Dear GPC Faith Family,
First, I want to say how much I love our church family. This has been a very trying year, however, I have seen and heard story after story of how people’s practical, emotional, relational, and spiritual needs are being met. This is the “Loving One Another” part of our mission as a church. Thank you for taking care of one another as we navigate these difficult times together.
I am also very thankful for the leadership team of GPC. I have never seen them work so hard to serve our church family with their time, talents, energy, and prayers. God has truly put a great team together for such a time as this.
I have also spent a tremendous amount of time with the senior leadership team, which is made up of several people with diverse perspectives on COVID-19, protocols, faith, and wisdom. After considering all sides of the issue and praying for God’s wisdom, we have arrived at the following:
Since the county has gone to purple, which disallows indoor in-person meetings, and even though we were offered an option to meet indoors, we have chosen not to do this.
We are clear that some wish we would defy the government at this point, and we understand why some of you feel that way. The government seems to be increasingly negative towards the Church, but we feel wisdom is guiding us not to fight that battle just yet.
One reason is that the financial liability of a lawsuit from a church-hating opportunist would be a foolish waste of our large savings that will hopefully one day buy us a building. Your faithful giving over the years has put us in this position and we do not want that to be at risk unnecessarily.
Secondly, once we take that stand, our mission and focus will turn away from serving and saving our city, and the world, to protesting the government. This would destroy invaluable relationships we have spent over two decades building with the Mayor of Poway, city officials in Rancho Penasquitos, (where Mt Carmel is located), Public school superintendents, principals, as well as many other leaders and people in our city. These relationships are bridges to the gospel that will be lost. Our reputation right now is that we are a huge blessing to the city. That reputation will change once we cross that line.
However, we want you to know that we are ready to defy the government if we feel our religious liberties are at stake. We have shown this in the past on a few occasions. Namely, when Prop 8 was up for a vote we preached publicly on what the Word of God has to say regarding homosexual marriage. We were deeply disappointed with thousands of churches that caved into the cultural shift away from the Bible, but we stood our ground.
And again, when Senators Barak Obama and Mitt Romney were running for the Presidency, we lined up both parties’ platforms with the Bible and stated clearly which one was closest to Biblical values.
And again, due to the unconstitutional nature of the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits pastors from preaching on politics, we joined a group of pastors called, “The Black Robes”, reminiscent of black-robed preachers of the past who stood against government overreach. We then preached a political message and posted it online. The purpose was to force the IRS into court so they would lose an unwinnable, unconstitutional argument, and thus liberate the Church from this law.
As you can see, we are ready to stand for religious freedom when we feel it is being threatened. But until then our mission is to be a blessing to our community, city, nation, and world.
In the meantime, we will continue to focus on the core values that unite us no matter when and where we meet – worshiping Jesus together (The leadership is diligently searching for a place to meet outdoors for this coming weekend. If you have any leads, please do not hesitate to contact us), hearing the relevant Word of God preached, fellowship through Zoom groups as well as outdoor in-person groups, local food, and prayer outreach to continue meeting the needs of those in need in our community, as well as spontaneous, organic outdoor gatherings, etc.
In addition to the specific topics covered in this email/video, the leadership team also plans to send another video out this week discussing other topics such as:
o Where and when we will meet short-term and long-term
o New outlets for expressing our church’s values in this new environment
o Government over-reach: How much is too much?
o Faith vs Fear in our decision making
o How you can stay strong in turbulent times
The test of any family, and any church family, is how it sticks together during difficult times. Our prayer is that we, at the Gathering Place Church, will live out Ephesians 4:3 during this season.
“Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.” Ephesians 4:3 NLT
Please feel free to respond to this email/video with any questions or comments as we continue to advance the kingdom of God together in our city.
The GPC Senior Leadership Team