The COVID-19 pandemic has produced unprecedented challenges to our nation, state, and city. We, the leaders of the Christian churches in Folsom, are grateful for the tireless work of our government leaders who are striving to lead well during these perilous times. We realize there are no prefabricated templates with simple steps to follow. Decisions are inspected, scrutinized, and often criticized. We appreciate the sacrifices and service of our civic leaders.
For over thirty years the Folsom pastors and Christian leaders have gathered on a regular basis to cultivate our relationships, and pray and care for each other and our ministries. We have endeavored to exemplify the unity Jesus desires (John 17:20-23) by collaborating together and honoring the differences in our local churches. This long-standing ethic of mutual relationship and connectedness is bearing good fruit as we continue to meet, pray, and learn from each other during this pandemic. We believe the unity of the Folsom churches honors God, demonstrates the Gospel’s power, and manifests the goodness of God’s Kingdom.
Additionally, for many years the Christian churches of Folsom have sought to collaborate with the civic leaders of Folsom in a mutual partnership for the benefit of all who live in our community. We believe in supporting our city’s leaders toward shared goals and the realization of the common good.
Finally, our ministries exist to proclaim God’s good news of grace, reconciliation, and hope for all who long for a new way of living. We know the Church is essential in the lives of individuals and families, and to the overall health and vitality of the broader Folsom community and culture. As such, we want our churches to reopen and our ministries to resume their full expression. We hope this can safely happen soon.
In light of the above, and as plans are made for our city, county, and state to reopen, the following reflect our deep desires as the pastors and leaders of the Folsom churches:
- We believe God is at work in the midst of this pandemic. His Spirit is stirring to bring forth His redemptive purposes in and through these challenging times. The mystery and uncertainty of these days, while at times frustrating, provide an opportunity for us to trust God and discern the work of His Spirit. We do not purport to know all the specifics of what God is doing, but our deep desire is to continue to pray and lean into Him as we navigate the current chaos.
- We stand together in this pandemic to do our best to faithfully and creatively lead our congregations and serve the Folsom community. Our deep desire is to nurture the wellbeing of our congregations, ensure their safety, and especially care for the vulnerable in our churches and city.
- We choose to demonstrate our unity in the reopening of our churches and we discourage the spirit of competition and rivalry inherent in a mythical race to reopen. God is doing wonderful things in the scattering of His people. Our deep desire is that all Folsom churches will reopen for public services on the same weekend, sometime in the near future. We recognize, however, that various factors impact the timing of when a particular church might choose to reopen. We respect each other’s decision and commit to continuing to process our plans and decisions with one another in the spirit of unity. As our churches gradually reopen, we are committed to adhering to the practices and protocols that will keep our congregations as safe as possible.
- Our highest loyalty is to God and the narrow way of His Kingdom. Sometimes this “higher calling” conflicts with the plans and goals of civic authorities and the prophetic witness of the Church requires resistance and perhaps even defiance. At present, however, we believe we can be faithful to our convictions and still submit to the reopening guidelines established by our health and government leaders and authorities. Our deep desire as a community of Christian leaders is to continue to engage in the process of discerning together the practical outworking of our personal desires, political preferences, and religious liberties, and their relationship to the reopening guidelines.
- Our nation is infected with anger, division, and a growing spirit of violence in response to situations and circumstances that are not aligned with our wants and desires. The Christian community must purposefully incarnate Jesus’ alternative and better way. The politicizing of the pandemic promotes attitudes and responses that are often contrary to the teaching of Jesus and the way of His Kingdom. There may be times for the Christian community to disagree, argue, resist, and even defy cultural trends and forces, but these responses must be discerned prayerfully and wisely, with others who are spiritually mature. Humility and gentleness should be the default response of those who follow Jesus. Humility and gentleness are Christ-like attributes and essential attitudes that are desperately needed in complex situations where people disagree. Our deep desire is to embody the character of Jesus in our interactions with one another and with governing authorities, and lead our congregations to do the same.
- We appreciate the complexity and unprecedented challenges facing our elected officials and we commit to continuing to pray for their health, safety, and wisdom. There are a myriad of opinions about how the Church should respond to this worldwide pandemic. We acknowledge our limitations as flawed and in-process Christian leaders. We commit to walk this road together, with humility and gentleness, and with our ultimate confidence in God’s Spirit to bring forth His good will and purposes in us, in His Church, and through this process.
We affirm the principles set forth in this document:
Lakeside Church, Pastor Brad Franklin
Powerhouse Ministries, Pastor Nancy Atchley
Jesus Culture, Pastor Banning Liebscher
Bayside Church, Pastor Brian Hopkins
Mount Olive Lutheran Church, Pastor Ryan Hochgrebe
Harbor Church, Pastor Glen Brooks
Village Church, Pastor Kevin Kent
Disciples Church, Pastor Stu Streeter
Oak Hills Church, Pastor Mike Lueken
Hope Church, Pastor Dave Huusko
Faith Baptist Church of Folsom, Pastor Ron Perry
Community Bible Church, Pastor Clark Crebar