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.