To: FBCF Church Family

From: Pastor Bill

Saturday, April 25, 2020


Hi Folks!


          You have likely heard on the radio a newer song by Michael Cochren titled Church (Take Me Back).  The chorus goes…

Take me back

To the place that feels like home

To the people I can depend on

To the faith that’s in my bones

Take me back

To a preacher and a verse

Where they’ve seen me at my worst

To the love I had at first

Oh, I want to go to church


Well, it looks like we are all about ready to go back to church!!!  Let me give you the details of what that is going to look like.  I met Wednesday morning with a group of pastors (via Zoom) and with our staff and Willard (as the Chairman of our Deacons) Thursday morning and we have come up with a game plan.  Please understand that we are trying to sort out as best we can what it means to be safe, considerate, timely, and appropriate under the current state of affairs.  This game plan is very consistent with what many of the other churches in our county are doing.  (If you are interested, 47% of churches (nationally) plan on opening in May, 35% in June, and 14% in July or August.)  Here it is…

  • We will have a prerecorded service tomorrow (April 26) and next Sunday (May 3).
  • We will start having services again in the auditorium at church on Mother’s Day (May 10) at the normal 10:15 a.m. time.  (Some churches are starting back on May 3.  We are going to hold off one more week because we are in the process of getting new screens and video projectors up in the auditorium, and the projector mounts have to be moved, which has turned into a significant project.)
  • When we begin meeting on May 10, there will be no Nursery or KidStuff (since children do not understand “social distancing”); bulletins will be available to be picked up; offerings will be taken at the door when you leave so that plates are not passed; there will no handshaking for now; the fellowship/greeting time will not involve physical touch; every other pew will be blocked off and families will be asked to give space in the pews; there will be no choir and the musicians are spreading out on the stage; the church has been professionally cleaned and will continue to be as safe a place as possible; the wearing of masks and/or gloves is certainly okay, but is not required.  (I read that some churches are planning to take everyone’s temperature, but we are not doing that either!)
  • Adam & Kara are putting together a “Kid’s Busy Bag” for the children ages 2 thru 5th grade.  This will include some things to help entertain them (not you!) during the preaching (puzzles, toys, stickers, snacks, crayons & coloring book, etc.)  Families with infants or small children are asked to sit near an exit if possible in case you need to step out with them.  It has also been suggested that younger, healthy folks find seating in the balcony and side sections so that the “more mature” folks can sit on the ground level.
  • We will not have Sunday School classes, Sunday night services or Wednesday night activities for the month of May, but will TENTATIVELY plan to resume those things in June.  (Sunday School and Wednesday nights do not allow for social distancing.  We were already scheduled to not have Sunday evening services in three of these four Sunday nights due to Mother’s Day, Memorial Day and VBS set-up.)
  • Speaking of VBS, we are looking to have it, but postpone the date.  Pastor Scott will talk with the Camp Lejeune leaders next week and make a decision about that trip, and that decision will affect the new dates for VBS.  In other words, more information about VBS and Camp Lejeune will come out later.
  • If you still do not feel safe being in public by May 10, then please do not come, and do not feel guilty for not being here.  The time for you to be here will come.  I know of several within our church family (due to age and/or previous health issues) that have truly isolated themselves, with others dropping off groceries, medications, etc.  With that said, let me also say this – if you are making trips to Wal-Mart and CVS and the Post Office, then you need to be here as well!  We should at least be consistent, right?
  • For those that are not ready to come back to the church services, we are working to have Facebook Live set up where it is accessible from our website, since that is where much of our church family has been going to see the services.  The services will be streamed live at 10:15 a.m., but then recorded and available to be seen any time later.


Finally, let me say a word about finances.  You folks have really been faithful!  When you consider the circumstances, including several losing their jobs and others having their hours cut back, you folks have really been loyal in your giving.  We have seen a decrease of probably less than ten percent, but our expenses have been less too, so we really have not lost any ground.  I read an article that said that 42% of churches have seen a “significant decrease” in their giving, some churches seeing as much as a forty percent decrease, and an article was written regarding the number of churches that will likely go from full-time pastors to bi-vocational pastors by the time this is all over.  One more shocking statement was that between 6-9% of pastors think their church will not survive this!  Imagine – 1 in every 14 churches could close their doors due to the coronavirus!  With that said, let me encourage you to stay faithful.  Some in our church are going to need help and debt reduction giving and extra gifts to our missionaries have been down, so the needs continue.


Well, this has turned out to be pretty long, but this was a lot of important information that has to do with something that is so very important to us all – meeting together as a church family to celebrate our risen Savior and praise His name!!!  So, I will see you in person on May 10, Lord willing!


Love you folks,

Pastor Bill


Bill Gowder

Lead Pastor

First Baptist Church Friendsville