cORONA vIRUS uPDATES
Dear Bethel Friends and Family,
We have entered into the first phase of reopening as of last Sunday. We piloted our very first drive-in service. It was a positive experience for all who participated, whether that be as volunteers or as engaged worshipers from the comfort of their own vehicle. We have chosen to take a conservative approach, in regards to reopening, for the time being, because the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has many regulations/suggestions which greatly influence what reopening needs to look like. Our President made a kind gesture by declaring all churches as essential, but that did give the impression that churches were, up until his speech, unable to meet. However, all church “shutdowns” were recommendations versus sanctions. I do want to be clear with you that Bethel’s “shutdown” was a willful shutdown decided by the staff, board and elders of our congregation in the light of directives from the National and District offices of the Assemblies of God, recommendations from the CDC and advice from our local government here in the city of Bristol. Therefore, we have guided this process of our own volition instead of being mandated to close our doors.
Our staff and board already have concurred with one another and broken down our reopening into three phases that we feel are manageable and appropriate. Please keep in mind that each phase will continue to offer church online via the aforementioned, digital means.
Phase 1 - Drive-in Service - We started on Sunday, May 24, 2020, and will continue until Sunday, June 28, 2020. We originally planned to offer two services, but because of the build-up and screening processes for our volunteers, it’s easy to just offer one service at 10 am. If we see that the parking lot is overflowing, we will, at that point, offer two services. For those who have no desire or ability to attend a drive-in service, please feel free to join us LIVE online via Facebook, YouTube or our website - www.bethelcc.org.
Theme: Our drive-in theme is taking topics/songs from popular movies that relate to all ages. We want to appeal to all age groups during the drive-in service. Following the service, the kids are able to watch a recap of the message with questions offered by Pastor Alyssa.
Phase 2 - Outdoor Service - Starting from Sunday, July 5, 2020 until Sunday, July 26, 2020 (tentative) we will be offering old school Pentecostal tent meetings in our smaller parking lot. There we can continue to practice social distancing and by being outside, the face masks can be worn on a voluntary basis. For those who are unable to be in heat for too long, we encourage you to stay in the comfort of your home and watch the service online. Kids will still be under the care and guidance of their parents with a follow-up assignment or explanation from Pastor Alyssa via video.
Theme: Our tent services are going to focus on the “Pentecostal distinctives” which are Jesus as Savior, Healer, Baptizer in the Holy Spirit, and soon coming King. These messages are meant to bring us back to our Pentecostal roots and identity and will serve as an evangelistic tool to reach out to any of your friends or family who are not yet believers, Christian friends who have not experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit or those looking for an encounter with God.
Phase 3- Re-usage of the Building- We already have certain plans in place regarding this phase; however we would like to know your feedback as we carefully consider this phase. We have created a short and simple survey to collect your comments and ask that you take a minute to complete it with brutal honesty. It's important to note that your responses will be kept anonymous.
Please follow or copy and paste the link below into your internet browser to access this survey.
In the coming phase of reopening we are focusing our attention on the following four pillars:
Scripturally Accurate - Our commitment to Biblical preaching and teaching will be stronger than it has ever been. The only thing that has withstood every other movement and force in the world is the Word of God. It is our responsibility to preach the unadulterated, rightly divided word of truth. The reasons we know this is important are also based off the Scripture, such as: the Psalmist declares the word of God is important because God places His Word above His very Name (Psalm 138:2); God’s word is powerful because God’s word never returns void or will always accomplish its purpose (Isaiah 55:11); and lastly the word of God is eternal because it will withstand the test of time.
Spiritually Alive - In the last days, we are admonished to be filled with the Spirit if we take the word of Jesus’ parable of the ten virgins seriously. The wise virgins had oil in their lamps and also reserves of oil as they were waiting for their bridegroom. Oil in this context is representative of the Holy Spirit. Encounters with the Lord and being touched and led by His Spirit are imperative for staying spiritually alert and vibrant in the days to come (Matthew 25: 1-12).
Socially Active - As a result of Covid-19, Financial Crisis, and growing racial and political tensions, we need to not only navigate through these situations, but equip our congregation to respond accordingly. The tendency of the church has been to take ideas concerning society as the pastor’s opinion. The current pastoral staff does not feel that we are expressing our opinion but we are expressing Biblical truths and values. It is not an ‘agree to disagree’ situation or difference of opinion. If we cannot be a voice leading you during this time, then we would not consider ourselves your pastors, just motivational speakers whose sole purpose is to confirm what you want to hear versus instruct you in righteousness. We do not believe that Hollywood, Wall Street, and Washington D.C. should be the main voices leading the Church in America. We will absolutely make use of our pastoral and prophetic calling to instruct, guide, and correct the church in areas where we feel our people are straying from a Biblical worldview. (Colossians 3:16, Micah 6:8, 2 Timothy 4:2, Titus 2:15).
Securely Attentive - Events around us have been greatly politicized, so we oftentimes can lose sight of the fact that we are part of a worldwide health crisis. Public health and the well-being of the Bethel family and friends are of utmost importance to us. Views and precautions are varying from person to person, so our responsibility is to establish and enforce policy and protocol. We love everyone involved in the Bethel community and feel a deep-seated, God-given responsibility to care for your body, soul, and mental well-being (1 Peter 5:2). We will do everything in our power to lead Bethel through this public health crisis and into the next phase of church development. This requires flexibility, good feedback, and compliance with regulations that are meant for our well-being. We as Pentecostals are a para-cultural movement, which means we believe the Kingdom of God is unfolding and expanding in the midst of all of the cultural developments. Therefore, we are not going to be rigid and non-compliant to rules and regulations initiated by local, state, and national governance; we are not an anti-disestablishmentarian movement as part of the Assemblies of God. In layman's terms, we comply until we are asked to do things in direct opposition to our faith which are summarized in three areas: 1) being asked to do something against the 10 commandments, 2) being asked to worship other gods instead of solely worshipping Jesus and 3) being asked or told to not share our faith/spread the Gospel (1 Peter 2: 13-17).
We look forward to seeing more and more of you as reopening becomes a reality. We kindly ask you not to let the habit of being home on Sunday hinder you from coming out to our live events. For those taking precautions, we understand and respect your decision to view online. We will continue to improve and invest in our online experience so we can effectively minister to all. I leave you with the word of Peter as advice as to how to live your life as Christians during these exceptional times:
“Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (1 Peter 2: 11-13).
May the Lord be with you and your household,
Pastor Eric Cappelli,