State of the church - Winter/Spring 2021

Hi HF Family and Friends,

I trust this email finds you encouraged and strengthened in God’s truth, promises, and works in your life!

OUR MID-YEAR UPDATE

This last Sunday, we presented a mid-year, mini-State of the Church report. For those who might be newer to our church family, we have an annual State of the Church meeting every September at the start of our fiscal and ministry year. And we do a brief update midway through the year.

This last Sunday, we gave a financial update (which was very positive and encouraging), an update on upgrades for increased capacity for future ministry, and a summary statement regarding our lawsuit.
[Video posted on this page]. If you are interested in the financial update, please email info@harborviewfellowship.org, and arrangements will be made to brief you on the report.

OUR LAWSUIT SUMMARY

As many of you know, last spring, our lawyers wrote an appeal on our behalf to Governor Inslee. This was regarding what we perceived to be unconstitutional restrictions placed on churches related to Covid-19. Our initial plea was rejected. The next step for us was to initiate a lawsuit that was filed in June 2020. On February 19, 2021, our case was dismissed by United States District Judge Robert J. Bryan.

Below is a summary of the lawsuit, which was prepared for us by our law firm Ellis | Li | McKinstry of Seattle.

In June 2020 Harborview Fellowship filed a lawsuit against Governor Jay Inslee alleging that the Governor’s emergency order restricting church worship services to the lesser of 25% of capacity or 50 persons was a violation of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the US Constitution. We were advised by our lawyers that it would be very difficult to prevail against the Governor in the lower courts, but that a final appeal to the US Supreme Court on the legal merits might have a much better chance. Thus, we embarked on a legal strategy of knowing we were likely to lose procedurally but hoping to win substantively by getting the Governor to loosen the restrictions. Our hope was to make the Governor aware that his orders not only violated the Constitution but caused real harm to people who needed and wished to worship and gather in their churches.

Very soon, at our first court hearing, this strategy proved to work. We lost the procedural motion for a temporary restraining order, but the morning of the court hearing, the Governor revised his rules to raise the “cap” to 200 persons from 50. In the succeeding months, other restrictions were loosened, and recently even the 200-person cap was removed. Furthermore, the Governor, Attorney General, and State Health Department assured the judge that they had not tried to enforce the orders against churches and had no plans to do so. By making this argument, they persuaded the judge to dismiss our case. But in our loss, we succeeded in getting assurance in the court record that the Governor and State had no intention of enforcing the restrictions laid down against churches.

The case was dismissed “without prejudice,” which is a legal term meaning that Harborview can refile its case if the Governor and the State should try to enforce the restrictions against churches. In the meantime, we believe we have accomplished what we set out to do – to allow our congregation and other congregations around the state to gather in-person to worship our Lord and to enjoy fellowship with one another, not only because it is our constitutional right, but our biblical mandate.

As elders, we will continue to be alert and take every action needed to preserve our inalienable rights regarding our free exercise of religion given to us by God and recognized in our federal and state constitutions. Again, as always, if you have any questions, please contact us.

Live strong! Live encouraged! Live on mission!

God’s richest blessings to each of you!

Mike