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COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus

Updates during Covid-19 (the novel coronavirus) pandemic.

 

In Person Sunday Services
Good news! Churches in Orange County can now open for in person worship services! Please join us in the Worship Center on Sunday at 10:30am. We are thrilled and are looking forward to seeing you! Remember to wear a face covering, maintain physical distancing and use hand sanitizer when entering the worship center.

Sunday Livestream
For those who cannot make it in person we are continuing our livestream. You can tune in LIVE on Sundays at 10:30am at taftavenue.org/livestream.

So whether you make it in person or are watching via the livestream, we are looking forward to seeing everyone on Sunday!

Published Sept 10, 2020

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For the last few weeks our Worship Team and Elders have been talking about various possibilities of regathering and what that might look like.  We know that some churches are choosing to meet indoors in spite of the state guidelines, while others are still not gathering at all.  We have nothing negative to say about any church, and recognize that there are various convictions that other churches and leaders come to. We as shepherds at Taft Ave want to reach this community with the good news of Jesus, we want to worship, we want to grow in Christ, and be connected in fellowship. All of these can be complex in this season of life.
 
Worship Night
For this reason, Sunday evening Aug 30 at 6:30pm we are going to have an Evening of Worship in our church courtyard led by Emily Hamilton. We want to encourage all who are able and confident to come! Bring your own lawn chair and we will spread out in the courtyard.  We will have a chance to sing, to worship, hear something from God’s word, and see and talk to each other.
 
We hope this will encourage you. And we would like to use this as perhaps the beginning of some sort of Sunday Evening gatherings as we move into the Fall.
 
So .  . . Worship Night Sunday, Aug 30, 6:30pm come, bring your own lawn chairs, spread out, see your Taft Ave family, and worship. There will be plenty of room.
 
Livestream
Our main service continues to be online by way of livestream at 10:30am on Sunday mornings. I am grateful for the chance that we have had to invest in the ministry careers of Jeremy and Logan who filled the pulpit the last two weeks.  I hope you were encouraged and challenged by their teaching as I was. This week I am back and we continue our Summer Trellis series as we talk about the practice of confession.
 
Taft Ave Family Room
We hope you have been encouraged by the Taft Ave Family Room videos that we have been sending out.  Hearing Scripture read by the voices of our faithful congregation is a gift.  We would love it if you would consider recording yourself reading a passage of Scripture and send it into the Church officeOffice@Taftavenue.org
 
In Summary:
·      Livestream Service on Sunday at 10:30
·      Aug 30 at 6:30pm Worship Night in our Church Courtyard
·      Send in a Scripture reading
 
So be encouraged by the most recent installment of the Taft Ave Family Room, and we will see you this Sunday on the livestream.
 
Pastor Craig

Published Aug 20, 2020

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We will be shifting back to a Livestream Only format this upcoming Sunday.
 
This past week the State of California posted new guidelines rolling back some of its Phase 2 reopening plan.  These guidelines are stating that at-risk counties should  “close indoor operations” in various sectors: Churches are among them.  We recognize that this comes in light of the growing number of exposures to the coronavirus in our county. 
 
After prayerful conversations among our Elders as well as our Sunday Morning teams, and after weighing various options, we have decided that beginning this Sunday (July 19) we will be shifting back to a Livestream Only format
 
We considered an outdoor worship gathering for Sunday mornings, but we hope you can appreciate the amount of time and energy that our Sunday morning team has expended to get us where we are right now. We reinvented our Sunday morning format 16 weeks ago! This team has been fantastic and have truly gone above and beyond, volunteering hundreds of manhours.  To ask them to reinvent our Sunday morning format once again, with a new unique set up and tear down every week, is simply beyond our reach in this moment. We will continue to explore possibilities, but we want to incorporate as many of our Taft Ave family as possible, and the livestream seems to best possible way right now.
 
This decision comes with sad hearts, and not a little frustration. So many have been encouraged seeing each other and worshiping alongside each other, even through face coverings, these past 4 weeks. . . only now to have that removed.
 
What are we to do and where are we to direct our frustrations? our governor? our church leaders? the virus? or even towards God himself?  We want to redirect our frustrations toward something that will help.
 
There are two ways we at Taft Ave want to do this:
1.     Walk and Pray Phase II – at the beginning of this stay-at-home order we urged you to walk your neighborhood and pray for each house in your neighborhood.  It is time to redouble our efforts to hold our communities up in prayer.  If you are frustrated (even with Jesus in your life), imagine the frustration, stress, and anxiety that is present in all the homes around you.  It is time to pray all the more earnestly that God’s peace would rest on your home and the homes around you.  Walk and Pray (and talk to your neighbors)!
2.     Weekly Wednesday Devotional – we want to draw upon the rich resource of the many spiritually mature people here at Taft Ave and begin to offer different voices of encouragement on a weekly basis.  These devotionals and looks into the lives of our people will be accessible by way of the weekly email or on our social media platforms.  We hope that this will offer some connection to folks that maybe you have not seen in some time.
 
So . . . Walk and Pray.  Ask for God to make himself known in a powerful way in your neighborhood and in your city.  Continue to stay connected with your Taft Ave Family.
 
And know that God rejoices that you come to him, He loves you and desires to see you thrive in your faith.  He is with you now, wherever you are, and however forgetful you may be of Him.  He has sent his Son to demonstrate His love (Rom 5:8), and he has poured out his Spirit into your heart (Rom 5:5) so that you might feel His love.  Rest today in God’s love and grace.
 
See you on Sunday on the Livestream!
 
Pastor Craig

Published July 15, 2020

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Constitutional Changes Approved!
For those of you who were not able to join us last week for our congregational meeting we wanted to give you an update that all items passed.  1.) Our statement of faith is now in alignment with the EFCA’s statement of faith, 2.) We changed our fiscal year from the calendar year to July to June, and 3.) we passed a new budget for the new fiscal year.  If you have any questions, please visit our website or drop an email to elders@taftavenue.org or craig@taftavenue.org.
 
Celebrating the Lord’s Supper this Week!
This Sunday we will be celebrating the Lord’s Supper. Come participate with us in person, or gather bread and juice at home and participate by way of the livestream.  We want to remember the life and death of Jesus and experience our togetherness symbolically by participating together.
 
A New Summer Preaching Series: Trellis
This week we are beginning a new Summer preaching series called Trellis.  In it we are exploring the practices of those who Follow Jesus that promote abiding in Jesus and that produce fruit.
 
Praying for a Miracle!
I hope you are well on your way to asking God for a miracle!  Last week we were encouraged to believe that God can do miracles and ask him to act on our behalf.  And to do so daily!  I hope you are asking and trusting that God is good.  Listen to the message here.
 
Invite a Friend
Just a reminder that if you have friends who are needing support or a place to worship. . . invite them to church!  Either in-person or by way of our Livestream.  Our world is in upheaval and people are looking for anchoring points. This is a strategic time when people are open to conversations about faith. Talk to them and invite them!
 
A Helpful Article
We continue to stay abreast of the issues surrounding the changing situation of the reopening of our communities. We are weekly evaluating the benefits and risks of staying open.  At this point we remain open on Sundays for worship and are considering the possibilities of reopening other small group gatherings on Sunday mornings. One article that I (pastor Craig) have considered helpful at this point is this one from the Wall Street Journal.  I have highly valued practical and a-political coverage of this pandemic.  This article simply offers the best thoughts so far as to how the virus is spread.
 
Encouragement
As a further encouragement.  If you are feeling anxious, go to the Lord.  If you are feeling frustrated, call a friend. If you need to take care of yourself, take a few moments and do something that will help.  My watch, tells me to breathe.  So, four times a day I take its advice.  I breathe for two minutes. I take a personal inventory.  Where am I tense?  Where am I anxious?  Where do I need to invite the Holy Spirit to enter my day? Sometimes I add a glass of iced sparkling water. It is just something I enjoy.  Finding something you enjoy, finding each other, and finding God in these days. . . this is the way forward as we anticipate that our Father loves us and will move in our world.

Pastor Craig

Published July 2, 2020

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Congregational Meeting
This next week we be having our Annual have Congregational Meeting immediately following the service in the Worship Center. At this meeting we will be voting on two changes to our church constitution that we introduced in January. 

  1. Bringing our Statement of Faith up to date with the current EFCA Statement of Faith, as well as
  2. Changing our fiscal year to a July-June fiscal year. 

We will also be 3. voting on a new Budget for our new fiscal year.
 
All of the information about this meeting is available on our website. By going to the “Home page, pulling down the “About” drop down menu and clicking on “Congregational Meeting.”
 
On that page there is a handout with all the information about the constitutional changes.
There is also a brief explanatory video about our statement of faith changes.
There is also a link to the proposed budget for the new fiscal year.  It all on our website.
 
Noon on Sunday
We will be meeting after the church service for this meeting.  We would typically have this meeting in conjunction with an all church lunch, unfortunately we are not yet able to serve food here on campus. And so we will simply be convening in the sanctuary after the service for an abbreviated meeting.
 
Just a reminder, church members must be present to be part of the official vote, but we would also love to hear your vote and input by email.  If you would like to give your input email elders@taftavenue.org or craig@taftavenue.org.
 
Encouragement
We have been very encouraged by the attendance at our service as well as the participation in our worship service by way of the livestream.  We continue to grow and see new guests both in person and on the livestream. 
 
If you have wanted to introduce a friend to our church, the livestream is a great way to do that! Never before have more people been so open to asking what God thinks about our world and looking for guidance about a way forward! And we will always be faithful to offer God’s saving power that is available in Jesus Christ and what he did for us in his death and resurrection. Invite your friends into that experience of life.
 
And this week remember that God sees you and God loves you deeply, He rejoices that you come to him no matter how forgetful or how anxious you may be.  Let’s continue to go to him in prayer for our church and for our world.
 
We will see you on Sunday
Pastor Craig

 

Published June 25, 2020

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Father’s Day
This week is Father’s Day – Happy Fathers day to all you Dad’s out there! This Sunday we hope you have a chance to enjoy your family and have some time to decompress from all your Dad duties.  All you Dads and Grandpas. . . we are so grateful for you!
 
Regathering
We had a wonderful first week as we began the process of regathering for worship. We had over 80 people on campus and still more than 30 households worshipping from home on the livestream.  Whether you are streaming or in our sanctuary, we want you to know that it is a privilege to worship together and we love that you are making the effort to foster your relationship with God during this time!
 
If you feel comfortable enough to join us on campus, join us: We are using face coverings, physical distancing, and hand sanitizer as we gather on Sunday.
 
Please invite your neighbors and friends who might need a point of connection or encouragement from God to click on the livestream or visit on Sunday at 10:30a.
 
Congregational Meeting
In two weeks we have an Annual Congregational Meeting immediately following the service in the Worship Center. We would typically have this meeting in conjunction with an all church lunch, unfortunately we are not yet able to serve food here on campus. And so we will simply be convening in the sanctuary after the service for an abbreviated meeting.
 
We will be voting on bringing our statement of faith up to date with the EFCA, and shifting our fiscal year. We will also be voting on a new budget for the new fiscal year.  Information and explanations about what we are voting on is available on our website at taftavenue.org/congregationalmeeting.
 
If you have any questions or comments please email elders@taftavenue.org or craig@taftavenue.org.
 
We hope you are doing well, encouraged by the Word, and experiencing the empowerment of the Holy Spirit as we all are gradually reopening our lives and living through this challenging cultural moment.
 
Know that God sees you and loves you!


Pastor Craig

Published June 18, 2020

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Regathering this Sunday!
This Sunday we begin our process of regathering as a church for worship together on our Campus!  We look forward to seeing all those who can safely and confidently regather.
Keep in mind that we following CDC, State, County, and City guidelines which include:

  • Face coverings
  • Physical Distancing
  • And Hand Sanitizer

Welcome Back Video
Our Sunday Morning team put together a brief light-hearted video about the precautions we are taking as we regather. Check it out at the bottom of this email!
 
Congregational Meeting June 28
We will be having a Congregational Meeting after service on June 28 where we will be voting on changing our fiscal year, bringing our statement of faith up-to-date with the EFCA, and passing a new budget for the new fiscal year. 
There will be an Elder presentation and Q&A after our Sunday morning service. Which will be livestreamed.
 
We are looking forward to connecting with you all in this new regathering season. See you on Sunday here or on the livestream.


Pastor Craig

Covid Church Reopening

Published June 11, 2020

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As you all have experienced over the last 10 weeks, information moves quickly and at  times changes over the course of days and weeks.
 
This week The State of California along with the CDC have put forth some guidelines for Churches and communities of faith.  Our leadership teams, as well as staff and elders have been discussing the many variables that go into a safe regathering on Sundays and reopening of our campus.
 
The short story is that we will not be reopening this next week!
 
I don’t want to commit to a specific reopening date, but it would suffice to say that I am anxious to see everyone and worship with you all.  And I would imagine that sometime in June is our general mark.  We are on a week-to-week watch at this point  
 
When we do regather we will be paying close attention to CDC and State Health guidelines.
These guidelines include:
Gatherings of less than 100 people
Wearing face coverings while on campus and during the worship service.
Practicing 6-foot distancing between households
And using hand sanitizer before entering the sanctuary.
 
We still need some time to gather needed supplies and signage, connect with and train our Sunday morning volunteers, and prepare our campus. Our sanctuary right now is set up more for emergency livestreaming, and we need to get things straightened up. Even when we do reopen and regather, We will continue to livestream and we need to move cameras and wires to make this a more permanent set up.   
 
Let me also say something. Even when we reopen, we know that many of you need to remain at home for health reasons or simply out of an abundance of caution.  We get it, we love you, we will be continuing our livestream indefinitely so that we can make sure that every person who calls Taft Ave their church home can worship alongside their brothers and sisters by means of the technology that is available.
 
So, keep inviting your friends and neighbors to come and be part of our Sunday morning on the stream and in person when we open.
 
God is doing something in our community, Let’s be expectant that he is going to open doors for the gospel in our communities.

Pastor Craig

Published May 28th, 2020

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Self Guided Walk of Prayer: Thursday between 9am - 3pm

As we enter into week 9 of this Stay-at-Home order, we are continuing to have conversations about what it looks like for our church to worship and gather.  As our Elders met on Monday night, we decided we want to gather our Taft Avenue family together in prayer.  Even though we can’t gather together as a group, we created a guided walk of prayer here on Campus. 

We are opening the campus on Thursday for a walk of prayer with stations for you to pray for the different things that relate to this season in the life of our church and our community right now.  We invite you to come on Thursday anytime between 9am and 3pm to participate in the prayer walk and have an unhurried time of prayer before the Lord.  We want to bathe decisions like when and how to reopen in prayer!

This Thursday between 9am - 3pm, the back gate of the church will be open and there will be prayer stations around campus guiding your prayer time.  The video below will give you an idea of what to expect and if you can’t make it you can download a PDF of the prayer guides here or using the link at the bottom of this email.  So even if you can’t make it out this Thursday, we want you to participate in this time of unhurried prayer!

While you are here we ask that you continue to practice social distancing.  You may want to hug a friend if you see them, but we are asking you not to do that right now but rather to come and pray. 

We hope you’re able to join us and we look forward to seeing you here at church on Thursday between 9am - 3pm!

Pastor Craig

Dowload the prayer walk guide.

Published May 20th, 2020

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Seek Week continues

Seek Week has been a great way to pray alongside other followers of Jesus in Orange County this week.  It is still ongoing. There are zoom video gatherings at 8am, noon, and 7p daily.  Register on seekweek.org.
 
Happy Mother’s Day!
A very special Happy Mother’s Day to all you Moms out there! We honor you this week and this Sunday!
 
Anticipating a Gradual Reopening
We don’t know when, but we know that we will begin the reopening process in a matter of weeks.  We want to be aware of being good friends and neighbors and continue mitigation strategies even as we reopen.  We will likely be using hand sanitizer at the doors, and six-foot distancing for seating.  We will not be passing any offering bags or communion trays, though we will still encourage giving, and practice the Lord’s supper.  We will worship together again! Please be patient as we work out all the details!
 
Pastor Craig out of office until May 17
I am taking some time away in the next week.  This has been a pretty busy season as we have reinvented the way we do Sunday mornings and have tackled the various challenges facing the church and our Children’s House.  We have great teams who have stepped up! If you have any questions contact Office@taftavenue.org or Elders@taftavenue.org.  You can email me at Craig@taftavenue.org, I just will not get in until May 17.
 
Blessings on our Taft Ave family!
 
Pastor Craig

Published May 6th, 2020

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A New Series in Acts

As we are sheltered in our homes with an unknown future, we recognize that the earliest followers of Jesus experienced something similar. . . huddled in their homes, uncertain, anxious, and perhaps a bit afraid.  God took that tension and sent his Holy Spirit.  This was his plan to change the world.  With this in mind, we have begun a new series in Acts that will focus us on God’s movement as we are looking to engage with God and with our community in ministry! Tune in and invite friends on Sunday at 10:30am (taftavenue.org/livestream)
 
“Seek Week” and the National Day of Prayer
Seek Week is a chance for churches in Orange County to come together for prayer surrounding the National Day of Prayer May 7th. There are a few ways you can be involved.
1.     Go to seekweek.org and register for Seek Week. Once registered you will get reminders and information for online events.
2.     Sign up for one hour of the 24/7 Prayer effort. The goal is to have uninterrupted prayer for the entire week.
3.     During next week attend one of the three daily gatherings of prayer 8am, Noon, and 7pm (via zoom). There will be guided prayer times that you can participate in. You can get information on the website.
4.     Pray throughout the week for the people and leaders of Orange and the surrounding communities. Pray for the faithfulness of our church, and other churches in Orange. Pray for followers of Jesus to be mobilized and testify to the greatness of Jesus.
 
Constitution and Bylaws Revision
Before we all went into quarantine. . . we were preparing for some changes to our Constitution and Bylaws. We are still planning on making those changes at a congregational meeting on June 28 (Lord willing).
Among the changes were:
1.     A change to our statement of faith to align it with the current EFCA statement of faith.
2.     A change to our fiscal year. Moving it from January to December to a fiscal year that begins in July and ends in June.
3.     This means we will be approving a new budget at the June 28 meeting. The new budget will be available to view by Sunday, June 7.
These changes were proposed in our January congregational meeting for a June vote and can be viewed on our website.
 
I will be creating a brief teaching video explaining the change to the Statement of Faith that will be available in the next few weeks.
 
*Vote Scheduled for Sunday, June 28, 2020 Congregational Meeting (noon).  Questions can be directed to elders@taftavenue.org or by contacting the church office@taftavenue.org

Pastor Craig

Published April 30th, 2020

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Some Hard News for our Taft Avenue Family:  Craig Alexander, who was a long-time member has passed away. Millie and the family informed our Elders this morning that Craig passed away on Sunday.  Our hearts go out to the Alexander family and we recognize that Craig was a friend to many and made a significant impact on this community.  More information about a memorial will be forthcoming. Please contact office@taftavenue.org if you would like contact information for the Alexander family.
 
When will we reopen for Sunday Worship and Bible Studies?
One of the most significant questions that is being asked is “When are we going to get back to normal?” “When will we be meeting again at Church?”
These are good questions, and right now there is a lot of controversy surrounding questions of reopening the economy as well as gatherings for worship and the notions of government authority.
 
The tentative plan as of now is that we will be reopening on Sundays when. . .

  • State and County guidelines allow for gatherings of up to 250
  • We will likely meet and provide masks and hand sanitizer
  • And we will be encouraging the physical distancing guideline of 6 feet

I realize that singing and worshiping through a mask is not ideal.  I am not a big fan of masks, but I recognize their role in protecting each other from asymptomatic transmission, especially as we have a high percentage of at-risk population in our congregation.
 
Bible studies may open sooner, but in the meantime, the campus remains closed and our worship services are online.
 
A Recommended Podcast
I would encourage you all to listen to the podcast that I have linked in this update email.
The Podcast is called Theology in the Raw and is one I listen to somewhat regularly.  It’s host is a Theologian named Preston Sprinkle, who has worked with Francis Chan.
 
In this episode he has a conversation with an expert in infectious disease. I am recommending this episode because:

  • It has good and pragmatic scientific information from an expert in infectious diseases. It answers a lot of questions.
  • It brings in the perspective of believers and Scripture and the centrality of the Kingdom of God.
  • It tries, as best as it can, to put politics aside.

I have not found a source that does all three of these things. This episode is kind of like having an expert who is a Christian come into my home and sit at my kitchen table so I can ask them questions.  Give it a listen.  It may not be perfect, but it offers a good Christian and solid Scientific perspective.
 
This will provide some perspective on why we will likely be singing through masks and practicing physical distancing on Sundays when we reopen.
 
There are some studies that are aiming to show that this virus has already swept through California.  And I am hoping that is true.  Until there can be some assurances of herd immunity, or effective treatments, or a vaccine, I feel like the phrase from Philippians 2 “consider others as more important than yourselves” will likely win the day. Especially at a church where our Purpose Statement is Love God and Love Others.  Taking these precautions helps us to love others.
 
“Calm breeds Calm, Chaos breeds Chaos”
I heard this phrase the other day and found it to be true, “Calm breeds calm, and chaos breeds chaos.”
Every day there seems to be some new action or angle that needs to be explored.  That can produce some fatigue. Every day there is a call to patience.  That can produce some fatigue. Every day there are polarized voices on Cable News as well as Social Media.  That can produce fatigue.  There will be noise.  It is our call to replace noise with Scripture, to replace noise with God’s voice, to replace noise with the Holy Spirit.
 
This has been a challenge, and will continue to be a challenge. Where there is challenge there are the ups and downs of good days and bad days.  Some days marked by optimism and good spirits and other days are characterized by fatigue, disappointment, and even anger.  This challenge calls for an extra measure of attentiveness to the Spirit.
 
We are looking for the fruit of the Spirit in this season: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control.  If you find yourself speaking, acting, or posting on Social Media without this fruit, I would urge you to simply refrain.  If you find the need to protest and that is a conviction you feel called to act on, I simply ask that you would do it with the sort of civility of someone who identifies as a follower of Jesus and recognizes the human dignity inherent of all people on all sides of this issue.
 
I and any of our Elders are happy to exchange emails or have phone conversations.
craig@taftavenue.org           Elders@taftavenue.org        
 
You all are deeply loved!
Peace be with you all!
 
Pastor Craig

Published April 23rd, 2020

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We had a wonderful Easter Week!
Beginning with Palm Sunday, a thoughtful Good Friday service, all culminating in a very uplifting and encouraging Easter Sunday service; It was a great week to reflect and worship.
 
Our Easter service was live streamed by 83 households and viewed afterwards over 150 more times. By conservative calculations we had almost 170 people participate live and many more total. Numbers are certainly not everything, but they do help us to track how we're doing during this time. And they are encouraging.
 
We are thrilled that God is allowing us to minister to a growing number of people even during this time of “Safer at Home.”
 
Thank you all for “inviting” your friends and neighbors to Taft Ave!
 
Some Words of Thanks are in order
Five weeks ago when this all began and we were not able to congregate as normal, we tasked a handful of bright, and tech savvy people to get us up and running online with the Livestream.  I want to say thanks to a number of people for special roles they have played. 
The efforts and expertise of Craig Johnston have been remarkable in terms of getting video and audio feed to a streaming service.  He has trouble-shot countless issues and it is his ministry that has allowed you all to continue to access our service.  What he is doing is real ministry in this season.
Alana Zheng our Office Manager makes sure the stream is accessible on our website, and that Full Services remain available on Vimeo, and sermon audio and video are continually accessible on our website
Also Marcia Lichte has been particularly helpful to all of you who may experience troubles on your device, TV, phone or however you are accessing the service.
Connor, Kiersten, and Kyle have been faithful to lead us in worship.
Terry Lichte and Emma Hill have been on the slides.
Sarah Johnston has been orchestrating the lighting.
And Bruce Young and Jason Smith have been faithful on the sound board.
And Bill Runion is the pillar that you all have grown accustomed to him being, he steps in wherever needed. 
This team of 10 has really done fine ministry!  Please reach out to them to say a word of thanks!
 
Livestream Survey
Gathering for worship continues to bind us together, and that is why we have made this sort of effort and investment to come together on Sunday mornings at 10:30a
 
Because of this we have created a brief survey for you all about how your experience of Sunday worship has been around the livestream.  Click the link on this email for a short 5 min survey and answer a few questions that will allow us to know a bit more about your experience.
 
One byproduct of the hard work of getting this livestream up has been that we are expanding our reach. As you may have heard on the Easter service we had people streaming from Orange, Villa Park, Yorba Linda, Garden Grove, Irvine, and Santa Ana.  Outside of the area there were folks in Ventura, Kingsburg, Reno NV, CourD’Alaine ID, El Paso Texas, and Manila Philippines.
 
As we are faithful to love our community and care for our people, I believe that God will continue to entrust to us the care of our community and the care of souls to us.
 
Personal Care and Wellness
I want to encourage you to continue to take care of yourself. . .
Anxiety/Loneliness/Stress are real things.  Sometimes we don’t know we are experiencing them until we find ourselves in a bad spot.
I have noticed for myself certain ways that I would typically cope with stress would be to take a book to a coffee shop and enjoy a cup of coffee and read, or I would reach out to a friend to have lunch and catch up on life.  Both of those things are not accessible to me right now, and I am not a big Zoom person, so I have had to adjust.  Give myself a little grace, talk to friends about how I am feeling.
 
So, do something for yourself.  And give the people that you are with permission to do something for themselves. 
 
I would urge you to continue to reach out to each other, share a high and a low.  Pray for each other, pray for our city and neighborhoods.
 
Final Thoughts
Don’t forget about the Livestream Survey link below.
Don’t forget to connect with someone from Taft Ave.
Prayer requests are welcomed, please let us know how you are doing.
 
Taft Ave Family . . . God sees you and God loves you.  May the Laughter, Joy, and the Peace of God be felt in your home today as we look forward to being one day closer to gathering once again.
 
Pastor Craig

Published April 16th, 2020

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Happy Easter Week to all our Taft Ave Community Church and Children’s House families!
 
Update:
We are currently in Easter Week in this "Shelter at Home" season! (Which is becoming the “new normal” for church) Our campus remains closed and all of our services are Livestream only.  The Livestream is available on our website www.taftavenue.org/livestreamWe have two services this week.  Good Friday Service is at 7pm this Friday. Easter Sunday Service will be at 10:30am.
 
If you, or anyone you are connected with, are having issues getting onto the Livestream you can connect them with Marcia Lichte (she has been super helpful to all who have needed some tech support). We are averaging about 60 streams per service, but are seeing over 100 views after that!  That is encouraging!
 
We have live-streamed four services thus far.  We are far from perfect but are learning a lot.  There is a bit of a learning curve on accomplishing this. I want to extend my sincere thanks to Craig Johnston.  Without his expertise and extra hours of work, we would not be able to do half of what is being accomplished on the Livestream.  Our whole AVL and Worship team (Bruce, Jason, Bill, Craig J, Sarah, Connor, Kiersten, Kyle, and Terry) have been amazing!  When you get a chance, thank them for the hard work they have been putting in to help our congregation worship well in this time.
 
Action Items
1. Please make contact with at least one other Taft Avenue family or Children’s House family in the next few days.  It is important to stay connected and encouraged during this time.  Also, see if anyone has any needs around you. Allan Oficial has offered to be a purchaser of some harder to find items at Target for anyone who has needs. (his email is allanoficial@gmail.com)
 
2. Our plan this Easter is to encourage our people to use chalk to write "Christ is Risen!" or "He is Risen" or “Jesus is Risen” on their sidewalk in front of their house or on their driveway.  We are making chalk available at the church at the gate by the office as well as by our Children's House back gate.  In both places there will be a box of big chalk just inside the gate, you can reach through to grab a piece of chalk. So, come down grab some chalk and write an Easter message that Jesus is Risen!
 
3. Be in prayer for your community and for our people.  This situation is producing many opportunities to share our faith. I am praying for you all, as well as the churches of Orange to be at the ready to shine the light of the gospel wherever it can go.
 
I would love to hear from you how you are weathering this "shelter at home" season. Drop me an email if you can.
craig@taftavenue.org
 
Peace be with you and your family,
 
Pastor Craig

 

Published April 8th, 2020

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Hello to all of our Taft Avenue faithful as well as our Children’s house families.
I just want to begin this weekly update by saying how much you are loved and are missed by all of us here at the church. 
 
A few encouragements when you are out
While we began this shelter at home experience there was a sense of novelty and comraderie in communities.  I have noticed that there is an increasing sense of isolation for people in general. I want to encourage you to continue make eye-contact if you are out a the store or for a walk. Be kind. Be polite. Pray for people.
 
We have some signs out in front of our church that say “Praying…for…you…”  As I was out straightening them up one of our neighbors was walking her dog yelled across the street, “Thank you so much for putting up those signs and praying for us!” God is working. . . so continue to be an encouragement, and pray for your community.
 
The Next Two Weeks
From all the data, it seems like these next two weeks are going to be the most severe in our nation, and perhaps locally.
 
The Church, you all, are essential in this next two weeks.  We need you to call and check in with each other.  Keep each other encouraged.  It is ok to feel some ups and downs.  That is to be expected, since our regular means of coping with stress and anxiety have likely been disrupted.  We have to pay attention to ourselves and to our families and friends.
 
Great Stories of Care and Help
I have heard great stories of people caring for their neighbors, going out to sing happy birthday to a friend in the street.  I have also heard of people receiving the help they need.
 
If you have a need we urge you to submit a prayer request on our website (Connect/Need Prayer).  You can also email our elders at Elders@taftavenue.org.  
 
Church Directory
If you need to call someone and you do not know their number or email, there is a church directory available by clicking this link
taftavenue.org/stayconnected
the password to access the page is: loveorange
 
Love God and Love others during this time!
 
Now just a bit of business for our membership:
I wanted to give our members an update about what is happening here at the Church campus.
I am here on campus Monday through Thursday while Alana is working from her home.  The office is physically closed, but email is open at office@taftavenue.org.  Emails are being received and answered.
Gordon is also in his office a few times a week.
The campus is closed, but the organization is still functioning. Mail is being received, bills are being paid, we are still functioning as an organization, there is work to be done.   
 
Offering and Giving
We have not been able to pass the offering bags for the last three weeks.
If you are accustomed to give by way of checks you can mail those to the church:
Taft Avenue Community Church
1350 E Taft Ave 
Orange, CA 92865
Any checks that are sent will be collected and deposited.
Gordon and I will be checking the mail throughout the week
 
If you would like to save a check, a stamp, and some time you can give online.  It is a secure and convenient way to give during this time.  On our website in the upper right corner there is the word “Give”. Click on that and it will give you an online form to fill out the with appropriate card information. Or you can use this link.
 
Either way we encourage you to continue your giving. We are still paying the bills and costs associated with operating our campus and organization.
 
Lord’s Supper This Week
This week we will have another first.  We are going to celebrate the Lord’s Supper together.  It will require a bit of preparation on your part.  You will need bread, you will need juice, or something else to drink in your home.  We will do it as part of our Palm Sunday service this Sunday.
 
Let me end by saying how encouraged I am by our people.  We have skilled and talented people who have been working hard to pull off the Sunday morning service and livestream.  We have over 60 streams on a Sunday morning.  But as we have it up on our site, last week’s service and sermon has over 220 views.  God is bringing people to our service, and we want to be helping people connect with God and eachother during this time.
 
God sees you, God loves you, and God is with you during this time!
 
Pastor Craig

Published April 2nd, 2020

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We are over a week into the statewide “Shelter at Home” directive! We hope you all are weathering the challenges well in this season! 
 
During this time our campus at Taft Avenue Community Church remains closed, and all our small group ministries are on hold
 
I want to invite you all to join our church service online on our website on Sundays at 10:30.  Taftavenue.org/livestreamSo many of you in our Taft Ave family have streamed our service, and we are thrilled that you are conquering the technology and worshipping with us. 
 
The good news is that Our church service is being seen by many.  We had over 60 households that clicked in (120 people is a good estimate), and our service is being seen well beyond our immediate communities. We have some friends in the central valley that told us, “We love coming to Taft Ave on Sundays!” They are 200 miles away, but are loving being a part of our community.
 
Keep pointing people to our Livestream. It is part of our purpose to help people connect, and reconnect, with God during this season. 
 
We have added on the livestream page a place where visitors can fill out a Connect Card online
 
Also, we have added to our website a place where anyone can submit prayer requests.
Our Elders and Staff and Prayer team are privileged to lift you up in prayer. If you have a pressing need, this is a good place to go to request that sort of help as well.
 
Here are a few things we continue to encourage you to do:
 
Walk and Pray – walk your neighborhood, pray for the people in the various houses.  I have been praying for “The Peace of God” (Phil 4:7; 4:4-9) or the “Peace of Christ” (Col 3:15; 3:12-17) over the houses that I pass.  I am trying to commit these two passages to memory, so I will recite them as I walk and pray.  Maybe you have a different passage that is encouraging you through this time. . . use that!  But take an hour daily or weekly to Walk and Pray! We always anticipate that God will move!
 
Stay Connected with Each Other – The practice of connecting with at least one person each day is a good rule.  Phone, FaceTime, Zoom, Google Hangouts are all good.  We have the technological means to stay connected in great ways. There is something about hearing the voice, and seeing the face of someone you know.  If you don’t feel like you are techy enough . . . give it a shot and try something new!  We are a congregation of Growing people!
 
Overall, we want you to be a blessing to your neighborhood and community.  
It is completely appropriate that we continue to offer our Faith in Jesus and Trust in God as the antidote for fear and anxiety so prevalent in this season.
 
If you are having any troubles with our livestream, contact any of the staff or elders and they will be happy to help or connect you with someone who can help.
 
Reach out if you have a need office@taftavenue.org or reach out to our elders elders@taftavenue.org
 
Or you can email me craig@taftavenue.org
 
Peace to you all!
 
Pastor Craig

Published March 26th, 2020

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In our world there is continued emphasis on the spread of COVID-19 and the measures our country is taking to mitigate its spread.  It is difficult to avoid all the talk and opining about the seriousness of this pandemic as well as the steps that are being taken.  I am certain that every person in our church has felt the effects of this flurry of activity and news.
 
Many of you last Sunday worshiped with us by means of a livestream on the internet.  As we tracked it, our service was streamed to over 25 households and we had many people “attending” our church for the first time last Sunday on the livestream!  This was a great success for our body in this time.  We appreciate that you all took the time and conquered the technology!  We will continue this