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My church's response to COVID


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[.] Apparently I am judgmental, overly pious, and not accepting of other people's free will.  I am in tears.

[.] Thank you all for encouraging me. It means more than you know.

Thanks for praying, all!! ❤️ Everything went smoothly. I only had two students, both from the same family, and they arrived wearing masks. No drama whatsoever. My classroom is in a tucked away pa

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1 minute ago, PeterPan said:

You can't mask someone's dc if the parent doesn't want it. 

True. My plan is to send them to their parents if they refuse to wear a mask in my classroom. I won't willingly be part of people violating the law and putting others at risk.

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2 minutes ago, MercyA said:

Speaking of t-shirts! I've not been a particular fan of Life Is Good in the past, just because I am not at all outdoorsy. 🙂 BUT! I love some of their current selections:

More Science, Less Fiction

Kindness Is Everything

Love Your Neighbor (heart with a mask)

Thank you! DH LOVES these shirts - so soft, and maybe a few new ones would be appreciated. 

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6 minutes ago, MercyA said:

True. My plan is to send them to their parents if they refuse to wear a mask in my classroom. I won't willingly be part of people violating the law and putting others at risk.

It sounds like you have made up your mind to teach (and perhaps, to stay?)

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On 7/26/2020 at 8:21 PM, maggie18 said:

It sounds like you have made up your mind to teach (and perhaps, to stay?)

To teach. I don't feel like I can in good conscience give less than a week's notice. 

I will not be attending worship.

Edited by MercyA
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7 minutes ago, MercyA said:

True. My plan is to send them to their parents if they refuse to wear a mask in my classroom. I won't willingly be part of people violating the law and putting others at risk.

If the church is not requiring masks, this is not reasonable. If the church is, then it's obvious.

I don't see making a row with parents and kids whn your beef is with the leadership. 

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1 minute ago, MercyA said:

To teach for now. I don't feel like I can in good conscience give less than a week's notice. I haven't decided about staying. 

I will not be attending worship.

You could tell the leadership upfront and let them solve the problem they have made by not enforcing the law.

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Maybe you could email the person in charge of Sunday School now, and let them know that you will be requiring masks for all kids in your classroom.  That way it is out in the open now and they have time to find someone else if they are not okay with you requiring this.

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7 minutes ago, MercyA said:

To teach for now. I don't feel like I can in good conscience give less than a week's notice. I haven't decided about staying. 

I will not be attending worship.

As a person who attended and taught Sunday school and a parent, please drop out now. The children's spiritual guru for lack of a better word is their parent. I would be very upset if my kids sunday school teacher contradicted my beliefs. Don't let the children be involved in your conflict with the church. It affects their spiritual life too and will be something they remember badly if they are sent out of sunday class.

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28 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

You can't mask someone's dc if the parent doesn't want it. 

Yes, you can. If the parent knows up front that is the requirement and still sends the child to the event, then the teacher can reasonably assume that the parent is okay with masking. I think the parent has the right to remove the child from the event if they object to masking. 

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MercyA

I just want to say I get it. You have had some basic wise answers given already. To me this can be a time of testing to purify his people.

 

Many people have allowed politics to become their idol. I recently heard the statement, "Where you get your knowledge, is what you have put your trust in."  It was in a discussion about the serpent but it also applies in a more general sense. If we look to the Bible for guidance there would be no division. Love your neighbor, submit to governing authorities, and also Paul becoming like others to not allow them to stumble all reflect a position of more concern for others first. "In humility consider others more important than yourselves."

 

I will say though that SOME actions have different motivations than we realize. My friend recently relayed a statement to me, " We judge ourselves by our motivations and others we judge by their actions." I honestly believe that many who refuse to mask think they are doing the right thing. It sounds ludicrous but they have heard over and over the evils of masking. Sigh.  

On another thread recently I confessed to walking around thinking people were stupid and selfish. It is a battle I always fight. In reality I should be looking at them as sheep without a shepherd but that is my sin to conquer. You seem to be more thoughtful than I. 

I have chosen not to place myself in a position of service because I know that it is likely I will quit going soon. Actually, I quit early due to my own illness but that was my original thought. The first time I attended I warned my kids that we would be the only ones masked and I was close to right. There was one other couple. Most of us couldn't hack it 2 weeks in a row so only my youngest went back the next week and a doctor people respected showed a video on the importance of masking and then some more families joined. Then a mask mandate was issued and so we tried again and about 60% masked. So I really think there are different motives for different people and different things will help them.  If I can keep my calm and be reasonable then I know I have some (just a little influence). Those who are completely brainwashed are a lost cause but there are so many that are just confused. Some try and have bad habits with masks because they aren't used to having to think about them much. 

 

Sorry this is so rambly.

My guess is you cannot force kids to be masked without leadership being in agreement with you. You will not be allowed to exclude kids and kids parents won't mask. I'm sorry. 

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While I agree 100% that what they are doing is very, very wrong, I think you are in the wrong, to plan to blindside the families and the church leadership. Surprising them all with an additional requirement just for your classroom will cause an awful lot of drama and be taken very, very badly.

If you are going to enforce a stricter environment in your classroom, you should inform the pastor and the head of the Sunday school -- in time for them to decide whether they'll allow you to do that, and if so, in time to inform the families so they can make their choice.

You can really only control your family. For me, this would mean leaving, and informing them via email today. It is never the end of the world if children don't have a Sunday school class to go to, on any random Sunday - if there's classroom space, someone else (perhaps even one of their parents) could take them for that hour. If that's unacceptable to the pastor or the head of the Sunday school, then they have a week to solve the problem. I don't mind some inconvenience for them, if they are complicit in endangering human lives.

But a hill to die on is a hill where you've got a foothold, and in that church and Sunday school class, you really do not. Your authority in that space is not greater than the pastor's church-wide leadership into anarchy and destruction. The hills you can and should claim are your conscience and the protection and care of your own family -- just get out of there. 

Edited by Lang Syne Boardie
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I agree with you all. I strongly believe I should tell the leadership that I will be requiring masks in my classroom and that it is non-negotiable for me. I have no problem doing that, especially since I believe I am fully in the right. 😉 

[.]

Edited by MercyA
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45 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

It completely mystifies me why people do not care what message this is sending their kids. I vehemently dislike masks, but the rule is the rule, the law is the law. You don't just sneak around saying it's fine if you get away with it.

I don’t know what state this is in...in my state masks are required in all public indoor spaces with a fine attached, but masks are not required, only encouraged, during worship services.

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2 hours ago, Ktgrok said:

As for your daughter - I'd be thinking how many kids grow up and leave the church and cite "hypocrisy"? If she's seeing this kind of thing, there is a real risk it will shake her faith. I mean, what IS Christianity, if not about sacrifice for others, and loving one's neighbor? What's left?

 

I attended a southern baptist church as a child because my parents were comfortable, had friends, and did not like to make waves. I grew very disillusioned as a teenager with the hypocrisy and left all religion.  I would say it would be much better for your daughter to leave an environment that does not align with your values as a family.  

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3 hours ago, MercyA said:

My husband thinks it's because it's too inconvenient for them. I think it's because they still think COVID is no more dangerous than the flu. We both think politics has a lot to do with it. 

 

Politics seems to have permeated every facet of life, however, I feel there is a deeper issue that may be a hurdle. Many church leadership staff are struggling how to frame CV19. Some firmly believe that God will protect whom he will protect or allow to contract the virus but come out okay whereas for those who may not, it's God's will.

Yes, there is a lot of contradictory information and I do think the overload of information is worse than fewer facts would be in this case. It comes back to one thing only IMHO: everyone is responsible for their own actions. I would not attend if I was not ready to go among unmasked people and sneezing kiddos. This whole CV19 has way more far reaching consequences than appear on the surface.  I do find the remark "we may lose some..." disturbing. However, it's not the first time I heard this sentiment. A client of mine voiced it similarly recently. The desperation this is causing on a wider level is something many did not anticipate.

Edited by Liz CA
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1 hour ago, Ktgrok said:

Ok, how did I not know there was a store on T-spring for the Christian left????? Drooling...

Yep. There’s like 8 shirts I want on here...I’m sending texts to my dd; she will love these. 

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I think if it's the law, you just hand kids masks and play clueless.  "Of COURSE we have to wear masks in my class!  It's the law!"  Just pretend you've never seen anyone maskless anywhere in the church and assume that of course everyone is wearing masks indoors.  

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3 hours ago, regentrude said:

This. I was just going to suggest pretty much the same thing.

If you want more detail: "Research has shown that masks are effective in reducing transmission. The virus may not make everybody sick, but for some people, it can be very serious, even fatal. I can not in good conscience support ignoring the law that is intended to protect the vulnerable in our community."

 

@MercyA Good wording if you need to say something.

Though I expect you would get an “everyone has their own facts” type reply 

Nonetheless, It should not even have had to be a law imo.  Should have been done in a protection of and Caring for the vulnerable, weak and needy, a Christian Caritas type thing. 

1 hour ago, MercyA said:

Kids will be masked in my classroom, the end. If they don't like it, they can find someone else to teach in my place. 😉 

 

What about the parents who arrive with kids or to pick them up? What about kids like the unmasked sneezing that your husband saw.  You can’t physically force a mask on someone. Will you walk out of Sunday School leaving the kid’s unattended?  If that’s your plan you should let them know in writing in advance so that they can have a back up person ready to go. Otherwise you may be caught between a legal problem for leaving children attended versus personally being exposed to unmasked infectious kids for a whole class period. 

At best you will likely be dealing with minimally masked infectious kids. 

Sending kids to parents may or may not work and may be too late if someone is shedding a lot of virus. 

Edited by Pen
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Just now, MercyA said:

This is what my husband wanted. 😉 

That said, if you're in a hotspot and you think it's actually likely kids might be infectious, then I'd probably bow out, even if adults were masking fastidiously.  It's an important extra layer of protection, but kids do stupid things like taking their masks off to sneeze, and that would be alarming if you're somewhere that rates are super high.  

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2 hours ago, DoraBora said:

It is wrong for followers of Christ to disobey the law when that law doesn't contradict God's laws.  Most Christians -- including, it would seem, your current pastor -- don't seem to realize this.  I guess they haven't read the Bible.  Or they're not thinking straight.  

I would check and make sure that there are not religious services exemptions to the mask mandates.   In Michigan, religious services are encourage to mask but not required.

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Mercy, I'm so sorry you're dealing with this. It is completely appropriate for you to feel hurt and upset and maybe even angry. I think your pastor and fellow members are handling it wrong and making poor decisions. I think you were handling it in a Biblical way to make your first step a one on one conversation with your pastor. The next Biblical step would be to bring one or two witnesses to another conversation with him ... are there any at all in the church who might be similar in thinking as you and your DH?

Having said all that, I also think the verses in the Bible about forbearance apply here. Forbearance is required when we truly feel that someone we know and love is wrong about something. I don't think it means we write them off and leave.

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2 minutes ago, MercyA said:

I will say the same thing to the kids regardless of whether their parents are there or not.

If they won't put on a mask, they will have to leave the classroom and return to their parents.

Hopefully this will all be avoided if my expectations are communicated to the parents ahead of time.

I am complete with you on the masks. Where I differ with you is how you are handling this with respect to Sunday school and sorry for crossing boundaries. But I feel very strongly about this. 

I believe in spiritual mentors of the faith. A Sunday school teacher is one. I was a Sunday school teacher who prepared for class even as a teen and took it very seriously as a God given responsibility to teach those children. So I also see why you hesitate and the conflict you have. But what I also believe is do not let children see differences in theology or politics when it comes to the faith. That is why I walked away from American church because I wanted the right kind of mentors for my children. I was ok with walking away from church, not the Lord.

I was an adult when I came to America with solid sunday school, VBS, youth, church background. Yet the church in America almost caused me to walk away from Christianity because of politics and theology. So I beg you, resolve this before you teach Sunday school or walk away. These children are not yours to teach. If you have any doubt someone will send a child mask less walk away please. Do not send a child from class. It will be a rejection of the church to that child that will stand out and it is scaring. Please communicate firmly but walk away from Sunday school if they do not let your class have mask. Church memories as a child should be warm and comforting, a place you can trust. That is why I trust the church of my childhood because of those memories even though it is by no means perfect. So please consider this and pray upon it. I will pray for wisdom too. 

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Mercy, you are a kind and thoughtful person and I wish we attended the same church!

Previous posters have suggested straightforward and openhearted language to use in communicating with other adults and leadership at your church. I wouldn't pretend anything or speak only with children.

It's okay if your communication with the pastor and parents sparks conflict. This may be exactly what your church needs and what you are called to do. 

It's okay if the conflict can't be resolved, and your family decides to step away from the church after that.

Your words and actions may give courage and heart to others who want to comply with health regulations, but don't yet see that as an option in this community. Your words and actions may give courage and heart to parishioners who feel very vulnerable to Covid and unprotected in the community.

Your words and actions are powerful, and although conflict is awkward and painful it is not the worst that can happen. Accepting that there is no conflict-free option, and that conflict may in fact do some good, may help you figure out what feels right for your family and what you love about your church community.

Edited by Acadie
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7 minutes ago, Momto6inIN said:

Mercy, I'm so sorry you're dealing with this. It is completely appropriate for you to feel hurt and upset and maybe even angry. I think your pastor and fellow members are handling it wrong and making poor decisions. I think you were handling it in a Biblical way to make your first step a one on one conversation with your pastor. The next Biblical step would be to bring one or two witnesses to another conversation with him ... are there any at all in the church who might be similar in thinking as you and your DH?

Having said all that, I also think the verses in the Bible about forbearance apply here. Forbearance is required when we truly feel that someone we know and love is wrong about something. I don't think it means we write them off and leave.

Yes, I have thought of this. Thank you. ❤️

There may be one or two others in agreement with us.

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20 hours ago, maggie18 said:

How old are the kids in your class? That link says that if they are 8 or younger, they don't have to wear a mask.

[Early elementary.] I wouldn't ask some to mask and allow others not to do so.

Thankfully the county mandate applies to everyone age 3 or older. 

Edited by MercyA
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I am writing the email now. Will send it later tonight or first thing in the morning.

Please, please pray, all, that this will be resolved in a way that is best for all. 

Love you all so much. ❤️

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I'm so sorry!!

I understand your frustrations just a little.  In the beginning my church seemed great they closed before they were mandated and talked about loving thy neighbor etc.  But as things have dragged out some combination of quarantine fatigue and frustration with inconsistency in mandates has changed things.   

When their was a loosening of restrictions they immediately opened outdoor service even though our numbers were bad and they had singing though with masks even though our numbers were 20 times higher than when we voluntarily closed out of an abundance of caution and love.

When the governor bartered with local government and eased a few restrictions in exchange for help from them and a mask mandate.  They immediately moved inside.  Our numbers were terrible at this point and our ICU was 90% full.  Everyone did follow the rules but to me this was not the loving thing to do.  

This week the sermon was that they governor was moving church back outside. We are going to comply for now.  Though everyone should be ready for the  day we won't be able to comply.  A whole bunch that sounded like gearing up for a fight.  Plus a whole bunch on how we need to gather for worship and basically if you wont get deathly ill than you should be at service.  Like their is no other way to gather for worship without at least 50 people.  Nevermind that 1/3 of this church started out as small house churches. Ugh!    Plus I know most have been following rules like wearing masks at the store but they are having backyard gatherings and not wearing masks.

I don't like mandates banning churches from meeting and some areas are definitely getting close to being a constitutional problem.  If casinos and such can be open it's hard to say you have a compelling reason for churches to be closed.  I think churches should be online or small outdoor groups of their own accord because it is the right thing to do.

Edited by rebcoola
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Maybe your email will create some change. Sometimes, people just resist change because...well....it's change🙄

Someone in our life has gone from, "It's just the flu." to now saying, "When school starts in the fall, teachers should move from class to class so that the students stay in their assigned seats all day."  

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@Dreamergal, I already make a point of not knowingly contradicting what the children have been told by their parents, be it the existence of Santa Claus or young earth creationism. 🙂 

If I am allowed to continue to teach, I might just add masking to our posted and illustrated list of rules.

We review the rules all the time and I think this would be a good way to communicate my expectations to the kids with making it an issue or contradicting their parents.

Edited by MercyA
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20 minutes ago, square_25 said:

The problem is that when we stay where people are doing wrong, we wind up unintentionally complicit in the wrong thing. It's a hard balance. 

I think there's a difference between mistaken-wrong, foolish-wrong, ignorant-wrong, careless-wrong, and selfish-wrong versus intentionally doing something morally wrong. I myself have been mistaken, foolish, ignorant, careless, and selfish at times, and I hope people that love me don't write me off.

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51 minutes ago, MercyA said:

I will say the same thing to the kids regardless of whether their parents are there or not.

If they won't put on a mask, they will have to leave the classroom and return to their parents.

Hopefully this will all be avoided if my expectations are communicated to the parents ahead of time.

 

I hope that works well for you.

if so, I’d love to know the language you use that will get compliance when the legal mandate has not.

 

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25 minutes ago, MercyA said:

I am writing the email now. Will send it later tonight or first thing in the morning.

Please, please pray, all, that this will be resolved in a way that is best for all. 

Love you all so much. ❤️

 

Praying.

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My church is indoors but no singing, social distancing and mandatory face masking.  Our church has also urged people like me who are high risk not to attend.  So neither my husband or I attend.  We watch online.

I will be praying for you, Mercy.

 

I can say that from the three people on facebook that I know were against face masking- one has recently changed her mind and become gungho about face masking.  (And by the way, none of the three people were people who had anything to do with spread of COVID--- no risky behaviior, no parties, no unnecessary visits anywhere, or anything like that)  I am hoping the other two come around too.

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2 hours ago, Ktgrok said:

The more I think about how he is clearly not understanding the scripture about upholding the law unless it goes against God's will, the more I wonder what OTHER scripture is he messing up or not understanding?

Yes, that's what I would think too!

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In my experience, it's easier to get kids to do things like wear a mask if it's presented matter of factly by a respected teacher than it is to get parents to do so, regardless of the legal situation.  Kids are a lot more used to going along with whatever random adult tells them to do.  

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40 minutes ago, Momto6inIN said:

I think there's a difference between mistaken-wrong, foolish-wrong, ignorant-wrong, careless-wrong, and selfish-wrong versus intentionally doing something morally wrong. I myself have been mistaken, foolish, ignorant, careless, and selfish at times, and I hope people that love me don't write me off.

Into which category of "wrong" do you place willingly and negligently exposing vulnerable people to a deadly virus?

I don't see how these actions are anything but profoundly wrong on the basis of morality. Not to mention illegal.

Bill

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