To: FBCF Church Family

From: Pastor Bill & Staff

Thursday, May 7, 2020


          Hi Folks!

          I trust this finds you well and so bored that you are already picking out what you are going to wear to church on Sunday!  Seriously, we have been blessed as a church family over the past 6-7 weeks that there has been no more sickness than there has been.  For the most part people have been able to lay low and pray for this thing to pass.

          We want to reply to the responses you have submitted on the church survey.  We have had a little over 100 responses and we want to thank you for your input.  We cannot respond to each comment, but please know that each word was read and has been taken into consideration as we have sought to make decisions about how & when to come back together as a church family.  The church staff and Willard, representing our deacons, have reviewed the survey and the comments, have consulted with other churches and a couple of DOMs (Director of Missions), and have come up with the following decisions/guidelines/instructions.  Some of this was posted earlier, but some of it is new, so please read this all the way through.

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 area are doing.  Here it is…

  • We will start having services again in the auditorium this Sunday, Mother’s Day (May 10) at the normal 10:15 a.m. time.  We understand that some of you feel that it is too early, but we also understand that many are more than ready to begin meeting again.  If you, in any way, do not yet feel comfortable being here for services, then please stay home and wait until you are comfortable.
  • As we start back meeting this Sunday, 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 or hugging 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 six feet of space in the pews; greeters & ushers will be helping to seat you, so please be seated where directed; 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; hand sanitizer will be available; the wearing of masks is being “strongly recommended” by Governor Lee, which means that everyone is expected to wear a mask (except for the Praise Team when they sing and me when I preach); we will have masks available if you do not have your own; since it will be difficult to sing with a mask on, worship will be “special music” by the Praise Team, soloists, quartets, etc., for a while (we know, we know, and are soooo sorry, but you can sing under your mask 😊).
  • We need to say a few things about how different our church services are going to be for a while.  Please focus on the positive fact that at least some of us are back together, and not on the negative aspects like the smaller attendance/distancing/masks/etc./etc./etc.  Also, PLEASE “abide by the rules” regarding shaking hands, hugging, wearing masks, etc.  We understand the thought, “Well, if some of us want to hug, that is our business, and we really miss each other.”  Let us encourage you to see it another way.  We all need to be able to tell parents & grandparents & anyone else that is hesitant to come, whether it is a regular attender or someone completely unchurched, that our church service felt like a safe place to be.  We are asking you to inconvenience yourself for the sake of others that will be deciding in the weeks to come about returning to our services.  That is currently what it means to love our brothers and sisters in Christ.  We do not like it either, but this calls for some maturity, unselfishness and self-control.  Finally, we agree that this is not really fellowshipping together in the way we used to and want to.  If you prefer to wait until we can meet without masks, social distancing, etc., then certainly feel free to do so.
  • For those of you that do not attend, the service will be streamed live, and then recorded and made available.  You can go to Facebook to view the service, or you can go to our website to see the live feed, or you can watch the service sometime later (via YouTube) as we have been making available.  Please note – the service will not be prerecorded and made available before 10:15 a.m. on Sunday as it has been!  If you have any problem with the livestream on Sunday morning, please know that the service will be recorded and will be available sometime soon after the service concludes.
  • 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 during the preaching (puzzles, toys, stickers, snacks, crayons & coloring pages, 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. 
  • We will not have Sunday School classes, Sunday night services or Wednesday night activities for the month of May, and we will continue to evaluate these activities as we move forward. 
  • VBS has been postponed!  The new dates are July 6-10.  Pastor Scott is waiting to hear back from the folks at Camp Lejeune, and a decision should be made next week regarding whether or not that trip will happen.
  • Let us repeat this from an earlier email…  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.  (We know, having the doors open but not being here is going to be tough, and you may be tempted to come when you really shouldn’t.  But it will be okay, and the time for you to be here will come.)  There are 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 us 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? 😊

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 this Sunday, Lord willing!


Love you folks,

Pastor Bill & Staff


Bill Gowder

Lead Pastor

First Baptist Church Friendsville