Church Life & COVID-19

7-13-2020

ONLINE SERVICES ONLY RESUME

Back on June 4 we resumed in-person services at Central. We began with the worship service only, then quickly moved to both Central Study Hour and the worship service. What a blessing it was to be able to worship our great God together after being apart from each other for several months.

Regrettably, however, as of Sabbath, July 18, we will be resorting back to online services only until further notice. This is due to the order coming from the Governor’s office in the midst of the spike of reported COVID-19 cases across California. Sacramento County is one of 30 counties in the state that has been on the monitoring list for three consecutive days. This means that extra restrictions need to be followed by our county, on top of the existing restrictions for the rest of California, including closing in-person indoor worship services.

Because we cannot offer an outdoor worship experience, indoor in-person services have been suspended until we have been given the clear to resume them again.

The good news, however, is that we will still be providing services online at the usual times (CSH @ 9:35 and worship @ 10:45) on the following platforms:

There is also a call-in option for either or both services. To join via phone call dial (605) 313-4818 and enter access code 132153#.

We will also be resorting back to holding Prayer Meeting’s online. Please plan to join us each Tuesday @ 7PM at Facebook.com/SacramentoCentral

We wish we didn’t have to make these changes, but it is felt that following state orders is the prudent thing to do at this time, regardless of perceived or real inconsistencies seen in the state’s handling of COVID-19.

While these orders might appear to frustrate the progress of the gospel, they don’t need to hinder us from sharing Jesus and the promise of His soon return during this time. The best is yet to come!

Courage friends.

 

6-4-2020

PARTIALLY REOPENING FOR “WORSHIP SERVICES ONLY”

Dear friends.
We have some good news! Sacramento Central will partially reopen starting Sabbath, June 6, 2020.
Following the guidelines produced by the California Department of Public Health, including those produced by the Northern California Conference, we plan to open gradually, beginning with a “worship service only” option on Sabbath and phasing in classroom Sabbath School programs and other meetings and programs that require room usage as is prudent and permitted over time.
In light of a three-week review to be conducted by the CA Dept. of Public Health, thus carrying with it the potential to either tighten, maintain, or loosen reopening restrictions, it seems prudent to reopen slowly and revisit our position after said review.
The following “worship service only” plan has been adopted. Please read carefully:
  • We will partially reopen with two Sabbath morning services (10:00 AM & 11:30 AM) providing a modified worship experience for 100 members per service (including all department personnel scheduled for the day).
  • Those wishing to attend MUST reserve their seat.
  • Reservations can be made right here up until Friday, June 5 @ Noon: saccentral.org/reservations
  • Reservations must be made for each family member.
  • Once the first service has been filled, the second service will open where reservations can be made.
  • We will continue to stream our services on the following platforms for those who wish to stay home or fail to secure a reservation: saccentral.org; Livestream.com/SacCentral; Facebook.com/SacramentoCentral; Youtube.com/TheCentralConnection
  • CSH will be streamed at 8:30 AM (no in-person offering available) as well as the first worship service at 10:00 AM. The second service at 11:30 AM will NOT be streamed.
  • Please note that seating will be arranged so as to allow for distancing measures. This will continue until restrictions have been lifted.
  • When arriving for church, please enter through the front foyer doors. There you will pass through a brief health screening, then stop off at the Hostess Desk before entering the sanctuary to confirm your reservation, and choose your seat.
  • The wearing of face masks is optional for attendees as well as department volunteers.
  • Greeters and ushers will be practicing distancing measures and are encouraged to keep hands sanitized. They, along with the safety officer, will wipe down surfaces before, in-between, during, and after services.
  • Please note that bulletins will not be handed out at the door but made available for pick up at the Hostess Desk for only those members who don’t have access to a smart device where the bulletin can be viewed online (saccentral.org).
  • Deacons/Deaconesses will be assigned to keep the bathrooms sanitized every 15 minutes during and in-between each service.
  • Adult and children’s Sabbath School classes, as well as all other gatherings, will remain closed until further notice.
  • There will be no potlucks for the time being.
  • Prayer meeting will continue virtually until more restrictions are lifted. We meet on Tuesday nights @ 7:00 PM via Facebook Live & Zoom (weekly Zoom link provided in bulletin and social media platforms).
  • We encourage our senior members with underlying health conditions to carefully consider your participation in worship.
  • IF YOU ARE SICK PLEASE STAY AT HOME!
  • And please continue to practice a healthy lifestyle to build/boost your immunity.
We realize it’s a lot to take in. We’ve lived with a number of changes over the past couple of months, so adding to those can feel either overwhelming or frustrating (unless you’re one who enjoys or thrives on change and can’t wait to see what’s around the next bend!), especially when they come from your own church. During moments like these, however, we must ask the Lord to help us not to be mastered by the circumstances, but to instead be master of the circumstances by the grace of God.
While the changes we’ve recently endured aren’t what we naturally long for, there is a change coming that we can’t wait for–when Christ returns and eventually makes all things new. Talk about a change we can all look forward to!
Be of good cheers friend. Change is coming and coming real soon.
We look forward to seeing you this Sabbath, God willing.
Chris Buttery, Senior Pastor

 

5-7-2020

MORE FAMILY RESOURCES AGAIN!

The Northern California Conference Children’s Ministry’s Director, Alice Merrill, recommends the following resources for families:

  • Each Tuesday, the NAD Children’s Ministries and Family Ministries Departments are teaming up to provide relevant information during a series of live chats called Our Family Room. Their goal is to invite every family to take part in understanding the lesser-known side-effects that constantly being at home can have on both parents and children.
  • Find lots of science activities provided by World of Wonders Science Museum, located in Lodi.
  • Check out all the craft ideas at Kids Craft Room.

There’s one more that we recommend, and that is Sabbath Sketch. An Adventist pastor takes time to teach viewers how to sketch animals. You don’t have to know how to draw. It’s a great activity for the whole family.

We hope these resources will be helpful to you during this time.

 

4-20-2020

ONE MONTH LATER

Just over a month ago we let you know that our church board had decided to close in-person services and the church campus to support the efforts of local, state, and federal authorities to “flatten the curve” of the spread of the coronavirus. A month later we wish we could bring encouraging news and let you know that we plan to incrementally re-open the campus and bring back in-person services, but unfortunately we’re still not in a position to be able to do that.

Last night, the board’s special task force, assigned with the responsibility of assessing local and state orders to determine a church “re-opening” date, reported to the board their difficult decision to keep the campus closed and encourage the continuation of online services only.

The decision was not an easy one. It was after prayerfully recognition of our current situation that they made this decision. So we will continue as we have been up until and including May 16, 2020, unless there are clear indicators that current restrictions might be lifted earlier.

We are also working with the Northern California Conference, who at the present time, continue to encourage church closures. We will consult with them when we think we might be able to start phasing in in-person services again.

In the meantime, we are excited that we have partnered with It Is Written Ministries to offer Hope Awakens to our community. We have joined an army of churches across North America doing the same. Approximately an average of 30,000 viewers tuned in to the program. You can join too if you haven’t done so already, by registering at HopeAwakens.com. Pastor John Bradshaw addresses our world’s current concerns in light of Bible prophecy to find satisfying and solid answers. You’ll definitely want to let those you love and care about know. Share the link provided above. Let’s take advantage of this opportunity!

Central pastors recognize that the shelter-in-place orders have been difficult on some of you. Please know that they are dedicated to praying for you and are available if you wish to connect with them.

Keep looking to Jesus!

 

4-8-2020

MORE RESOURCES FOR YOUR FAMILY

We are pleased to be able to share with you more kid-friendly programming and material for your family. Enjoy!

  • Online puzzles for Kindergarten and Primary age children are now available for your children. Click here for the kindergarten puzzles and here for the Primary puzzles.
  • The Adventist Church has a neat page with material for families. Check it out. http://www.childmin.org/virtual-resources
  • Pathways of the Pioneers Stories are available for free download at http://whiteestate.org/resources/pioneers-stories/. At the top of the page they are for sale on CD, but if you scroll down to the bottom the MP3’s are available as free downloads.
  • There’s a neat little Adventist ministry in Australia for the kids called Creation Connection. They’re offering some freebies during the month of April to help lighten the burden of self-isolation. Check it out.
  • During this time of instability, weekly Young Disciple magazines can be something stable—a connection to the church, to God, and to each other. But they realize that it may be difficult or impossible for Sabbath School teachers to get the magazines to their students. This is why they are providing free weekly downloads of Young Disciple magazine during this time of uncertainty. Here’s how you as a parent can connect: Go to youngdisciple.org. Click “Magazine” and then “Free Weekly Digital Downloads”. Or visit youngdisciple.org/ydmagazine. Each Friday at noon Pacific Time they will upload the most current Young Disciple magazine—including the Bible Lesson.

3-31-2020

WILL CENTRAL BE RESUMING IN-PERSON SABBATH SERVICES ANYTIME SOON?

Central’s Board met last night to discuss how the church should proceed in light of unchanged local, state, and federal directives regarding the coronavirus. Yesterday, the U.S. President also extended his coronavirus guidelines for another 30 days.

In light of these things, and because the church believes it has a social responsibility to play a role, no matter how small, in helping to “flatten the curve” the Board unanimously voted  to offer Sabbath services online only throughout most of April. This means, in-person services will continue to be suspended until further notice. The church campus will also remain closed to ministry and group meetings. We continue to encourage all LIFE groups, Bible study groups. and ministry teams to meet via electronic or virtual means if meeting in a home is not desired or the gathering in the home would exceed six guests.

The following services are being offered virtually:

  • Tuesday @ 7PM – Prayer Meeting
  • Sabbath @ 9:35AM – Central Study Hour (youth, check with Candice regarding meeting time and platform)
  • Sabbath @ 10:45AM – Worship Service

These can be viewed on the following platforms:

For those who do not have online access to these services, we are currently looking into a “call-in” option so they might be able to join us by phone. More on that soon.

We will also be starting a “Call-in Spiritual Immune Booster” this Thursday where Central members can call in a couple of times per week (10Am & 7PM) to enjoy a little fellowship, a time of prayer, and an encouraging word from the Word of God. If you are a Central member, please email to receive the number to call along with the access code. This offering is for Central members only.

While the coronavirus has interrupted church life as we have known it, we don’t need to stop being the church. As a matter of fact, the world needs a strong, steady shoulder to lean on right now, and it is looking for something (someone) calm in the midst of the chaos. God has us here in the world for such a time as this. We have a lot of work that can and should be done for our Lord. We may just have to do it a little differently for the time being (read “Business Unusual” by Pastor Chris here). Let us keep looking to Jesus!

 

3-26-2020

MORE IMPORTANT UPDATES

For Your Encouragement. “Courage, energy, and perseverance they [God’s people] must possess. Though apparent impossibilities obstruct their way, by His grace they are to go forward. Instead of deploring difficulties, they are called upon to surmount them. They are to despair of nothing, and to hope for everything. With the golden chain of His matchless love, Christ had bound them to the throne of God. It is His purpose that the highest influence in the universe, emanating from the Source of all power, shall be theirs. They are to have power to resist evil, power that neither earth, nor death, nor hell can master, power that will enable them to overcome as Christ overcame.” -Gospel Workers p. 39

Adult Sabbath School Quarterlies Available! If you have access to the internet, you can download an electronic copy of the weekly lessons at saccentral.org/central-study-hour. If you prefer a hard copy you are welcome to stop by the church Monday (March 30) and/or Thursday (April 2) between 9AM and Noon to pick your copy up. If you are picking up for someone else, please let our Admin Assistant, Chrystal, know.

CDs/DVDs Available! If you would like to pickup a copy of the sermon or Central Study Hour, they will also be made available at the church office on Monday (March 30) and Thursday (April 2) from 9AM to Noon. Downloads are available on our website at saccentral.org/central-study-hour and saccentral.org/sermons

Courage During COVID-19. Need a little encouragement during the COVID-19 crisis? Starting next week your Ministry Team and Elders will be offering a 15 minute call-in service for a time of prayer and encouragement from the Word of God. Please stay tuned for more information coming soon.

Stay Connected. If you belong to a LIFE Group, part of a Bible study community, involved with a church ministry, or just wanting to stay connected with church family try using the following free resources: Zoom (offer 40 minute video conference for free) and FreeConferenceCall.com (free conferencing calling for an unlimited number of people).

Tips for How to Find TP. Due to a number of people in our community hoarding it, TP has become scarce and hard to find. If you are looking for TP for you or a loved one keep the following in mind: 1) Medline.com carries large boxes of TP and can be ordered on line. If they are out, just ask to be notified when they are back in stock; 2) Target always has TP, but you need to show up 30-45 minutes before opening time to get some; 3) Smart & Final have some, but you need to ask the person at the manger’s desk for it as they don’t put it on the shelves.

 

3-23-2020

IMPORTANT INFO FOR OUR SENIORS & OTHER UPDATES FOR ALL

For Our Seniors

The following stores in Sacramento have a special time for seniors to come in and shop:

  • Whole Foods – 1 hour before opening time
  • Dollar General – First hour after opening time
  • Target – First hour after opening time
  • Walmart – 1 hr before opening time on Tuesday’s
  • Stop and Shop – 6-7:30AM
  • Safeway – Tuesday & Thursday – 7-9AM
  • Smart and Final – 7:30-8:30AM
  • Trader Joes – First hour after opening
  • Walgreen – Tuesday’s only from 8-9AM, also available for caregivers and immediate families (customers 55 years and older receive special discounts on Tuesday’s)
  • Costco – Tuesday’s and Thursday’s 8-9AM (60+)
  • Sacramento Natural Food Coop – 7-8AM daily

If there are any senior’s in your life, please be sure they know about these offerings.

Q. Will there still be Prayer Meeting?

A. Yes, but it will ONLY be virtually. For now, we will be “meeting” Tuesday evenings for an hour starting at 7PM on any one of the following platforms:

Q. Will the church office be open during the week?

A. The office staff have chosen to work from home, coming into the office to only perform essential functions. If you don’t reach someone by phone (916.457-6511), please leave a message and our Administrative Assistant will get back with you as soon as possible. She can also be reached by email (). If you need to access the church during the week, please arrange a time with the Administrative Assistant to do so. We are sorry about the inconvenience at this time, but please know that the office staff are still committed to helping you where they can.

 

3-19-2020

IS CENTRAL STILL OPEN FOR BUSINESS?

Hi friends.

We’re living in very interesting times, aren’t we. COVID-19 (otherwise known as coronavirus) has interrupted life as we know it. For now (and we hope for not long), this is the new normal. It seems everything has come to a grinding halt. And we wonder whether the consequences to the reaction to the virus will be more grim than the effects of the virus itself. One thing is certain: at this time, nothing is certain. But thank God, even though everything is fluid, He remains the same.

Many of us are trying to navigate through the changes and challenges this virus has created. Your church has been trying to do the same. Information coming to us changes each day. First we were given a directive to cancel gatherings of 250 or more, then, within short order, we were told no more than 50. Not long after that, the President of the United States recommended postponing gatherings of 10 or more, then on March 17, the Governor of the State of California ordered no gatherings at all, and as of today Sacramento County as been ordered to shelter-in-place.

All of this has been an attempt by local, state, and federal authorities to “flatten the curve,” or put a lid on the spread of the virus to forestall more deaths and to prevent hospital overcrowding.

This past Monday our Board met to respond to the directives to minimize public gatherings. We needed to decide whether to remain open or temporarily close in-person Sabbath services.

Lots of discussion ensued. Varying thoughts and perspectives were shared. And after an hour or so of healthy dialogue, which began in prayer, the Board came to the painful decision to suspend Sabbath services for the rest of March, believing it was the responsible thing to do.

While this is unprecedented, we believe in a God who makes all things work together for the good (Rom. 8:28). We might not see the “good” right now, but we can be encouraged in the fact that God is working it out right now.

While we won’t be able to congregate together for the next two Sabbath’s, we can still worship together virtually. We are blessed at Central to have a committed media crew and reliable equipment in order to livestream our services. Most churches aren’t so fortunate. So please plan to join us Sabbath morning (9:30 to Noon) on your device. Go to www.saccentral.org and scroll to the bottom of the homepage to find the livestream. It will be nice to experience something familiar while we grapple with this unfamiliar virus.

We invite you to keep reading to find answers to your questions about church life at Central during this time of “social distancing.” We hope it will prove helpful. Please keep in mind that any new updates will be posted above this first posting with a date attached.

ANSWERS TO YOUR QUESTIONS

Q. Will something be provided for a children’s and youth Sabbath School during this time?

A. Candice, our Youth-Young Adult Worker, is looking at virtual options for the youth and also plans to see if she can help our children’s Sabbath School department find similar options. Please keep in mind, however, that our incredible teachers are volunteers who are also having to adjust their lives due to the virus. Stand by for more information on this shortly.

Q. Will other ministries still be meeting during this time?

A. Because the church campus will be closed on Sabbath there will not be any meetings on campus. Actually, some ministries have already indicated that they will not be meeting at the church during this time. Please check with the church office if you have any questions. Email .

Q. Can groups still meet at the church and eat and fellowship together Sabbath afternoon?

A. We are suspending all smaller potlucks and gatherings across campus for the remainder of March.

Q. Will there still be Prayer Meeting?

A. Prayer Meeting has also been temporarily suspended. However, we are looking into a virtual option so you can join us from home for that mid-week spiritual pick-me-up. Please stand by for more information concerning this. Any other scheduled mid-week events have also been postponed during the month of March.

Q. Will LIFE Groups still be meeting during this time?

A. Sacramento County has just been ordered to shelter-in-place. We are encouraging the groups to still meet, just via virtual platforms like Zoom, Go-To-Meeting, FaceTime, Skype, or phone conference.

Q. Will the church office be open during the week?

A. Sacramento County has been ordered to shelter-in-place until April 7. The office will remain open for now to fulfill essential functions. However, we are asking that you don’t come to church unless it’s absolutely necessary while this order is in place.

Q. How can I continue to return my tithe and offerings to the church?

A. There are several easy options:

  • Put a check in the mail made out to “Sac Central SDA Church”. Please be sure to indicate what is tithe and what is offering.
  • Give online via our website. Go to www.saccentral.org and click on the “Donate” button at the top of the page, or click here to go there directly.
  • Give via the AdventistGiving app. Set up is easy and you can use it on any device.

Q. Do I need to continue to return tithe and offering while the church is closed?

A. We always need to return a faithful tithe and offering, not because the church tells you to, but because God’s Word commands it. Giving enables us to overcome selfishness, which is a part of our human makeup. Your need to give is greater than the church’s need of your gifts.

Q. How can I keep informed with what’s happening at Central during this time and always?

A. You have some good options:

Q. Are there any resources you can point me to so I can engage my mind in worthwhile activities while at home?

A. Yes! Our website in and of itself has plenty of things to keep you busy for a while. You might enjoy the following:

  • Sermon Archive – Here you can find hundreds and hundreds of messages on all types of different subjects brought to you by past and present pastors of Central.
  • Central Study Hour – You’ll find 5 years worth of engaging Bible studies at your fingertips.
  • Discipleship University – Here you can Discover Your Divine Design through a seminar Pastor Chris presented, or take a walk through the Bible with Pastor Fred.
  • Prophecy Seminars – Want to brush up on your knowledge of Revelation? Enjoy Discover Revelation or The Last Empire with Pastor Chris.
  • Bible Studies – Take a Bible study course in your spare time. Become more familiar with key teachings of the Bible. And then share the course with someone else.
  • Free Online Books – Enjoy these engaging and informative books on a variety of topics, then share them with friends.
  • Devotionals – Check out Pastor Chris’s blog page for short, engaging, easy-to-read and understand devotionals.
  • YouTube Channel – We also have a ton of sermons and Bible studies on our YouTube channel. Check them out!
  • Watch us on TV! Enjoy viewing Central’s flagship program, Central Study Hour, every Friday night at 7 PM or Sabbath morning at 6 AM (PST) on 3ABN Proclaim! Also enjoy our Receiving the Word 30-minute programs each week on Sunday at 11 AM, Tuesday at 11:30 AM, Wednesday at 9 PM, and Friday at 9 PM on Sacramento Faith TV.

Q. What Bible promises can I enjoy that will help me overcome fear, anxiety, or stress that I might be experiencing?

A. How about these:

Q. What was the Board’s reason for temporarily suspending Sabbath services?

A. Actually, there were multiple reasons that led the Board to this decision. But it should be stated from the onset that if the Board felt the church could remain open, it certainly would have preferred that option over this one. The Board gave consideration to the following (not in order of priority):

  • the directives issued by local, State, and Federal governing authorities, and the church’s biblical responsibility to respect and cooperate with those directives without compromising principle;
  • information from the medical community related to the spread of the disease and the need for containment;
  • the responsibility to our community to not promote the spread of the virus by congregating;
  • a panicked public’s perception of our congregation if we chose not to close and the harm it could cause to our present and future witness if it were discovered that one of our members unknowingly or inadvertently spread the virus to others.

Q. Isn’t closing the church doors an over-reaction to the coronavirus?

A. The Board doesn’t think so for the reasons already stated.

Q. Wouldn’t closing the church doors be giving in to the government and therefore showing a lack of courage and conviction?

A. Someone wisely stated the following:

#RESOURCEFULNOTFEARFUL

Looking for a way to be helpful and resourceful during this time. Members of our church family might need your help, so might others…

  • Check with seniors. Ask how their health is doing and/or if they need help shopping.
  • Check with hourly wage earners. Ask how their financial situation is holding up.
  • Check with the younger around you. Ask them if they have enough supplies.
  • Check in on others by calling or FaceTiming. FaceTime is especially good for older members. You can visually check on them, and it lets them see friendly faces when they feel alone.
  • If you’re a young adult, can you go shopping for more vulnerable older members?
  • Engage in “Viral Kindness”. This is a neat way to check in on your neighbors to see how they are doing.

RESOURCES TO HELP FAMILIES CONNECT WITH GOD

Check out these great resources for you and your family.

For Kids

For Teens/Youth

For Families

Other 
Read lots of stories! Especially Bible stories.
Play games—Bible Pictionary and Bible Charades are fun ones.
Do a fun craft (look on Pinterest)
Watch a nature documentary (Planet Earth is fantastic)

Please stay tuned for further updates.

We are praying for you and are confident that God will carry you through these difficult times. Jesus said, “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Be of good cheer today.

– Central’s Ministry Team