Anthem Camarillo is part a family of churches helping people find their way back to God. The Anthem family of churches is united around shared mission, vision, values, and submission to the Lordship of King Jesus. In our cities, we are working to obey Jesus in helping people find their way back to God.
March 13, 2020
As many of you already know, the ongoing global health situation, COVID-19 (Coronavirus), has continued to develop, and we are seeing people respond in a wide variety of ways. Amidst the fear and anxiety surrounding our current situation, we believe that the Church is called by God to be beacons of light, rooted in the gospel, and we believe that we can live from a spirit of confidence and faith in our good Father, rather than a place of fear.
2 Timothy 1:7
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
Ultimately we are placing our trust in Jesus above anything or anyone else. Thus, we are seeking Jesus for how to respond. We want to be diligent and wise in our response, but also not motivated by fear and anxiety.
Thursday night, Ventura County declared a public health emergency. We also received a phone call from the Boys and Girls Club that they will be closing their doors for 2-4 weeks to everyone, starting Saturday 3/14. We will not be meeting on Sundays for at least the next two weeks.
The churches throughout the area have been in regular communication with one another, as well as advisors and officials, so as to posture ourselves appropriately as we seek a path of wisdom between ambivalence and fear.
A few encouragements from Scripture:
- The bible encourages us not to be anxious about anything (Phil 4:6)
- Pray that God will use this situation to help people find their way back to God (Matt 28:18-20, 1 Tim 2:4)
- Choose to trust our trustworthy God (Prov 3:5-6) that he will use every situation for our good and His glory (Rom 8:18-30).
- If you are feeling fearful, seek the Lord (Psalm 94:19)
what you can do
- If you or a family member/roommate has shown signs of sickness, please do not attend a church gathering, community group or any other public spaces until those symptoms are completely gone. Symptoms include but are not limited to: fever, cough, respiratory Issues
- Because carriers of the virus can experience no symptoms for up to 14 days after infection, if you have returned from an area of a COVID-19 outbreak or have been in contact with someone suspected of having the virus, please do not attend a church gathering or community group until the 14-day observation period has passed.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue
- Please offer a fist-bump or air-hug in place of your handshake or embrace
- Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily
- Start practicing social distancing
- This does not mean you cannot be around another person, but the general idea is that you would maintain approximately 6 feet of distance between people you come in contact with
And remember, just because you don't think this impacts you, doesn't mean it doesn't impact someone else.
What we are doing
As of today, our Sunday Gatherings at the Boys and Girls Club are on pause for at least the next two weeks. There are a few reasons for this. One is that the Boys and Girls Club are closing their doors starting this Saturday, so as not to be a conduit for the virus to spread even more rapidly. However, even prior to being notified that the Boys and Girls Club was closing its doors, our elder team had begun discussing whether we were nearing or at the point of pausing our Sunday gatherings for a period of time.
Our reason for considering pausing our Sunday gatherings as we normally have them is not because we are scared. It is because God calls us to love one another, love our neighbors, love our enemies, love the least of these, and to take care of the widow and orphan. Right now there is a disease that is spreading at unprecedented rates, and while we may not be infected yet, others are, and more will follow. I don’t share this to incite fear or anything else, I share this because we need to move from “panic” to “love and preparedness.” Together, we can actually play a role in slowing down the progress of this disease, and, in doing so, actually help save lives.
Rather than me trying to re-write what Andy Crouch has written so well, please take the time to read this article regarding followers of Jesus response to COVID-19.
What to expect this week
Thankfully as a church God has prepared us to gather in different ways as we’ve been practicing Anthem Anywhere for many years now. This Sunday we will release a podcast and make it available for everyone. If you are healthy, we would love for you to consider gathering with others; either with those in your Community Group or inviting a few people to your home. If you or anyone in your family is experiencing any uncommon symptoms please reach out to your community group leaders or our Eldership team and enjoy time on Sunday resting and worshipping God in your home.
We are starting Daniel this week, a book which tells the story of people who have been displaced from their home and normal place of worship. Throughout the first half of Daniel we get to see four friends highlighted and we get to watch them remain faithful in the midst of a really oppressive and sometimes scary situation. One of the most amazing things about Daniel is that he practiced a spiritual discipline called fixed hour prayer. What this means is he prayed three times a day: morning, noon, and night. Might you consider taking on this discipline in the midst of what seems like chaos, and stop morning, noon, and night to pray over our city, our church, and our neighbors?
Later in the week, we will share more information through the app, but in the meantime, stay in touch with your community group and group leaders. If you are not in a community group we want to be in touch with you too. Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if there is anything you need or if you’d like to get connected to a community group or one of our elders. There may be some creative opportunities to gather virtually or in person. While there is still much to discuss, we ask for your grace and patience as we try and follow the Lord’s leading during this time.
Over the course of this next week, some friends, family, families at school, coworkers, and neighbors are going to be pretty scared. And for good reason. Yes, there is chaos breaking out. Yet whenever chaos comes, there is the opportunity for followers of Jesus to step in and be the hands and feet of Jesus, and to be a non-anxious presence (Matthew 6:25-34). Would you take time this week to think if you have any neighbors (especially elderly ones) that may be scared, homebound, or even just alone? Would you consider checking on your neighbors this week and see if there is anything you might be able to do for them?
36. When he saw the crowds, he felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. 38 Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.”
We are stepping into uncharted waters in many regards, and we don’t have all the answers. We are asking that you join us on this journey as we try and pursue Jesus together, right here in Camarillo.
Ways to remain connected at Anthem if you need to stay home
We plan to record a teaching and post it to our app/podcast each week. If you want to worship through giving, you can do so online or through the app.
Also, the Anthem App is the primary place we’ll be communicating about any necessary changes. Please make sure you have the app downloaded and push notifications turned on to stay in the loop!
We are closely monitoring the situation
While the extent and severity of the virus is still unknown, we feel these steps are helpful in preventing the spread of the virus. We have a high value for safety at Anthem Church and appreciate your help in creating a safe space for children and adults.
Ultimately, we want to be people of peace in troubled times.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.