Updates


Watch prayer service recordings on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10am, and Wednesday Children’s Chapel recordings here.

Sunday service streams and recordings of past services are available here.


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: lcarbone@goodshepherdwilmington.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)

Dan


Monday, March 16, 5pm

Dear FPC Family,
As this unprecedented situation continues to develop, you should expect to continue hearing from the church with some regularity, as we seek to keep you informed on how we’re responding to the pandemic with faith, hope, and love. We want to maintain a discipline of communication not simply for practical reasons, but so that we might continue to feel a sense of closeness and togetherness despite the obligatory “distancing.”
First a note on this weekend’s worship service: I want to thank all of you who joined us via streaming on Sunday, especially those of you who’ve reached out to say how much you appreciated the service. It was certainly odd (to say the least!) to conduct an entire worship service in an empty sanctuary, listening to our voices bouncing off the stone around us. But it was also a strangely holy time, as we really did feel your love and support, your prayers, as we all did the best we could under the circumstances. Now we look to another week of doing the same (Yes, we’re streaming again this Sunday at 11am), and I want you to know that we’ll be working to build on the success of this weekend and improve the service in a number of ways.
We will also be working to offer additional online worship experiences to strengthen and sustain our faith through these trying times. The first of these is the discipline of daily prayer (a short worship service including scripture and prayer), which our pastors will lead each Tuesday and Thursday, beginning tomorrow at 10am. You may download the daily prayer app (Search “Daily Prayer PC (USA)”) to follow along with the service, or simply watch and listen without the app. We also plan to offer a brief chapel service for our preschool children at 10am Wednesday. In order to stay on top of these resources, follow the link to this portion of our website: https://www.firstonthird.org/updates/ (Note: The page will be updated with these resources as they are set up.)
Just a few more items of note: Our staff will be encouraged to work from home in the weeks ahead, with only limited trips to the office for essential tasks. All the usual committee meetings and other gatherings remain cancelled until further notice. For questions your ministry leaders are not able to answer, you may contact the church office by phone (910-762-6688) or email (info@firstonthird.org), the latter being the faster option. Remember also the Pastor on Call number for pastoral emergencies: 910-338-9109. Finally, a simple thing that bears repeating: As the ministry of the church continues to operate, we continue to count on your financial faithfulness. Please give online or by mail. Follow this link to learn how: https://www.firstonthird.org/give-now/
Let us remember that these days are unprecedented only from our limited perspective. God in Christ has walked this way before. This is not to shirk our duty to respond in love and faith, but to remind us who gives us the strength to do so, the One who “by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine.” To that One be glory in the church and the world.
Love to you all,
Dan

Friday, March 13, 5pm

Dear FPC Family,
A brief follow-up to yesterday’s letter about the church’s response to COVID-19…
The funeral service for Grover Gore will continue as planned for this Sunday, 2pm, in the sanctuary. I want to remind us, however, that health professionals are recommending that all of us, particularly the elderly and vulnerable, avoid large public gatherings. We are continuing with this service only out of care for a grieving family; we cannot expect or recommend that many of you attend. You may view the funeral online by following this link: https://boxcast.tv/view/2020-march-15–funeral-service-grover-gore-sr-mk5d7iqfj1mp5jsejel7
In a similar vein, I want to let you know about an emerging volunteer opportunity… but only for those for whom it is safe. One of our mission partners, The Good Shepherd Center (a ministry to the homeless), is in need of help next week, as many of their regular volunteers are unable to come. The work involves preparing bag lunches (not a seated meal) for guests from 8:30am to 11am, with opportunities available Monday through Friday. Contact Community Coordinator Liz Carbone to learn more about volunteering: lcarbone@goodshepherdwilmington.org. Again, in offering this opportunity to you, we are seeking to balance two things: our call to help our mission partners continue the good work they do, and our call to be good stewards of our own health and welfare.
What is certain is that we all have a role to play in being the body of Christ in this difficult time. One of the most important things we can do does not involve our leaving the home at all – that is, prayer. Pray for those who are scared and confused, the medically vulnerable, and for those who live on the margins and find themselves without the resources to cope. May God make us all wise, creative, and compassionate beyond our expectations.
Grace to you all, and peace,
Dan

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)
Centering Prayer
Sunday school for all ages, including Confirmation
Sunday worship services, except 11am online streaming
Inquirers/New Members Classes
Girl Scouts
Youth group
Basketball
Children’s Choir
Disciple Bible Study
Committee Meetings
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, info@firstonthird.org.

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,
Dan