My Beloved First Baptist Family,
I wanted to provide some guidance regarding the amendments Governor Ivey made to the “Safer At Home Order” because the way it has been reported can be misleading as it relates to church gatherings. The specific wording for “non-work related gatherings” says: “Non-work related gatherings of any size that cannot maintain a consistent six-foot distance between persons from different households are prohibited.”
Furthermore, there are specific guidelines for employee and volunteer screenings, as well as sanitation guidelines that must be followed before, during and after all gatherings. Dr. Scott Harris, Alabama’s Head of Public Health, is encouraging continued use of “online worship” and further warned that large, in-person church gatherings are linked to 50 COVID-19 deaths in Alabama and could inadvertently facilitate future outbreaks of infections. So while the restriction on the number of people has been lifted, the social-distancing guidelines and public health concerns still prohibit us from having large, in-person gatherings for a while longer.
Let me highlight some logistic challenges that a larger church like FBC will face. For the sake of illustration consider that a “consistent six-foot distance” encompasses 6 feet in front, 6 feet behind, 6 feet to the right, and 6 feet to the left. In general terms that’s 12 x 12 = 144 sq ft of required personal space. To make it practical, our fellowship hall is about 6,000 sq feet and holds over 400 people; but under these social-distancing guidelines, it will accommodate 42 people. Consequently, the social-distancing guidelines practically prevent us from meeting at this time. Additionally, we need to carefully watch for a decline in the number of new virus cases in Alabama before we think the threat is over and it is totally safe to have large, in-person gatherings.
While our sanctuary doors have been closed our ministry doors have been wide-open! We’ve used live-stream worship, our WSFA and Frazer Television broadcast, Zoom Bible Fellowship Classes, and a wide-array of innovative ministries to impact a huge number of people for Christ! Plus, you’ve given generously through our online contribution platforms and our offerings have been very strong.
The staff and I have been working diligently on how reopening will look. Amendments to the Safer At Home Order may provide for some expanded opportunities, but it does not allow for a realistic reopening of our campus at this time.
Reopening for us will not be an event but a process. It will not be like flipping the lights back on but it will be more like turning a dimmer switch and gradually bringing the lights back up. Our best first gatherings may be Wednesday night services for Prayer, Worship and Praise.
Please continue to pray for God to give us His wisdom and direction. Also, we need your love and support as we make hard decisions and seek to wisely navigate the perils of a pandemic and bring our church family safely back into our “new normal.”
There is no group of people with a greater desire to gather again than your staff and church leadership team. However, this will be a measured process in order for us to provide the safest environment possible for our beloved First Baptist Family. Thank you for your prayers, understanding, cooperation, unity and support! In the meantime let’s keep using our God-given technology tools to stay connected to each other and to keep reaching more people than ever with the Good News of Jesus.
Lastly, receive God’s living word of Hope in Phil. 4:19, “My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Keep sharing God’s love and light with everyone you encounter but do it 6 feet apart!
Your Pastor and Friend | Jay
In this unprecedented season in the life of our church, community, state, nation, and world, let’s continue to…
We are praising God that we had more than 5,000 views of our worship service between our website, Facebook, and Vimeo this past Sunday!
Join us this Sunday for our live online experience at 8:30 AM. Please invite your family and friends to watch with you. This is a great way to share Jesus with our neighbors.
You can watch from our website (montgomeryfbc.org/livestream), app (First Baptist Church Montgomery), Facebook (@montgomeryfirstbaptist), or Vimeo (vimeo.com/fbcmontgomery).
You can also download sermon notes and song lyrics on the website.
We are blessed to have a generous church, and we want to demonstrate our faith by giving in this time of crisis. The offerings given will help us to minister to our community, nation, and world. There are several ways you can give:
1. Online Giving | Visit montgomeryfbc.org/give to make your contribution online. You can also set up recurring gifts on this giving platform.
2. Check | You can mail a check to the Church Finance Office. (First Baptist Church, 305 South Perry Street, Montgomery, AL 36104)
3. Bill Pay | Set up a bill pay through your bank.
For more information, contact Patti Shoemaker, Church Administrator, at 334.241.5181 or email email@example.com.
This is a wonderful opportunity for us to share the hope we have in Christ with those around us. Look for ways to share love, share resources, share hope, and share the Gospel.
Intercede for all those affected by this disease. Our hearts go out to the families who have lost loved ones. Pray for God’s provision and protection over our missionaries. Pray for this humbling health crisis to prompt people to follow King Jesus, the One who provides hope now and heaven forever.
If you would like to submit a prayer request, visit montgomeryfbc.org/prayer. Our prayer team is ready to intercede for you.
In light of recent updates concerning COVID-19, our church leadership has spent much time in prayerful consideration and deliberation over how we should proceed in handling these unprecedented circumstances.
Our heart in this issue is that we believe the gospel is worth our lives, that we should be people of faith and not fear and panic; yet at the same time Jesus has commanded us to be good neighbors to our surrounding community. This means being a part of the solution and not the problem for our health care system. To protect those most vulnerable to this virus both in our church and in our community, and in cooperation with state health care officials, we have decided to cancel all church services effective this Sunday.
A few points of note:
This Sunday we are cancelling our worship services and regularly scheduled activities. At 8:30am we will livestream a worship opportunity for you and your family that you can watch live or throughout the day. This gathering will look different than what we are used to, but we believe God will still be honored as we worship and pray together. You can access this livestream on Facebook (@montgomeryfirstbaptist) or on our website at montgomeryfbc.org/livestream.
We will cancel all regularly scheduled church activities through March 22. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and provide updates on our website (montgomeryfbc.org/coronavirus), social media, and emails. Our staff will remain in the office during this time and will be here to assist you.
If you are a regular giver during worship, you can continue to be faithful with your giving to FBC through our online giving opportunities. When you continue to give, your financial support allows us as a church to maintain critical ministries that many depend on here in Montgomery, in North America, and around the world. You can give by mail, or online at montgomeryfbc.org/give/.
Take advantage of this unprecedented time. This virus in not just a public health crisis but is a spiritual opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus with our neighborhoods and the nations. Unlike any other time in recent history, we are being confronted with our own humanity. Take the time to listen to those around you, pray for their needs, share the gospel, and invite them to join us online.
Our goal, as we’ve navigated these unprecedented times and made decisions this week, has been to both honor God and care for you, our church, and our community well. This continues to be our prayer, and we thank you for joining us in asking God to work all these things together for our good and His glory
My Dear First Family,
The coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis has captured the interest and fear of the world. While we have no reported cases in our area or state, we know this is a great concern for many. We are proactively monitoring the situation through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and we are taking the proper precautions to protect you, our staff, our church and our community.
How can you help?
PRAY | Intercede for all those affected by this disease. Our hearts go out to the families who have lost loved ones. Pray for God’s provision and protection over our missionaries. Pray for this humbling health crisis to prompt people to follow King Jesus, the One who provides hope now and heaven forever.
GATHERINGS | Currently, our plan is to continue meeting for all services and activities. We will re-evaluate this if it becomes necessary.
SANITATION | We have always used HOSPITAL-GRADE antibacterials to clean our facilities and fill our soap dispensers. There is also hand sanitizer throughout the church. Our sanitation efforts will be maintained at the top level.
MISSIONS | We have already postponed ALL INTERNATIONAL MISSION TRIPS. We will closely monitor the situation and evaluate upcoming mission travel on a case-by-case basis.
PREVENTION | In our fallen world with dangerous diseases, let’s do all we can to prevent spreading germs:
While we cannot control the virus or its spread and impact, let’s work together to do everything we can to make our facilities and church family as safe as possible by taking common-sense steps. We appreciate your cooperation and commitment to the Cause of Christ.
Let’s live in faith, not fear, trusting the Lord in all circumstances and act wisely.