Church Campus to Re-Open in June (Hopefully)
First Family and Friends:
On Wednesday night, May 20th, the leadership of Winton First Baptist Church agreed to postpone the re-opening of the church campus for worship, Bible study, and ministry, until Merced County reaches Stage 3 in the State's Pandemic Roadmap. According to Sacramento (as of May 20th), that may be as soon as Sunday, June 7 - three weeks away. The decision of the church leadership was based on four concerns:
- Romans 13:1-2, Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. Since we do not believe the government's motive for the shut-down to be that of persecuting the church, but that of gaining the upper hand on COVID-19, we feel it important that we honor the state's guidelines at this time.
- Concern for our vulnerable families and friends. We know that many of our people are anxious to get back to church. We also know that some will come back as soon as the doors are opened, despite their physical health. We don't want that to happen. When we do open, we will have measures in place to safeguard all who come on campus for worship, Bible study, and ministry.
- Concern for our reputation in the community. As a church, we have continually striven to be known as a church that honors the Word of God and the laws of the land. While we know that the lock-down due to COVID-19 is not a 'law', we understand the motivation behind it. For our church to stand opposed to such guidelines, when they are established for our safety as a community, would send a negative message to those in our communities we are trying to reach for Jesus Christ. We do not want to be hypocritical in the eyes of the lost and unchurched.
- Concern for our community. We believe if we, as a church, disregard the guidelines of Sacramento, Merced County, and the CDC, others in the community will follow suit, which would only exaserbate the spread of the pandemic. We do not want that kind of witness or responsibility.
The church leadership will be meeting regularly to go over plans and procedures for safely and responsibly re-opening the church campus. We ask that you be patient with us. We have your best interests at heart.
We also want you to know that when we do re-open, we will be experiencing a 'new normal' in church life. Changes are being made in the way we will be doing things. We are confident these changes will be for the better as a church, and will be more beneficial to our families and friends. You will be appraised of these changes and procedures prior to the re-opening so that you will know what to expect and what to prepare for. I ask that you maintain contact with your assigned Deacon for more information and updates as time progresses, and convey to the church through them, your thoughts, ideas, concerns, etc. so that your input will be heard and considered.
I know this time has been difficult for us as a church. For many of us, this is the first time we have experienced such a crisis physically, socially, and spiritually. My prayer has been, and will continue to be that we, as a church family, stay focused on the Lord, disciplined in His Word, and faithful to minister to each other throughout the duration of this period. God is faithful - all the time. His hand is upon us. His Spirit is with us. His power will get us through this. Be patient as we wait upon the Lord.