Dear Church Family,
This Sunday marks Pentecost, the commemoration of the coming of the Holy Spirit upon believers in Christ. It is an appropriate reminder for us, that although we are physically separated because of the SIP orders, we are never spiritually separated because of the Holy Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 12:13, we read, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” We have a unity in the Spirit that no culture, no nationality, no socio-economic status, and certainly no SIP orders can destroy.
As I’ve written in past emails, for those of you who are in need of prayer or help, please feel free to contact me or any of the other pastors/elders of the church. As a family in Christ, we want to help you with any spiritual or material needs that you may have.
Some of you may have read the city’s May 22nd order to extend SIP indefinitely. The good news is that Jesus Christ loves you, came and died for you, and set you free from sin. =) Now, not as great news, but good news nevertheless is that this past Monday, May 25, Governor Newsom announced state guidance for the resumption of in-person worship services. The guidance will be reevaluated after 21 days.
What does this mean for SF Bible?
We have been following guidelines for businesses, churches, schools, etc., and have attended specific webinars on how to reopen churches safely. The information is continually changing, but we are gathering data for best practice when we reopen for services. The state’s guidance confirms much of what we have been gathering and gives us a clearer way forward.
With the state’s guidance, we will be officially forming a ministry team to plan and coordinate the safe reopening of worship services. This team will establish an SFBible COVID-19 Prevention Plan as required by the state guidance.
As the team plans and prepares for its implementation, we also wait for county guidance. Once we have the county guidance and our plan in place, we will begin communicating necessary information to all staff and congregants. Along the way, we will try to provide helpful updates on our progress.
When will we reopen?
As to when, we do not know for certain. Definitely not in the next 21 days. We will wait and learn from churches that reopen earlier in other places in the state. We want to return to worship together with all of you, but we want to do so with the health of all in mind. I’m personally hoping that we could reopen by the end of summer, but I can’t promise it. =) It just depends on too many moving parts right now. Even so, keep in mind that our services will be much different and limited in attendance. We will certainly maintain virtual services until we all return to worship together in one place.
I conclude by asking that we join in payer together. Let us pray that the Lord would grow us in Christ-likeness as we work and wait together. Pray for our government leaders to lead with wisdom. Pray for wisdom and grace for our church leaders and the ministry team that will be formed. Pray that we grow in our love for the Lord and for one another. With the reminder of the coming of the Holy Spirit, we are also reminded of the coming again of the Lord Jesus. As we pray for our return, let us pray also for His return. O Lord come! (1 Cor 16:22)
Love in Christ,
on behalf of the elders
Dear Members, Regular Attenders, and Visitors,
In response to guidelines from multiple governmental authorities, San Francisco Bible Church will suspend all in-person ministries of SFBC.
Sunday Services will be held online beginning this Sunday (March 15th) for both our English and Cantonese Services. Our Cantonese service at 9:30am and our English Service at 11:10am will both be streamed live at: sfbible.org/stream.
Other ministries including Sunday School, Friday Fellowship Groups, Women’s Ministries, Men’s Ministry, Bible Studies, etc. are also suspended. Ministries may decide to hold online (video conferencing) meetings. Ministry Leaders of these ministries will provide more information to those participating.
These measures will be observed through March with a reevaluation at the end of the month.
Read the full letter from our Elders below.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or concerns.
3/13/2020 Full Letter
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Since I wrote to you a week ago, the World Health Organization has now classified COVID-19 as a pandemic. San Francisco’s confirmed cases have increased from two to eighteen (as of 5pm Mar 12th). Our neighboring county of San Mateo has twenty cases. The continuing spread of COVID-19 has caused our various governmental authorities to update their guidelines. We have considered the guidance from the CDC, the State of California, the City and County of San Francisco, and San Mateo County. Across the board, they are recommending the cancellation of gatherings of 250 or more, social distancing of 6’ in smaller gatherings, and limiting gatherings for vulnerable populations to essential meetings of 10 or less. We do not make these decisions lightly, understanding how important the church gatherings are to our congregation. At the same time, we want to be good citizens that cooperate with our community in minimizing the spread of a disease that poses a serious health risk to the vulnerable.
Therefore, the elders have decided that beginning immediately, we will …
Suspend all public ministries of this church. This includes all fellowship groups, bible studies, prayer meetings, sunday school classes, children’s ministries, etc.
Hold Sunday services online. Beginning this Sunday (March 15), our worship services, both English and Cantonese, will be held online only via livestream. We are asking that you worship at home online with us at www.sfbible.org/stream. Our Cantonese service will be at 9:30am, and our English service will be at 11:10am.
These measures will be observed through the month of March, with a reevaluation at the end of the month.
Move meetings online. In the upcoming weeks, as we see how the disease develops, some ministry leaders may choose to have their meetings online. Archie has sent out instructions as to how to do this.
If you have any questions or need help, please feel free to contact me or any of the elders. As mentioned in my previous email, if you are diagnosed with COVID-19, please email the elders so that the body of Christ can care for one another. If you are quarantined and don’t have appropriate home supplies, we can help run errands, provide meals, etc. Also, if you wish to volunteer to help with the member care ministry mentioned above, you can signup at this link: https://forms.gle/y9QGzeNGFr8bVhBR7. One more vital thing that you can do is to pray for one another and the church. You might even pick up that cellphone and actually call someone to see how they’re doing. =)
I want to leave you with some encouraging words from Pastor Roger. He had written an email earlier today to the student ministries staff, and I believe his words will help us think rightly and trust the Lord.
While we understand that our students are not in the risk demographic, I believe, like many of you, that choosing not to meet in person is a way for us to act wisely, serve our community, and love our neighbors by abiding the government’s request that we minimize exposure with others (Rom 13:1). This is especially significant for us to consider since our students may have parents or grandparents at home who are among those who are more at risk. Not only that, but we also must consider how ministry to our own families may look like during this time.
If our students, their family members, or both are afraid, we want them to know that it is absolutely ok for them to cease attending in-person meetings at church during this time. The government is not calling us to cease meeting out of a desire to persecute us. They are asking us to reduce contact with others so that we do not knowingly or unknowingly pass the virus onto others. This is therefore not a violation of Hebrews 10:25, but acting in a manner consistent with Romans 15:1 to bear the weaknesses of those without strength. We have a wonderful opportunity to help others see that we must repent of sinful anxiety and worry and trust in the Lord. When cabin fever sets in and our students are struggling with responding well to family, we have an opportunity to point them to the Gospel and Philippians 2 so that they learn how to die to self and consider their families as more important than themselves. If any of them have unsaved family, we pray that this would be an opportunity for their excellent behavior (or at least quickness to repent and ask for forgiveness) to be a gospel testimony as long as they are together.
With that said, let me provide you with some hope. Psalm 46 reminds us that our God is our refuge and strength in times of trouble. Because our God is with us, we will not fear. We will not lose hope. We will not allow the histeria to cause us to lose our minds over what is happening in our world. Instead, we will seek to remind ourselves and those who fall under our ministries that our Lord is near. That He cares. That He calls us to cast all our anxieties upon Him because He cares for us (1 Pet 5:7). We know that we have the peace of Jesus because He won at the cross. No matter what happens, our hope is secure in the fact that Christ is coming again to bring us home and make all things right. These are the truths that are available to us to comfort our hearts in times of trouble. Let us remind ourselves and others of these truths when we may be tempted to fear.
Praying that the Lord would be glorified in His church as we love God and our neighbors, and look to God in the face of this momentary, light affliction. “For the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Cor 4:18
on behalf of the elders