Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

Antioch Chamber honors Fellowship Church as 2019 Non-Profit of the Year

Saturday, November 14th, 2020

Photos: left & right from Overaa.com, center from tfcpeople.com.

This is part of a continued series on the Annual Awards by the Antioch Chamber of Commerce.

On Friday night, Sept. 24 the Antioch Chamber of Commerce held its Gala Dinner, this year virtually, and honored the city’s most outstanding residents and organizations with their annual awards.

Hope & Healing – these are the two words that Fellowship Church feels God has given to them as a church. Hope for tomorrow and healing from yesterday. Pastors Shaun and Dianna Nepstad started Fellowship Church in 2002 with 22 people and today the weekly attendance has grown to over 5,000 people in two campuses. They believe that Jesus is the answer for humanity and their goal is to use the platform God has given them to express, in practical ways, the love and the life-giving message of Jesus to the world. Through the preaching of the Bible, worship, and great relationships, their hope is to engage a culture far from God to bring them into a relationship with Jesus.

2019 was an incredible year at Fellowship Church! They served 3,000 people a Thanksgiving dinner, and provided 679 children Christmas presents and a Bible. Fellowship Church reached many people in our city, through outreaches, both big and small. Internationally, they spread the gospel to 80,000 people on their trip to Peru.

Fellowship is believing God for more, asking Him to expand their reach, and show them, in 2020, how to pray, love, give, and serve like never before. For more information about the church visit www.tfcpeople.com.

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Drive-Thru Trick or Treat at Golden Hills Community Church Brentwood campus Saturday evening

Tuesday, October 27th, 2020

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Contra Costa advances in COVID-19 Reopening Plan – churches, indoor dining now at 50% capacity

Tuesday, October 27th, 2020

Indoor swimming pools can reopen; bars can reopen outdoors; live entertainment for up to 50 people (requires pre-approval), more

By Contra Costa Health Services

More businesses and community activities can reopen beginning today in Contra Costa after the county’s data indicators for COVID-19 transmission showed improvement in October.

California today reassigned Contra Costa to the less-restrictive orange tier of its Blueprint for a Safer Economy, allowing for larger local gatherings for indoor worship services and dining, and the reopening of indoor pools, bars and bowling alleys.

But health officials caution that it is now more important than ever to follow the state health guidance for physical distancing and use of face coverings, to keep everyone safe and healthy during the holiday season and to avoid a return to the red tier.

Contra Costa’s adjusted per-capita case rate – the average daily number of new COVID-19 cases identified in the county per 100,000 population – stood at 3.7 on Tuesday, just qualifying the county to move into the orange tier.

The average daily percentage of COVID-19 tests that return positive in the county is 1.9%, with 4.9% or lower qualifying for the orange tier. That number for census tracts identified by the state’s health equity metric was 3.9% today, with 5.2% required for the orange tier.

Counties in the orange tier can allow:

  • Worship services and other cultural activities indoors at 50% occupancy or 200 people, whichever is fewer;
  • Indoor dining at 50% occupancy or 200 people, whichever is fewer;
  • Indoor swimming pools;
  • Bars and other businesses that sell alcohol without meals to open for outdoor operation;
  • Family entertainment centers to open indoors for “naturally distanced” activities, such as bowling alleys, escape rooms and climbing-wall gyms, at 25% occupancy;
  • Cardrooms to open indoors at 25% occupancy;
  • Small amusement parks to open at 25% of occupancy or 500 people, whichever is fewer;
  • Professional sports venues to open at 20% occupancy;
  • Live entertainment to open with no more than 50 people, if approved by the Health Officer.

The county will remain in the orange tier for at least two weeks. The state could move Contra Costa into the less-restrictive yellow tier, or the more restrictive red tier, if its metrics qualify for one of those tiers for two consecutive weeks. The state updates the official numbers every Tuesday.

To reduce the spread of the virus in Contra Costa County, and to continue its progress toward reopening, county leaders urge the public to get tested for COVID-19 regularly, including people who have no symptoms of illness.

Contra Costa would not have qualified for the orange tier this week had it not tested more residents than the state average. California adjusts the case rates of high-testing counties downward to reflect their work controlling the virus. Without that adjustment, Contra Costa’s per-capita case rate this week would have been 4.1, which would not qualify for the orange tier.

Following the heath guidance for physical distancing and face coverings, practicing good hand hygiene and staying home when you feel sick are also key to continuing Contra Costa’s progress against the pandemic.

About 3,500 people get tested every day for COVID-19 in Contra Costa. By ramping up to test at least 4,500 daily, the county can more quickly notify those infected – particularly people with the virus who do not have symptoms – to prevent outbreaks and better protect community members at high risk of serious illness from COVID-19 because of their age or health.

Contra Costa recommends that workers in jobs that bring them in frequent contact with the public, including all essential workers, consider a COVID-19 test every 30 days. Anyone who has symptoms such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing should also consider a test.

Call 1-844-421-0804 to schedule a fast, free COVID-19 test in Contra Costa, or visit cchealth.org/coronavirus to schedule online.

 

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Free Holy Eve Community Drive-Through Festival in Antioch Saturday Oct. 31

Monday, October 26th, 2020

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Community Worship – A Night of Hope at Campos Family Vineyards Oct. 23

Monday, October 5th, 2020

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Bay Area church with Antioch members sends thank you messages to firefighters, encourages others to do the same

Monday, October 5th, 2020

Photos courtesy of San Francisco Zion Church.

By Greg Bernard

In light of the COVID-19 outbreak that has devastated communities around the world, churches and religious institutions have had to shut their doors and services for several months. Congregants have been unable to gather together to fellowship or worship, leaving members feeling isolated and disconnected from their community.

But one church has found that the best way to re-engage members is to get them involved in giving back. San Francisco Zion Church, a Christian church that serves the Bay Area, held a letter-writing campaign for the firefighters of the Greater San Francisco Bay Area this past weekend. Members who participated in the letter-writing campaign hailed from cities and counties across the Bay Area and Northern California: from Contra Costa, Solano, Alameda, San Francisco, and as far as Sacramento.

Local church members and their children wrote cards for the brave men and women who have been fighting the State’s worst wildfires in over a century. Some of these heartwarming letters found their way to Contra Costa’s Fire Departments. The words of encouragement were warmly received, with some firefighters commenting that it was the first public appreciation they’ve gotten for their service in the fires.

Their next major volunteer campaign will be in collaboration with the Red Cross. According to the World Health Organization, blood donations have been in short supply since the beginning of the pandemic. As a result, San Francisco Zion Church resolved to partner with the Red Cross to host a series of blood drives. The first of these drives will begin in November.

 

“We’ve received over 30 recognitions from local businesses and neighboring cities in the Bay Area in the past few years for our volunteering,” says Adam, a resident of Antioch and member of San Francisco Zion Church. “Next week, we’re raising support for the families affected by the fires and reaching out to the elderly who suffer the most when they are socially isolated from their family members. With everything that’s going on right now, there’s so much need for volunteers.”
For the past five years, San Francisco Zion Church has been active in volunteering and helping people throughout the greater San Francisco Bay Area. Members of the church hope that their volunteerism and donation drives will encourage other churches and organizations in the area to gather together and contribute.

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St. Vincent de Paul of Contra Costa announces more paid, part-time employment and training

Wednesday, August 26th, 2020

Cycle 16 of Workforce Development Program

By Brian Boyle, Communications & Development Associate, St. Vincent de Paul of Contra Costa County

The Workforce Development Program at St. Vincent de Paul is a paid jobs training program aimed at helping the unemployed re-enter the workforce and find stable employment. The 24-week Pittsburg, CA based program teaches members techniques to find a job, offering training in resume development, interviewing, and workplace success techniques in a supportive & compassionate environment. Mandatory orientation sessions for people interested in applying to the program will take place on 9/12/20 & 9/15/20 from 9:00 AM – Noon in Pittsburg. To register call (925) 439-5060.

The Workforce Development Program aims to help tear down the barriers that stand in the way of employment for individuals who have struggled to obtain and maintain employment. Participants are matched with mentors and take weekly classes to continue developing necessary workplace skills. A new class of participants are selected every six months.

Participants gain paid, part-time, (22.5 hours per week), work experience in a St. Vincent de Paul thrift store or SVdP’s trucking and transportation department. Additional training in retail operations include cash register operations, inventory display and optimization, and warehouse operations.

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen millions of people suddenly find themselves out of work. In these hard times, it is more imperative than ever that applicants gain skills to be competitive in the job market. The Workforce Development Program at St. Vincent de Paul seeks to address that need, and prepare participants for the realities of the working world.

St. Vincent de Paul of Contra Costa County has provided safety-net services in the county for over 56 years, serving 81,000 people annually and distributing over $1M of direct financial assistance and over $1.5M of in-kind aid. Over 750 SVdP volunteers and a small staff lead operations in Contra Costa including the SVdP Family Resource Center in Pittsburg, 28 branches and 3 Thrift Stores. One of the largest charitable organizations in the world, St. Vincent de Paul is an international, nonprofit, Catholic lay organization of more than 800,000 men and women who voluntarily join together to grow spiritually by offering person-to-person service to the needy and suffering in 155 countries on five continents.

Contact: Barb Hunt, Development Director

(925) 330-6732

St. Vincent de Paul Society of Contra Costa County

2210 Gladstone Dr.

Pittsburg, CA 94565

b.hunt@svdp-cc.org

www.svdp-cc.org

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Los Angeles church, pastor win in court Friday, can continue indoor services judge rules

Friday, August 14th, 2020

Temporary order defies L.A. County COVID-19 orders; full hearing on September 4; only applies to that church, for now

On Thursday, August 13, Thomas More Society Special Counsel Jenna Ellis and attorney Charles LiMandri filed suit in the Superior Court of the State of California County of Los Angeles on behalf of Pastor John MacArthur and Grace Community Church against Governor Gavin Newsom, Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and other California and Los Angeles County public health officials. (See complaint)

On Friday, the California Court vindicated Pastor MacArthur and the church’s stance that church is essential by recognizing the constitutionally protected right of churches to remain open and hold indoor services in their sanctuary.

Hours after Grace Community Church filed suit to invalidate Los Angeles County’s unconstitutional restrictions on churches, the County filed for a temporary restraining order to force the church to stop holding indoor services and comply with every unreasonable and over-broad demand. At hearing today (Friday, August 14, 2020) in Los Angeles Superior Court, Judge Chalfant denied almost all of the County’s requests, agreeing with Pastor MacArthur and the Church that it is the County’s burden to show why it should be permitted to infringe on the constitutionally protected rights of churches to freely exercise religion. The judge did also express concern for some safety protocols.

To address those concerns and after explaining that the County was being unreasonable in its demands, counsel for Grace Community Church offered to comply with mask wearing and social distancing indoors until the matter could be fully heard, rather than the County simply rushing to shut down the Church. The judge agreed this was reasonable, set the full hearing for September 4, 2020, and ordered the Church to have congregants wear masks and social distance between family groups indoors.

Pastor John MacArthur said of the ruling, “I am very grateful the Court has allowed us to meet inside and we are happy for a few weeks to comply and respect what the judge has asked of us because he is allowing us to meet. This vindicates our desire to stay open and serve our people. This also gives us an opportunity to show that we are not trying to be rebellious or unreasonable, but that we will stand firm to protect our church against unreasonable, unconstitutional restrictions.”

Attorney Ellis said, “This is a huge vindication for Pastor John and the Board of Elders at Grace Community Church, who have simply asked for their right to worship the Lord together in church to be acknowledged and protected. When I spoke with Pastor John after the hearing, he expressed sincere gratitude to the California Court and Judge Chalfant and said his congregation will be happy to comply with the judge’s temporary order. This is why John MacArthur is so deeply loved and respected by his congregation and all over the world. He is a gracious and firm leader, and his biblical stand for church being essential has now been rightly validated. We look forward to continuing to advocate on his behalf in asking the Court to protect the fundamental rights of churches.”

Legal counsel LiMandri said, “This result is indeed a great victory for all citizens’ constitutional right to freedom of religion. Pastor MacArthur’s love of God and country motivated him and all the GCC church elders to resist the unjust government shut-down orders targeting people of faith. Their devotion and patriotism has brought about a result that respects the legitimate interests of both the church and state. This result makes it possible for the thousands of congregants of GCC to continue to gather together in their church to worship, while at the same time honoring the court’s requirement that reasonable and temporary safety measures be observed. This court ruling should stay in effect at least until there can be a full court hearing in this case on September 4, 2020. Please continue to pray that the courts allow this enlightened judge’s decision to stand so that all Californians can soon resume the worship of God in their respective churches.”

“We are simply continuing to do today what we have done for the past 63 years, that Grace Community Church has been open to welcome the Los Angeles community and serve their spiritual needs,” the pastor said in a statement. “We will remain open and teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all who decide they want to come worship with us.”

The suit seeks to prohibit California from enforcing its unconstitutional and onerous coronavirus pandemic regulations against Grace Community Church and seeks a judgment that the health orders violate the California Constitution.

“Having irreparably damaged the confidence of Americans—and Californians especially—who now realize that the pandemic restrictions are neither necessary nor good, on Sunday, July 26, 2020, Grace Community Church decided to resume worship services—joining millions of Americans in deciding that enough is enough. With deaths from the ‘COVID-19 suicide pandemic’ exceeding those from the actual coronavirus pandemic, Grace Community Church decided that it would no longer sit by and watch its congregants and their children suffer from an absence of religious worship and instruction. Perhaps unsurprisingly—perhaps not—this led the County of Los Angeles to submit a demand letter to Grace Community Church, ordering it to comply with the restrictions that Los Angeles County deems unnecessary to enforce against so many others. Grace Community Church does not intend to comply.”

According to attorneys for the church, it is time for California to recognize that Christians are not second-class citizens, and the court must step in to do its job in applying the protections that the U.S. and California State constitutions provide to every individual equally and to churches in particular.

Pastor MacArthur opened the Sunday morning service on August 9, welcoming worshippers to “the Grace Community Church peaceful protest.” He was met with a standing ovation and extended applause from the congregation. Pastor MacArthur said of the lawsuit, “We are simply continuing to do today what we have done for the past 63 years, that Grace Community Church has been open to welcome the Los Angeles community and serve their spiritual needs. We will remain open and teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all who decide they want to come worship with us.”

Ellis said, “We hoped that Los Angeles County would see its error on its own, but after attempted negotiations with their counsel, California is still intent on targeting churches—specifically, Grace Community Church. Pastor MacArthur and the Board of Elders will stand firm in their leadership and resolve that church is essential, and California has no legitimate power to enforce such onerous and unconstitutional restrictions against the fundamentally protected right to freely participate in church. After Grace Community Church voluntarily complied with state orders for nearly six months, California’s edicts demanding an indefinite shut down have gone now far past rational or reasonable and are firmly in the territory of tyranny and discrimination. This isn’t about health. It’s about blatantly targeting churches.”

LiMandri stated, “It is unconstitutional for Governor Newsom and the State of California to discriminate against churches by treating them less favorably than other organizations and activities that are not protected by the First Amendment. Pastor MacArthur and his church, as well as all churches, are entitled to practice their religion without government interference. This is especially the case when the government has given free rein to protestors, and is not similarly restricting marijuana dispensaries, large retail outlets and factories, or abortion providers. The government orders are also unconstitutional because there is no compelling need for the onerous restrictions on the churches at this time. The hospitals are not overwhelmed and the percentage death rate from COVID-19 is now extremely small. It is time for Governor Newsom and Mayor Garcetti to recognize what President Trump has already proclaimed: churches are providing an ‘essential’ service to the people. Therefore, they must be allowed to serve the people in the manner in which God has called them.”

Read the Thomas More Society’s Complaint filed with the Superior Court for the State of California County of Los Angeles – in Grace Community Church and Pastor John MacArthur v. Gavin Newsome et al., on August 12, 2020, here.

Read the Demand Letter sent to Pastor John MacArthur by attorney Jason Tokoro, representing the County of Los Angeles in California, on July 29, 2020, here.

 

 

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