COVID-19 Updates

Check this page regularly for the most recent communications on how we are handling the current global health crisis.

 

March 31, 2020

March 28, 2020

 

March 23, 2020

March 19, 2020

A Call for the Church During the Coronavirus

 

Dear FBC Family,

Yesterday, I let you know about how things are changing around FBC so you are informed of what is taking place and what isn’t taking place. (You can access that information here). I want to take some time now to slow down a little bit, take a breath, and talk about how we as followers of Christ should be living in these anxious times.

By God’s grace, here is how we are leading the church in walking through this unusual time.

  1. By Being a Non-Anxious Presence

Our first priority is to call you to radical dependence—a trust in our all-powerful, sovereign, trustworthy, and faithful Savior. He is not surprised by the crisis taking place across the globe, and he is not anxious about how it’s going to play out. In fact, I’m convinced he will use it to carry out his redemptive purposes in the world and in our community. And I truly believe we can rest in that reality, and even more than that—join him in what he is doing.

As leaders, we want to lead with a non-anxious presence in these circumstances—in other words, we don’t have to be ruled by fear. And we truly believe that as the church, we can love and bless our neighbors by being a non-anxious presence—embodying the deep trust that marks our faith—as we live our faith out in front of people who don’t yet believe.

So what does that mean? How do we live that out?

  1. Prayer

The first thing we do is we pray. What better time than this to seek the face of the Lord? To hear from him? To find comfort and solace from him? And to pray and intercede for others who are anxious, suffering, or in need?

The beautiful thing about prayer is that we can pray when we’re not able to gather. We had planned to meet every Thursday during Lent for prayer and worship, but we’ve cancelled those gatherings. Here’s what we’re going to do instead: on Thursday night at 7:00 PM, we’re going ask the entire church—wherever you happen to be—to stop and pray. We are working to have a Live Chat of some sort online for you to follow along with some prayer prompts, and even interact with each other as we praise God and pray together. (We’ll make a link available to this through email, on our website, and through our social media channels). Set yourself a reminder and join us on Thursday at 7:00 PM.

On top of this, we are calling the whole church to join together every evening at 7:00 PM for 5 minutes of prayer—wherever you are at. I’m taking a page from the church in Singapore, who started what they called COVID-1900 Prayer. Hopefully you get the play on words to remind us that God can use even this life-threatening virus to draw us to himself in prayer. COVID-19 is, obviously, the name of the now-famous coronavirus, and 1900 is 7:00 PM in military time.

So set an alarm for yourself for everyday at 7:00 PM. Gather your family together, or get on your knees by yourself in your living room or wherever you’re at, and spend a few minutes in prayer. We will attempt to keep you updated on specific prayer needs, but if nothing else, spend time praising and thanking God for his goodness and love, interceding for friends and neighbors, lifting up those who are sick or ill, especially those who have contracted this virus. Pray for our communities, our leaders, and a quick outcome and closure to this pandemic.

We will still have two other regular gatherings for prayer as well: Sunday mornings at 8:00 and Wednesdays at Noon. These will take place in the fellowship hall by the fireplace and will continue for as long as they can.

As the weather warms up, there may be opportunities for us to gather in larger groups for prayer outdoors, or to join with one another in prayer walks around our city. We will let you know of these kinds of corporate opportunities as they present themselves!

However you choose to participate, let’s do this: Let’s pray! Let’s allow God to use these unusual circumstances to shape us into a praying church!

  1. Communication

Secondly, we are making it a high priority to keep you in the loop on what is happening as a church. Good information (truth) tends to result in peace (rather than anxiety). Continue to check your email, social media, and our website for regular updates. If you have questions or would simply like to talk with someone, call the church office at (541) 447-7717. If you have practical or material needs, don’t hesitate to contact one of our deacons—their contact info is available on our website. If you need prayer or counsel, reach out to your Home Community leader or one of the elders.

  1. Connection

Since we are cancelling our regular Sunday morning services for the time being, we are taking this opportunity to leverage the gifts of technology to stay connected with one another as the body of Christ. We truly believe that gathering together as the church is an incomparable gift, and not being able to can quickly lead to loneliness, discouragement, and spiritual atrophy. We don’t want this for any of us, so we’re going to be doing our best to use the tools at our disposal to keep connected despite the “social distancing” that it’s wise to maintain.

  • Sunday Gathering: This Sunday, March 22, our service will be pre-recorded and made available on the church website and on YouTube for you to view at your convenience. Beginning next Sunday, March 29, we are working to LiveStream a service so that you can join us in real time. Our hope is that this option—along with prayer times throughout the week—will keep us connected and engaged in relationship together.

  • Home Communities still have the option to meet for now. We leave that decision up to the leaders and the groups themselves as long as they’re able to comply with suggested best practices. But let me encourage you once again to follow healthy guidelines: if you are feeling sick, stay home and away from people. If you are in a high-risk group, have a compromised immune system, or an underlying health issue, it would be wise for you to forego all gatherings at this point.

Regardless, I want to encourage you again to stay connected with each other via phone calls, text messages, social media, or FaceTime. Whatever it takes, use technology as a tool to your advantage to stay connected with the Body of Christ.

  1. Generous Love.

Christ calls us to imitate his life in how we love our communities. This crisis is a tremendous opportunity to act as the hands and feet of Jesus to a world that can easily become unanchored in the midst of a crisis. As believers, Jesus Christ is our center—he is our anchor, our fortress, our stronghold, our Rock. Those who don’t know Christ lack this anchor, and we have the opportunity—through concrete acts of love and our faithful and non-anxious presence, to point them to a Savior who loves them deeply. Here are a few ideas for loving, and please keep an eye out for other ways you can help:

  • FBC Food Pantry: The Food Pantry is normally open the last two Monday of each month, but beginning this next Monday (March 23), it will be open weekly on Mondays from 12:30 - 2:30 PM. Because of the extra hourse, they could use more help. They will be shifting to a drive-thru only format for those with needs. Please let folks know that this resource is available, and contact Joe Stenkamp at (973) 271-3172 if you are interested in helping.
  • Red Cross Blood Drive. The Red Cross is in a severe blood shortage because so many blood drives have been cancelled. The COVID-19 crisis increases the need for donated blood, and this is an easy way for those of us who are healthy to lean into serving our community. There is a blood drive taking place at First Baptist Church this Friday: I encourage you to sign up and donate. You can also find out more about the safety of blood donation at org.
  • Social Media: Share & Meet Needs. We’ve started an FBC Facebook page for sharing needs and finding opportunities to help each other. You can post a need on that page. If you are on Facebook, please also subscribe to that page so you can receive updates and find ways to help others out. This can include picking up groceries, getting help with technology, and even simply asking for prayer. Also, there is a community-wide Facebook page called “Pandemic Partners Prineville” for sharing and meeting needs throughout the community. We would encourage you to engage with that as well. You can also contact the church office if you have needs but no access to social media.

In conclusion: Pray. Stay Connected. Communicate. And Love. And beneath all of this, let’s remember that our only hope is Christ. So let’s look to him together. Thank you.

In His peace,
Pastor Mike Phay

March 18, 2020

 

Dear FBC Family:

In Psalm 27, David prays: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?…Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.” (Psalm 27:1,3)

With the global appearance of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and its spread into our communities, we find ourselves in unusual and very uncertain times. Local, state, national, and world leaders are taking extreme measures to slow the spread of this disease, which all adds to the uncertainty and lack of normalcy during this time. As leaders of this local church body, we desire to lead well by communicating regularly with you during this time.

The main gist of this communication is to inform you that due to governmental actions to stem the spread of the coronavirus disease in our communities, and our desire to comply with what is being asked of us for the good of everyone in our community, we will be cancelling our normal on-site Sunday services—in both English and Spanish—beginning this Sunday, March 22nd. This will continue until further notice. Our hope is that this would be short-lived, but all realistic assessments of the situation point to the fact that we are only at the beginning of this, and a hiatus of at least one month seems highly likely. However, we will be offering an online alternative to gatherings, and I will let you know more about that in my next communication.

There are several other regular church events and gatherings that we are cancelling as well:

  • The XYZ group will be taking an indefinite hiatus.
  • The Rising (Youth Group) will fall in line with school closures, and at this point will be cancelled through the end of April.
  • The bulk of our programming for Lent—including prayer and worship nights, the Seder meal, and the Good Friday service—will be cancelled.
  • There are several Home Communities that have already elected not to meet during this time. If you are a part of a Home Community and are not sure what the plan is, please get in touch with your Home Community leader to find out more.

With all of these cancellations, there are still several things that will continue during this time:

  • First of all, several Home Communities are electing to continue meeting because their gathering is small, and they are able to practice healthy ‘social distancing.’
  • Second, two of our regular prayer times will continue—Wednesday at Noon and Sunday at 8:00 AM. These will take place in the Fellowship Hall by the fireplace.
  • Third, we will continue to serve the community through our Food Pantry. Beginning next Monday, March 23, the Food Pantry will be open weekly from 12:30-2:30 PM for the foreseeable future. Because they will be open more, they could use more help. They will be shifting to a drive-thru only format for those with needs. Please let folks know that this resource is available, and contact Joe Stenkamp (973-271-3172) if you are interested in helping/serving.
  • Finally, the church office will be open for the foreseeable future and will have regular office hours (Monday-Thursday, 9:00-5:00 PM). Feel free to call if you need something or have a question, or drop by if you’re feeling healthy and simply need to talk or pray with someone. You can also find information on our website, through our social media outlets, or by contacting a staff member, an elder, or a deacon.

With all of these, I want to encourage you that if you feel sick at all, stay at home and don’t risk spreading this to others. If you’re at high risk, please stay home and avoid places where you could potentially be infected.

It grieves me deeply that we have to cancel so many life-giving activities that mark the regular, normal life of the church. However, what we consider to be normal life is never guaranteed to us. And so we are trusting God that he is going to be walking with all of us through these things. Along with that, we are actively making plans to stay connected during this time. By the end of the day today, we’ll be sending out a second communication to let you know what we are planning.

Here’s the reality. Here’s the solid truth that we can anchor to:

If we are the church, then there is no better time to act like the church—to be God’s family together. The church has gone through wilderness times before; exile is a normal part of the course of events for God’s people. And he has promised to be with us—even to the end of the age.

So let’s anchor our hearts and minds in what has always been the foundation of the church: the deep Gospel truths of God’s sovereign and providential care, his love shown to us in Christ, and the gift of his Word and his Spirit which together guide us an anchor us in truth.

 

In His Peace,

Pastor Mike Phay