Remove In-Person Restrictions at Calvary Baptist Church
Petition to the Elder Board at Calvary Baptist Church, Canton
We, the undersigned, are opposed to the direction leadership of Calvary has taking during the COVID-19 pandemic regarding safety, requirements and restrictions, and lack of transparency regarding metrics. We urge the elder board to;
- Remove all restrictions for in-person meetings, including but not limited to; requiring masks, restricting member meeting, encouragement of social distancing, and the implementation of inappropriate and ineffectual metrics resulting in a 3-tiered approach to lifting restrictions.
The biblical role for elders over their congregation is to “Shepherd God’s flock among you, not overseeing out of compulsion but willingly, as God would have you; not out of greed for money, but eagerly” (1 Peter 5:2, CSB). The enforcement of unnecessary COVID-19 restrictions under the premise of caring for the congregation’s physical health is not only an overstep of the role of eldership but is neglectful of the congregation’s spiritual well-being and as such, we believe the elders of Calvary Baptist Church are in direct conflict with their biblical mandate. Under Michigan executive order No. 2020-11, section 3 “A place of religious worship is not subject to penalty”, so any restrictions are unwarranted. Acts 20:28 (CSB) states “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as overseers, to shepherd the church of God, which he purchased with his own blood.”
The following members are convicted that the role assumed by the elder board is one of spiritual neglect, unintentionally isolating members from not only each other, but from being able to worship, fellowship, and be together. The State of Michigan is one of fifteen states that have religious exemption from social distancing and mask mandates, proving every measure Calvary has in place unnecessary. Additionally, The US supreme court, as evidenced by pending lawsuits from places of worship in states where religious freedom is being abused, has deemed such restrictions a violation of religious freedom. The regulations in place by the elders of Calvary seemingly place concerns regarding public appearance or public health as more important than the spiritual health of the congregation. It would appear the State of Michigan and the US supreme court value the importance of the body being free to worship without restriction more than Calvary Baptist does at this time.
Personally knowing, respecting, and loving the members of the elder board the undersigned submit difficulty in reconciling the decisions regarding Church policy and operations amidst the pandemic by the God fearing and loving Men we all know. We lovingly implore the elders to consider the importance of unrestricted church meeting over the “safety” measures put in place; those who want to isolate, wear masks, attend virtually, or practice social distancing should be free to do so without forcing those who are opposed to partake in such restrictions. In March 2020, the US suicide rate had risen by 41% over 2019, increasing to 50% by October 2020. Isolation from others is the premier weapon the accuser employs to draw us away from The Lord. With the loss of one of our own church family members during this time of isolation, the urgency to lift all unnecessary restrictions is even more pressing as the body yearns for fellowship and freedom to worship together.
The COVID-19 pandemic has proven a difficult situation to navigate and does raise concerns for how in-person meetings should operate. However, these decisions need to be made alongside and with the congregation to ensure everyone is safe; physically and spiritually. Other churches in the area have employed many tactics that we believe strike a better balance regarding public health and spiritual welfare such as mask optional services. We love you all dearly, and lift up the elder board in prayer that the infinite wisdom of the Lord would be evident to you while the cries to meet without restriction by the undersigned are heard, understood, and swiftly acted upon.