To: FBCF Church Family

From: Pastor Bill

Monday, June 29, 2020

Hello Church Family!

I trust this finds you well and ready for a great holiday weekend, with July 4th coming up quickly. It was great to see so many of you yesterday. All things considered, we had a great crowd here. We had approximately 87% of our average attendance! Folks have continued to trickle back in! (By the way, we had a great start to our Anniversary Offering (to go toward our debt reduction). $16,000 was given, and we can continue to give toward that the next couple of Sundays!)

I wanted to share with you a few changes that we are making to our schedule as we gradually restart some things. Our church staff has discussed this. I have spoken with Willard and he has communicated with our Deacons on this. I have spoken with Jim Snyder about what he is hearing from other churches in our county and what they are doing in this regard. Since mid-March we have tried to give thoughtful consideration to what would be a safe, responsible, balanced approach to our services and ministries here at FBCF. At any given time we have had some that felt that we were being too cautious while others felt that we were not being cautious enough! Actually, that has told us that we are probably where we need to be.

Currently, it seems that we were about to get a little “ahead of the curve” with some of our plans, specifically Sunday School and Sunday evenings. That has led us to make a few changes, as detailed here…

We are going to alter our Sunday School setup just a little. We have some people that are more than ready to go back to classrooms, and then we have some people that are not close to being ready for that. The compromise (usually hate that word), or “hybrid,” that we have come up with is as follows. We will have a combined S.S. class in the auditorium again this Sunday, July 5 (as scheduled). When we go back to our classrooms on July 12 (as scheduled), we will have an alternative for those that still do not feel safe meeting in a classroom. The Young Married class that Jason Hammontree and I teach will meet in the Fellowship Hall, beginning on July 12 and going as long as necessary. In addition, anyone in any of the other adult classes that is not yet ready to meet in a classroom can temporarily join in with us in the Fellowship Hall. This should “make everybody happy!” (Teachers, please see the attached picture of how one class has rearranged their classroom. Please do something similar as you deem appropriate.)
Second, we are going to make a mid-course correction regarding Sunday night services. In people wanting to feel safe, we cannot really clean the fabric on the pews. Right now we are counting more on time than anything (for the virus to die, if someone attended who was positive). The virus surviving an afternoon feels more risky than it surviving a week. So, we are going to wait until August 16 to return to Sunday night services. We have as a part of our Missions Conference a Sunday night schedule of the Nicaragua Team on August 16, Rick Hutchinson on August 23, and Jerry Helton (guest speaker) on August 30. I, the Staff, the Deacons, and the Acts 1:8 team are looking at August 16 and saying, “Okay, we are finally starting back with Sunday night services, and we are starting back with our Missions Conference, and we expect you to be here!” (We trust that it will feel safer by then. We will, of course, continue to monitor all of this as we go.)
Finally, Wednesday evenings. The only change here is that we might look to move the adults to the Fellowship Hall in order to space out more. Depending upon the turnout, we may or may not need to do that. Plan on meeting in the Choir Room (starting July 8 with a Quarterly Business Meeting) unless you hear otherwise. (The children and Youth will also start back on July 8. Adam & Kara will do something with the kids until AWANA starts back on August 12.)

I know many of you pray regularly for the leadership of our church family to have wisdom and discernment as we try to navigate these uncertain days. Thank you so much for that! Please continue to pray that the Lord will guide our path so that we might walk in a Christ-honoring way!

Take care and have a great week. See ya Sunday, Lord willing!

Love you folks!

Pastor Bill

Bill Gowder

Lead Pastor

First Baptist Church Friendsville