Dear First Baptist Family:
In light of the latest information coming from government officials and health leaders, it sounds like we are going to be church in new ways for a while. What began as a strong encouragement to “wash our hands” evolved into “social distancing,” and now it is against the law to gather in groups because the virus continues to spread at a rampant pace and people are dying. COVID-19 is to be taken seriously. For some people, fear is spreading faster than COVID-19 but as followers of Jesus, we have been given the spirit of “love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith and kindness, against which there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23). Jesus said, “Do not be afraid. My peace I give to you” (John 14).
In consultation with Dr. Jan Rhyne --- Chair of our Diaconate and a physician that specializes in the area of infectious diseases --- and Bruce Lennon --- Chair of our Leadership Council --- and your pastoral staff, we have chosen to close the Activities Center and our downtown office for the health and safety of our congregation and community. We have also suspended gathering for worship as a congregation until further notice. We are a congregation that lives, loves, works, and serves people across our community and around the world every day. We are incredibly blessed to be a great church staffed with a gifted team that represents the hope, and love and grace of Jesus every day, whether the doors to our buildings are open or closed. I am so grateful to the pastors, staff and leaders who have worked hard to prepare us to make the mission and ministry of our church remote for the time being.
To that end, we encourage you to visit our website (
) to find ways our church is staying connected to God, to one another, and to the needs of our congregation and community throughout this time of physical distancing. We will keep you updated about all that is going on in the life of our church, as well as links to resources we are compiling.
We want to highlight specific parts of our ministry in these interesting days:
- Weekly Schedule — While nothing can replace our being together; we are planning and preparing remote worship gatherings weekly for Sundays (Facebook and FBC Website). Last Sunday's worship service can be viewed at any time online, and we look forward to another creative approach to virtual worship for the next several Sundays. Additionally, members of our staff will be keeping in touch with you through specific videos that will be posted.
- Sunday School — Some classes met via the internet and communicated with one another by sending their lesson notes and comments by email last Sunday. Classes are staying in touch with their weekly email news and prayer lists. Keep it up!
- Pastoral Care — Your Pastoral Staff and Deacons are committed to ensuring that care for our congregation continues, even as hospitals and care facilities have limited visits. We will utilize phone calls, texts and FaceTime for counseling. We will also continue reaching out to our homebound members. If crisis calls for physical presence, we will do our best to make thoughtful exceptions to provide the care needed. Remember, you are a part of the care of our congregation, so check in on one another and please let us know if you know of needs. We also hope you will let us know if you have physical, emotional or spiritual needs yourself. We are your church.
- Office Hours — Our entire staff is maintaining regular, remote office hours, and is accessible by phone. Call the church (910-763-2471) and press 1 for the directory. Dial the extension of the person you wish to reach, or dial "0" for the general mailbox. All ministers will be checking their messages regularly. Your calls will be returned as soon as possible.
- Committee Meetings — Committees will continue to communicate via The Loop.
- Generosity — Thank you for your continued generosity to our church and its ministry at this time. Our Minister of Administration and the Financial Management Committee are keeping their finger on the financial pulse of the church every day. We will continue to receive offerings mailed to the church and submitted online (Give Online). Your gifts help us offer support to our community and ministry partners, and continue to care for our congregation.
We will get through these days of uncertainty together, and our church will be stronger than when we began this wilderness journey because our Good Shepherd is with us, providing for us and guiding us.
Dr. Jim Everette, Chief of Staff
Bruce Lennon, Chair of Leadership Council
Dr. Jan Rhyne, Chair of Deacons