To The Jesus Church family,
Please take the time to read through this letter as it contains much new information that is different from previous letters. Our prayers are with you and our country as we face the crunch time of this pandemic. Even as dreadful reports and news accumulate, we put our trust in our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, believing that He will have the final say in our lives and in this broken world. This pandemic is a very serious crisis touching the lives of millions of people. We pray that not one of them is lost and support every endeavor to ensure that this pandemic ceases as soon as possible.
As such, we are canceling all services and normal activities at our church for the month of April
. Practically speaking that means that if it was on the church calendar for this month and yet it is not mentioned in this letter specifically, then the event has been postponed. This would include, for example, our men’s workday that was scheduled to be held this coming Saturday. Sis. Alex, Bro. Jordon, and I will work to facilitate men working as individuals or in pairs to do the various chores that need to be done during this month and the rest we will postpone until we can assemble normally.
This week, Governor Abbott graciously identified churches as “essential businesses” and he did this to override some liberal cities in Texas who were preventing locally even a media team from traveling to a church facility to live stream content. This does not mean that we can have services as we normally do, but it does give us the freedom to continue to record live services with a very limited number in attendance so that we can worship “together” each Sunday with a fairly normal service format via video streaming. Bro. David Bernard, my General Superintendent, reached out to the governor’s office this week to clarify these things and Governor Abbott has made it clear that his declaration overrides any local municipality in the state of Texas. Locally, our church is unable to live stream due to the poor upload speeds of the internet available at our church’s location. This necessitates us recording services ahead of time and streaming them via video at a later date.
As such, we will be recording live services on Friday’s (always to be streamed on the Sunday am time slot) and some Saturday’s (which will be streamed on the Sunday pm time slot). These are closed sessions
that we cannot make open to anybody and everybody as we normally would for service. We are able to have a very, very limited group of people at each recording to provide a live audience.
This makes the recording of the service much easier for me preaching and those singing. We are practicing social distancing in that the few that are there are spread out across the sanctuary with far more than six feet between them and the ones who sit on one side of the middle aisle are not coming across to the other side. We are not handshaking or hugging but simply waving. Also, we are not loitering after the services as Castroville has a business curfew in place that goes into effect at 10pm each night. We recognize the essentiality of providing spiritual nourishment for our local assembly but we also want to be prudent in these things.
If you would like to attend one of these services, you must be invited
. Sis. Sibley is personally in charge of the invitations so you can reach out to her and let her know that you would like to be included for being in the church building during one of the upcoming live recordings. Please do not
ask to come if: you are sick, you have had exposure to someone who is sick with flu-like symptoms, you are in a high-risk group, or if you work where you are continually exposed to those who are high risk. The openings will be open to those who first respond and we have to limit it. Please don’t be offended by all of these things, for they are what we are having to do to be prudent and stay within CDC guidelines. If you are invited, please do not
invite a guest. Instead invite any potential guest to watch the live stream on Sunday. Sis. Alex has taken on the burden of cleaning and sanitizing the church after each live recording. If one or two of you would like to help her with this task, please reach out to her personally.
Please pray for our leadership
during the time as we seek to balance being wise in response to the ongoing crisis yet still follow our God-given mandate to shepherd this local flock. There is no easy answers and everything is a challenge. Your verbal support and prayers help during such a time. The pressure on church leadership and pastors is excruciating in this current climate. Please pray for us to have strength, direction, clarity, and vision despite the crisis around us.
For the month of April, our Wednesday night, “Parables in Matthew” series, will be a lesson only going live each night around service time. Our Tuesday night Bible studies remain audio only. We will continue to share links to all of this content via Breeze email, our FB page, and via the front page of the church website (www.theJesuschurch.cc
). If you are getting this letter, you will also receive in the same way links to future service recordings and ministries.
Some have expressed a desire to pray at the church building during this time. Some have come to park in the parking lot to pray and that is always fine. Bro. Jesus Mejia and Sis. Alex will be organizing a day of prayer, this coming Tuesday, April 7th.
They will make available time slots where six or seven people may come to pray at the sanctuary for a one-hour slot. There will be a leadership member in charge of the prayer time and a thirty-minute window between prayer slots. If you are in a high risk group, as outlined above, please pray from home instead. For those of you who would like to come, the team leader will oversee the window. Please maintain social distancing from one another and the team leader will sanitize between prayer hours. Again, do not invite someone to come with you as we must keep the number extremely down to abide by the CDC regulations.
Every Sunday morning, the Pentecostal Publishing House is making available a new Sunday School lesson
for kids with downloadable resources. You can find that here:
In addition, starting this Sunday morning, our Sunday School team will record a Kid’s Church
type service that will be available along with the other services.
Throughout the weeks of April, various departments of the church will organize Zoom video conferencing fellowships and prayer groups
for those who would like to participate. This is fairly simple if you have a device that has both a screen, camera, and microphone (like a smart phone, an iPad, or most laptop computers). There will be a link sent out for those who wish to participate. Please abide by Christian standards in these times of distant fellowship. On Sunday evening, April 19th, we will have a church-wide Zoom fellowship
for those who would like to participate. We will meet together and first I will address everyone by live video and then we’ll break out into various rooms to pray and laugh together. Links will be sent out on those days by Breeze email for you to join.
We realize that Easter
will not be quite the same via video only and that has also postponed our annual communion service
that was scheduled for this Sunday pm. When life goes back to normal, we promise to have a “Resurrection Day” where we celebrate Easter as we should at a later date. If I can preach about Christmas in July, then we can certainly celebrate Easter in June! Some have asked about having a “drive-in” service where people stay in their cars and listen to singing and preaching either through FM Radio transmission or by rolling down their car windows. While we considered this seriously, yet we felt that it was not the best option for us. For one thing, the service would have to be forty-five minutes or less as we would have to make the bathrooms inside unavailable to people to maintain CDC guidelines. Our team felt like five or six hours of setup time in return for thirty to forty-five minutes of service was not ideal.
My wife and I as well as our leadership team will continue to reach out to you personally in an effort to encourage you, check on you, and to stay in touch. If there is anything that the body of Christ can do to help you, please do not assume that we know of the need; reach out to us and let us know.
In such trying times, and especially since we are not having church as normal, our giving must be purposeful
. Thank you for being faithful as it ensures that not only is there a church to come back to when this is over but it enables the church to be in a position to help others as the crisis continues. Giving can be given to the church in one of three ways during the month of April:
1. Online through Breeze by going to www.theJesuschurch.cc
and clicking, “Give now.”
2. Checks and monies can be mailed to the church. The correct address is:
The Jesus Church
2035 Hwy 90 West
Castroville, TX 78009
3. Bro. Keefer will be at the church each Sunday from 1pm to 2pm for those who would like to drive by and drop off their tithes and offerings personally.
I pray for each of you to be safe, protected, and strengthened during what are unprecedented times for our church, our country, and our world. My wife and I are available as always and if we can do anything to help you in any reasonable way, please reach out to us. The times are way out of the ordinary, but let us seek to come through this season ready for God to do great things in our local church.
In the Mighty Name of Jesus,
Pastor Jeremiah Sibley