ASPC COVID Update 12/23/2020

The following was sent by email to our members and regular visitors on Wednesday evening, December 23, 2020:

All Saints Family,

I hope this note finds you healthy and happy, gathered together with family as much as possible this Christmas season.

As some of you may know, Governor Lee signed Executive Order 70 on Sunday evening. This new executive order, which can be read here, is in response to the ever-increasing COVID numbers in the State of Tennessee. You may be wondering if this order impacts All Saints, or whether the rising numbers will lead the Session to make any changes to our current worship practices. The short answer is “no, for now.”

The executive order, which is in effect for 30 days, restricts gatherings to no more than 10 people. The order, however, explicitly excludes worship services. So, nothing in this order requires All Saints to change our practices.

The Session is frequently in discussion about our approach to managing the COVID risk in our congregation. We have consistently been guided by several principles. First, as a Session we are not, nor are we called to be, scientists. This means that we must rely upon those God has called and equipped to answer such questions as science is able to answer. For this reason, ASPC has voluntarily followed the guidelines of the CDC since the beginning of this pandemic.

Second, our desire is for everyone to be able to safely gather in corporate worship. This means asking those who are at less risk to wear masks and follow social distancing guidelines so that those who are at greater risk may participate. We cannot make the decision to attend for each of our members, but we can do what is helpful to make that decision easier.

By the grace of God, these measures have allowed us to worship in person since June without any outbreak of COVID in our congregation. Though some of our members have tested positive, there is no indication that anyone has contracted COVID by attending our services. For this reason, the Session intends to continue to worship in person, following the same guidelines, and regularly revisiting this decision in light of changing circumstances.

To that end, we want to thank you for your willingness to wear masks on Sunday morning. We are aware that this is bothersome and far less than ideal. Some even find it difficult to have meaningful fellowship while wearing masks. However, it seems to be working and we want to encourage you to endure. We cannot stress enough the importance of suffering together as a community right now. There is something beautiful about sacrificing for the sake of those who are at higher risk.

We also want to acknowledge that we are at the mercy of the county school system in terms of our freedom to meet at the school. We accepted that risk when we decided to return. It was, and continues to be, our only Sunday morning option. At this time there has been no change in our status with WCS. However, we will need to be flexible in the coming weeks as we see how they process this latest executive order and as they consider the best way to return to school in January.

Thank you, again, for your patience and encouragement in this season as the Session seeks to lead the church in a way that is consistent with the greatest commandment and obedient to the great commission. Let's all be faithful to pray for one another and pray that God would preserve a place for us to worship in person each week.

Pastor Matt