This is a season of perseverance for all of us. While at times confusing and frustrating, it is also a season of increased dependence and trust in the sovereignty of God. Without question the LORD is working among us to refine and grow us.
In late December we shared a biblical response to the provincial lockdowns to inform and shepherd our church family. We have been greatly encouraged by the unity we have witnessed during this time and the shared resolve to continue to trust in what we cannot fully understand.
We know that some of our church family are growing increasingly restless and frustrated. In fact, we share many of those feelings as elders. We long for the Church to gather and we long to see God’s people encouraged in the design of His gathered Church. This is a burden we feel every day as leaders.
In our original statement (see here) we outlined our biblical understanding and reasoning for complying with the provincial lockdown orders. We also indicated that there may come a time for respectful civil disobedience in the future, but we did not believe that time had come. We continue to hold to that position today.
In our previous statement we indicated the following:
If any of the following things should change, then we would be compelled with prayer and wisdom to consider a form of civil disobedience.
a) If the restrictions were obviously and specifically targeted against the Church at the exclusion of other institutions
b) If the restrictions prohibiting the Church from gathering in person are beyond temporary in nature
c) If the government’s motivation for restrictions goes beyond the welfare of people
We recognize the seriousness of this third wave. It is a very challenging time to lead and we are fervently seeking the wisdom of God for His people. We appreciate your grace toward us and your understanding in the difficulty it presents (Hebrews 13:17). We believe the one item in question is point ‘b’ above: how long will these restrictions continue, and are they, in fact, temporary?
That said, we are not idle. In addition to praying, writing to elected officials, and meeting with our MPP to express our views, we are now intensifying our engagement with the government. We have drafted a petition to Premier Ford to appeal to the government to acknowledge the Church as essential and to allow the Church to gather responsibly. You can read and sign our petition here.
The letter is intentionally brief and focuses on responding to the main argument used to keep churches from gathering, rather than presenting a biblical defense for church gathering (as we have done previously). Our request is very clear and based on evidence from 2020 when churches were permitted to gather at 30% capacity. We are eager to get back to church with zero restrictions, but are asking for a return to 30% as a first step. We strongly encourage all of our church family to sign the petition and to encourage all those you know to do the same.
We have seen our provincial government respond to public pressure and opinion. For this reason, we believe this is a wise and appropriate next step to take and we encourage every Christian to appeal to our government through this measure.
We are very thankful for the people of Hope Bible Church. We love you all and we have patience and grace for the different positions that are represented within our church family. We have heard from many of you and we encourage you to keep communicating with us. We have found that meeting with you to discuss your perspectives has proven to be very fruitful and has increased mutual understanding, love, and unity.
Therefore, we invite you to reach out to us at Info@HopeOakville.ca or call the church office at 905-827-4888 if you have questions. The elders and the pastoral team are readily available.
Prayer is still the answer! We are certain that some of the fruit the LORD is seeking to bear within our church is to increase humble dependence, remove idols, and unify us as we seek Him fervently, finding our joy in Him amidst these trials (James 1:2-4, Philippians 4:4).
Some will be tempted at this time to take their eyes off of Jesus Christ and the Gospel. They will focus on one particular issue or debate. We encourage and exhort you to “seek the things that are above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:1-2). If we start here then we can be confident that we will be in God’s will and truly bearing His fruit. May it be so, especially now.
You are dearly loved,
The Elders of Hope Bible Church