Chapter 3 Update

Chapter 3 Update, 09.18.2020

Dear Church Family,

Our “Chapter 3” Re-Opening Team, Elders, and Pastors have chosen a target date of October 4th for another outdoor service in the lawn area of our campus. There would be one service at 10 am. We are currently getting the equipment to be able to livestream without “drops” through a much more reliable service than we used in March. This will allow the majority of you (who told us in the survey that you would prefer to worship at home right now) to experience the same service online at 10 as well. This would be a once a month experiment to see how many people attend, how valuable attenders assess it to be with the limitations, and how our Chapter 3, Elder and Pastor Teams evaluate it.

As you know, our County and State are seeing COVID-19 numbers going quickly in the wrong direction, so this plan is subject to change at any time. As I am writing, our County just got put on the State’s “watch list.” Recently, outdoor services were approved for more than 100 people total, which finally helps a church our size to consider holding them. If this number goes back to 100 or even less, we will reassess the value of holding the service.          

Who this service is for:

  • Those who are willing to assume the personal risk of attending in-person gatherings during this ”COVID-19” time.
  • Those who are not in a high-risk category (seniors, heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, immune compromised, etc. or who shelter with a high-risk person) WE ADVISE YOU TO STAY HOME if this is you!
  • Adults, teens and children who can sit calmly in a 6’ circle for an hour service.
  • Those who are willing to follow ALL protocols suggested by our State and County at that time (currently masks at all times, no shaking hands/hugging, 6’ distance from other households, no refreshments etc.). 

What we will need:

  • A lot of volunteers who are NOT in a high-risk category to set up/tear down, serve as parking attendants, temperature checkers, ushers, etc. Let us know if you would like to help by emailing  

We are praying for you, our church family, during this time!

For the Chapter 3 Re-opening Team, Elders, and Staff,



Chapter 3 Update, 06.25.2020

Chapter 3 - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
CDC/County Guidelines:

Q: Why are we following the CDC and County guidelines.
A: First of all, we are being respectful of our laws. We will partner with and be a blessing to our governing authorities. Therefore, we will not have a posture of protest or defiance. Secondly, we need guidance to follow and the CDC and County guidelines give us that support. We understand that some people feel the guidelines are extreme and not necessary, but as stated previously, we want to uphold our local authority’s decisions. We also want to stay on the course of being cautious and not jump ahead too soon as the situation is changing daily.

Q: What are the current guidelines?
A: Tracking of those that attend in case of a “super spreading” event is required, health screening including temperatures, hand hygiene stations, masks would be required 100% of the time, 6 feet distancing required. Singing is not allowed. Complete list of guidelines and specific cleaning protocols implemented here:

Other Churches
Q: Other churches are opening, why aren’t we?
A: Every church family has a culture, and during times of stress, it is good to focus on fundamental truths. Our SVCC family will navigate the future re-opening decisions with a loving goal of protecting the most medically vulnerable members of our church family and community.

Q: Why are we not following soon after other churches open?
A: When churches reopen, they must follow very stringent guidelines. Upon assessment of liability, public safety, and the needs of members, we have assessed that opening inside under the stringent guidelines will not look like the services we all know and love. It will also not allow the majority of our people to attend at present. There would also be considerable costs to cleaning pre and post services, and staging the flow of traffic and where to stand during services, the number of our volunteers needed, and a multitude of considerations that make it prohibitive at present. 

Church Services
Q: Will SVCC stick to one service of 100 people, or have multiple services of 100 people each?
A: One of the advantages of the current on-line format is that it is accessible widely. At present, we do not have the ability to live stream a service, simultaneous with the 100 persons attending live. If we open under present guidelines, we would have to find a way to set up reservations, both to be fair to those who wish to attend, and to maintain records to aid in contact tracing if someone in our church were to become positive.

Q: Why have we not proceeded to having small services with social distancing and masks?
A: The guidelines for returning to services are very restrictive. Many members have expressed that it wouldn't feel the same and would prefer to continue in our current format. 

Q: How can I be assured that others will adhere to guidelines so that it is safe for me to return to church?
A: At SVCC, we will protect the most medically vulnerable. Therefore, we will follow the best of federal, state, and county health guidelines. Our church family lives our calling as citizens of heaven, and our members will respect the need to maintain precautions for the safety of all. 

Q: How do I fulfill my need to be connected with other spiritually minded persons?
A: Submit your prayer requests HERE and indicate your desire to have a Pastor or someone from church ministry to contact you. The prayer requests are reviewed weekly and you will have someone follow up with you. There are church members willing to reach out on a regular basis. 

Outside Services
Q: Since there are so many restrictions on inside services, would SVCC ever consider an outdoor service?
A: Until late June, the rules for outdoor services limited the attendance to 100 as well. Now that the restrictions have currently loosened to allow larger outdoor gatherings that follow the guidelines for religious services, we are presently considering whether and how to do outdoor services. Also, with our current equipment, we would not be able to record or live stream an outside service so that would require us to perform and record the online service at a separate time.

Small Groups/Community Groups
Q: If we can’t meet on the SVCC campus can we meet in small groups/community groups?
A: Right now, SVCC cannot give our blessing to gatherings under the church's umbrella. However, the County has, in late June, provided guidance on how you might begin meeting your social and emotional needs in "Social Circles". Based on conversation with the Health Department, this allows separately sheltered-in-place households totaling no more than 12 people all together to meet outside as family and friends for four weeks (e.g. 6 empty nester couples, 2 couples with 3 kids each and a single parent with a child, etc.). You can find more information here:
Again, this is for personal not official SVCC ministry purposes. 

Q: Can we organize home churches outside until the restrictions are completely lifted?
A: We can encourage ZOOM meetings and phone calls. However, small groups associated with the church have more to consider if they gather for religious purposes as official ministries of the church, including the medical and fiscal responsibility to protect SVCC and its members from harm.


Chapter 3 Talk - 06.21.2020 with Matt Fleming


Chapter 3 Talk - 06.14.2020 with Matt Fleming 


Update from Pastor Mark, 06.02.2020

Dear SVCC family,

We ARE a family!
We are a family going through a global health crisis not seen for a century, that has affected the structures of our society in profound ways. In confusing eras, every family needs leadership, and ours is no different. As a reminder, our highest leadership group is our Elder Team (Ryan Cornelsen, Terry Espinoza, Ron Fergason, Jim Fletcher, Bryan Schalesky, Mark Simmons, and Josh Stover). I serve, as Senior Pastor, under the collective leadership of this team.

During times of huge transition, our Elders have appointed special teams to serve with us and advise us in leading our church family. The first era of our church (Chapter 1) took us from 1984-2002. From 2002-2004, we had a “Chapter 2” Team that guided us through the process of raising funds and doing a complete Campus Re-Development project. The Elders have now appointed a “Chapter 3” Team, because navigating the wisest course of living out our mission in this COVID-19 era is so very critical.  

This is the team that will research, pray and advise the entire Elder Team through the process of discerning our eventual re-opening strategy. We have had two meetings so far and we will be meeting regularly for the foreseeable future. Please pray for the Chapter 3 team! They are:

Shelley Berg - SVCC Business Administrator
Ryan Cornelsen - Architect, SVCC Elder
Matt Fleming - K-12 Administrator, PhD student
Terry Espinoza - Retired Educator, SVCC Elder
Jim Fletcher - Senior Business Consultant, Chairman of our Elder Team
Rae Gularte - CPA, SVCC Finance Team
Doug Huckins - Retired military and state law enforcement
Barbara Mejia - Attorney
Nancy Beymer - Hartnell Nursing Faculty
Tim Reece - SVCC Facility Manager
Paul Richards - SVCC Worship Pastor
Mark Simmons - SVCC Senior Pastor, SVCC Elder Team

When Katy and I were raising Tyler and Jason, they heard constantly, “In the Simmons family, we . . .” It really didn’t matter what OTHER families or parents were doing (there is a free parenting/grand-parenting tip for you!). Every church family has a culture, and during times of stress, it is good to focus on fundamental truths about how OUR SVCC family will navigate the future re-opening decisions that will be made. What OTHER churches do is not our primary concern.

A few guiding principles that our church leaders are united in are:

  • Protect the most medically vulnerable members of our church family and community. Therefore, we will follow the best federal, state and county health guidelines.
  • Partner with (and be a blessing to!) our governing authorities. Therefore, we will not have a posture of protest or defiance.
  • Separate the HOW we do our ministry from the WHAT and WHY. Therefore, we will not be focused on getting back to what we USED to do but navigating a course to the future.

 Our church family lives out our calling as citizens of heaven in a Jesus colony (as we’ve seen in Philippians) in a particular nation, state, and county. In my role as Senior Pastor of SVCC, I am in meetings with our county and city leaders regularly. I repeatedly hear how much they consider the faith community to be ESSENTIAL to the fabric of our community’s people. There is NO governmental persecution of the church on the local level (which is my only personal reference point). Our local authorities want to re-open Monterey County as soon as it is safely possible to do so, and are presently asking the faith community to work with them on planning HOW we can serve people’s spiritual, emotional and physical needs safely all through California’s 4-Phase re-opening process. Our elected and appointed County leaders WANT our input and partnership!

The Apostle Paul’s benediction seems so fitting for our church family at this time:

May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. (Romans 15:5 NLT)

For the Chapter 3 Team, Elders, Pastors, and Staff,

Mark Simmons

Click HERE to read a letter from Jim Fletcher, Chairman of our Elder Team. 

Below is a video from Jim Fletcher and Mark Simmons introducing our Chapter 3 team.