A Letter from Pastor Cynthia - 5/27/20

Dear StoneBridge,

 

I’ve always valued StoneBridge’s mission statement to reach the lost, make disciples and send them out. It’s the last part of our mission statement, send them out, that has changed my life. After careful consideration and prayer, I have taken a position to serve as the chaplain at Saint Andrews University in North Carolina. I go knowing StoneBridge is dedicated to raising disciples who are sent out to follow wherever the Holy Spirit leads them. I go, not only as a follower of Christ, but as a representative of StoneBridge.

 

My connection to and deep love for the Body of Christ were first nurtured within StoneBridge. In fact, if I were to describe StoneBridge in one word, my word would be ‘family.’ StoneBridge is made up of my birth family and my Christian family. I grew up under many of the same youth leaders who still guide and nurture the congregation today. As an associate pastor, I have had the opportunity to teach and guide the children of leaders who once walked alongside me. The last eight years on staff have been a wonderful experience of giving back and serving the church that raised me. 

  

At ordination, elders, deacons and ministers are asked if they will pray for, and seek to serve the people with energy, intelligence, imagination and love. Over the years, I have sought to do just that. Whether it’s the energy to stay up late at winter camp, or the intelligence needed to understand middle schoolers, or the imagination to build an empty tomb for Easter, or sharing the love of Christ, I have served StoneBridge with all that I am. I am grateful for the moments that have taught me and I cherish the moments where we laughed and cried together.

 

I have loved being part of this congregation and feel honored that you let me serve with your students and their families. My time at StoneBridge has been a great joy and blessing in my life. I am forever grateful to have had the honor of being one of your pastors.


Our students will continue to have Zoom youth group meetings. StoneBridge's dedication to our students is still strong. Encourage your son or daughter to keep showing up for youth group and joining us for special events. I hope to see all their shining faces on my screen for the next seven weeks.

 

Due to COVID-19, saying goodbye will be unusually difficult. However, in the coming weeks, using all that technology has to offer, I look forward to many virtual goodbyes. Of course, I will continue to pray for StoneBridge’s bright future and God’s guidance.

 

 

In Christ’s Love,

Pastor Cynthia Purvis

Reopening the church - 5/20/20

Dear StoneBridge family,


All of us wonder when StoneBridge will be worshipping together, in person, again. Almost two weeks ago, a reopening team was organized to specifically look into how to do so in the safest manner. To reopen, the StoneBridge elders and pastors have unanimously agreed on these three guiding principles.


Safety First

Christians are identified by mercy, compassion, love, kindness, humility and sacrifice. Therefore, we take into utmost consideration public safety and guidelines established to protect everyone. For more about the challenges of church groups meeting, please see this article from the LA Times.


Comply with Ordinances

Christians seek to glorify God and lift up the cause of Christ. Therefore, StoneBridge Community Church does not want to be the cause of anyone’s sadness, sorrow, sickness, nor certainly anyone’s death. So, we will gladly comply with Federal, State and County ordinances. This is consistent with Romans 13:1-2 where Paul writes,

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves


Don’t Rush!

This is not the time to be first. As the article above indicates, those communities of faith who wanted to be first to reopen have paid a high price. As soon as the team began thinking about the practical realities of reopening, it realized the task is very complicated. New safety barriers will need to be put in place, new signage put up, and sanctuary chairs removed and reorganized to meet social distancing standards. Classroom and restroom sanitizing protocols as well as greeting and socializing norms must also be established.

 

The team has established three stages for reopening…
First, the StoneBridge office will open and staff will return on campus with flexible work schedules. Second, StoneBridge will cultivate community in appropriate ways. Some ideas being considered include growth group worship watch parties, drive through church connection events, and parking lot/outdoor worship services.
Third, live worship inside the sanctuary will return when safety guidelines can be met and, when doing so, reflects StoneBridge positively to our community.

 

Based on these three principles and the ever-evolving complexity of navigating an extraordinary pandemic, the elder board and pastors will continue to evaluate and determine the safest reopening of StoneBridge on a monthly basis. As always, leadership is committed to communicating as clearly and as regularly as possible all that is going on in the life of the church.

 

God bless,

Pastor Neal

financial update - 5/12/20

Dear StoneBridge Family,

 

I want to give you a financial update, say thank you, and encourage you to stay the course established earlier this year.


Financial Update

I’ll start with a summary of last December’s Huddle meetings. Since 2016, StoneBridge’s income steadily declined and in response, the 2019-20 budget was reduced by 7% (almost $80,000). Income continued to decline and even though staff further reduced ministry expenditures, income declined to be below expenses. In December, it was communicated that our current budget was not sustainable.

So, the congregation was asked to help with additional income of $10,000 more per month to bridge the gap and achieve the reduced 2019-20 budget. Gratefully, that occurred through the middle of March. Thank you!


More Great News

Session approved applying for a Paycheck Protection Program loan. StoneBridge applied and I am happy to announce that the loan was approved. It’s anticipated that the loan will be converted to a grant - per the program. If our congregation is able to give at the same levels prior to the Stay-At-Home orders, StoneBridge has an amazing opportunity to come out of this challenging COVID season without any reductions of staff and well situated for our new pastor’s arrival.


A Bright Future

While it seems almost everything has changed in the world in the last few months, it is also true that the big picture for StoneBridge has not. In the future, when new families move to Simi and look for a church, I believe StoneBridge will be an attractive option. Inevitably, the new senior pastor will bring an enthusiasm that will translate to an increased awareness of StoneBridge around town.


On a personal note, I have observed over the last seven weeks that you really love one another. You love your church! Your ongoing giving and online worship attendance demonstrate this. As challenging as this season is, I envy your new pastor. Your new pastor will face incredible challenges but, will face them with a congregation who is ready, generous, and devoted.

 

Thank you and God bless,

Pastor Neal