Dear Pioneer Valley Baptist Chapel,
This letter will first mention three points directly from the Holy Bible which is our “only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience” (LBCF 1.1). These three points have directed us in our response to COVID-19. Secondly, this letter will explain PVBC’s plan to reopen in accordance with both Massachusetts “Places of Worship Safety Standards” as well as the City of Chicopee’s “Phase 1 Re-opening Guidance.” Our church has aggressively responded to the COVID-19 pandemic not only to comply with government demands but also for our love and protection of people. Lastly, this letter includes an appeal to congregants in these atypical times.
Three points according to the Scripture:
1. The Worship of God is of the utmost importance.
Hebrews 10:25 tells believers not to forsake “…the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
-Church is vitally important to the life and breath and journey of God’s people. Being assembled together is important not just to the individual but also to the rest of the congregation. Throughout church history even until today the church has taken this verse very seriously.
2. We are to honor God with our bodies.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 tells believers it is a God-given responsibility that they honor their bodies! In context the subject at hand is indeed fornication. Yet, just as fornication can literally hurt the body in various ways such as disease, so also can COVID-19. Therefore, we can by inference apply the above noted verses:
“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
3. We are to be subject to government so far as government does not restrict us from biblical worship.
While there are many places in scripture where the people of God and even the God-Man Jesus Christ went against man-made government, it is the biblical norm to be subject to government so far as government does not infringe on scriptural worship of the God. 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.” We have and are making every effort to “be subject unto the higher powers” while still being ultimately subject to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
*Pioneer Valley Baptist Chapel has maintained its strong convictions of the 3 points listed above. First, we have continued to worship and pray remotely regardless of the virus. Secondly, we have suspended normal services to protect our bodies as well as the bodies of those around us. Thirdly, we have honored and subjected ourselves unto the higher powers of government around us.*
Pioneer Valley Baptist Chapel’s Response:
Pioneer Valley Baptist Chapel has established a written COVID-19 safety plan which is in accordance with all applicable and mandatory worship place safety standards. We will make our best effort to ensure the following measures:
1. We will verify our church building’s occupancy to less than 40 percent of its maximum capacity.
2. We will place visible 6 foot markers on fixed seating areas and encourage congregants of different households to stay 6 feet apart in accordance with Massachusetts directives.
3. We will strongly encourage the use of COVID-19 blocking masks for the safety of individuals and those around them, however we will not request medical documentation for those who cannot wear one for medical reasons.
4. We will wait for further clarification before beginning children’s services.
5. We will keep the building well ventilated.
6. We will encourage an orderly entering and exiting of the building.
7. We will ensure there is an ample amount of water, soap, and hand sanitizer in the building.
8. We will have no food or drink time following our worship.
9. We will be modifying our means of tithing as we already have.
10. We will be delaying our observance of the Lord’s Supper until further notice by Elders and Deacons.
Appeal to Congregants
Pioneer Valley Baptist Chapel as well as local and state governments kindly encourage those who are at high-risk or who are sick to stay at home for their own safety as well as the safety of those around them. We also encourage everyone to respect one another’s boundaries seeing not all have the same expectations in regards to social distancing. In light of this, it is the responsibility of parents to ensure that their children stay close at hand. *Please note that there are is no guarantee that others will respect your boundaries if you choose to attend.*
“Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”