Pastors’ Update 08-07-2020
Hi Everyone and Happy Sabbath!
Linda and I will be on vacation for the next week. We may be reached via email or phone if you need to contact us with and emergency, or you may contact one of our elders.
Several of you have either spoken with me or emailed me about the feast. Of course, this is a very important occasion for all of us and it is only natural we would be concerned in the context of the spread of the Covid virus.
As you already know, the church has decided to cancel a few of our international sites like Greece and Jordan. International travel is very challenging, or even prohibited, for Americans because of the virus. Many of our other international sites will not be able to host Americans who had planned to travel abroad for the feast this year. Because of these challenges and the changes we have made, the Church issued this following announcement:
“The year 2020 has been a tremendous challenge that none of us could have foreseen. The impact of the pandemic has presented us with obstacles we never could have imagined. However, with God’s help, we’ve been able to meet those challenges and move forward.
Now, with less than eight weeks until the Feast of Tabernacles, we’ve come to understand that none of the Feast sites outside of the United States will be able to host American members this year. Those brethren from the U.S. who have registered for the Caribbean; France; Quebec; Victoria, B.C.; the U.K.; South Africa; the Philippines; Australia; New Zealand; and other international site will need to change their plans.
It also looks as if all of our Latin American sites will only be able to host the Feast for brethren from their own countries—tourists from outside will not being allowed.
We are preparing all of our sites to make the necessary changes and adjustments to hall attendance and meeting protocols, as required by state and local COVID-19 orders. Yet we realize that some of our brethren within the United States are wanting to reduce their domestic travel, as well.
Because of these changes in international travel and restrictions within the United States, we know that many of you are having to change your Feast travel plans for 2020. As a result, we need your assistance so that we can provide the safest environment for God’s people to keep the Feast this year.
On Sunday, Aug. 16, an email will be sent to all U.S. members who have registered for the Feast. The email will include a link to a three-question survey for you to confirm your plans for observing the Feast this year. We ask that all members complete the survey before midnight, Wednesday, Aug. 19.
One of the questions you will be asked is whether, due to concerns about travel, etc., you and your family now desire to attend your local assigned site. Please know that even if your local assigned site is currently “closed,” you still can choose that option.
Since the impacts of the COVID-19 virus have been changing from week to week, we are doing our very best to prepare for keeping the Feast at the 11 regular and satellite sites throughout the U.S. The plan for keeping the Feast at these various sites includes the component of offering live webcasting of services for days when members may not be able to attend in person.
It is very important that each member/registrant complete this survey. The data generated from this email survey will provide needed information to ensure our members have seating available when they attend in-person services. Therefore, as a registered Feast attendee, it is imperative that you fill out this survey when you receive it.
Because we will need this information very soon, we ask that you complete the survey by no later than Wednesday, Aug. 19. Thank you very much for your kind help.”
Most of the states have now rolled back openings and ordered additional restrictions in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. Please continue to pray for one another and that this virus will be contained soon!
Several governors have rolled back business and event openings, including state parks, bars, and inside dining at restaurants for the near future. Most states now require wearing face coverings in public. Additionally, The governor of California ordered that all “houses of worship” not meet for in-person services, in most of California’s 58 counties. This includes nearly 90% of the state’s population. Shasta County is one of those counties that are exempt from the order. So, we will continue to have in-person Sabbath services in Anderson. However, our congregations in LA and Bakersfield will no longer be permitted to hold in-person services, as well.
We will also not have in-person Sabbath services in Sacramento or Stockton. The governor’s latest order regarding “houses of worship” not meeting in-person applies to all churches in most of the State’s 58 counties. Additionally, we are unable to use city-owned and managed rental halls in both Citrus Heights and Lodi. They are currently closed to the public.
We will continue to abide by the restrictions and guidelines of the State, Counties and Cities where we hold services. The Governors of California and Nevada issued an order requiring everyone to wear masks when in public or in an enclosed building with others. This order applies to those planning to attend Sabbath services. Please see the statement below concerning all COGWA congregations and the wearing of masks.
The CDC has also reported one of the ways the virus is spread more rapidly is by being in a group where there is loud speaking (like bars and restaurants), shouting (like protests and sporting events), and singing (like churches), especially without wearing a mask. The spreading of the virus is increased when attendees breath in the “aerosol” of others in the air over a longer period of time, especially in a confined space. Based on this research, and in an attempt to be very cautious to prevent the spread of the virus, we will not be singing hymns in Sabbath services. We will play an opening hymn to remind everyone to sit down and prepare for the service. But, we will not sing along with the hymn in our meeting hall during services. The Governor of California has issued an order that churches should suspend singing in worship services. Again, we will comply with this temporary order. (Romans 13:1-2)
If any of us are concerned about the restrictions, guidelines, or our personal/family health issues (including age and/or pre-existing conditions), we should not feel we have to physically attend. That is a personal choice. We will continue to make a webcast of Sabbath services available for anyone wishing to observe the Sabbath at home.
If you decide to attend the Redding or Reno congregation, we ask that you wear a mask/face covering, maintain social distancing, and wash your hands regularly (basic CDC guidelines). Please bring your own water bottle or beverage container since we will not be serving beverages or snacks.