As ICF council, we got questions and remarks about the way we follow the regulations of the government during this time with Covid-19. It looks like some people prefer to stay at home because they have hardly been in church since March 2020. Others think we are far too strict in following the regulations, and we should organise church services in such a way that many people can be present physically. By means of this message, we want to explain better which choices we have made and why.
As ICF council, we decided to follow the regulations of our government. The same is true for our “mother” churches, the protestant church of the Netherlands (PKN) and the Reformed Church (GKv). During the periods of lockdown (from the 15th of March to June and since the 19th of December), that means that our services are online and only roughly 10 people who have a role in the service are physically in church. In between (from June to 12 December) that meant we organised services allowing up to 30 visitors plus children and roughly 10 people who had a role in the service.
The reason we follow these regulations is that we think as a church we should contribute to “flattening the curve”, reducing the risk of infections. We see that Covid-19 is a very serious additional burden to our health system. This overload results in other essential health care (for example, operations for cancer) being scaled down. A further increase of Covid-19 infections will at some point lead to situations where the necessary health care cannot be given because too many people need and death rates will increase.
Furthermore, we are convinced that worshipping our God is more than physically attending church services. We can join our church services online and worship our God. We can have our life group meetings online and worship God. As families or in very small groups we can still meet physically and worship God. At the same time, every time we meet online, we feel the pain of not being able to meet physically and long and pray for healing.
Henk Polinder, chair ICF council