Sunday, March 22, 2020 Update
Pastor Lee here,
I missed you all in church today!!
We did assemble a "skeleton congregation" (that sounds weird--just a few fully dressed people!) to make a video recording which will soon be posted on our YouTube channel, Facebook and website. Not as good as getting together in person, I know, but the best alternative we can do relatively easily. A BIG "Thank you!" to the Culver family--Travis who recorded, Kristina, Maddie, and Bella who sang a gorgeous trio of "Jesus Loves Me," and Steve for calming piano music!! Also, Annie and Dave (Ford) were there to laugh at my jokes and make the sanctuary look not quite so empty!
Next Sunday, Carolyn has volunteered to sing (Thank you, Carolyn!) and we will proceed much like today. Then we will decide about April services at the end of March.
Please remember to mail in or use online banking to continue your church giving. Without a Sunday offering in person, our church truly needs you to step up and take initiative in getting your financial support to the church office.
1. We are still a living church family. Please reach out to each other. Pick up the phone and call. Check our Facebook and website for updates, photos, conversations. Kristina will post stuff for children. Travis is starting a "What Did You Hear?" Facebook conversation for anyone who wants to discuss today's sermon after you hear it.
2. Be safe. Observe all necessary precautions.
3. If you feel ill, CALL your doctor--do NOT go to an medical waiting room unless directed by your doctor.
4. Serious symptoms of Covid-19 include: fever, cough, difficulty breathing. Call your doctor if you have any of these.
5. Remember that at least 80% of all Covid-19 patients recover without medical intervention. It is most threatening to high-risk populations: seniors, those with existing respiratory and/or heart conditions, those with compromised immune systems.
6. Life is topsy-turvy now for everyone. Be patient. Walk outside. Get fresh air. Play with your children and pets. Breathe.
7. Call me if you need a listening ear or prayer or other assistance from the church.
I love you. You are a wonderful group of people.
March 18, 2020 Update
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
The LORD is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
He maketh me lie down in green pastures;
He leadeth me beside still waters;
He restoreth my soul.
He leadeth me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me;
Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies;
Thou anointest my head with oil;
My cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
The familiar words of the 23rd Psalm have never sounded more reassuring. We have a faithful Shepherd who watches over us through easy and hard times, in all circumstances that life brings. That includes today.
Like all churches, First English Baptist Church is working to adjust to the ongoing flux of life in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and to thrive in this time of challenge and uncertainty. Here are our priorities:
To continue to be Christ's Church
To protect and care for each other's physical, spiritual, and emotional safety and welfare
To be good neighbors to all, especially those experiencing distress, fear, and vulnerability.
To be responsible citizens who honor our leaders' efforts to mitigate and reduce risk and suffering and to work cooperatively with our entire community.
With these priorities in mind, we ask your help, prayers, and patience with some changes we are implementing for the present situation.
We are suspending all gatherings of 10 or more people in the church building, at least through March, when we will reassess the situation. This includes our worship services, Bible studies, Board and Committee meetings, and outside user groups.
In place of the worship service, we will be either “live-streaming” and/or recording and posting to our website here and Facebook pages an abbreviated worship experience which will include Scripture, sermon/message, and prayer—something similar to what Becky Lowthert and Travis Culver have been faithfully posting previously. We will figure out a way to continue a radio broadcast at our usual time as well, though there will probably still be a week delay for that. This is a work-in-progress as I write.
Carey and I plan to keep the church office open, at minimum, every weekday, 10 a.m.-Noon, to maintain church office business.
Last night, I met with nine of our church leaders representing our Boards and Committees and together we are strategizing to make appropriate changes; we meet again in two weeks to review where we are. I want to assure you of my confidence in our fine and faithful leaders to make good and careful decisions for our church family life.
Please call me or any other church leader if you are in need of something, are feeling fear or distress, need prayer or simply a kind ear and heart to listen and pray with you. This is a troubling time for all of us and there is no shame in letting someone know that you or your family needs help. Above all, we want you to know your church wants to be a first-line of support and care for you.
Likewise, if you have time and willingness to volunteer help to others, please call me or the church office (784-1241) and let us know what you wish to do. We will also be posting volunteer opportunity and community needs on this page.
Finally, I ask you to please continue, as you are able, your regular financial contributions to the church. Like every organization, our expenses continue, regardless of a pandemic. We will continue to pay all our employees their regular wages, even if their hours are reduced or, as with our musicians, suspended for now. We also realize that this is time of some economic uncertainty for all of us. The church, however, will be especially impacted since our income relies heavily upon weekly offerings given during worship services, which are now suspended.
I will do my best to keep you informed through all our various channels and I will have lots of competent help from our computer geniuses and staff and volunteers of all ages and varieties.
We, not the building, are the church. We also today have a unique opportunity to expand our love and ministry to a larger circle of need than before. Our God is faithful and true and we are His flock, the sheep of his pasture. We will adjust and we will thrive as we trust our Lord Jesus and work together in love and devotion.
Thank you for all you do. You are a wonderful, amazing, kind and capable, generous and loving group of people and it is my honor to be your pastor under Christ.
Here are my contact points:
God bless you all!