Dear First Baptist Family:
Our lives and lifestyles were altered in mid-March due to governmental action taken to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus pandemic. Our church immediately complied with the Shelter-in-Place restrictions that were implemented by closing our campuses in order to provide safety for our congregation, love our neighbors as ourselves, and in an effort to serve our community.
We are blessed to be a large, gifted and diverse congregation and all of us are working through our thoughts, feelings and opinions of the pandemic and our responses as we pass through this valley together. Some of us are anxious. Others believe it is not much to worry about. Most of the people we hear from are somewhere in the middle. They are cautious but also eager to have some normalcy return. Like all of you, we have been praying about what is the right response for followers of Jesus? How can I love God and love others? We believe our church has figured that out pretty well as we continue witnessing to those around us, “Love Does,” especially in a pandemic!
In anticipation of Governor Cooper’s announcement of cautiously moving to Phase 2 of North Carolina’s 3 Phase approach to reopening later today, your pastoral staff and Leadership Team began considering what will be the safest steps we can set forth for our church to begin regathering. We also brought together an Advisory Team that included Physicians of our congregation, Deacons, members of the Leadership Council and the pastoral staff to consider the best steps forward. We are blessed to have the tremendous experience, wisdom and leadership of this group to help guide our decision-making in this situation. We considered several possibilities and potential positive and negative outcomes. The wisdom of the Advisory Team is that it is best that our church not begin to regather on our campuses until at least Phase 3 of North Carolina’s 3 Phase Approach to reopening our State. The Leadership Council concurs with this advice and decision.
Our church is highly relational and all of us want to begin gathering again, but we have to leverage our lives for the benefit of our congregation, our neighbors, and our surrounding region because we are also extremely missional.
The passage of scripture we have reflected upon most is the Apostle Paul's guidance to the Christians in Philippi:
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." (Philippians 2:3-4)
Paul goes on to remind us that we followers of Jesus are to emulate the humility of Christ and his unwavering trust in God’s provision.
Good things have occurred within our church over the past two months. Our Deacons are providing an incredible ministry of remaining in contact with their assigned members. Nearly all of our Small Groups are staying connected by meeting every week. We have heard many good responses from you expressing how meaningful the virtual worship services have been. People from across the US are being touched by the extended outreach of our worship services being available online. We have continued providing meals for our hungry neighbors every Tuesday night with more members taking part in preparing the meals than ever before. The posture, mission and vision of our church has always been about worshipping God and loving our neighbors. We are doing that well, even in this strange season. We have to continue with a strong willingness to trust—trust God and trust each other believing the best is yet to be!
Dr. Jim Everette, Chief of Staff
Bruce Lennon, Leadership Council Chair
Dr. Jan Rhyne, Diaconate Chair