For the past few months, while we have been concerned for religious liberty, we have nevertheless followed the guidance of our government for the safety of others and cancelled all church services in order to practice social distancing during the COVID-19 breakout. We did, in fact, cancel our gatherings before it was required by the state.
Now, as our President is urging a cautious return to business and to church, and as our State and County have moved into “Phase 2” of our “Safe Start” Washington plan, we feel a stirring from God to prepare adequately and safely for the slow and safe return to worship at Spokane Baptist. We have sought legal and medical counsel, have been in contact with our local government and police forces, and mostly we are trying to be sensitive to the leading of the Lord in this process.
The US Attorney General and the US Justice Department have clearly stated that if businesses are allowed to operate, places of worship must also be allowed to operate under the same guidelines. On April 14th, the Attorney General said, “Government may not impose special restrictions on religious activity that do not also apply to similar nonreligious activity. For example, if a government allows movie theaters, restaurants, concert halls, and other comparable places of assembly to remain open and unrestricted, it may not order houses of worship to close, limit their congregation size, or otherwise impede religious gatherings. Religious institutions must not be singled out for special burdens.” US Federal Courts are consistently upholding this position, and finding that it is illegal for state governors to treat businesses differently than they treat religious gatherings (Fire Christian Center, Inc. v. Fischer, First Baptist Church v. Kelly, and several other cases from District Courts).
Therefore, at Spokane Baptist Church, we intend to follow Washington State’s “Safe Start” reopening plan in accordance with the law that we cannot be treated differently from any secular business. We will be following state guidelines for Restaurants/Casinos/Movie Theatres/etc. The following pages outline our planned return to gathering according to each of the 4 Phases of the “Safe Start” plan. It is critical that Spokane Baptist return with proper patience, understanding, and Biblical conviction. All church members are urged to read this document before participating in any upcoming gatherings.
We desire safety as instructed by government leaders (Romans 13) and we desire to obey the command of Scripture to assemble and worship (Hebrews 10:25).
We firmly believe that church is essential! Let’s work together to make this happen for the glory of God and with a right testimony for those who have not yet trusted Christ as their Saviour.
Before attending an in-person service, please view our full plan on our "Covid-19" page