This week, the St. Louis Department of Health issued an indoor mask mandate for individuals in St. Louis County. The wording of this mandate is very clear that the responsibility is with individuals, not businesses or churches, to comply with the order.
Many have asked whether First Free will start requiring masks. The answer is that this is not a First Free requirement, it is a county requirement for individuals. Churches and businesses are not expected to enforce the mandate or refuse service to those who do not comply. This is very clearly stated in the health order.
The St. Louis County Council has since repealed this mandate and a legal battle is pending over who has authority in this case, the executive branch or the council. The Missouri Attorney General has also filed a lawsuit against the health order.
Depending on the day, this mandate could go in and out of effect as judges on these cases issue temporary orders to uphold or postpone the mandate while litigation plays out. Given the uncertainty of the legality of the order and whose authority will ultimately be upheld by the courts, First Free can have no official position on the mandate or whether it is currently in effect.
Either way, it is an individual mandate and First Free will not be enforcing the health order or refusing service to anyone regardless of their compliance with the order. This organizational position is consistent with instructions in the health order for businesses and churches.
As Christians, we are directed by Romans 13 to obey our governing authorities. However, we are currently in a gap period where it is uncertain who is our governing authority, the executive branch or the council.
We encourage everyone in our First Free Church family to make wise and responsible decisions based on the best available information, the latest news about court orders concerning the public health order, and with sensitivity and care for those around us as we wait for more clarity on the authority of the health order. We also encourage everyone to be understanding and not judgmental toward Christians who disagree about masks, the health order, and other related issues.
In our buckets of belief, we think these disagreements fall into the convictions or preference buckets, not the doctrine or dogma buckets. Therefore, we should make every effort to be united in Christ, gracious in our speech, and treating others as better than ourselves even though we may have very obvious and sensitive disagreements.
Please pray for our church, our community, and our political leaders that God will be glorified and more people will find freedom in Christ through the testimony of believers in a challenging time.