May 22, 2020
A Short Update from Pastor Chad on behalf of the Session
After Governor Abbott’s recent announcement that Texas is entering Phase II of Open Texas, and with the discussion in the news and on social media about reopening, I want to give you a short update on our continued discernment concerning activities on our physical campus. The session is meeting on Monday evening to vote on a phased plan for reopening. Our goal is to come to agreement with the Holy Spirit on this plan and announce the details to you next week.
I’m sure the plan will be too fast for some and too slow for others. The leadership of the church is prayerful, thoughtful, and strategic about this, and we believe the Holy Spirit is leading us down the right path for our church and our community. Know that the Holy Spirit is guiding our decisions, that we are obedient to Christ’s call to love you and this community, so continue to follow the guiding principles we laid out for you on April 28.
Our purpose and mission is to Love God, to love others, and to make disciples. We believe that, even in this time of separation, in some ways because of this time, we are focused and effective in carrying out that mission. We are successfully “playing the game without the queen,” as I mentioned in the previous video announcement, and, when the time is right, all the pieces of ministry will be back on the board, and we will continue to grow together as both a Gathered and Sent church!
Know that we love you, we miss you, the team is working hard every day to provide both Connection and Content during this season.
April 28, 2020
An Update from Pastor Chad on behalf of the Session
April 24, 2020
An Update for this week:
We just finished recording and editing worship for April 26, 2020…our 7th recorded virtual worship service! While we are anxious to worship with you in person, we are continuing to do everything we can to provide Connection and Content for our Covenant Partners and Active Participants in the life of First Pres Kingwood! I want to take a minute and update you on a couple of things as we continue to anticipate the day when we can all be together again:
CONNECTION AND CONTENT ONLINE!
We have updated our website to include links to all of the Zoom meetings happening each week: daily meetings, Sunday school classes, women’s and men’s bible studies, and opportunities for children and students. We are utilizing this format to keep us Connected to one another and provide Content that will equip the (online) Gathered Church to continue to function as a Sent Church during this time of separation. See the “Calendar” at the very top of the website to get access to these meetings. If you are’ t currently a part of a Zoom study or meeting, you are always welcome to join in! There is a description provided for each group and the contact information for the meeting leader.
100 DAYS OF BIBLICAL LITERACY
Starting May 4, we are going to offer the opportunity to journey through the Bible together for 100 days. For details about this program, listen to the sermon from the April 26th worship service. A page on this site dedicated to this initiative is available now.
It’s not too late to sign up to be a part of our Sent Groups at First Pres Kingwood. These groups will be an essential resource for our church, and we want to include 100% of our Covenant Partners and Active Participants! Click on “Sent Groups” above for more information and to sign up today!
SESSION MEETING TO DISCUSS RE-OPENING PLAN
While there are no details to report at the moment, we want you to know your Session is hard at work determining the right next steps for our church as restrictions on public gatherings begin to ease over the coming weeks and months. We’re taking into account the ministry of the church and health and safety of our people; please continue to pray for and be patient with us as we engage in this challenging but important work. An update on this effort will be sent out to you early next week.
We continue to pray for you, hoping that God is meeting you right where you are in the midst of our separation. Know that we are here if you need anything at all. Staff emails are on our website. You can also submit prayer requests by following the “Prayer Requests” link above. Grace and Peace to you all!
April 3, 2020
An Update for this week:
As we continue to Stay Home and Work Safe, all standard programs of the church remain on hiatus through Easter Sunday. We are confident that this will continue through the end of April, but we committed to communicating this with you weekly, so we will honor that commitment to keep you informed every week.
We want to share a couple of updates with you:
This Holy Week will be different than any other we have ever experienced. As much as we mourn the fact that we will not be together physically, the team has come up with a plan to offer you the opportunity to worship each day of the week. Our Palm Sunday service will be available at the usual time on Sunday morning. Then, starting Monday, we will post a 30-minute service with music, scripture reading, and a short devotion or guide for you.
On Thursday, the service will center around the Lord’s Supper—this will be our first opportunity to take communion together, yet still apart. What I would like for you to do in preparation for that service, gather elements that you already have in your home (crackers, bread, juice, wine, etc.). I will explain why we are using such common elements as we take communion together online. I will walk us through the story of that first communion, then will say the words of institution so you can all partake of the elements at home. Even though we will not be physically present with one another, we will be spiritually united, and Christ’s presence will surely be with us.
Our service on Easter Sunday will be similar to our other online Sunday services. We will, of course, sing songs of the resurrection and tell that beautiful story, but we aren’t going to pretend that we are all together as if we are putting on a show. We are going to save the celebration, the flowers, the suits and dresses, the unique music; we are going to save that for the Sunday when we are all finally back together again! Every Sunday is resurrection Sunday, so whenever we are physically together again, we will celebrate his resurrection the right way!
We have a vision for the next phase of ministry through this pandemic that will also provide a resource that we can activate from day one when the next crisis arises. The vision is this: that every covenant partner and active participant in the life of our church would be connected to a group…we will call them “Sent Groups.” These groups will be relationally-focused, geographically-based groups of 15-20 adults that exist for congregational care during times of crisis. The idea is that anytime trouble comes, these groups would activate and reach out to one another to ensure that everyone is safe, has what they need, and knows that they are loved.
The only way to do this is to have everyone on board! So go to the SENT GROUPS page on the website and fill out the form. Our team will begin to form these groups and will communicate the structure and plan in detail to everyone once the system is in place. A document will be available to you once the system is in place to describe how everything works. These groups will be lead by staff and our ordained elders and deacons, but the real work is left to the covenant patterns and active participants in the life of First Pres.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we would ask that every member of the SENT GROUP reach out once a week to each other member just to check in and see if any needs can be met. This is a way to keep us connected that doesn’t rely on technology, a connection that enables us to care for one another and pray for one another. We genuinely hope that you will all join us in this effort and sign up this Sunday!
BIBLE STUDIES AND ZOOM MEETINGS
We are also working to consolidate the links to our scheduled ZOOM meetings, including our daily meeting, our Sunday School Classes, Women’s Footsteps, along with other participating bible studies and groups. Check the website for a page that will take you directly to these zoom meetings. This will also allow you to join a group or study if you aren’t already a part of one!
We must stay connected, and we understand that technology, though it is a gift, can be an obstacle for some. We hope that these efforts will help us stay connected in a variety of ways during this season and beyond!
Grateful for you all. Love you. Miss you. I can’t wait to be with you in person once again! Praying for you, for your health, your mind, your spirit, and for our country and the world as we navigate this storm together. Hang in there church, and continue to be the Sent Church wherever you are!
March 28, 2020
An Short Update for you this week:
All church programs remain on hiatus the week of 3/29-4/4. Our Annual Congregational Meeting, which was scheduled for this Sunday, March 29, has also been postponed. We will send you a separate communication concerning our plans for our annual meeting.
Many of you are aware that are hosting daily Zoom calls as an interactive way for our staff to stay in touch, pray, and fellowship with you. Zoom is an online video conference service that will allow us to meet face-to-face online. The meetings will begin at 4 p.m. and will go for around half an hour. Check your email for the link to join in—if you are not receiving emails from us, sign up for the newsletter on our website. Be sure to check your junk email folder to be certain you are receiving the most updated information from us. We look forward to seeing you on Zoom!
Additionally, I want to encourage you to try something this week…this may not seem like much of an encouragement, but I genuinely believe it is important: take the time to give voice to your sadness, to the things you are missing while we are staying home and working safely.
The prophet Jeremiah wrote an entire book in the Old Testament on this very discipline called Lamentations. It is essential to lament, to say out loud the things that bother us about this current crisis. I have left many appointments on my calendar, those personal and ministry-related. When the alert reminds me that I have an appointment scheduled, I take a moment and acknowledge my sadness in losing an opportunity to meet with people, to take my daughter to dance, whatever it might be.
I then take a moment to be thankful for the gift of time that I have just been given.
Sincere and honest lament enables us to celebrate and give thanks. So don’t hesitate to name what’s bothering you—then offer that sadness to God and ask him to meet you in the midst of it. I have found that my capacity for joy and celebration has increased the more I allow myself to lament the things that upset and hurt me. It’s a challenging practice, but it is biblical, and it is important. Over time we will offer more guidance in this area as we continue to walk through this season together.
Know that you are loved. You are missed. It has been a joy to see many of your faces online, to hear your voices, but we anticipate that day when we are back together physically. In the meantime, thank you all for doing your part to continue to stay physically distant, but socially connected!
March 19, 2020
An Update from Pastor Chad:
As the First Pres staff and leadership are hard at work reimagining ministry through a pandemic, the session has voted unanimously to extend the current hiatus of all on-site activities and ministry programming through Saturday, March 28. It is our sense this will be extended until the world begins to open up again. We will keep you informed with these weekly updates.
We are happy to share that our online worship services will now be available Sunday mornings! We are conducting the services earlier in the week so that you will have access to them at your regular worshipping hour.
During this time, the office will be effectively closed for your safety. That does not mean the church’s ministry to our covenant partners and our community is ceasing; it simply means that, for your protection, we will keep the office doors locked, and we strongly discourage you from stopping by the office. Should you need anything at all, please call the office or contact someone on the team by email before coming to the facility.
What can you do this week? Our staff is dedicating a significant amount of time and energy to calling our covenant partners, starting with the most vulnerable and isolated. We would like to ask for your help with this:
- Please connect with each other by calling, writing letters, emails, or texts, and do so consistently and intentionally.
- Think about those who might be especially affected during this time, and safely place yourself in a position to help.
- If you discover a need that you are unable to meet yourself, please share it on our FaceBook Prayer Warriors group. If you are not currently a member of that group, simply search “FPCK Prayer Warriors” on FaceBook and request access to the group.
- The pastors, session and staff are praying for you by name during this difficult time, we would appreciate your prayers in return!
Each week I’ll share with you a passage that gives me comfort and peace in troubling times. These are great Scriptures to commit to memory. God’s Word written on our hearts, there is no greater comfort or blessing:
Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouragedDeuteronomy 31:7-8
We love you. We miss you. We will get through this together!
Update: March 13, 2020
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, we at First Pres Kingwood are mindful not to act out of fear of the coronavirus, but to respond to it, in prayerful consideration of our Covenant Partners and our community.
I’m writing to share with you a decision made by our Session this evening and our plans for living into our calling to be both a Gathered and Sent church during this challenging season. At a meeting on Friday, March 13th, the following motion was made:
Out of an abundance of caution, with no fear in our hearts, we [temporarily] suspend all activities at our physical campus. We will provide an online worship experience that will be available Sunday afternoon on our website. We will evaluate this plan moving forward on a weekly basis.Session
This motion was seconded and passed unanimously. This is very important—First Pres Kingwood is not shutting down. We are simply shifting our focus, during this pandemic, to function as the Sent Church! Allow me to explain to you exactly what this means:
- All official ministry activities of First Pres Kingwood will be placed on temporary hiatus from March 13-20. As we evaluate this situation week by week, we will communicate our plans for the following week every Friday evening through our website, email, and social media. If you know of someone in our family who may not have access to these forms of communication, please share this information with them.
- The worship team will record a worship experience that will be made available on our website no later than Sunday afternoon. As long as the temporary hiatus is in effect, we will produce this worship content for use by individuals, families, and any small groups that feel led to continue to meet. In these services you will find all the elements that define us as a worshiping family. We will also provide liturgy and documentation with discussion questions aimed at children, students, families, and adults.
- Pastors, staff, and ordained leaders will be available for prayer and counseling over the phone and in person. The church offices will be open during the week with limited staffing. The leadership team will meet regularly to ensure that we continue to function as the church during this season and will commit to consistent and accurate communication to our covenant partners.
We believe that this decision, made in consideration of the most vulnerable among us, is not an abdication of our responsibility to gather regularly for worship, but is in itself an act of worship, evidence of our love for God, in Christ, through the Holy Spirit. In times like these, one of the best ways we can show our love for God is through our acts of love for one another.
I want to share with you a sentiment offered by one of our neighbor churches, a sentiment that I have heard from a number of church and community leaders over the past 24 hours:
We, the faith community, were great at recovering from Harvey, but if we could have prevented Harvey, we would have. This is a way that we can try to prevent the next big storm that’s about to hit our city.Roger Patterson Senior Pastor, West University Baptist Church
We know that this decision will concern some and will comfort others. We have not made this decision lightly, but prayerfully and through discernment of the will of the Holy Spirit. We are confident that this is the responsible, next right step to take as a church.
Finally, we commission you, the “Sent Church” from First Pres Kingwood, to embody our purpose and our mission to “Go! Love God and Love Others.” In doing so, we ask three things of you—Pray, take appropriate precautions, and serve:
- Pray for the virus and its victims, for the fear and concern that has taken over our nation and global community, and for the Session and pastors of our church.
- If you are experiencing symptoms of the virus, please seek appropriate medical attention. Everyone should follow CDC instructions for hygiene so that we can all do our part to mitigate the spread of this virus. If you are vulnerable or “high risk” due to any pre-existing health concerns, please take care not to participate in activities that may lead to unnecessary exposure.
- Love your high risk and vulnerable neighbors especially. This may include, but is not limited to, shopping for them and assisting in ways that protect them from unnecessary exposure. Be a blessing, as you are able, to those around you.
In worship we have been discussing the profound truth that, as Christ’s church, we are a blessed people called to bless people. Today, the church has a unique opportunity to be a voice of hope in times of trouble, comfort in times of sorrow, peace in times of fear. This is an opportunity our brothers and sisters in Christ have faced over the past two thousand years—now it’s our turn.
Many in our community will be looking for those signs of hope, comfort, and peace— may we be a people who are able and willing to offer those sweet gifts to our neighbors, to our city, and to people around the world. Grace and Peace to you all in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.