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Dear RiverLakes Church Family,
In an effort to give as many people as possible the opportunity to worship in-person on Sundays, we've been meeting outside since July. But as anticipated, the weather is becoming too cold and inclement to do so any longer. As a result, we have decided to move our in-person worship services indoors beginning this Sunday, December 27. We will be meeting in the Main Auditorium and hold two morning worship services at 9:00am and 10:30am.
Families will check in at the Education Building and will take their children with them to the worship service to worship together. After the first two songs, we will dismiss them to their teachers who will take them to their respective class. At the end of the service, Grades 1st - 6th will be available for pick-up on the patio. All younger children will be picked up at the back doors of the nursery and preschool on the westside of the Education Building. Junior Highers will worship with their families for the first two songs and then transition to their recently remodeled Junior High Room on the east side of the Community Center.
Obviously, this decision will generate differences of opinion regarding COVID-19 concerns. We will address those concerns briefly, but Pastor Matt will provide a more thorough explanation in his sermon on Sunday, January 3.
We believe that we are honoring the New Testament command, "be subject to the governing authorities" (Rom. 13:1) insofar as this command refers to the government's role in civic matters. However, as it pertains to governing matters within the church, this authority comes from Scripture alone and cannot be superseded by the mandates of government officials. God commands us to meet to carry out the "one anothers" of the New Testament (Heb. 10:24-25), and although the Governor says we shouldn't meet to minimize the spread of COVID-19, we must obey God over men (Acts 4:19). It is also worth noting that our local Public Health Department has long rescinded any orders related to church gatherings.
We are aware there are some of you who are concerned that by meeting we potentially might expose people to the virus. And while we acknowledge that this virus is real and particularly affects the elderly and those with compromised immune systems, the overwhelming data supports that church gatherings are safe for the vast majority of the population. To date, there are no known cases of Coronavirus in Kern County connected to church gatherings, and for months now, churches have been gathering in-person (indoors and outdoors) across our county and state, and we are not aware of any that have resulted in COVID-19 outbreaks.
We strongly believe the most loving thing we can do in this difficult season is keep our doors open so that we can minister to people relationally, emotionally and spiritually. Isolation is extremely damaging to our health and well-being, and we can best shepherd and love people in-person.
This does not mean we are conducting "business as usual." We have a number of protocols in place to help us space out and minimize any spread.
Much love in Christ,