Dear FPC friends,
It’s been quite a ride and the journey continues. As we all know, there is little agreement in our world today about COVID. In the society outside our church walls debates rage about statewide mask mandates. About what counts as an “essential activity.” About whether children should be back in school. About what’s safe to do and what’s not. In churches around the world the same debates are ongoing. FPC Waunakee is no exception. When and whether to bring people together for indoor worship has been a hot topic.
Here’s reassurance: disagreement is nothing new in the Church of Jesus Christ.
- In the 1st Century Church early Christians disagreed passionately about circumcision. Was it required for men who wanted to follow Christ or was it not?
- They disagreed, too, about food laws. What was a Christ-follower permitted to eat?
- Peter and Paul disagreed about who was welcome to be part of Christ’s earthly kingdom. Their disagreement was so intense they parted ways.
- Early Christians disagreed about whether or not a Christ-follower could become a soldier in Caesar’s army.
This is probably why the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church makes this realistic prediction: “In the Church there will be issues on which people of good faith and sincere conscience will disagree. In those situations it is incumbent on Christ’s followers to exercise mutual forbearance in love.” (Translated: “to put up with each other.” Just like in a marriage sometimes, or in a family.)
It can be painful to disagree with people, especially over important matters. It is even harder when we disagree over important matters with people whom we care about. Yet this will always happen in any relationship; any family; any congregation.
Romans 14 tells us about those early Christians who argued strenuously about dietary practices. Each side was convinced they had the right answer and that anything other than their opinion was destructive to the Church and the work of God. Paul writes about the issue, even takes a stand, but also tells the faithful that, above all, as followers of Jesus, they should strive to serve God together, aiming for righteousness, peace, and joy. “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification,” he writes (Romans 14:19). We are welcome to make persuasive points in the Church, but always with a mind open to our own edification, and in a manner that leads to peace.
Our denomination, The Presbyterian Church USA, has a document called “Seeking to be Faithful Together: Guidelines for Presbyterians in Times of Disagreement.” It presents sound advice centered on three Biblical principles. 1) Listen to one another (John 7:51 and Proverbs 18:13), 2) Speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), and 3) Maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3).
There has been, and will continue to be, disagreement among people of good faith regarding how The Church should act in this time of Covid 19. At the end of this letter you will find a report from the Session Clerk covering what the Elders decided at their most recent meeting.
Whatever your opinion regarding where we are at, how we got here, and where we are headed, we want you to know your elders, pastors, and other fellow brothers and sisters in the congregation have prayerfully been trying their imperfect best to serve you and Jesus faithfully.
We appeal to you as the Apostle Paul would do: to agree or disagree in faithful fashion: listening, speaking the truth in love, all inside those crucial bounds of unity and peace. In this way will God be praised and our family of faith be strong.
Yours, in His service,Pastor Kirk, Pastor Ben
Session Update on In-Person Worship
Session held a special meeting Tuesday night to revisit the topic of in person worship. After prayer and a thoughtful discussion several decisions were made. We will have the parking lot service on Feb. 7 as planned. We will begin in-person worship Feb. 14. Worshippers will be asked to sign up ahead of time. When our maximum is reached, any remaining names will be put on a list for first in for the next week. The service will also be broadcast in the parking lot for anyone who cannot get in and wants to physically be at the church. The online service will continue indefinitely. These decisions have not always been unanimous nor easy, but we are working together as your Session to do the best we can.
Dianne Larson, Clerk