Dear members of St. Peter’s,
On Tuesday, September 22nd, Wisconsin Governor Evers issued a two-month extension to the mask mandate. It goes without saying that no one enjoys wearing facemasks. It also goes without saying that, even at St. Peter’s, there are a wide range of thoughts and opinions on the benefits of mask-wearing during the COVID-19 pandemic and the legality of Governor Evers’ extension. Some welcome this extension while others reject it, even going so far as to refrain from public worship during this time. This contest of opinions and preferences along with the politicizing of the issues has made for some murky waters. What/who do we believe? What do we do? The answers may not seem so clear.
It is during these unclear times that we go to our God for clarity. His Word speaks on this matter, and it is clear. “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities…” (Romans 13:1) There it is. God commands obedience to the authorities that he has established.
“But what if the Governor’s extension isn’t legal?” some might ask. “Doesn’t that give us the right to refuse to obey it?” The area pastors recently discussed this question in one of our circuit meetings.
What we all agreed upon is that our form of government has three branches—Executive (Governor), Legislative (State Assembly & Senate), and Judicial (Courts, and particularly the State Supreme Court). The way our government is laid out, when the executive and legislative branches are in disagreement about the constitutionality of a law/mandate, it is not up to the individual citizen to decide whether or not the law/mandate is legal. That is up to the courts to decide. And as God-fearing Christians, it is our Christian obligation and duty to obey whatever is decided upon, in so far as that law/mandate does not command us to violate the Word of God. Facemask wearing does not violate the will of God. It matters not whether we agree or disagree with the law/mandate, we obey as a way of showing our love for Jesus, who said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” (John 14:15) “Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.” (Romans 13:5)
For this reason, until the matter is settled by the courts, we ask that members of St. Peter’s comply with the mandate as it is spelled out and explained when coming to public worship and during public worship.
Your servants under Christ,
Pastor Aaron Odya & The Church Council of St. Peter’s.