Hello dear beloved Anaheim church members. I have so enjoyed our times in the sanctuary these past 2 Sabbaths. They are a high point that I will treasure in my memory for a long time. You may have heard the news that unfortunately, our Covid-19 transmission numbers here in Orange County have increased to an unsafe level, and it has once again been deemed by the state and the conference that we need to return outside for our weekly services. While I am sad about this, I recognize that the church has been through worse in past generations. Let’s keep praying for each other, reaching out to each other, and redoubling our commitment to endure this trial. – Pr. Mark Tatum
Returning to outdoor Courtyard services: we are sad to announce that, after our county Covid case numbers rose significantly again, that we will not be continuing in the sanctuary as planned, but will return to courtyard Sabbath service under the tents. We will begin at 10:00 with adult Sabbath School (kids’ ss will be on the other part of the courtyard, near the kitchen), followed by song service & a sermonette. We encourage folks to bring a folding chair, a mask, and a bottle of water. We can provide a few of each for people who forget/don’t have, but ask folks to bring their own if possible.
Sabbath Afternoon Discipleship Class is beginning ‘phase two’ this Sabbath, of digging deep into the Gospel of Mark, with Dr. Maria Ovando-Gibson. Will be held from 1:00 to 3:00 on the courtyard under the tents.
Wednesday Food Bank Distribution: This evening, and each Wednesday beginning at 5 p.m., our volunteers will be distributing boxes of pre-packed food into people’s trunks. If you or someone you know could benefit, do not hesitate to come/invite them to the church to come & receive. A big thanks goes out to Sharon Gladden and the other volunteers who help collect, organize, and distribute the food. We will continue such distributions on Wednesdays going forward. If you would like to help out in some manner, don’t hesitate to let us know!
Wednesday evening Discussion & Prayer Group: During this period of separation, our mid-week prayer group has continued meeting over Zoom. We meet at 6:00 p.m. to discuss a chapter of a book and pray together. This week, we discussing chapter 2 of the book “Great Controversy”, entitled “Persecution in the First Centuries” (available online at https://m.egwwritings.org/en/book/132.160#160 If you’d like to join us, zoom mtg ID# is 7053955673, with password 172569.
Online Giving: Though we are meeting exclusively outside, our church and conference still have ongoing costs of utilities, education subsidies, and workers to pay. Your tithes (10% of your increase) and offerings are most appreciated during this time. Adventist giving has both a phone app and a website you can donate through: adventistgiving.org. Any donations made here are applied directly, with no percentage skimmed off, and your donations will come in your year-end receipt, seamlessly integrated with donations made in the church. May God bless us as we partner with him in faith through our finances.
We have been dealt a blow. We have endured a setback. After having been in the church for a couple of weeks, we will now be back outside on our courtyard for the foreseeable future. And the weather is turning from fall to winter soon! Whereas a few weeks ago I was optimistic, now in the short term, I see gloom and reason for sadness.
Back at the beginning of this pandemic shutdown, back when we first had to suspend church services, I heard some voices saying “this is persecution of the church!” amidst some other arguments. I hope we all recognize what we are going through is a far cry from what our spiritual forebears have had to endure. While we honestly don’t like it, consider: our homes our secure, our church buildings are secure (we are still enjoying their tax-exempt status), nobody’s restricting what we’re preaching about, in fact: I’m sitting on a nice cushion in an air-conditioned office as I type this.
In huge contrast, think about what the people in the above stated verse had to endure! The Bible tells it so factually, but could you imagine having to choose between your home & your city, or your faith? What feelings would that evoke in you? Which one would you choose?
Well, praise the Lord, many chose their faith over their comfort or their regular way of life. And what’s even more amazing, it states a few verses later that “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.” (v. 4). What began as a horrible hardship for the church ended-up being a catalyst and a galvanizer for greater growth! In fact, sister White tells us in her book “The Acts of the Apostles”, that the early church was at risk of becoming stagnant and insular at that time. The very real persecution ended-up being a blessing and a benefit for the church’s growth in the long-run!
Now, as I said at the beginning, I don’t believe this is a church- or faith-specific persecution, but could it similarly be a potential blessing in disguise? Though we’re sad about not being able to meet as we usually do, a lot more people are spending a majority of their time at home! Could this be an opportunity to build relationships with neighbors? Relationships that, while not being overtly evangelistic, could lead to levels of trust that could, in time, grow into discussions of faith and purpose?
I don’t claim to know the Lord’s specific purposes though this: I just know that every time the people of God have faced a hardship, it turns into an opportunity for greater commitment, greater trust, and a greater outcome in the long-run. Could He produce a similar result today?
How will remember 2020 in a few years? A terrible ‘dent’ in our timeline that we barely recovered from? Or a chance to try different, less traditional, ways of reaching out? I pray you’ll ask God what he might have in store for you personally during this time, and have the Holy Spirit boldness to act on it! After all, if the early Christians went proclaiming the Gospel immediately after having to leave their lives & hometown, what excuse do we have?
As always, I pray a good week for you and your families. May God lead in all your doings. Please continue to do your part to remain safe and careful, as always, for the sake of the weakest among us.
Pastor Mark Tatum
Last updated on 11/20/2020