A letter from David, March 19

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I pray (fervently) that you are well and experiencing the comfort of God in these anxious days. While we must be vigilant in our social distancing, through the power of the Holy Spirit, there is no such thing as “spiritual distancing.” We may not be in physical proximity of one another but we are as connected as ever. Like everyone else in the world, First Church is making moment to moment decisions to adjust to what is going on. Here are some of the most recent decisions:

Worship: We will worship solely online Sundays, March 22nd, 29th, and April 5th. If you live streamed the service this past Sunday, you know that it was a meaningful experience. In fact, we had 250 computers log on through our website and 60 watch on Facebook. If you consider there were multiple people in each home watching, we had a pretty good attendance! It is likely that we will not have in-person worship beyond these dates, but we are trying to take this a little bit at a time.

Church Office: To protect our staff and their families, we have had to close the church office. All of our Program and Administrative staff will be working from home. Our Maintenance Team will continue to deep clean the building and make needed repairs. Keeping the rest of the staff out of the building is a safety precaution for them as well.

Even though we won’t be at the church, we are still here for you. All of our staff are available by phone or email. We all have our office lines forwarded to our cell phones. Please call or email if you have any needs. Regretfully, if you call the main line, you will get a recording. Simply follow prompts to the directory of extensions. I hope you understand and will be patient as we make these adjustments. My email is dfreeman@fumclr.org, my extension is 204, and my cell number is 479-409-4893.

Adopt-a-Member: Donna is organizing an effort to keep our members connected. She’s looking for healthy members who are willing to be partnered with people who have a higher health risk. If you are willing to make phone calls or even pick up a bag of groceries for someone who can’t get out, contact Donna and she’ll get you connected (dhankins@fumclr.org, ext. 208). We don’t want anyone to feel isolated and disconnected.

Online Learning: Brittany is working with Sunday School Classes and Small Groups who want to meet online or by phone. If you are interested in joining in, please contact her (bwatson@fumclr.org, or ext. 205). We are also uploading learning experiences for children and youth to our website. If you have questions, please contact Tammy (tfelder@fumclr.org, ext 210) or Brandon (bbates@fumclr.org, ext. 206).

Community Engagement: Haley (hjones@fumclr.org, or ext. 219) is continuing to monitor opportunities to serve our community with food and other resources. We are trying to do this in a safe way that limits people’s exposure. For example, the Wednesday FANN group will meet next week but in a “drive through” style. This FANN group is made up of families with children and we received word many are going through food quicker than usual because the kids are home from school. Therefore, making sure this FANN group gets these resources is critical.

Giving: Because we won’t be worshipping in person for many weeks, our opportunities to give our tithes and offerings to God will be limited. Please consider giving through some of our online giving options. You can make a gift on our website or our mobile app using your credit card. If you use this mode, please consider increasing your gift by 3% to cover the service charge. Our preferred method is for people to set up an EFT (Electronic Fund Transfer) that gets transferred from your bank account. This saves us from paying credit card fees. It works just like paying your water bill through automatic draft. To learn how to make you electronic offerings, contact Sonja Taylor-Larkowski (stlarkowski@fumclr.org or ext. 209). She will be happy to safely and easily set this up for you. Of course, you can always mail a check to the church.

First Church has always held an incarnational theology, meaning we relate to God best by understanding God in physical form. That means community is highly valued and tangible acts of love are central to our faith. However, we are in a time that physical connection is a detriment to community. Therefore, we need to embrace a more Spirit-led understanding of God. We must place our faith in God’s transcendence to keep us connected. With this comes the opportunity to relate to God in deeper more profound ways. Thank you for BEING the church in this time.

Gratefully,
David

David Freeman

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