because we are choosing to make the Most High our habitation . . . may no plague come near our dwelling. Rather may our dwelling be the presence and peace and protection of the Lord.
Hope to see you in church soon!