COVID-19 Update from the Elder Board

Dear Campus Bible Church Family,

We understand how challenging these days have been for all of us. COVID 19 restrictions have done more to divide the nation than any single issue in recent history. Varied opinions have especially impacted the unity of the church at large and it is grieving the heart of God.

Our stand as a Board of Elders has been to do that which is physically safe, based on federal, state and local health department guidelines. We are also concerned about the impacts of this pandemic emotionally and spiritually. Our people are aching to gather, to corporately worship and to know they are not alone in these difficult times.

We, as elders, are deeply prayerful and clearly united on what we believe God would have us do for Campus Bible Church. Whereas, we respect what other churches have decided to do or not do, we have been called by God to lead this flock over whom the Holy Spirit has commanded us to shepherd, under His guidance (cf. 1 Peter 5:1-4; Hebrews 13:17).

As many of you know, Fresno County recently entered the Red Tier of the state’s re-opening plan. That means we could now meet indoors at Maple and Palm (25% of room capacity or no more than 100 people per room, with everyone wearing a mask).  However, one of the current health department guidelines is that projecting voices indoors poses a greater health risk. Therefore, we are not to allow singing indoors, even with masks. It was initially this very restriction that drove us to do outdoor services. Not allowing singing was simply unacceptable to us as a worshiping congregation.

There are some who are suggesting we should ignore all of these “restrictions” and do what we please. Others are suggesting a more moderated view. We believe we are facing the age-old debate regarding who is our authority. Very simply stated, there are three fundamental choices that the people of God have always faced:

1.  rex lex = “The king is law.” (Romans 13:1 “…be in subjection to the governing authorities…”) i.e. Go inside, wear masks, social distance, sing inside only when the health department deems these activities safe.

2.  lex rex = “The law is king.” (Acts 5:29 “We must obey God rather than men.”)  i.e. Go inside, don’t wear masks, don’t social distance and sing inside if we believe God would have us do that.

3.  rex lex; lex rex = “The king is law and the law is king.” (“We will obey the government until we can’t.”) i.e. We will decide our level of agreement or disagreement, compliance or non-compliance. e.g. Go inside only when allowed but sing with or without masks regardless of the guidelines.

After much prayer and discussion, our leadership has unanimously decided the following:

1.  We will do what it takes to protect our flock (and this community) from this disease, especially the most-vulnerable in our midst. We believe it is the most loving thing to do.

2.  We will not call our people to disobey the health department guidelines, based on a perception of local churches being singled out for “persecution.” We ask the question: “If this COVID-19 pandemic is an exaggerated scam, then why have not the large industries (sports, entertainment, travel, etc.) rallied their billions of dollars to prove the science wrong?” We also ask: “If the Church is being singled out, why are other industries restricted, as well?” and “Has the gospel message been restricted just because we cannot meet in large groups in our physical buildings?” We view these as community-wide guidelines; not church restrictions. Our ministries are continuing. People are being equipped and the Gospel is being presented. We have had more baptisms in recent weeks than in many months before. Through our online services people are being reached outside of Campus Bible Church.

3.  We will respect those churches and individuals that view this matter differently than we do. We trust God’s Holy Spirit will uniquely lead them in making their own decisions as we all strive to be “diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).

4.  We will express our gratefulness for the vast majority who are joining with us in riding these “waves of change.” We will continue to allow people to express their varied opinions, in a spirit of unity even amidst diversity of views. We do not believe we have this all figured out and we remain prayerful and open to God’s clear leading.

That leaves us as leaders  of Campus Bible Church with a few choices:

1.  We can ignore the health and safety guidelines and do what we please as a church. Again, we believe this is not an option for us if we are to protect our flock and maintain our witness in the community and the world.

2.  We can move our corporate worship services inside, disobey some of the guidelines and allow congregational singing (e.g. in any size group or groups of 100, with masks mandated or masks optional, etc.). In essence, we would make this a matter of individual conscience and personal choice. With respect to many other churches, we, as the Campus Bible Church Elder Board, do not believe God would have us do this at this time.

3.  We can move our corporate worship services inside in groups of 100, follow the guidelines but not allow congregational singing. This is certainly a possibility when weather or other factors prevent us from being outside. However, if we did move inside for these occasional gatherings, we would most likely substitute corporate prayer and personal testimonies for corporate singing.

4.  We can keep our corporate worship services outside, where there are no size or singing restrictions. This seems to us the best option, for now.

5.  We will accept the guidelines for masks and social-distancing that are required for all indoor services and meetings and recommended for outdoor gatherings (when social-distancing is not feasible.)

With all this in mind, here is:

Our Current COVID-19 Plan

1.  We will continue our livestream services on Sundays at 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. We encourage you to invite others to join your family in a COVID-safe “Watch-Party.” The service recording of the weekly Sunday Maple service can also be viewed any time after 2 p.m. Sunday.

2.  At our Maple site and our Palm site we will be meeting for corporate worship outdoors on the lawns at 10:30 a.m. (Indoors with restrictions, if made necessary by weather or other issues).

3.  Once you are seated at any outdoor meeting you have the option of taking your mask off, as long as you are social-distanced.

4.  We will move some of our ministry gatherings inside, following the guidelines for masks and social distancing and no singing. We will, of course, still encourage online gatherings.

5. Beginning in November, we will be renting two large event tents to cover the entire lawn area of our Maple site, while we consider plans to build more permanent covered areas for both sites.

6.  Some Adult Sunday School classes at Palm and Maple will be held indoors at 9:00 a.m.

7.  Sunday School classes for kindergarten through sixth grade will be meeting indoors at both Maple and Palm at 10:30 a.m.

8.  The entire congregation (Maple and Palm) is encouraged to attend our Sunday Night Live Service outdoors on the lawn at our Maple site at 6 p.m. This is an especially kid-friendly, family service, full of activity, singing, prayer and a brief message for all ages. (Indoors, if necessary).

9.  Due to changing COVID guidelines, and weather changes that may impact our gatherings, our ministry staff is working on a number of creative alternative plans for all of our indoor and outdoor services and classes.

10.  All of this information (and much more) will be available weekly on the church website and church app. We urge you to stay current and contact your family and friends with any changes and updates.

We thank you for your continued prayers and support. We urge all of us to be flexible as we do our best to provide for the entire Campus Bible Church family and the community. It continues to be our desire to be one united local church, linking together for the cause of Christ in our world, as we encourage people to “come, grow and go!”

With deep concern and love for you all, as well as a great sense of responsibility before the Lord,

The Campus Bible Church Board of Elders
 
Nick Allen                
Trevor Birkholz                    
Jim Cecy                    
David DePartee
Ben Dhillon                      
Jack Garner                
Paul Gong                  
Ryan Howard            
Tommy Leon            
Adam Sheppard                    
Bryan Wong               
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