Elders Update 4/01/20
Dear Hickman Community Church,
We are praying for each of you during this time, that you will know and experience the grace of God and His blessings in your lives.

These are unprecedented times for Hickman Community Church. In the last 13 years since serving HCC, I have never known the church to be closed on a Sunday morning, not to mention mid-week services. Neither has there been a directive from the state to shut down community gatherings and live under a ruling of social distancing in over 100 years.

However, this experience of churches closing and the order by the government to close all public gatherings is not unprecedented in American History.
In 1918 during the Spanish Flu pandemic, the San Francisco Board of Health voted to close all places of public amusement, ban all lodge meetings, close all public and private schools, and to prohibit all dances and other social gatherings effective at 1:00 am on Friday, October 18. The Board did not close churches, but instead recommended that services and socials be either discontinued during the epidemic or held in the open air. On October 21, Health official William Hassler declared that it was the “patriotic duty of every American citizen” to wear a mask, and San Francisco eventually made it the law. Citizens caught in public without a mask or wearing it improperly were arrested, charged with “disturbing the peace”, and fined $5. One month later, on November 21, a ship whistle blast signaled that San Franciscans could finally take off their masks. But San Francisco’s celebrations were short lived when the third wave of the Spanish flu struck in January 1919, and businesses and theater owners fought back against public gathering orders. As a result, San Francisco ended up suffering some of the highest death rates from Spanish flu nationwide – approximately 3000 people. An analysis in 2007 found that if San Francisco had kept all its anti-flu protections in place through the spring of 1919, it could have reduced deaths by 90 percent. (https://www.history.com/news/spanish-flu-pandemic-response-citieshttp://www.influenzaarchive.org/cities/city-sanfrancisco.html#)

It is good to review history and realize that diseases and pandemics have always been a part of the fallen human condition due to the presence of sin. Romans 5:12 states, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned”.
These are not times for believers to fear but let us cast our fears on the Lord (1 Pet. 5:7). Let us trust in the Lord, knowing that while we live our daily lives in the “valley of the shadow of death,” we can fear no evil, for the Lord’s rod and staff comforts us. The rod and staff speak to the Eastern shepherd’s tools for guiding and protecting his sheep. These instruments expressed the care and love of the shepherd for his sheep. In the same way, the Lord is a good and loving shepherd to us using the instruments of His Word and Indwelling presence to guide and protect us.   

Mankind desperately needs to look to the Good Shepherd’s gracious provision of forgiveness and spiritual life. When we do, surely goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our lives (Ps. 23). Jesus the Good Shepherd graciously declares, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (Jhn. 5:24). “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day” (Jhn. 6:40). These are words of life and hope in a fallen and sin cursed world. May our hearts be encouraged to know that our Savior loves us and cares for us, that He will bring us all safely home to glory very soon.

We praise God that we have no one at Hickman Community Church who is suffering from the virus at this present time. Please pray for God’s protection over those who are most vulnerable.

Sunday’s Services
What a joy to hear all the feedback from the church family regarding the online services and the many ways you are all being encouraged through the preaching of God’s Word. Again, we know this is not the same as being together, and so we want to encourage you all to be in touch with one another through phone, text, facetime etc., to encourage each other and pray for each other. Also, please remember to give faithfully throughout this time when we cannot meet together, so that the ministries and services we support can continue to flourish. You can do that on our Website, or through mailing or dropping off a check to the church office.
We will be emailing the YouTube links to Sunday’s services on Sunday AM and PM.

Virtual Services
We have added to the Church web site a page called Virtual Services” http://hickmanchurch.org/virtual-services. Check it out!
Also, we are excited to announce that our very own Chris Shore has developed a children’s virtual service called “Stickman Community Church” where he draws pictures while telling a Bible story. May this minister to your children at this time. Check it out at http://hickmanchurch.org/virtual-services
In addition, we will also be providing at Virtual Services:

  • Pastor’s Chat – A weekly informal discussion on matters relating to church life and fellowship. This should be available to watch on Thursdays at our Virtual Services page.
  • Pastor’s Devotion – A weekly devotion for your own encouragement
  • Easter Week Devotional – As a way of focusing our minds on the glory of the resurrection we will walk through the passion of Christ in preparation for the resurrection of Christ. The Elders and some Ministry Leaders will each be sharing a brief devotion from Monday through Saturday from Luke 22-23. We hope this will stir each one of us to a greater thankfulness and worship of all that our Savior endured that He might give us life. May this help prepare each family in the church for a day of worship on Easter Sunday.

Food Pantry
The Food Pantry will be distributing food Sunday 12:00-12:45pm.
Last Sunday we handed out over 115 prepacked bags of food, each included a gospel tract. We are thankful for the opportunity we have to serve our community and church at this time. This service is available to the church family, please feel free to take advantage of this at this time.
To pick up your bag of food:

  • Line up outside of the rolling gate, single file, six feet apart from each other.
  • There will be bags of food on the other side of the gate on tables.
  • As you get your bag, your name will get marked in the binder for bookkeeping purposes.

Pray that the Lord will open up the hearts of people who come as we get to share Christ and the gospel with them.

Meal Train/ Grocery Pickup
If you are over 65 years and do not have any family available to help you with meals and/or grocery pickup, please feel free to call the church office.  We have a team of people waiting to help you in this area. Ph. (209) 874-1180

Prayers

  • Pray for those whose livelihoods are being affected through job layoffs and workplace closures due to COVID-19.
  • Pray that our food pantry will provide relief for those who need food and supplies. Pray for Jacob and his team to have wisdom as to how they handle the distribution of food.
  • Pray for the protection of our Missionaries (Seehusens in Fiji, Spitales in Italy, Schneiders in Chile, Hurleys in Uganda, Freibergs in Jakarta and Watsons in New Zealand). Seehusens, Freibergs, and Spitales are the most vulnerable, with minimal hospital provision for the Seehusens and a major outbreak close to the Spitales.
  • Pray for healing for those who get the virus, that they will have the necessary medical help and, at the same time, look to the Lord to sustain them.
  • Pray for Gospel opportunities with those we come across who are fearful and have physical needs.
  • Pray that no one at HCC feels alone. There are people who are more than willing to help.

Praying for You All,

The Elders – Andy Woodfield, Andrew Callaway, Darryl Shakeshaft, Gary Acosta


Elders Update 3/25/20
Dear Hickman Community Church,

Grace and Peace to you. Like you we are missing the fellowship of the saints and continue to pray for you all that God will protect you in these times from being discouraged or neglecting the good deeds the Lord has called us to.


The author of Hebrews directs all believers to the duty of “consider[ing] how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Heb. 10:24–25).

I heard recently that someone suggested that this stay-at-home directive is anti-Christian and leading Christians into be disobedience based on Hebrews 10:25. This is not true.

  • First, this verse is addressing those whose inner attitude is that of not desiring to fellowship with one another. I hope that during this time of absence from one another your longing for fellowship is growing, and that there is a deeper longing and appreciation for what we have enjoyed undisturbed for so long.
  • Secondly, the directive by our governing bodies, to stay home, is not directed at church gatherings only but to all large gatherings. This is a state-wide order therefore believers are not being singled out in some anti-Christian campaign.
  • Thirdly, this order actually upholds Christian values of considering others as more important than one’s self. The goal of this order is to stop the spread of the virus and save lives as a result.

This is a time for Christians to shine the love and peace of Christ to others. We want to encourage you to figure out ways you can stimulate one another to love and good deeds. There are many things we can be doing on an individual level to love our neighbors. We can share the gospel for starters, or bake a cake, or run to the grocery store for those in the vulnerable age group. We can be praying for one another, for our government, for the sick and dying. We can be texting words of Scripture and encouragement to one another, calling to listen talk with each other. Let us not isolate from the duty we have been given by Jesus Christ. As our text says, “let us encourage one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”

Ongoing Cancellation of Gathering
During our Elder’s meeting last night, we decided to extend our position of cancelled services until Mother’s Day, May 10th.
This decision is based on the CDC directives and the current Stanislaus County Health ruling,
“Stay home except for essential needs! Everyone is required to stay home except to get food, care for a relative or friend, get necessary health care, or go to an essential job. If you go out, keep at least 6 feet of distance.”
and the ongoing ruling of our Governor to work out this stay-at-home order for 8 weeks.  
We want you to know that if things change and we can in all good conscience begin to meet earlier, you will all be informed to the best of our ability.


Sunday Services
Again, we thank each of you who have expressed your thankfulness for the online services we have provided each Sunday. We will continue to provide these services as we work through the next 6 weeks.
You will all receive an email Sunday morning with a link you can use in order to watch or listen to the service. Check out last week’s links:
Sunday AM Service https://youtu.be/KPCFg6Af-p0
Sunday PM Service https://youtu.be/sbv0PrSXg_k
Please pray for us as this is all new to us and we are seeking to develop ways we can minister to you all at this trying time. We are looking to do an informal communication on a weekly basis which we hope will bring encouragement to you all. May God be glorified through these efforts.

Food Pantry
The Food Pantry will be distributing food outside the pantry again this Sunday 12:00-12:45pm.
Over 90 bags of food were distributed last Sunday, and many people’s spiritual needs were also met. There is much fear and anxiety in the hearts of those who don’t know the peace of Christ. Please pray for God to be glorified through this ongoing ministry
To pick up your bag of food:
•     line up outside of the rolling gate single file 6 feet apart from each other.
•     There will be bags of food on the other side of the gate on tables.
•     As you get your bag, your name will get marked in the binder for bookkeeping.

Meal Train/ Grocery Pickup
If you are over 65 years and do not have any family available to help you with meals and or grocery pickup, please feel free to call the church office. We have a team of people more than willing to assist you in this area. Ph. (209) 874-1180.

Prayers

  • Praise God for the overall health of those at Hickman Community Church.
  • Pray for our ruling and governing authorities to have the wisdom to handle this pandemic
  • Pray for those amongst us that are vulnerable to COVID-19 that God will give them the wisdom and protection they need.
  • Pray that our food pantry will provide relief for those who need food and supplies. Pray for Jacob and his team to have wisdom as to how they handle the distribution of food.
  • Pray for the protection of our Missionaries (Seehusen’s in Fiji, Spitale’s in Italy, Schneider’s in Chile, Hurley’s in Uganda, Friberg’s in Jakarta and Watson’s in New Zealand). Seehusen’s, Friberg’s and Spitale’s are the most vulnerable with minimal hospital provision for the Seehusen’s and a major outbreak close to the Spitale’s.

Under God’s Sovereign Love,

Andy Woodfield (on behalf of the Elders)


Elders Update 3/13/20

Dear Hickman Community Church Family,
 
Grace and Peace to you all.
 
Further to our email yesterday, the Elders have continued to monitor the recommendations and conditions surrounding the Coronavirus and its impact on our gatherings as a church. Since we are not medical experts, we are listening to the counsel of medical professionals to make a wise decision. The latest recommendations from the California Department of Public Health Include the following…
 

  • “Large gatherings that include 250 people or more should be postponed or canceled.
    • This includes gatherings such as concerts, conferences, and professional, college, and school sporting events.
  • Smaller gatherings held in venues that do not allow social distancing of six feet per person should be postponed or canceled.
    • This includes gatherings in crowded auditoriums, rooms or other venues.”

 
A full report is available at this link (https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/CDPH%20Document%20Library/Gathering_Guidance_03.11.20.pdf)
 
As a result of these recommendations from the California Department of Public Health, the Elders have decided to cancel all Church services until March 31st including this Sunday. This will also apply to all smaller services as well including youth events, women’s meetings, and home fellowship groups. We must seek to protect the elderly and young who are most vulnerable, and assist our governing authorities who are trying to slow the spread of this virus.
 
In place of these cancellations, we will be uploading a video of our Sunday sermons over the next three Sundays. Even though this is not ideal, it will mean we can still be a spiritual family growing together in the Scriptures and fellowshipping in the Lord. You will be receiving two emails each Sunday – one on Sunday morning for the Sunday morning sermon and one on Sunday afternoon for the Sunday evening sermon. These links will include some background music, announcements, the sermon, and prayer. Giving can still be done online at https://hickmanchurch.churchcenter.com/giving or mailed into the church office at P.O. Box 98 Hickman, CA 95323.
 
The church office will remain open as usual, and if there is any way we can minister to you, please call us, especially if you become sick.
Also, because not everyone checks their emails every day, please take the time to inform those you know of the cancellations.
 
We live in what the Scriptures describe as the “Last Days”, and this virus reminds us of that.  We are told to expect global issues to abound, but may we never forget the promise of Jesus to never leave us or forsake us. Our hope is in the Lord, not in the circumstances of this world. Let us fix our minds on things above and be in prayer for one another at this challenging time. Let us pray that we will not be anxious but trust in the Lord with all of our heart (Prov 3:5). Let us continue to place our faith in the Lord and His unfailing promises, sharing the good news of salvation and eternal life with others who are fearful, panicking, and hoarding supplies as a means of security.  It is the Lord Jesus who alone provides eternal security and a peace that passes understanding. Pray also that the sermons and links to the internet will work well ,and that we will all continue to hear what the Lord is teaching us from the letter to the Hebrews.
 
For the Glory of God,