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COVID-19 UPDATE

Last updated on April 1, 2020 at 3:42:43 PM
NEED HELP GETTING GROCERIES OR BASIC NEEDS?  We want to help!!!
Thomas Nishimoto and Sierra Woods are spearheading the effort for anyone who needs help gaining resources.
Thomas and Sierra can be reached at (562) 445-0187. Please reach out if you have any needs.




Dear Church,

This is a difficult season. Praise God He is seated with power on His throne of grace. As a ministry friend of mine pointed out, “The Trinity did not have an emergency meeting over the coronavirus.” His good and glorious purpose is at work also in the midst of frustrating and painful circumstances. The Living God presides over this. It's in His plan and under His control. He is close to us, with His love, forming and fashioning us through the trial. I pray this update finds you abiding in the mercy and power of our Lord.

Here is the latest from Bethel Grace in view of all things COVID-19.

Due to the orders coming from our president, governor and local authorities, the Bethel Grace campus remains closed to ministry gatherings and events until April 30, 2020. We are live-streaming a time of worship every Sunday at 10:30 a.m.
on our YouTube page. Our BGBC Private Page is the best place to share personal prayer requests and check in on how others are doing.

Projections indicate that the weeks in front of us will be the most difficult in terms of coronavirus spread. If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, or are sick in any other way, we want to pray with you and to help however we can. You can let us know in a reply to this email. Let’s also diligently pray for hospital and health care workers into the days and weeks ahead.

If you are beginning to experience acute financial need because of loss of wages, we want to know and may be able to help.
A team of Bethel Grace volunteers remains on standby for anyone who needs help gaining resources. They are prepared to shop and make deliveries. Thomas Nishimoto and Sierra Woods can be reached at (562) 445-0187 as they coordinate the effort. Please reach out if you have any needs.

Here is the Bethel Grace giving report for the last week of March and the end of our 2019-2020 church year. We saw a marked increase in giving compared to previous weeks. Week 52 received a total of $7,665 given to the $9,615 weekly requirement. We finished the church year at $494,718 modest 1.1% under our $500,000 annual budget. We are grateful for all that has been contributed!



Your continued faithfulness and generosity is needed and appreciated.
Please find "giving" at www.bethelgrace.org for the various methods of giving to the Lord’s work with Bethel Grace.

The ministry staff of Bethel Grace continues to work hard. There has been no need to scale back hours or pay at this point. That being the case, some members of our administrative office staff have chosen to take leave during the stay home order. Pastors and ministry directors have continued in their ministry efforts without interruption. Moving ministry online and working from home has required adjustments but we are thankful to remain busy in His service.

Typically the Lord’s Supper is served the first Sunday of the month. We will resume the celebration of the communion when the church is gathered in person.

Easter Sunday draws close. A brief series in the Gospel of John called “Alive Again” will begin this Sunday. It's based on Palm Sunday and the resurrection appearances of Christ. The power of Christ released into the lives of Lazarus, Mary Magdalene, "Doubting" Thomas, and Simon Peter will be relevant in their portrayal of His power and authority for us. We are also planning a series of live-stream devotionals that we'll call "Good Friday in Real Time." Different Bethel Grace teachers will live stream on our Facebook page at critical points through the day, reminding us what was happening to the Lord at that time.

Many churches have seen a spike in their online viewership. People everywhere are logging on to video services. A number of you have informed us that you have friends and family members watching. Amen to that! Moving into this very special month, remember the Gospel of John was written “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name (John 20:21).” Pray with me that this April series will be used to reach new people for Christ and to build up the church. Please share our YouTube page with the people in your life.

The Lord will continue to be our strength, Bethel Grace! He is our refuge, our shelter and the rock upon which we are built. We hold fast the confession of our hope, for He who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23).

In His Love,

Pastor Jeff














March 24, 2020

Dear Bethel Grace,

Greetings from the Bethel Grace Elders and Staff!  I hope this message finds you feeling well and resting in the power, providence and love of God.

Not much has changed since the last update during this “COVID-19 Season.”  For now, I want to give several important reminders. I also want to provide the giving report typically printed on the back of the Sunday bulletin.

  • All “in-person” Sunday services and ministry programs at Bethel Grace are cancelled until April 19th in accordance with state and local orders.
  • A time of worship will be live streamed each Sunday at 10:30 a.m. It was a joy to go back and observe the greetings and encouragement during the service! Let us continue to worship together!
  • We want to help any members of the Bethel Grace family in need. Thomas Nishimoto and Sierra Woods are spearheading the effort for anyone who needs help gaining resources. They are coordinating a team that is prepared to shop and make deliveries. Thomas and Sierra can be reached at (562) 445-0187. Please reach out if you have any needs.
  • If you are sick, or diagnosed with COVID-19, we want to know and to pray for you.
  • If you are beginning to experience acute financial need because of loss of wages, we want to know and may be able to help.
  • The situation is fluid. Our elders are gathering weekly by teleconference to evaluate and seek God’s wisdom.


Here is the giving report for the last two weeks.





As you can see, a combined total of $2,974 was given to our general fund over the two week period, which averages just under $1,500 per week. This level of giving is much lower than usual and needed. Given the circumstances, it’s not unexpected.  However, if giving remains this low for an extended period, difficult decisions will need to be made in relation to ministries, missionaries and Bethel Grace staff.

This Sunday is the 52nd and final Sunday of the 2019-2020 church fiscal year. Your generosity is appreciated to help us finish the year on budget.  Checks may still be sent to the Bethel Grace office, 
but online giving is appreciated during this season if at all possible.   Please direct all offerings to the Bethel Grace General Fund.

As we continue to heed the “Safer at Home” ordinance, the need for faith, patience and endurance will become increasingly important. Praise God, this is the work the Holy Spirit in us. Among other things, the fruit of the Spirit is patience, the ability to endure hard times (and hard people!), with strength and joy in the Lord.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.“

May the Spirit of God continue to bring the harvest in your life!

For the elders,

Pastor Jeff
























March 20, 2020

Dear Bethel Grace,

Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous,
 and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!                                                                                         
                                                Psalm 31:11


Praise God for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  By the gracious gift of God in Christ, even sinners like us are now counted among “the righteous.”   Whatever is happening in the world, we can be glad in the Lord.  We have a Savior whose love is beyond measure.  He is with us, and He will be praised even in the midst of a pandemic.  

Here is the latest in view of COVID-19.  

As stated earlier this week, we are doing all that we can to comply with the guidance and instruction coming from national and local health care specialists and governing authorities.   From the president of these United States to L.A. county officials, we are operating in the mind that God has positioned them and empowered them for the common good of us all (see Romans 13:1-7).  

On March 19, L.A. County issued the 
“Safer at Home” public health order.   We advise you to read it and to take it seriously.   We are called by God to be submissive and humble citizens in the land we live.  It honors the Lord when His people are gracious and helpful in the public arena.  And our compliance is an expression of love toward anyone who might become seriously sick from the continued spread this virus.   
As far as Bethel Grace is concerned, the order prohibits any public or private gatherings more than 10 people.   This is in effect until April 19th.  All “in-person” Sunday services and ministry programs at Bethel Grace are cancelled until that time.   We are still regarding the situation as fluid as each day seems to introduce to information.  Our elders will gather to reevaluate on a weekly basis, even if we are now exploring online ways to meet.     

The good news is we can continue to provide the Sunday morning live stream with a team of 10 people.  And that’s what we plan to do!   We will continue to live stream a time of worship in the Sundays ahead at 10:30 a.m.  I look forward to opening Luke 20 with you once again.  We will see the unparalleled wisdom of our Messiah in Luke 20:19-26.   I find this familiar passage to hold great relevance for our situation.  “Live-chat” will be enabled during the stream, so be sure to greet one another and type your AMENS!  We will worship the Lord with gathered hearts, if not with gathered bodies.   The Spirit will continue to join us together in the bond of faith.  

A few more details:
 
There is a graveside service is being held tomorrow, March 21st, for our sister in Christ, June Furry.  It’s scheduled for 2:30 p.m. at Forest Lawn Cypress.    Forest Lawn is under the same 10 person restriction for all gatherings, indoor and outdoor.   So we are asking that Bethel Grace people NOT attend.  However, if you have a memory or tribute about June on your heart, please send it to me in a reply to this email. I’d love to share it with her family.  

We want to help any members of the Bethel Grace family in need.   Working with our deacons and deaconesses, Thomas Nishimoto and Sierra Woods are spearheading the effort for anyone who needs help gaining resources.   They will mobilize a team of people that has come forward to help with shopping, deliveries etc.  Thomas and Sierra can be reached at (562) 445-0187.  Again, your deacons, deaconesses and others want to help.  Please reach out if you have any needs.

Finally, if you have not joined the social media platform of Facebook, now might be the time.  Many Bethel Gracers are there.  We have a group called “BGBC Private Page” where we share encouragement, support and any needs.   After creating a Facebook profile, please 
follow this link
 and give it a try as a way to stay in touch.

"Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous!"   If you are in Christ, you are going to outlast anything this fallen world throws your way.  And He will help you keep your head and heart in His peace in the midst of it.  Let's ask God for more of His Spirit's power in us to shine with the light of Lord in this shaken world.   

In Christ,

Pastor Jeff






March 17, 2020
 

Dear Bethel Grace,
 
Praise God for all He is to us and for us.   He is our strength.  He is our shield.  He is our refuge.  He is our shepherd, carrying us forever, which most certainly includes times such as these.
 
Here is the latest from the Bethel Grace elders in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.  
 
We are doing all that we can to comply with the guidance and instruction coming to us from national and local health care specialists and governing authorities.   We are operating in the mind that God has positioned them and empowered them for the common good of us all (see Romans 13:1-7). 
 
We advise you to heed the call for social distancing.  Our president has urged upon us the seriousness of the situation.  We take him at his word.   As of March 16, L.A. County has issued an order to prohibit gatherings of 50 or more.   President Trump also urged yesterday that people not gather in groups of 10 or more for the next two weeks.   These requests complicate things for each local church ministry, including ours.  The elders and ministry staff of Bethel Grace greatly appreciate your prayer as we seek adjustments that will allow ministries to continue.  Our elders are planning to reach out to you by phone this week to hear how you’re doing and what your needs are. 
 
All “in-person” Sunday services and ministry programs at Bethel Grace remain cancelled for the month of March.   We are regarding the situation as fluid.  Our elders will gather to reevaluate on a weekly basis.  But be advised this may very well extend into, if not through, the month of April. 
 
We will continue to livestream a time of worship in the Sundays ahead at 10:30 a.m.   Sunday’s livestream service was well received and helpful to the many who voiced their feedback.  “Live-chat” will be enabled during the stream, so be sure to greet one another and type your AMENS!  
 
This week’s Life Touch directory photo sessions are cancelled.   You will be receiving automated phone calls from Life Touch reminding you of this week’s scheduled appointments.  IGNORE THEM.  They were set up at a prior time and could not be undone.   We have rescheduled all appointments, at the same weekday and time, for June 2-6.
 
To the parents and families of youth and children in our church, be looking for messages from Pastor Chris and Lisa.  They are working hard on ways to adjust student ministries and AWANA in view of the requirements of the day.  Likewise, Pastor David will be in touch with our music ministries providing pertinent updates.
 
Pray for Easter weekend.   We are thinking through ways to approach that high holiday, and we know the Spirit will fill our hearts with resurrection joy one way or the other.
 
One challenge we face pertains to the special business meeting scheduled for March 29, 2020.  This was to be our meeting for approving the budget and officers (elder, deacon, deaconess and church clerk) for the next church year, beginning April 1.   According to the provision for emergency conditions in Article V, Section 4 of our church bylaws, our elders will implement the 2020-2021 church budget provisionally on April 1, 2020.  We will hold a church vote on the same budget as soon as circumstances allow.  Further, we will extend the tenure of Elder Jeff Coulter, who was due to rotate off of board, until new elders are voted on.  We will invite the involvement of elder candidates Bob Lamm and Darrel Nishimoto with ex-officio status until their nominations can be affirmed by the church.   Our hope is to affirm the budget and officer candidates at our annual meeting planned for April 26, if that meeting can happen.  We will also present candidates for a membership vote at that time.  
  
For all who are part of a Sunday Bible Community studying “The Gospel Project,” it will stay on its calendar course when groups meet again.  In the meantime, leaders will send out weekly teaching emails for connection and those precious "fill in the blanks."    
 
As for a few more odds and ends, all food related events for March & April will be canceled (including Pot Luck Heaven 2 and our Fish Taco fest).  The "Here Below" youth talent show likely to be rescheduled in late May  
 
This Saturday a graveside service is being held for our sister in Christ, June Furry.  It’s scheduled for 2:30 p.m. at Forest Lawn Cypress.   
 
Given the guidelines from government officials to work from home as much as possible, we will reduce our office presence.  Please contact any staff member by email if we can help you in any way.   See the staff page at bethelgrace.org for addresses.    
 
The financial needs of the ministry will continue through this season.   We appreciate your continued faithfulness and generosity in giving.  Gifts may be given in multiple ways.  Find our online giving at
www.bethelgrace.org or mail checks to Bethel Grace Baptist Church, 17909 Carpintero Ave., Bellflower CA, 90706. 
 
We will continue to be the church, spreading grace and truth, lifting up worship and prayer, and providing the perspective of God’s Word in ways appropriate to the time of trial we are in.  Please continue to live as an ambassador for Christ! 
 
For the elders,

Pastor Jeff









March 12, 2020
 
Dear Bethel Grace Family –
 
Here is the latest on the state- and nationwide coronavirus emergency as it pertains to Bethel Grace.
 
This week, our governor called for the cancellation of gatherings of 250 people or more and for smaller gatherings to be held only if “social distancing” of six feet between people can be maintained.   Furthermore, the mayor of Los Angeles called for the cancelation of gatherings of 50 people or more.   These measures are consistent with our president’s declaration of national emergency. 
 
Out of a sense of love and concern for the health of our family and our neighbors, we will not hold a gathered morning worship service this weekend, Sunday March 15.  Further, Sunday services will be cancelled for the rest of the month of March.  We will keep you informed of any changes or developments on a week by week basis.
 
Please understand that this is not a capitulation to a government sanction hindering the worship of our God.   This is compliance to a wider effort to reduce and eradicate a rapidly spreading disease.   This is with concern for the health of our church family, and with a humble spirit receiving the guidance of health care officials.  This decision has been made with input and counsel from pastors and churches of kindred heart.
 
Meanwhile, the Word of God goes forth.  Our ministry team will gather to lead an online Sunday morning worship time for us all to participate in.  Please plan to gather Sunday morning with your family and any friends you might feel able to invite into your home.  Log on to our Bethel Grace Live Stream YouTube Page at 10:30 a.m.  We will sing praises, dig into the Word, and praise Jesus together that way.   
 
To access the live stream, go to 
www.bethelgrace.org.  Find “RESOURCES” on the top bar.  Under RESOURCES, go to “SUNDAY LIVE STREAM.”  It will take you to our YouTube page where the stream of the service begins at 10:30 a.m.   I look forward to seeing you there, Sunday morning.  I hope you will chime in on the comments and give greetings to others.  Maybe even a few “Amens?!”
 
Here are some additional measures and reminders:
 
The church office will remain open and ready to serve you.  Please keep us informed of any prayer requests or needs you have by calling the church office at 562-804-4561 or by emailing jamis@bethelgrace.org.
 
Through March, all Sunday morning and midweek programs, including Sunday Bible Communities, Doxa, Men’s Fellowship, AWANA, Choir, and Agape are cancelled.   Home fellowship small groups may meet at the discretion of their leaders.      
 
This Sunday night’s “Here Below” Doxa youth ministry talent showcase and coffeehouse is postponed.  We hope to hold that wonderful event as soon as circumstances allow.  More on that as developments unfold.
 
We are contacting Life Touch Directory administrators to reschedule this week’s photo sessions at a later time.   Photo sessions will not take place next week.
 
Please take advantage of the resources and updates to be posted on our church website and social media pages, including Facebook and Instagram.   There are opportunities there to communicate with people online.   
 
We want to know if you find yourself sick, quarantined or restricted in any way.  We want to pray for you and help any way we can.
 
We welcome you to contact us if this season of quarantine causes you financial hardship.  We may be able to help.
 
We encourage your ministry to family, friends and neighbors who are fearful or struggling with the stress of these days.   We are praying for you as you engage your sphere of influenced lives (SOIL).  If you think they would like to communicate with a pastor or church leader, let us know.  
 
The financial needs of the ministry will continue through this season.   We appreciate your continued faithfulness and generosity in giving.  Gifts may be made through our website at
www.bethelgrace.org or mailed to Bethel Grace Baptist Church, 17909 Carpintero Ave., Bellflower CA, 90706. 
 
The elders and staff of Bethel Grace will continue to work hard in their efforts to provide care and guidance for us all.  Feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns.  
 
This is a time of adjustment, but even more it’s a time of ministry as ambassadors of Christ in a shaken world.  Let’s all look for opportunities to reach out to people in ways appropriate for the time.  May the Lord give us all His peace that surpasses all understanding!  Christ is here, seeing us through every step of the way!
 
In His Love,
 
Pastor Jeff