Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to god. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV)
Dear Hilmar Covenant Family,
As many of you know, much of California has been placed back into the first (PURPLE) tier for COViD precautions. This means that all large group gatherings are prohibited indoors, including gyms, restaurants, and worship centers. As I shared last Sunday (11/15), our Church Council had discussed this probability last Thursday evening (11/12) and we have agreed to continue to follow our state and county guidelines at the recommendation of our insurance carrier and our denomination, the Evangelical Covenant Church. Because of the cold, and possibly wet, weather we are facing, our Sunday morning worship gatherings will return to livestream only until further notice. Additionally, to protect our staff and others during the highly traveled Thanksgiving season, our offices will be open by appointment only the next two weeks (11/23-12/4).
I highly value face-to-face gatherings and have been deeply blessed by our outdoor and indoor worship gatherings. Our staff and Council will continue to brainstorm ways to safely provide these opportunities within the published guidelines from Merced County and the State of California. I welcome any person, or team of people, who would like to innovate in providing safe, outdoor experiences within guidelines. Please contact me if you have any inspiration!
We are facing an unprecedented time in our nation's history. Division, anger, anxiety, and frustration are all at incredibly high levels. I believe that the Church can have a unique role in the midst of our world today. If we practice the words from Paul's letter to the Philippians (above), we can influence those around us. We can bring about emotional and spiritual health by showing that we have a peace that the world can not bring. Our peace does not come from political parties, the presence or absence of mandates, or in the debates that the world desires us to engage. Our peace comes from God. It is a peace that springs from our joy, is nurtured by our gentleness and is possible because we have a God upon whom we can depend. This peace is beyond the world's ability to understand. I believe through this incomprehensible peace, our love for one another and our neighbor will demonstrate God's love for us (John 17).
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 4:20-21 (NIV)
Rev. Charles "Bud" Locke, Transitional Pastor