OEFC Congregation,

As a follow up to my last letter to you, The Elders and I want very much to be as open as possible and share with you the information we have and the difficult decisions we have made. Please know that what we do is all in our love for the Lord, the families of our congregation and the community we live in. As leaders we are to love and protect the flock (Acts 20:28). We pray that this situation provides an opportunity for all of us to grow our faith in the Lord and our love for one another (Matthew 22:36-39).

We are making some drastic changes to the way we normally do things on Sunday Morning in order to protect the flock from the potential spread of any virus. We hope the following changes are short term and temporary, but the reality is these changes will be in place for as long as the situation dictates.

First, we are asking anyone with any type of symptoms related to the Flu or a Cold to stay home (including coughing, sore throat, runny nose, fever, etc.). We are requesting those over 65 and those with chronic illnesses (especially Heart Disease; Lung Disease; Asthma; or Diabetes) to stay home. We also ask the same of those in a weakened state of health and those who are caregivers for someone who is older or with a weakened state of health. . If you choose to stay home we encourage you to send an email to me, one of the Elders or call the church to let us know how you are doing and how we can be praying for you.

If you decide to attend church, we have put certain practices in place to help ensure your protection:

  • Because we are not able to abide by the Madera county guidelines in children’s church and the nursery, we are cancelling all nursery and children’s church and understand if families choose to stay home.
  • There will not be any Sunday School classes this Sunday.
  • We recommend that your family sit with at least one chair between your family and the one next to you.
  • We will not be having a “Meet and Greet” time, so we minimize the direct contact with one another.
  • Along those same lines, we suggest that you not shake hands, hug or have any other physical contact.
  • There will not be an offering taken with the passing of the Offering Bags. We would ask that you place your offerings in the collection boxes next to the Sanctuary entry doors.
  • Finally, we continue to ask you to use the hand sanitizer stations in the Foyer, Kitchen and bathrooms or thoroughly wash your hands with soap and warm water.

During these times of uncertainty, we will likely see a decrease in church attendance. We need to take this opportunity to express the importance of your continued faithful giving. Even though we may not be here for the Church Service, our financial obligations continue. These include things like salaries, mortgage and Missionary Support, as well as many other fixed costs. We encourage you to take advantage of the online options we have put in place, which include:

We are looking into Live Video Streaming as an option for those not attending the church service. We are doing this as an important effort to be inclusive of those who are unable to be present with us in the church. We will keep you updated on this as it progresses.

We are also suspending all other church gatherings outside of Sunday service this week. This includes Bible Studies, MTO, Youth Group and Awana.

Please know that we take seriously both the importance of gathering on the Lord’s Day (Heb 10:25) as well as our love for neighbors (Mk 12:31) and out of trying to heed the governing authorities (Rom 13:1). For that reason, the elders may make further changes depending on the information we receive from our local and national government and will communicate these by email.

Praying for God’s grace and mercy to each of your families, our community and our nation.

Gary Milner, OEFC Administrator