This has been a busy week with governor’s orders, legislative lame-duck hearings, and prayers of the saints going up before the Lord to combat and recover all that the enemy is attempting to steal, kill and destroy. Below is a briefing on these issues.
The Doors of the Church Remain Open
On Monday, Governor DeWine issued a revised mask order requiring customers and employees of retail businesses to wear masks with a penalty of temporary closure of the business if they failed to enforce the requirement at their business. Tuesday, the governor issued additional orders imposing overnight curfew hours and restricting socializing at banquets, receptions and funeral wakes where he said the “rampant spread” of the virus was coming from.
In neither of these executive order announcements were churches mentioned. In the past, the governor has deemed churches ‘essential’ and has gone so far as to say in a conference call with pastors that he has no intent to order churches closed or to send state troopers to churches to enforce orders.
On March 22, 2020, the governor issued the initial “Stay at Home” Order which did not prohibit essential business operations from continuing to operate. Churches and religious gatherings were among those defined as “essential.” Today, the church continues to be defined as “essential”. Bottom line is the doors of the church remain open.
What the governor has asked everyone to do, including the church, when gathering is:
- Wear your mask
- Maintain social distance
- Sanitize your hands frequently with sanitizer or soap and water
Additionally, here are other precautions your church can take to reinforce the health and safety of congregants:
- Limit gathering sizes
- Go to multiple services
- Continue offering online streaming
- Let the Holy Spirit lead, guide and direct your steps
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8: 38-39)
The Shepherds Showed Up
Earlier this week, Citizens for Community Values issued an Action Alert about the Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity (SOGI) House Bill 369 and urged pastors to write letters and testify before the committee against this bill that threatens the safety of women, children, and religious freedom in Ohio.
Well, like unto the scripture found in Psalm 68:11 wherein “the Lord gave the word; great was the company of those that published it,” a great company of pastors and faith-based ministry leaders showed up at the Statehouse to publicly stand for Christian virtue and values against the ‘un’-Fairness Act bill before the Civil Justice Committee members.
Among those submitting testimonies was a group of leading clergy, representing ninety (90) congregations throughout the Buckeye Bible Belt of North Central Ohio. In their written testimony they cited four (4) issues with HB 369 and its companion Senate Bill 11:
- The proponents have not sufficiently demonstrated the need for the ordinance given Ohio is a tolerant and diverse state where LGBT persons have the support of even political elites;
- If passed, the bill will force individuals to take part in events or adopt ideas that violate their faith and their First Amendment rights;
- If passed, the bill will lead to major violations of privacy as arbitrary re-definitions of gender proposed by this legislation would jeopardize women’s privacy and security in public accommodations; and
- If passed, the bill would limit access to needed social services by effectively driving out faith-based providers restricted from providing services aligned with the conscience of their religious faith.
Another clergy testimony expressed opposition to proposed religious exemptions to the bill stating it only applies within the context of a Sunday-morning service, but as soon as congregants walk out of the Sunday gathering and into the city, they would be faced with pressure to deny their religious belief.
This clergy wrote, “We also believe we find our identity in Jesus and what he did as the substitute sacrifice for our sins on the cross…We do not want anyone treated unfairly by discrimination because of issues related to gender struggles but we believe this bill does not recognize the tension with others in Ohio who would be unfairly treated and forced to comply with transgender beliefs and deny their own religious beliefs.”
The Shepherds of God’s Church showed up and spoke wisdom to the Shepherds of God’s Government, just like the days of old when the prophet Micaiah spoke to the king of Israel and the king of Judah in 1 Kings 22. Let us now pray that the Speaker, the Chairman and the Committee members have ears to hear and eyes to see what a dreadful mistake it would be to allow such legislation to become the law of the land in Ohio.
In case you missed it, click below to view the email from CCV that was released late yesterday about the hearings:
Statewide Pastors Monthly Gathering for Prayer
Pastors from around the state gathered in Youngstown recently at the Spanish Evangelical Church to pray for and with the John 17 Youngstown pastors’ network.
The time of worship, exhortation, and prayer by pastors across denominations, ethnicities and pastoral callings was an expression of unity, which is the intent of every monthly gathering. You are invited to gather with us on the 3rd Thursday of the month at 10am.
When the weekly Faith Friday briefing calls about COVID with pastors and the governor’s office ended in June, there was a sense that there was a need and desire for pastors statewide to continue engaging. Since August, a remnant of the Faith Friday pastors have been gathering monthly either in person or via Zoom. Our next gathering is December 17 via zoom. We will lift up pastors and ministry leaders in Akron. Let me know if you want to join in by emailing me at [email protected], and I will send you the zoom link.
“Oh how good and pleasant it is when brethren dwell together in unity.” Psalm 133
Ruth (McNeil) Edmonds
Church Relations Director
Church Ambassador Network
Citizens for Community Values