COVID-19 Update

“The Doors of Campus Bible Church Are . . . .”

For almost 25 years I have been entering the doors to our worship center on Maple Avenue and, for the last 6 years, I have been walking into the auditorium of our other location on Palm Avenue. I love our church doors. I cherish them, not because they are strikingly beautiful but because they provide an opportunity to come face to face with my precious flock. As these doors open before the services, I love welcoming you to come and corporately worship our Lord together. As these doors open at the end of the services, I enjoy standing in the foyer and thanking you for coming. I have often reminded us that the greatest moment in our church services is when the doors open and we go out into the community and “be the church.”

Well, now, because of the fear of the spread of the COVID-19 virus the physical doors to all our facilities are closed to the public. When will all of these doors re-open? I don’t know! Due to changing regulations, our re-entry into our facilities has been made very complex. As news reports and guidelines come out, we are constantly adjusting our risk assessments and specific protection plans to limit the spread of the corona virus.

Yet, there is still so much confusion, even among the people of God. Some are suggesting we swing these doors wide open and let whatever happens happen. They believe this viral threat is exaggerated and argue for the value of allowing “herd immunity.” Their hope is that that we will infect each other—just enough to build up sufficient antibodies to level the threat. Others are suggesting this “stay at home nonsense” is politically motivated by those who would deny us of our constitutional right to freedom of worship. They argue that this is an even greater threat than the Covid 19 virus itself. In the spirit of President Reagan’s, “Tear down these walls” declaration they would have us shout: “Open these doors.”

But others are saying, “No…please, please…keep these church doors closed. We have yet to see the extent of this virus. The loving thing to do is to take every precaution, especially since we have so many in our church who are vulnerable.” The debate rages and, for some, emotions are running high. For most of us, we don’t want to argue. We just want to get back to normal, worshiping face to face.

Many of you are asking where I and my fellow elders stand, especially as it relates to how soon Campus Bible Church will open the doors of all our facilities. The short answer is: We don’t know. We wish we did. But we just don’t know.

Here’s what we do know:

1. We do know that even though these physical doors are closed, we are still an essential place of worship. 

Even more than being guaranteed by our Constitution, it is confirmed by the Word of God. Jesus said, “I will build My church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.”  No virus and no other threat will stop His church from doing what it was called to do. Hebrews 10:24-25 calls us to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, while not forsaking our assembling together. And folks, we are stimulating one another to love and good deeds. And, yes, we are assembling together, in ways that, in the past, would never have been possible. It is highly possible that we may have more people viewing our services than ever before.

Therefore, let me assure you. Campus Bible Church is alive and well. Like the dispersed church in the first century  and like the persecuted church throughout the ages, we are gathering in small clusters of Christ-followers and inviting the world to join us. We just can’t do all those things in our church buildings. But we also know that Campus Bible Church is not buildings; it’s our people, linking together for the cause of Christ in our world. In that sense, the doors of worship at Campus Bible Church are wide open. Why? Because the doors of our hearts of worship are wide open. In fact, we are getting reports of many new people who have been watching on-line and are looking forward to being a part of our gatherings when these church doors open. They are bearing witness to the heart of worship at Campus Bible Church.

2. We also know that even though these physical doors are closed we are still an essential place of ministry.

 As a local church, we have always taken very seriously our divine calling to care for the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of people — in our community, across our nation and around the world. And that, too, is happening, during this pandemic. Although these physical doors are shut, people all over this church are serving one another and serving the community. We are providing finances, food, shelter and transportation for the needy. We are providing job connections for the un-employed and the under-employed. We are providing counseling and encouragement for those who are hurting. Why? Because the doors of ministry opportunity are wide-open.

3. We know that even though these physical doors are closed we are still an essential place of fellowship.

In so many unique ways, people of all walks of life are still gathering with us for the purposes of fellowship, doctrine, worship, service, evangelism, discipleship and prayer. I wish I could list out the countless numbers of calls, texts, emails and on-line meetings. Why? Because the doors of communication are wide-open at Campus Bible Church.

4. We know that even though these physical doors are closed, we are still an essential place of healing.

 We are blessed to still be a hospital for sinners—for people who need spiritual healing. We are blessed to still be a resting place for the hurting who need emotional support. We are also blessed to still be a safe place for children, youth, adults, and seniors. We continue our ministry to the disabled, the immuno-compromised and the medically fragile. Why? Because the doors of compassion will never be closed at Campus Bible Church.

So, Where Do We Go From Here?

We have learned so very much during this time. We feel that God is using this season to equip us to serve our community much better now, as well as in the future. We are holding on to Romans 8:28 “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

I have spoken to many, many pastors and church leaders locally and globally. Most agree that we must not let our immediate desire to gather blind us to the greater need of protecting our people from this deadly virus. We also agree that we must be careful to maintain our witness to the community, serving as responsible citizens who are willing to follow the health department guidelines. We do understand that there is a lot of conflicting medical analysis and admit that we still do not have all the facts. However, few of us are willing to open our church doors only to find out that we have done more damage than good.

Listen folks, we are presently being told that the day may soon come when we can open these doors and gather together for in-person worship services. However, this does not necessarily mean we should gather right away. We expect to hear from the health department and our government officials very soon about when and how we can start by safely gathering in groups of varying sizes. Of course, we welcome the good news when we can safely open all of our doors to the community we have been called to serve. In the meantime, we welcome news that we can gather soon in smaller groups. Our pastoral staff and ministry leaders are poised and ready to enact a responsible re-entry plan in either case, once the go-ahead is given. Our commitment is to take whatever time we need to provide a safe worship environment for all of the people in this community. God forbid that we open our church doors too soon, only to quickly shut them again. After much prayer and discussion, we are choosing to take extra measures of precaution.

In the meantime, we refuse to let this crisis go to waste. So, here is our commitment as a leadership team: We will do our best to provide greater quality on-line services. We will do our best to make available more on-line fellowship opportunities for every age-group. We will do our best as elders, pastors and church leaders to be here for you to minister to your needs, in any way we can. We welcome your input and covet your prayers.

Here is what we expect from you, our precious people at Campus Bible Church. Keep on participating in our on-line services and small group meetings. Keep on washing your hands, wearing masks, disinfecting your homes and social distancing. Keep on making it a priority to stay healthy physically, emotionally and, of course, spiritually. And keep on joining all of us in praying that God will heal our land.

Remember those closed church doors. Let me say it as simply as I can: “The doors of Campus Bible Church are wide open!” Why? Because the doors of our hearts have never been closed. We are open for business—Kingdom Business. We believe the open doors of opportunity to share the gospel have never been wider. So, let’s walk through these doors together. We love you so very much and we are excited about that day we can gather in our facilities and are free to greet you in person.

Grateful for the open doors!

Pastor Jim Cecy (on behalf of the Elders of Campus Bible Church)