June 4th, 2020
When I was going to seminary in Portland and working at a church in Eugene as a youth pastor, a dear Bishop from the Brethren in Christ Church stayed with us in our home while he held meetings at our church in Eugene. Upon leaving our home he read to me the following verses from Philippians 1:3-6…” I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
This is true for the people of Salem Evangelical Church regardless of changes we are experiencing. In fact, I would suggest it is because of the changes we are experiencing that this passage of Scripture can be better fulfilled.
When I began at S.E.C., I inherited a system that focused on four main services that would have something for all ages. Bible studies and small groups were added along the way. The Sunday School went from meeting one hour to meeting two hours as did the morning worship service. Sunday night became a prayer service beginning in 1996. And there were always age level ministries going on simultaneously. Wednesday nights in the 1990’s evolved into a meal before church and classes were added and has been operating ever since.
THE RIVER HAS CHANGED, and we must recognize the changes and build bridges to somewhere as opposed to nowhere or worse yet, standing on the bank of the river wandering how will we get across. God provided a way many years ago by parting the Red Sea. Today, God is providing for us bridges to cross over the waters of life.
The months of June, July and August will be a time for building bridges for the people of S.E.C. The Sunday School hours as we knew them, the Sunday night prayer service as we knew it, and the Wednesday night electives as we knew them are suspended for obvious reasons. Even, especially, our Sunday morning church service has now gone from two services to one service, and from being together in person to being together via live stream. Until restrictions are lifted significantly, we will be on this bridge moving forward.
This Sunday, June 7, we are offering to you a room to sit in and watch the morning service live stream if you wish to do so at church rather than in your home. I can’t promise the size of screen or the sound quality, but we are offering everything we can within the restrictions to maximize our time together on campus and being able to be with one another in person. We are limited to 25 people per room and it will be on a first come first call in basis. When you RSVP, please include all people attending in your family which will include children. With six-foot social distancing there is no preschool or nursery care provided by S.E.C. due to restrictions.
The rooms available are as follows: East Sanctuary, 301, Hermanson Center, Activity Center, 202. We will fill our rooms in this order. The room will be preset with the number of people in your family in a designated place. When you call the office, it is very important to know which door to come in, so we can abide by the restrictions. You will be instructed on which restrooms are available for the room you are using. You have until the end of office hours on Friday to make reservations as we will not be able to go beyond that. This is an experiment, as we are trying to have as many people as possible on campus who wish to be here, given the restrictions that are in place.
Children and youth quizzing are scheduled to begin in September just like previous years, except we will be social distancing. If your child or teen has an interest in this amazing program we invite you to call the church office for more information.
Prayer meetings are available at 1:30 and 2:30. For these two prayer meetings you need to come in the West door which is the one directly across from the Activity Center. You will be greeted by a staff member with further instructions.
If you are not a part of a Sunday School class or a Bible study group or have not participated in the Sunday night prayer service, I have fantastic news for you…NOW is the time to join a group. Since last Sunday there were two individuals who are forming prayer groups to meet. That is fantastic! We invite you to join a prayer group. Jim Neifert is your contact person. He has a list of all the classes and time slots available for groups to meet throughout the week! You can email Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 503-949-1585.
Even as I write this letter to you on a Thursday morning at about 6:30 I look out the window at the parking lot and see the Thursday morning men’s Bible study meeting once again! We are meeting once again in our church, together, in person. Praise the Lord!
I plan to continue live streaming the Sunday morning service at 9:15. I plan to continue the Wednesday night Bible study at 6:30 through August. I plan to continue the daily live stream devotional through possibly the end of June. We are exploring another version of this moving forward, because even that river has changed in the past few months from when we started it on March 16. Why? Fewer and fewer people are watching the daily devotional as things are opening and people are going in different directions. Plus, the urgency of the hour seems to be dissipating with every passing week.
Would you like to just come to the church and sit in the East sanctuary? You are invited to do just that. Our business hours are Monday-Friday 8-4. You are welcome to check in at the office and then go to the sanctuary to be with God. (Of course, we are limited by the numbers allowed in a room at one time, but would not anticipate a rush of people all at one time.) If you would like prayer and would like me or another pastor to pray with you or just visit, I would be happy to do so.
We have undergone multiple building programs since I was assigned to S.E.C. 34 years ago. This may be our biggest undertaking to date. We are under construction once again. God is our architect. His plans are the best plans! Imagine the building He is building right now through His people! It is time to dream again and envision the plans God has for S.E.C.
I trust you can better see how Philippians 1:3-6 is a great passage for our day.
The river has changed, but with it come new opportunities, new challenges, new victories, new stories and new friendships!
Have a wonderful day!
Pastor Randy R. Butler