Pastor Kevin Ramientos together with HOWCC Church Board:
 
Dear HOWers,

 

We have decided to start gathering again in person for our Worship Service and also to fellowship with one another.

 

I want to clarify to our church family at Heart of Worship Community Church, the reason why and how we in the Church Board, came to that decision, hoping you will understand and praying you will also support the decision and together be of one heart and mind in this matter.  

 

First, the Church Board decided for the Church to reopen and gather in person because we want to obey what God said in Hebrews 10:25:  “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

 

It is stated in the negative, but in the positive, God is saying for us to meet together and as we do, regularly, let us not give up our meeting or neglect it. This is the main reason why we resumed in-person gathering.

 

Some might ask, why we stopped meeting in person back in March when this all started?
 
The reason is because we did not have enough knowledge about the danger and didn’t know how to deal or navigate the  situation. We agreed and cooperated with the government authority on the recommendation to pause the in-person gathering.

 

We believe this time, we have sufficient knowledge, not a perfect knowledge, but we know enough how to navigate the risk or danger with the recommended safety protocols such as washing of hands or sanitizing, wearing of face mask/shield, and physical distancing. We will observe the protocols, not because our trust is in them. Our faith is in Jesus, our trust is in Christ alone, even in this situation. But we will observe the safety protocols because we want to act responsibly, and we respect and care for one another, and yes, even to minimize the risk or spread of the virus.

 

Secondly, the Church Board decided for the Church to meet again, because we have church members who expressed not only their desire, but their need to fellowship in person, because for them, virtual fellowship like the Zoom app does not really compare with meeting in person. Virtual fellowship does not truly meet or satisfy the deep longing of the heart and soul to connect with one another, greet one another, to minister to one another, and fulfill the “one another” passages the Lord instructed for us to practice when we gather and meet in person. 

 

Before making the decision though, the Church Board was given a couple of weeks to pray and think about before meeting and further discussing and making a decision. We believe it is the leading of the Spirit of God and therefore it is the will of God. After all, it is in accordance to His Word. So it was not a quick process nor a haphazard one.
 
Other questions that might be asked:
 
If the restriction is we can’t meet indoors, why not meet outside or outdoors?
 
Well, basically, unlike other churches who have their own property so that they can meet outside, we at HOW really don’t have that option. However, we will look into meeting at a public place like a park, even though that has challenges in itself. But looking for a public place might take a while. If we find one, we will go that route. If we don’t find one, we will continue to meet indoors.
 
Didn’t God say that we must submit to the government? If we meet indoors, wouldn’t we be violating the government, and in effect, disobeying God’s Word in Romans 13:1?
 
Remember, government authority is not absolute, as with any human authority. Therefore, our submission to any human authority is not absolute either. God’s authority is absolute, and is the highest authority! Therefore our obedience to God and submission to His authority must be absolute. This means that IF (any) human authority, such as the government, gives us a rule or law that is a clear or direct violation of God’s Word or Authority, we MUST OBEY GOD, rather than men. (Acts 5:29).
 
The Lord commands us to gather to worship and to fellowship and as we do, we are not to give it up. Not to gather, because the government restricts us, or tells us not to, is a clear violation of God’s Word. It is therefore, in fact, disobedience to His Word. So the government is telling us to disobey God’s Word. And that we will not do.
 
Christ is the Head of the church (Colossians 1:18), and ALL authority in heaven and on earth is given to the Lord (Matthew 28:18). Therefore, only Christ Jesus can tell what the church can do or not do, and the church in return must submit to her King, the Lord Jesus.
 
The government telling the church whether they can gather for worship or not, telling the church whether they can sing or not, and forces the church to comply by threatening to take legal action, or threat of cutting off the electricity, or imposing a fine, or threat of arresting of violators, is an overreach of its God-given authority to say the least, if not an outright abuse of power, maliciously targeting and persecuting the church and its religious freedom.
 
Again, we must obey God rather than men.
 
Why not wait ‘til the situation “normalizes”?
 
We don’t know when that might be. Who knows when this will be over. It may take 2 more weeks, or two more months, or six, or another year. It might be here to stay. Of course, we pray and hope that it will go away. But if it doesn’t go away, what then? We won’t meet at all because of the risks and dangers?

 

I don’t believe that is the way to go. I don’t believe it is what God wants us to do.

 

So, we need to decide prayerfully and wisely WHEN to meet regardless of the risks or dangers. And this is exactly what the Church Board did. Is it a fearful thing, it may be, for some. But God wants us to trust Him completely. He is trustworthy (Proverbs 3:5-6). Let us exercise faith over fear! He promised He will never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:8), so that even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil (Psalm 23:4).

 

Remember, our God is sovereign and is in complete control. NOTHING is going to happen to any of us, UNLESS God allows it.

 

Remember the 3 Hebrew boys who were thrown into a fiery furnace but didn’t burn (Daniel 3:12-30)?

Or Daniel who was thrown into a lion’s den but was unharmed (Daniel 6:19-23).
 
I pray these examples will encourage us.
 
Will we get in trouble with authorities and possibly suffer consequences?

 

Perhaps. Hopefully, prayerfully not. But even if we do, the Lord is on our side on this one. And if God be for us, who can be against us (Roman 8:31)? It will be an honor and a joy to suffer for Christ, doing what is right in God’s eyes (Philippians 1:29; Matthew 5:10; 1 Peter 4:12-13, and 1 Peter 4:16). I hope and pray that this helps answer some questions and clarifies the issue.
 
It is time we as Christ followers, even as His Church, to make a stand and draw the line. I pray that we will be of one heart and mind even on this crucial matter, especially in these perilous times. Please understand that no one is forced to gather and meet. We have decided to meet in person again, to give opportunity for any of us who want to meet, and are able, and are ready to do so. And for our brethren who are not ready, it is okay. We understand.
 
Be assured, that as we meet, we will observe the safety protocols. Let us keep one another in prayer, that we will stand firm, and be of good courage, and be faithful ‘til the soon coming of our Lord and King, Jesus Christ! Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21.
 
In Christ alone,
Pastor Kevin Ramientos