Mar 12 20

Coronavirus Update

vmsmith

07.04.20  Update 5:05 p.m.

Happy 4th of July! We hope you are enjoying this holiday as we celebrate the 244th year of our Declaration of Independence. This Independence Day is one for the books and won’t be soon forgotten. Our country has changed in profound ways not the least of which is the shameful disregard of our history, lack of patriotism, and loss of pride in being Americans. A few weeks ago, I was in the post office. The lady in line in front of me refused to buy stamps because they were imprinted with the American flag. Yesterday, the news reported that many would not celebrate the 4th this year because America is not free, and we are an unjust society. You’ve seen the anarchy that reigns in the streets with the idiocy of those who claim they are fighting for justice while at the same time breaking the laws we live by. Justice obtained by injustice is about as convoluted as the human mind can get. Yet, we are not alarmed because the Holy Scriptures describe such times. The mind is ravaged by sin which makes for incomprehensible irrationality.

It is upsetting and if we dwell on it, we will never be anything but miserable and angry. This is the reason we need the scriptures to explain such things and to remind us that the people of God are citizens of another country where perfect peace and righteousness is the rule for eternity. We are only strangers and pilgrims passing through this world of turmoil on our way to the city built by God. Turmoil does not surprise us. We expect it because God is preparing the world for His perfect justice that is not built on fallacious human opinions. Our hope is anchored in Jesus Christ, the eternal refuge for our souls.

Instead of commiserating over our common woes, let’s rejoice in our common salvation! Tomorrow is the Lord’s Day and we are prepared to meet again to worship our Lord and Saviour. Another new dynamic will be introduced to tomorrow’s worship. I precede this announcement with the words of the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 4: “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed but not in despair… We are thankful we can meet but the latest edict handed down by our governor is that singing in the service is strictly forbidden. I’ll leave you to do the research on the reasoning. I only want to say that on our part we will obey this latest order for the good health of all those who attend our services. We are happy to comply but not happy that we need to. Singing praises is integral to our worship and leaves us measurably unfulfilled when we can’t. We will still make melody in our hearts as we listen to our musicians play our hymns. Thus far the governor has not determined the virus is transmitted by sound waves!

We invite you to come and be a part of the services. You are a part when you attend, although for the time being participation is certainly limited. The word of God will be preached, and we will rejoice in our Lord for free salvation in Christ and for freedom to assemble and freedom to preach. Thank God He has chosen the people of worship, has revealed the purpose for worship, has a plan for worship, and has given us a place to worship. Interestingly, we need not expend much extra effort for this Sunday to be the most unusual 4th of July weekend any of us has experienced.

I hope to see you tomorrow!

Pastor V. Mark Smith

06.29.20 Update  11:55 a.m.

I have a brief update for you on this Monday morning. I hope all of you are well and had a blessed Lord’s Day. Yesterday’s service was well attended, and we had a wonderful time of worship. The Lord has His purposes in the hardships endured. I genuinely believe missing church and then working together to reopen for worship has been good for us. The spirit of the people is outstanding, perhaps better than I’ve seen in years. With face masks, I can’t see all your expressions, but I can read the eyes and hear the voices. The common experience is expressed by the Psalmist: “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.”

Our thanks to Jason Guritz who quickly posted yesterday’s video sermon for those who were unable to attend. Please follow the link below to listen. I’ve also provided the blank outline for notes which you can view and print by clicking here. I hope to see you again on Sunday as we gather for the 4th of July weekend. Our topic is Rebuilding Righteousness in our Nation.

Pastor V. Mark Smith

06.27.20  Update 6:55 p.m.

Happy Saturday afternoon to everyone. I hope you are doing well and anticipating our services tomorrow morning. To date, we are happy to report that no one in the church has fallen ill from COVID-19. Still, there are some taking all precautions not to get out and mingle in the crowds until the virus is better under control. Once again, we thank our volunteers for doing an excellent job of keeping the church clean and making sure everyone follows the guidelines for social distancing and other safety precautions.

Last week I was disappointed to be unable to attend. Of course, the greatest disappointment was my wife’s illness that caused another hospital visit. I called an ambulance for her in the early hours and she was admitted. She is now home and only marginally better. We thank you for continuing to pray for her. Unfortunately, there was no time to warn anyone and prepare them, so early last Sunday morning I made the call for help to conduct the service. My deepest appreciation to Jorge for preaching and for others who made sure you were able to have a time of worship. I was also disappointed to miss the fellowship of God’s people and not share my Father’s Day message. I plan to bring the message to you tomorrow. I’ve flattened out some of the Father’s Day references and the subject is applicable to all our church members and friends.

Another disappointment is the lack of a video recording of Jorge’s message. I know those who are unable to attend expect to view the messages later in the week. We were unable to record, so there won’t be a video available later. However, I hoped we would have an audio recording available by now but that hasn’t happened either. We should have the video recording of tomorrow’s sermon later in the week and perhaps the audio of Jorge’s message as well. I’ve mentioned these woes before but is seems incredible that living in the tech capital of the world we would have such poor internet availability at our location. I hope everyone is praying that this nightmare virus threat will soon be over. There are many reasons to pray for it and near the top of my list is to get back to normal church without these constant issues that plague us.

Tomorrow, the same protocols are in place. We still need cleaning and other volunteers, but not as many as before. Rather, we need you on a rotating basis to share some of the work that prevents the same people week after week from being able to attend the service. If you are willing to trade-off and help share one of the responsibilities, please let us know.

Remember our new service time is 10:30 a.m. Please try to arrive around 10:15 a.m. to make it through screening and enable a timely beginning of the service. We will follow this schedule most likely through the summer or perhaps longer depending on the status of the pandemic. Get a good night’s rest and be ready to worship tomorrow!

Pastor V. Mark Smith

06.20.20  Update

The best news I can report today is to reflect on services from last week. It was our first Sunday back in church after 3 months of sitting home absent from the fellowship of the church. The excitement began last Saturday as we had an army of volunteers that met in the parking lot to receive assignments for cleaning and disinfecting the building for services the next day. We accomplished the cleaning in Nehemiah fashion completing a daunting task in about 1 ½ hours. It didn’t seem like work as everyone eagerly and gladly put their hands to the business. Everyone wanted a part in making it happen as if this was the most important undertaking in the Lord’s service.

The same volunteers agreed to come early on Sunday morning to take up their positions to make sure all precautions were met. There was excitement and I couldn’t have been more pleased about the enthusiasm of our people and the worshipful attitude as we were finally able to sing, pray, and hear preaching together. I am honored to pastor such fine people whose joy is the Lord. Even though the day was different because of the cleaning protocols, the masks, the inability to stand close, shake hands, hug, and enjoy each other in close quarters, still it was a great day. The fact that so many worked to make it happen and saw the fruits of their labors made it all the much better. We can endure the inconveniences to be together as God’s church. And then, the greatest surprise was the number of people that came. With our social distancing, we filled all available seats. We may need to add more chairs tomorrow if our crowd increases.

Last Sunday was a preview of what services will be like for quite some time. We don’t know how long this will last and until it’s over and/or restrictions are relaxed we must go through the same steps week after week. More good news is that Saturday cleaning will not be necessary. We have seven days between services which is too long for the virus to survive even if there was some present in the building. Preparations for the next service are done by our excellent regular cleaning crew now that the major portion is taken care of.

We still need help. We need ushers, musicians, and some volunteers to be at church at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow morning for assignments. We don’t need everybody but what is wrong with being there at 10:00 anyway? We can stand 6 ft. apart and have good conversation. Services begin at 10:30 a.m. but we would like those who aren’t helping to arrive by 10:15 a.m. so we can get everyone screened, in the building, and properly seated for a timely start with the Call to Worship.

Several who couldn’t come to the last service asked about the sermon video for last Sunday. I hoped it would be posted by last Monday but unfortunately, we weren’t able to accomplish it. It is available now and posted below this update. We are sincerely looking forward to seeing you tomorrow morning as we gather again to praise our great Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. For those who can’t come, our prayers are with you that you may soon join us again.

Pastor V. Mark Smith

06.12.20  Update 6:55 p.m.

We are thankful to say everything is on track to reopen our services on Sunday morning June 14. My update is a day early to remind church officers and volunteers that we will meet tomorrow morning, Saturday, June 13 at 10:00 a.m. to prepare the building for opening and assign duties for the Sunday service. Please remember our new service time is 10:30 a.m. This will be the only service of the week until further notice.

Since we will be in church on Sunday, we did not make a recording of the Sunday sermon today as we’ve been doing on Fridays since the shutdown began. The Sunday morning sermon will be recorded during the service and will be posted on the website early in the week. We will also send out the sermon to email subscribers. We regret that internet service to our building is not fast enough for livestreaming. Yes, I realize we are living in the tech capital of the world and our service should not be this poor. If you want to know why, just ask!

I look forward to seeing you on Sunday. The procedures for reopening are at this link. This will tell you what to do when you arrive on the property and what we will do to keep you safe. We are committed to protecting the good health of everyone, and until we are sure we can do this, we are suspending other services to reduce time in the building. Please pray for God’s blessings that all will go well this Sunday. Also pray for the soon return to our full worship schedule.

I’ll see some of you tomorrow and hopefully more of you on Sunday!

Pastor V. Mark Smith

06.06.20  Update  7:30 p.m.

Policies for Reopening

By the grace of God, I am pleased to announce that on Sunday, June 14 we will resume in-church services. The past three months have been a trial of faith and even though we are ready to return to worship, the trials are not over. We must adjust the ways we are used to worshipping to accommodate the safety of our congregation and our community in this ongoing COVID-19 crisis. The government has given permission for us to meet but this permission comes at a price. I hold in my hand a 13-page document from the State of California describing conditions that must be met to mitigate the spread of the virus. This is in addition to other documents produced by the Center for Disease Control, CAL OSHA, and the California Department of Public Health. These documents include cleaning and disinfecting protocols, social distancing, personal hygiene, attendance restrictions, and even elements of worship services that must be curtailed or eliminated.

Our services will be different from anything we’ve seen before. I know many of you are confused about what to do and the government has not been on our side to help us reach clarity. This is the reason we thought we could go back to church earlier and then had to pull back. We were not able to open for services tomorrow because final approval was withheld until the last minute leaving us with no time to be properly prepared.

Since we now have permission, we need to make everyone aware of our plans. Clicking this link will open a document entitled Policies for Reopening. It will advise you on what to expect and how to prepare yourself for our first service back on June 14. Without listing on this page everything in this document, I want to emphasize some important information. Until notified otherwise, we will conduct only one weekly service which will begin at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings. This is the preaching service. Forum Class, Sunday afternoon service, and Wednesday evening Bible study are canceled until further notice. The 10:30 a.m. Sunday service will be approximately one hour. We are following the recommended guidelines for limited use of the building and exposure to the virus.

On Saturday, June 13 at 10:00 a.m., we will host a meeting of officers and volunteers to discuss opening protocols and to clean and sanitize the building. I am thankful many of you responded and with many hands for the work, we should be able to handle this speedily. We welcome more help if for nothing else than we would love to see you! Everyone, please come prepared with masks. If you’ve been in the stores lately and among crowds, you are already aware of what this meeting will look like. We will begin in the parking lot. I don’t intend to keep you long as we will fill you in, answer questions, and then do our work.

Meanwhile, we still have tomorrow, June 7 to consider, don’t we? This will be another in your homes video with a sermon about Christian service. Fan the Flame of the Faith is our subject. You may watch by clicking the following video link. Prayerfully, this is the last time we’ll be separated. Accordingly, pre-recorded Sunday sermons will not be available after this week. We understand some of you will not be able to attend due to age and underling medical conditions. We are sorry that internet service to our building is too poor to permit livestreaming. The Sunday sermon will be recorded but not available until later in the week. We will do our best to make it available as soon as possible.

We hope to see you soon!

Pastor V. Mark Smith

Outline: Fan the Flame of the Faith