A response regarding Covid-19 (the novel coronavirus)
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!
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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or by contacting the church email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
You all are deeply loved!
Peace be with you all!
Published April 23rd, 2020
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!
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.
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.
Published April 16th, 2020
Happy Easter Week to all our Taft Ave Community Church and Children’s House families!
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/livestream. We 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.
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 email@example.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.
Peace be with you and your family,
Published April 8th, 2020
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.
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.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!
Published April 2nd, 2020
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/livestream. So 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 email@example.com or reach out to our elders firstname.lastname@example.org
Or you can email me email@example.com
Peace to you all!
Published March 26th, 2020
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 livestream of our services.
While last week we were able to meet under the gathering guidelines of the Center for Disease Control (CDC), this week the CDC has issued a special 15 day plan that calls for even more stringent restrictions on gatherings. And just yesterday the County of Orange put out an order that “all public or private gatherings of any number of people are prohibited.” For this reason, our Church campus is currently closed (with the exception of Children’s House), and we are moving our weekly Sunday 10:30a service entirely online with our livestream until the end of the month. A small essential team of worship, tech, and pastoral staff will be onsite producing the worship service, which will be available to participate in online.
I realize that there is a wide range of thoughts about the drastic measures that are being used to combat this virus, as well as the various responses of our church. Are we going overboard? Are we risking being unfaithful to God or our mission by closing our sanctuary?
We are faced with the task of faithfulness to God in the midst of being part of stopping the spread and severity of this virus. An online “gathering” for worship may not be ideal, but it allows us to be faithful to God in corporate worship, while also being above reproach as responsible citizens, and caring for the most at-risk among us.
I would like you all to know that these decisions have been prayerfully arrived at. On Monday night our Elders (myself, Bill Runion, Rick Hicks, Terry Lichte, and Rainier Laxamana) met along with Cathy Keller, Marcia Lichte, and Jim Hill to pray and work out a plan for caring for our congregation during this time. We prayed for many of you by name, and will continue to pray for each other, and offer help to those who need it. Any of these people are good to contact if you have a need, or would like to be helpful during this time.
A few things we are encouraging:
1. Walk and Pray - We are encouraging everyone in our Taft Avenue Family to Walk & Pray Saturday 9-10a. During that hour go for a walk and pray for your neighborhood. Say hello to your neighbors (if you see them, and practicing social distancing) and let them know that you are praying for them, and that our church is praying for our community. Ask them if they have any needs at this time.
2. Worship with us online – We will continue to livestream our Sunday 10:30 Service. We have put the livestream on our website to make it easier to access. Click here to go to taftavenue.org/livestream. Click on the play button and the livestream will begin around 10a or 10:15a on Sunday. If anyone needs help getting set up, please contact Marcia Lichte or any of the elders who would be happy to walk you through the process.
3. Share our Livestream – People right now may be anxious and needing reassurance. It is appropriate that we offer Faith in Jesus and trust in God as the antidote to fear and anxiety. Our worship service is one way we can direct people to God in this time.
4. Stay in contact with each other and our leaders – Quarantine does not mean isolation. We are able to connect with each other over phone, text, facetime, email. I would urge you to connect with at least one person every day. Be sure to pray together over the phone, and encourage one another to use this time well.
5. Reflect on our Series from Genesis (In the Beginning) – We will be producing some discussion questions and materials for you and your household during this time at home.
We are praying that you are well, that this is a rich time of growth in the Lord, and that this unique season is strategic for the Kingdom of God to advance in the hearts of the people of our communities.
Published March 18th, 2020
News of the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) is occupying center stage for our nation and much of the world these days. As a church we want to be appropriately informed of any developments and take any precautions necessary for a safe and healthy environment for our worship services and gatherings.
Before offering some practical considerations, it would be appropriate for us to reflect on Scripture and our posture during times of crisis. For us as individuals, and as a community of faith, we are clearly called to embrace hope, love, and the warmth of the Holy Spirit towards each other and a lost world. As Philippians 4:6-7 urges, we exchange our anxiety for prayer and thanksgiving, and we anticipate that God will be faithful to offer peace, even in crisis. As I stated on Sunday, we continue to greet one another with love and warmth, and that certainly can involve the warmth of simple human touch and conversation.
At the same time we can also be smart in this season. We encourage everyone to take appropriate precautions. Here are some basic measures recommended by the CDC, which we encourage:
- Stay home if you are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces regularly.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
- Practice these precautionary measures at home and pass this information along to family and friends.
We want to be safe, but we also want to be people who are characterized by faith and trust in the Lord. May God find us faithful to be in prayer for our community, state, nation, and world.
Peace to you all,
Published March 11th, 2020
Links for more information: