Covid Crisis

Services

9:15AM - Sunday School, 10:30AM & 6:00 pm - Sunday Worship Services 6:45PM - Weds. Prayer

Can We Ditch the Masks?

The simple answer is: The Minnesota Mask Mandate ends on July 1. The Mask mandate could end earlier if 70% of the adult population in Minnesota receives the vaccination.

The Coronavirus has not been defeated. In spite of all the attempts of medical intervention, the rate transmission is still real; it is higher than it was one year ago when everything was shut down. It is the belief of our governor that these risks do not pose the same threat to our society as they did in the past. People will still continue to get sick, but hospitals will not be overwhelmed.

When the mask mandate is lifted, we will no longer require masks in our church building. People who are still concerned are free to continue wearing them, but we will not obligate others to do so.

Updated Status - How Bad Is It?

We want to present an accurate picture of the current state of the Coronavirus and how it affects us specifically. Our goal is to provide good information without an agenda.

The governor announced this week the removal of more restrictions. On July 1, the mask mandate will be lifted.  

The new cases of Coronavirus are still high. Our county's infection rate has tripled since the end of February. The vaccination of large and vulnerable segments of our population has not yet made a statistical difference in the spread of this disease.  The spread of coronavirus is still real. 

The survival rate in Minnesota is 98.8%.  The vaccinations have not yet substantially diminished this rate. While it is still low, as with any other illness, the virus can leave lasting scars on one's health that reduce the quality of the life that is spared.

Our conclusion: be vigilent. The spread of the Coronavirus is real.  Wash your hands; don't touch your face. If you have symptoms, take them seriously. Be aware of your surroundings, especially if you are in public places. 


Live Stream Is Available

Indoor gathering has its risks. We will do what is best to reduce the risk of exposure at church, but we need your help. If you are experiencing symptoms, or if you have reason to believe you have been infected please stay home and join us by Live Stream. The Stream should be available between 10:15 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. on Sunday Morning. Just click on Live Stream Button below; when the live stream player appears on your screen, click on the play button to start streaming.

Live Stream Button

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Why Are We Still Wearing Masks in Church?
(Answering the Objections)

The answer is simple:

Compliance to Human Government is commanded in Scriptures.

I don’t need to tell anyone what the Bible says. It speaks clearly on these matters:

Romans 13

  • 1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4 for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake6 For for this cause pay you tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. … 11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. 13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof

 

1 Peter 2:11–25

  • 11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; 12 having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. 13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 14 or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. 15 For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: 16 as free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. 17 Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. 18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward19 For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. 20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. 21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously24 who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. 25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls. 

 

Titus 3:1–3

  • 1 Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, 2 to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men. 3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. 

It is assumed in a free society that if I have a good reason for disregarding a foolish law, I am free to do as I please. This simply is NOT true. God’s word tells us that governors have authority and deserve obedience because of their office.

However …

Governmental authority is not absolute.

When we open the books of Daniel and Acts, we discover courageous servants defying governments instead of complying. Peter tells the Sanhedrin that he must obey God rather than man. Daniel defies the Persian decree regarding prayer. His friends stand up to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and refuse to bow down to the king’s image. We discover that governmental law is not absolute. We cannot justify sinful activity by saying, “The government told me to do this.”

Compliance or Defiance?

Many are defying the US government for political reasons. They are willing to face fines and even arrest to challenge the validity of these directives. They want churches to serve as sanctuaries for their political causes. As a church, we need to choose our battles carefully, especially the political ones (1Peter 4:14-16). We are not commanded to push back whenever government wrongly intrudes upon our autonomy (Matthew 17:24-27). Not every arrogant intrusion by government deserves a fight.

Is this an activity that transgresses God’s commandments? Have we ever been commanded to refuse the wearing of masks and vails in public? Some have tried to tie protective masks to occult masks, but this is a stretch.

The primary purpose of a mask is to cover or conceal. In occult rituals, the masks are used to conceal so that a new identity (demon) can take over the body of the participant. This is evil, but it is not the only reason for wearing masks. The criminal may use a mask to conceal his identity while he is committing a crime. His reason for wearing is evil, but it is not necessarily spiritual. The masks we are being asked to wear fit under the category of protective masks: ski masks protect from the cold, bee-keeper masks protect from stings, and medical masks protect from the transmission of germs and viruses. The fire-fighter who runs into a burning building with an oxygen mask is not a participant in occult mask activities.

Exodus 34:29-35 (cf. 2Corinthians 3:15-16) provides us with the only Biblical reference to the wearing of a face covering. God never made this a pattern; it was a specific practice that fit a specific need. Even though ancient pagan cultures used occult masks in their rituals, the Bible never refers to the practice. It is impossible to make the case that the Bible says anything about wearing protective masks.

Without a clear direction to oppose from Scriptures, our first response should be compliance. We follow the ordinances of man unless those ordinances are instructing us to sin against God.

What reasons are we hearing? Those who argue against compliance assert one or more of the following:

1.   The Government is deceived. They believe that they are protecting the health of their citizens, but they are not.

  • The Pandemic is not really a pandemic.
  • Good doctors with alternate philosophies and treatments are being shut out of the discussion.
  • Instead of hiding from the virus, we should allow it to run its natural course and develop herd immunity.
  • Masks do not stop the virus.
  • Masks pose their own health risks.

The nature of this “crisis” prevents us from having a “choose your own solution” approach. The airlines cannot say to the passengers that those who believe in masks must sit on the right-hand side and those who do not must sit on the left side. If the space is enclosed (as in a church building), there can be only one set of rules, and one side must defer to the other side.

What if the government is wrong? The book of Daniel has two clear instances of defiance, but it also has one example of “creative compliance.” Daniel and his friends refused to eat the food from the king’s table because it would defile them. In this instance, they did not defy the orders and organize a hunger strike. Instead, they proposed a solution to the king’s servant. What they did could be tested by the king’s servant. If their solution failed, they would yield, but if they passed the test, they wanted to be allowed to continue.

If masks are dangerous, we need evidence. Apparently, some have been hurt by masks, but not in the numbers that the alarmists would have us believe. Millions of Americans wear masks to work. This has been happening for months. The data for health problems caused by masks should be massive; it is not.

2.   The Government is intruding on personal liberty.

  • Wearing a mask is uncomfortable.
  • I am offended that someone can force me to do something I do not want to do.
  • The guidelines are not real laws. They did not come through the constituted legal process. They were dictated to us by the governor and bureaucrats.
  • If rioters can gather without masks, why can’t law abiding people do the same?
  • If I submit to this, where will it stop? Will the government demand more?

Submission is a dirty word to many today. Still, it is a Biblical word. Jesus submitted Himself to His mother and His step-father (Luke 2:51).

Intruding on personal liberty is what government does best. Every law passed denies someone of the liberty to do as they please. If the laws are being applied unjustly (one group is penalized while another is ignored), the law needs to be challenged.

The “slippery slope” argument is based on fear of human nature. If there is a real danger, then the fear is valid. But arguments based on imagined fear need to be weighed carefully.

3.   The Government is intruding on church autonomy.

  • Does the government have any right to impose its rules on a body governed by God?

This has always been an issue. What Peter and John were doing in Jesus’ name had to be stopped by the government. Dictators have always wanted to control what happens inside of the local church. They have always wanted to control speech they deem to be political, especially if it contradicts them.

Do the building codes required for the safety of all public building apply to the local church? Corrupt officials have used safety concerns as a pretense to shutter a church. We need to be wise. Still, defiance ought not to be our first response.

4,   The Government is the deceiver. 

  • We are not being given the information that would allow us to make an informed, independent decision.
  • The numbers are being skewed to keep us in fear.
  • If they treat us with such contempt, why should we not respond to them in the same way?

It is said that power corrupts. If those in power choose to restrict and spin the news to protect their political views, the nation suffers. These are the actions of a contemptuous leader. Should we return contempt for contempt? Jesus did not (1Peter 2:21-23). It is easy to treat respectful people with respect. It is a lot harder with the froward (perverse, unyielding) person. We would rather give them back their own medicine. Yet the Bible tells us not to render evil for evil.

5.   The Government has a secret agenda which is being implemented under the guise of a health crisis.

[If one is convinced that the government has been deceiving them, the next logical question to ask is why?
These arguments attempt to explain the treachery.]

  • The agenda is politics: It is a tool to attack the people in power. This crisis will end after the election.
  • The agenda is division: It is designed to turn neighbors into enemy combatants (the shouting matches at the stores). Our nation will surrender to the devil to restore peace.
  • The agenda is control: This is a baby step into a more sinister plot to control the lives and health of the entire population. It is a slippery slope. Today, they mandate masks and scan temperatures. Tomorrow they will mandate vaccines and tracking devices. Everyone’s life will be under constant surveillance by the government. If we said “yes” to the early mandates, we will have no footing to say “no” to the later mandates.
  • The agenda is anti-Christian: The rules are designed to close churches. The voice of Biblical morality contradicts the voice of the elitists who want to impose a new morality. The voice of Biblical prophecy reveals that the celebrated, one-world order is part of a Satanic structure that will persecute Christians during the tribulation period.
  • The agenda is Occult Initiation: The key elements proposed as health guidelines are rooted in occult rituals. To obey them is akin to bowing down to Nebuchadnezzar’s statue.

The most fascinating arguments against wearing masks in church come from those who believe there is a secret, sinister plot attached to the MN Department of Health guidelines. The pandemic is not real. The government is not trying to protect our health. It is all part of a nefarious plot that only a few discerning people can see.

Any time two or more people cooperate in a secretive and deceitful way, you have a conspiracy. Abram and Sarai conspired to deceive the Egyptians (Genesis 12:10-20). Joseph’s brothers sold him into Egypt and conspired to deceive their father, Jacob. Likewise, Joseph would later conspire with his servants to rattle his brothers. To deny that conspiracies exist is naïve.

On the other hand, to believe that everything government does is a conspiracy, is equally naïve. The Psalmist hastily said, “All men are liars.” It doesn’t require a lot of effort to believe that a politician is doing the devil’s secret work; especially if we did not vote for them. It doesn’t require a mountain of evidence to believe a conspiracy exists. All that is needed is one fact that makes no sense.

1 Corinthians 4:1–5 

  • 1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. 4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God. 

One must think critically whenever a conspiracy theory is presented. What do we really know? How trustworthy is the evidence that is presented? Are quotations being taken in context? Is it footnoted so that thinking people can independently verify the source? Are they being honest with those matters that can be proven? Are they being honest with the arguments of those who disagree? Are they being honest with the Scriptures? Are they using deceitful, rhetorical devices to persuade?

The conspiracy theorist wants to judge motives before the Lord makes them apparent. They believe that they have the prophetic key that unlocks the true agenda of the wicked. They truly believe that they are the light that God has sent. If people do not agree with them, they will perish.

We need to know what the Bible truly reveals about the coming tribulation period. Much is made of the “mark of the beast.” I would encourage anyone who believes they have discovered the true nature of the mark of the beast to read Revelation 13:11-18; 14:9-10. Test the validity of any theory with God’s revelation. Most theories fall at the basic level. They say that the mark of the beast is six, six, six. It is not. The number is “six hundred-sixty-six.” It is the number preceded by 665 and followed by 667. One who plays with numbers should be dismissed.

Furthermore, it is a permanent MARK, attached to the hand and forehead. Its action is irreversible. One can never repent of receiving the mark of the beast.

Until this mask mandate ends, I will carefully consider any appeal to disregard the directives of the government. I am aware that other churches are disregarding these rules. I do not answer for another servant of the Lord. I will say that no argument I have heard yet compels me to change course.

Entering Phase 3

We are attempting to follow the guidelines put forth by the state of Minnesota. They have changed somewhat from the first set of guidelines back in May. Some of the restrictions are now "suggestions." [Click the picture below to read the MN Department of Health Guidelines] 

We will try to comply with these recommendations (for the Biblical reasons to submit, click this link). However, our loyalty is to our Savior and His directions for our church. We will look for creative ways to comply with the civil leaders. If this proves impossible, we will seek wisdom from above. Churches in other states (notably California) are engaged in open defiance of their states' mandates. Their restrictions exceed anything like we have seen in Minnesota. We need to pray for them as they resist. If what they are facing appears in our state, we will resist also.

Our individual liberties are being restricted. Some are trying to make the case that the government is intruding in areas it does not belong. They believe churches should be the place where individuals can openly defy their governors. We are not gathering to defy authorities. We are gathering to exalt our Savior.

As of July 25, the governor's new executive order (20-81) requires all adults to wear masks inside any public building. Included in the order is the power to prosecute and penalize those in defiance of the governor's order. It is no longer the responsibility of the church to require compliance; it is now the responsiblity of every resident in the state of Minnesota to self-impose these rules. The rules apply to all public venues. These rules have limited exceptions (click on the document above for details). 

 What will be expected of those who worship?

  1. About half of the pews have been roped off. This provides a distance of 6.5 feet between the worshipers. Our auditorium can safely hold up to 40 people. Ushers will have the right to change where worshipers are sitting.
  2. Everyone entering the building must affirm that they are not showing symptoms of the Covid virus. Furthermore, they must not have been in contact with those who have the virus. It is a personal question, but it must be asked.
  3. Everyone entering the building must be wearing a protective mask. If you did not bring one, we will have some clean, home-made masks for you to use. Those who refuse to comply will be asked to leave. The preaching and teaching will be made available online to be viewed in your own home where you can make your own rules, but your presence requires compliance.
  4. We ask you to limit what you touch with your hands. We will do everything we can to make this possible.
  5. We ask you to avoid going into the basement level of the church. Everything you need should be available on the first floor.

Other things will also change.

  1. The guidelines restrict congregational singing. Until the day comes when we can sing out, we will engage is a subdued way of making music that affects our hearts.
  2. The guidelines restrict the passing of the offering plate. We will have the offering plate sitting on a table near the front of the auditorium. Those who wish to give will be able to do so as they come or when they leave. The offering will not be in the order of service.
  3. Papers will not be used. Bulletins and sermon notes will not be distributed. We will try to use the screen to project important messages.
  4. Sunday School and Sunday Evening Worship Services are presently suspended. Prayer Meeting will resume.
  5. If proper social distancing among the children is not practical, children will remain with their families during the church service.

These restrictions are extreme. They assume that every person is a potential virus carrier. I realize that statistically, the risk of transmission is extremely low. Everyone is being treated as a leper. These restrictions will offend us. To worship with the proper attitude, we must surrender our right to be angry and bitter. We must get past our feelings and pursue our greater purpose for gathering on Sunday.

(06/06/20, revised 06/07/20; 6/29/20; 07/25/20)