VIRTUAL COMMUNION MESSAGE (This Sunday, May 31)
Dear FPC Family,
I want to tell you about our worship service this coming weekend, May 31st, as it will be a brand new experiment for us. We will be celebrating the Day of Pentecost with our first ever Virtual Communion Service! The service will be streamed live from our sanctuary at 10am, with the added bonus of a Facebook Live feed, so that those who are on Facebook can greet and interact with one another during the service.
Our leadership has thought long and hard about how to celebrate the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper in a way that is both permissible and safe, given our current challenges, as well as theologically sound. One of the crucial elements, we have decided, is that we gather for worship at the same time, sharing in the sacrament together. The reason this is so important is that communion, as it’s sometimes called, is about nothing if not community. We’re together in this – that’s the message. Jesus has bound us together as one by his Spirit. Therefore, even when we can’t be in the same room, we want to be together as much as possible in our worship.
Here are some practical things you’ll want to think about as you prepare to participate in worship this weekend: First off, you’ll want to create a good worship space for yourself and whoever else will worship with you at home. Removing clutter and distractions, set a table with a simple cup and plate, as well as other Christian symbols, such as the water of baptism and the light of Christ. Set out simple bread and grape juice, enough for everyone, and wait to partake until that time in the service when the minister invites you to do so. Also, reflect on the togetherness you feel, not only with those in the room but with the entire body of Christ. Make a point to reach out during and after the service to friends and loved ones, especially those in the FPC family. Wish them all the peace of Christ.
One last thing: this weekend’s service will of course be available as a video recording afterwards, allowing those who were not able to join us at the appointed time to watch later at their convenience. If you do choose to participate in that way, however, I urge you to strive for as much connection with the body of Christ as possible as you watch. Christian worship in general, and the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper in particular, are not intended as solitary events.
I look forward to worshipping with you all this Sunday, as we celebrate the Spirit’s gift of togetherness in Christ!
FPC PLAN FOR USE OF THE CHURCH BUILDING BEGINNING May 18, 2020
The Session has approved a plan for a staged process for accessing the church facilities as North Carolina progresses through lifting the Governors’ stay at home order. The stages will progress based upon progress in achieving and maintaining effective control of the pandemic in our community and state, no specific timelines established at this time.
Worship will continue to be led by our ministers using recorded video from various locations. Some may want to consider gathering as small groups (less than 10) in outdoor spaces such as decks or patios to view the worship services together with time for discussion, prayer, and fellowship. Recommend participants wear masks, stay 6 feet apart, and use hand sanitizer.
Strongly encourage groups and committees to continue to meet via video conference. If in person meetings are necessary, groups of 10 or are allowed to meet in the church under the following guidelines:
1) Continue to have a video connection for members who are unable or choose not to attend in person.
2) The group must be 10 or less and meet only in the gathering place.
3) Entry only through the Orange Street courtyard door and use only that space and adjacent restrooms if needed.
4) All attendees should wear masks, use hand sanitizer, stay 6 feet apart, travel in one direction so as not to cross paths, limit contact to objects, items, furniture, hymnals, etc., only one person in a restroom at a time.
5) All meetings must be scheduled with the church office in advance and meeting times should provide for the room to be vacant at least 3 hours between meetings for cleaning and disinfection of the gathering space and restrooms.
Shift from on-line services to hybrid of limited attendance at the church and continued individual or outdoor small group gatherings that would participate remotely. Services would be streamed live from the Church. Specific details will be determined based upon our ability to maintain proper social distancing and any restrictions such as maximum size of gatherings in place at the time.
Continue to follow Stage 1 guidelines. Group size may be adjusted depending upon public health and government guidelines.
Ideally, we would return to near normal operations.
OPPORTUNITIES TO CONNECT
Sunday: Forum Class meets at 4pm over Zoom. Contact Becky Jones if interested in joining.
Monday: Centering Prayer 6pm over Zoom; email Richard Aylor if interested in joining.
Tuesday: Morning Prayer posted at 10am on the video prayer page and the church’s Facebook page, led by Richard Aylor.
Wednesday: Children’s worship posted at 10am on the video prayer page and the school’s Facebook page, led by Nicole Newton; and Centering Prayer at 2pm over Zoom.
Thursday: Morning Prayer posted at 10am on the video prayer page , led by Dan Lewis; Thursday morning Men’s Bible Study at 8:30am over Zoom on the Book of Acts; email Richard Aylor if interested in joining. ‘Companions in Christ’ women’s small group Bible Study and Spiritual Formation at 10am over Zoom; email Marion Mayes if interested in joining.
Friday: Centering Prayer at 10am over Zoom. Journey Class meets at 4pm over Zoom; email Barbara Jamison if interested in joining.
Friday, April 10
Dear FPC Family,
I have been missing you all on this holiest of weeks!
I thought it would be good for me to reach out again and make sure you know how to stay in touch with your church family through this deeply challenging time. By now you know that we have had special Daily Prayer services and other worship opportunities this week, as we approach Easter Sunday. But did you know that there are ways to connect with FPC every single day, even beyond Holy Week?
Sunday 11am worship, recorded (Follow this link)
Monday 10am Centering Prayer, live on Zoom (Contact Richard Aylor for link)
Tuesday 10am Daily Prayer Service, recorded (Follow this link)
Wednesday 10am Preschool Chapel, recorded (Follow this link), 2pm Centering Prayer, live on Zoom (Contact Richard Aylor for link)
Thursday 10 am Daily Prayer Service, recorded (Follow this link)
Friday 10am Centering Prayer, live on Zoom (Contact Richard Aylor for link)
Saturday Weekend e-news (Email the office to sign up)
The list above only begins to scratch the surface, of course. So many of the ministries of the church are coming back to life now in new and creative ways. Adult Sunday School classes are hosting Zoom meetings (contact Richard Aylor for more information). Children and youth are reaching out in service to the vulnerable, both within and outside our congregation (contact Nicole Newton to learn how you can help). Anna Martin and our preschool staff are continuing in the work of education by holding online classes including reading, singing, and much more! Community Service Committee is undertaking a comprehensive assessment of how our mission partners are responding to the pandemic, and will be providing the congregation with information on where and how to help.
Supporting these ministries is the work of our team of office and facilities staff, who are doing a remarkable job despite the challenges. Repair work, major and minor, continues around the church, including the replacement of large support beams beneath the educational building, and the painting of our hospitality wing upstairs in the Cameron Center.
I share all this with you so that you can continue to be proud of our church and the ways God is leading us to respond in faith to these difficult days. We’re also continuing, under the leadership of Richard Aylor and the Congregational Care team, to reach out to our most vulnerable members. If you know of a pastoral or other need, for yourself or someone else, please do not hesitate to contact the Pastor on Call at 910-338-9109.
Finally, I cannot finish here without saying once again how thankful I am for the financial faithfulness you have shown these past few weeks. It is a real sign of faith and love that you continue to support the church so generously. May it continue and may God bless you and those you love, now and always.
May God bless and keep you,
Message from Dan
Thursday, March 19
Dear FPC Family,
I want to offer a very brief update on ways to serve our community through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic…
First off, The Good Shepherd Center, an FPC partner ministering to the homeless in our community, is still in need of volunteers to help prepare and distribute bagged meals to residents at the center. Interested persons should contact Liz Carbone to learn more: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Secondly, Nourish NC, another FPC mission partner, is working hard to feed children in our community who are out of school and thus, for many, at risk of missing the best two meals of their day. They’ve set up a drive-by distribution point for meal boxes, which you can read about here: https://www.wect.com/2020/03/17/nourish-nc-opens-up-drive-thru-location-food-distribution/ .
Watch the Nourish NC Facebook page for regular updates on the most needed foods and volunteer opportunities: https://www.facebook.com/nourishnc/.
Also consider financial gifts, even small ones. Through efficiencies in purchasing and distribution, Nourish NC can turn every dollar donated into 4-5 dollars worth of food for hungry children. You can give to Nourish NC online here: https://nourishnc.org/donate/ .
Of course your regular giving to FPC also supports the good work of these and many other local organizations on the front lines of serving our neighbors. Your continued financial faithfulness helps us continue being the hands and feet of Christ through difficult times. You can learn how to give to FPC here: https://www.firstonthird.org/give/ .
Keep the faith and find ways to multiply the good cheer around you.
“Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.” (1 Peter 4:10)
Monday, March 16, 5pm
Friday, March 13, 5pm
Thursday, March 12, 5pm
Dear FPC Family,
As we all continue to monitor the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), I want to update you on a number of decisions we’re making at the church. These are difficult decisions, of course. And what seemed appropriate only yesterday can seem less so today. Such is the nature of a rapidly changing public health situation.
We are postponing until further notice all large group activities at FPC including public worship this Sunday, the 15th of March. We will, however, continue with streaming our worship online, a modified service from the sanctuary at 11am, here. The only exception to this is our Preschool and Kindergarten, which will continue to follow the lead of New Hanover Country Schools in making its closure decisions. Preschool parents, expect to hear from Director Anna Martin in days to come. Finally, we are still awaiting word on whether and how the funeral service for Grover Gore will proceed this weekend. Expect a later email on this.
Here is a fuller list of other important postponements:
Thursday evening choir rehearsal and 9am band rehearsal
Grandparent Support Network (already canceled)
Sunday school for all ages, including Confirmation
Sunday worship services, except 11am online streaming
Inquirers/New Members Classes
Disciple Bible Study
Fellowship at First
We look forward to rescheduling as many of these events as possible at the soonest possible time. We will also be working to facilitate online alternatives to committee meetings and other gatherings whenever possible. If you have questions about specific programs and events, please contact the appropriate ministry leaders or email the church office, email@example.com.
This will seem a radical step to many of us. But let me offer this simple explanation: Instead of thinking only of ourselves as individuals, or even of our own church community, let us think of the entire greater Wilmington area and beyond – that is, the whole community of God’s children. Refraining from large group gatherings is a way for us to do our part to slow the spread of the virus (regardless of whether we ourselves are vulnerable), so that medical resources can continue to be available for those who need them most. In short, this is about being a good neighbor.
Yet we do not cease to be the church in difficult times. In fact, we rise to the occasion in response to God’s call to use our creativity, our technology, and whatever other tools are at our disposal, to care for one another and the world in the name of Jesus Christ. So do these things: pray for one another, check in on one another, and look for ways to serve. If you yourself are sick or distressed, please use the Pastor on Call number (910-338-9109) to let us know, or contact one of the pastors directly, so that we can find a way to help.
Expect further updates from me as the situation continues to develop in weeks ahead. Know that I remain deeply proud to be one of your pastors.
Grace to you all and peace,