June 1, 2020
Congregational Letter on the Reopening of Our Church Building for Public Worship Services
It is hard to believe that it has been two months since we last met in person. We are excited about renewing our corporate worship and fellowship on Sunday, June 7. In order to keep us all as safe and healthy as possible, below are the procedures that session approved for the reopening of our church building for public worship services.
We will follow these guidelines for about 2-4 weeks and then reassess as the state and county process the latest data about this virus. One thing the session feels strongly about is that these are guidelines that we freely choose to follow, not mandates.
Should I come to church?
- We recommend that congregants at high-risk remain home, and join us for worship remotely. High-risk folks include the following:
- Those who have recently been exposed to the coronavirus, been in quarantine for coronavirus, or had the virus
- Those who are sick or who have family members who are sick
- Those who have high-risk health conditions
- Those who are 65 years or older
What can I do personally when I come to church?
- Please wear a face covering or mask. Masks will be available at church for your use in case you don’t already have one.
- Please think through the “self-screening” questions enclosed as you prepare to come to church. An usher will be outside the sanctuary where congregants can review this self-assessment print-out prior to entering the sanctuary.
- Please use the provided hand sanitizers and/or disinfectant wipes freely and as needed.
How will our worship space be different during this season?
According to state recommendations, we should limit the number of people in our sanctuary to 25% of our building’s capacity – this works out to 35-40 people per service, morning and evening.
- We should limit the number of people in each pew to either:
- one family unit per pew – children and youth to sit with parents
- or two individuals sitting 6 feet apart per pew, for example at each aisle seat
- We should alternate pews so that there is an occupied pew and then an empty pew so that there is sufficient space in front of and behind each person.
How will our worship service itself be different than usual?
- Sharing of the Peace: we will stay in our pew and greet each other with a “holy wave,” no hugs or handshakes at this time.
- Log: the elder or pastor will hold the log and people can drop their offering in it, but we will not pass the log around.
- Offering: we will not pass the offering plate down a row, but allow people to put their offering in while the usher holds the plate for them.
- Children's Message: we will not call the children to the front, but continue to have a video for children.
- Sunday School & Youth Group Cancelled: Children and youth will remain in the sanctuary for the worship service.
- Communion: we will use individually sealed containers with the wafer and juice. either handed out by the ushers at the beginning of the service or before the communion time. Once used, please leave the cups in the pews to be collected by the ushers after the service ends.
- Closing of the service: benediction and dismissal, but no greeting line with hugs and hand shaking.
- Social Hour: we will not be serving coffee and food for now, but we can enjoy casual fellowship by congregating loosely outside the sanctuary while maintaining appropriate “social distance.”
- Live Streaming: we will be live streaming our worship services for the foreseeable future, and so there will be some new activity during the service to make that happen
Other ways we will reduce opportunities for contamination or cross-contamination
- We will not have a bulletin at this time, but will rely on our Power Point slides
- Worship team singers should sing from the pews rather than on the stage.
- Ushers who handle offering plates and log should wear disposable gloves
- Elders counting the offering should use disposable gloves, especially when handling change and money
- We plan to intensify cleaning and disinfection efforts for the sanctuary, Westminster Hall, and bathrooms
If you have any questions about our procedures for reopening, please do not hesitate to call me. We will continue to live stream our morning worship services on our website and on Facebook for those who choose to worship remotely with us.
We are so grateful to the Lord for bringing us through the first wave of this COVID-19 pandemic. We look forward to worshiping with you and your family as you are able to join us.
In Christ's love,
Pastor Grant Goble
March 20, 2020
Every day it seems like there are many changes taking place as we follow the development of this COVID-19 pandemic. Even though things are changing around us, we have a God who never changes, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8; ESV). This is good news and rock on which we can stand during this season.
I am writing to update you on the latest decision by our elders and to encourage you in our task of waiting upon God.
The elders met Thursday night and decided to continue to hold public meetings for the coming week. We understand the latest guidelines issued by our state governor and our President must be heeded. We also understand our responsibility before God to be the people of God in this time of tribulation. Navigating that tension is not easy. For now, we will keep our doors open for our Sunday worship services for those who would like to attend.
We encourage you to do everything prayerfully and according to your conscience. We encourage those who are sick or elderly to stay at home and worship at home. Those of us who gather will follow the general guidelines of keeping a six-foot distance from each other and sharing the peace by waving and smiling to our neighbor without handshaking or hugging.
To enable folks to participate in our worship service remotely, we will have live streaming of our service at 10:00 am on Sunday morning on the church FaceBook account. We will then post the video of the sermon by noon on our website along with an audio recording. For those who do not have a FaceBook account, we are investigating alternative ways of live streaming directly from our website, but may not have that available until next week.
Another aspect of this trial is financial. There may be some of us that are in jeopardy of losing our jobs during this time. Please let us know if you have experienced the loss of income or a job, so that we can be praying for you.
Our church is also in need of our ongoing financial support. You can give your tithe and offerings to the church by bringing it to the church in an envelope and pushing it through the mail slot. You can also mail it to the church at Orestimba Presbyterian Church, 1107 Kern Street, Newman, CA 95360. Another way to give is to give online through our website on the "Give" page. Thank you for your financial support of the ministry of the church.
Finally, I want to encourage us to stand firm in our faith. Please read 1 Peter 5:6-11 for yourself and your family. I believe this is a word for us to guide us in our daily living and to give us hope in the midst of the spiritual battle. One aspect of this passage in particular that I would like to bring to our attention is Peter's exhortation to humility. As a part of our Lenten discipline, we are called to fasting and repentance. I am calling us as a church to set aside Wednesday, March 25, as a day of fasting, repentance, and prayer. Let us seek our God while he may be found (Is. 55:6) and pray for his mercy for ourselves, our community, our nation, and the world. I will post a prayer guide for our use on the church website on the "Resources" page early next week. If you don't use a computer, I would be happy to put a copy of the prayer guide in the mail to you.
The church office will adjust its hours to Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 2-5 pm. If the church office is closed, please do not hesitate to call me on my cell phone at 669-253-9968 or contact an elder or deacon if you need assistance or prayer.
Let's stand together in faith in Christ praying for and trusting in our Father's mercy and his sovereign grace. Amen!
In Christ's service,
Pastor Grant Goble
March 13, 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters at Orestimba Presbyterian Church,
We are entering into a new season with the latest developments of the COVID-19 pandemic. As God was speaking to us earlier this year – He is the King on the throne (Isaiah 6). We don't need to be afraid or panic. But as one of our deacons said, "We need to be smart."
Based on what the health authorities are recommending, as well as what other churches are doing, below is the suggested protocol for Orestimba Presbyterian Church.
We are not suspending our morning and evening worship services, at least not yet. We will meet at our regular times this Sunday. For those not able to attend, sermons continue to be posted as usual on our church website at www.orestimbapc.org. We are also working on making it possible to watch the service, live, from your computer at home during the actual worship time.
Here are some guidelines for us during this season of national heightened alert:
- If you have been exposed to the coronavirus, been in quarantine for coronavirus, or had the virus, please do not come to the worship services.
- If you are sick, please do not come to the worship services. Stay at home and take care of yourself.
- If you are over 80 years old, please consider worshiping from home. If you need help setting up a system to watch our church service from home, let us know.
- We are suspending our social hour after the morning worship service.
- We are also suspending our celebration of the Lord's Supper.
- When we gather on Sundays or for other meetings, let's wave to and smile at one another. Let's not hug or shake hands.
- Let's follow the health guidelines being issued by our government health organizations.
- Let's stay in contact with one another in other ways through phones, texts, social media, and our website. If you have a need of any kind, please give us a call at the church office.
- Let's keep in prayer for our community and nation. We are called to be priests, lifting up intercessions to our Heavenly Father praying, "Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done."
- Let's remain positive and encouraged that God works all things work out for the good of those who are called by him and love him (Rom. 8:28).
- Let's share God's love and peace in practical ways with our neighbors. This is a great opportunity for us to share our hope and peace in Jesus Christ.
If you have any further concerns or suggestions, please contact me at the church office (209) 862-2661 or email me at
In Christ's service,
Pastor Grant Goble