Dear GBC Family,
The past few weeks inperson services have truly been a blessing. It was our expectation, desire, and prayer that this would ultimately result in total reunion with the entire congregation worshipping together as “one body.” It is our conviction that an essential part of ministry is the inperson connection we all need, to encourage one another, and to express mutual love and devotion in the things of Christ. Unfortunately, the brakes have been put on being restored to full capacity fellowship, at least for the next 3 weeks. So we will not be meeting inside, inperson, for the next three Lord’s Days (July 19, 26, and Aug. 2, 2020). We are returning to live stream broadcasting. We are only going to do that from 9:30 am to 10:30 am. The sermon link can be found at the church’s website: gbc-fresno.com. Some have asked that we consider meeting outside. Lord willing, This coming Lord’s Day, July 19, for those who want to come, we are going to meet at 8:30 am, on the patio area for a time of prayer, sing a couple of hymns, have a short devotional, and closing prayer. We will wrap it up about 9:00 am, or shortly after. If you want to bring your own lawn chairs, that is fine. Otherwise, we will use some of our folding chairs. In addition, if anyone needs transportation, please contact Leslie Gulke. The contact information can be found in the directory. One reason for starting this early is the expected high temperatures on Sunday. It should be tolerable at 8:30 am, and there will be some shade. Additionally, this will enable those who want to remain to have some fellowship, or if you want to leave to return home to watch the live stream to do so in adequate time. We want to provide as much opportunity for fellowship time as we can, so this is an option we are going to try. Obviously, another reason is to be able to do the live stream service at the scheduled time.
As for the Men’s and Women’s Bible Studies for July, we are postponing them, too. Please stay tuned as to when we will attempt to resume them.
This latest lockdown mandate puts a lot of people in no-win situations. Should we defy the government and continue meeting inperson, indoors? Or, should we simply shut down and comply? Many church leaders have spoken out about the lockdowns and continued restrictions. Often, their comments have been abrasive and dismissive of governmental leaders. To a some extent, we understand and sympathize. But we do not believe such public declarations are helpful or honoring to our Lord. If we were to meet and someone came down with Covid-19, resulting in the virus spreading and possibly a death, that would be an incredibly poor testimony. We know that for us who know the Lord, departing this present life is “far better.” Thus, there is “no fear” of such a development. But there is more to consider than just that. How such defiance is perceived would be something with which those of us who remain would have to live. That is, the perception many (unbelievers) would have of our defiance is that we are attempting to spread the virus (this accusation has already been made).
On the other hand, do we simply “lock down,” resorting exclusively to live streaming until this passes, and then try to resume in person indoors when “allowed?” That is really not an option as a necessary part of our ministry for Christ as His body is to gather together for mutual edification, offering prayers, and encouragement, especially in times like this. Our sense is to err on the side of caution, yet simultaneously have some opportunity for in person contact and ministry. We are striving to find a balance. We covet and appreciate your prayers through all of this. Thank you too, for the patience with us and your continued faithful support for the work of the ministry here at Grace Bible Church!