COVID-19 Update - Suspending All In Person Gatherings at First Baptist Church (11/15/20)
Our church has faced many difficult challenges over the past ten years. The past six months have unfortunately been filled with our most difficult challenges. Nothing has quite been as difficult as trying to be a church in the midst of a pandemic. At every turn we have faced difficult decisions and challenges concerning how we try and fulfill our mission: to grow followers of Jesus by planting seeds of faith and nurturing them to bear fruit. That is not to say that we have fallen flat or that we have not seen God at work in our lives and in our community, it is just to say that it has been a challenge. Thankfully God has equipped each one of us and our whole church community to meet the challenges of this time. We have everything we need through the Holy Spirit, and no limiting factor or outside challenge is greater then the power of the God who enables our efforts.
As we face the new situation of increasing case numbers of Covid-19 in Vermont, we are trying to maintain consistency in our approach to meeting through the pandemic. We, like almost everyone around us, have been faced with having to choose between multiple bad options over the past few months. We obviously do not want to be a place where people come and catch a very serious illness, especially one that preys on vulnerable people who God is consistent in telling us to pay special care. At the same time we also know that worshiping in person is an important part of being a community of believers, and it is to our detriment when we only interact through a screen.
In an attempt to navigate these two realities we met only online, when there was a great deal of uncertainty about what would happen with the virus and what we should do to best prevent its spread. Once case numbers came down and more became known about how to mitigate risk to people gathered, we were able to have services in person for a limited number of people in a limited kind of way.
Unfortunately even with those understandings, case numbers in Vermont are very much on the rise again, and so we are faced with yet another challenge of when is the appropriate time to move our meetings back online. To that end we have decided now is the time to move back to online only worship services while transmission rates in Vermont remain high. We are suspending all in person gatherings in the church building as well. Some of this decision is to limit the risk to the people attending our services, but some of it is also to be good stewards in our community. Some things in a community cannot really function without in person interaction - specifically school for younger children and many businesses. Church, while very far from ideal, can function for a time without in person gatherings. As people who follow Jesus we want to follow His example when it comes to sacrificing for others. Jesus gave up far more then in person worship for us. He gave his life so that we might have real, true, full life. We, therefore, feel it is important to make sacrifices for those around us, and this seems like a time to do that.
As a church we have discovered some things about online worship and so it is our sincere hope that this online season will be a much more engaging experience than during the spring. We will be working very hard to include many people in the worship service through recorded videos, so expect to get contacted about your willingness to participate in our services. Also feel free to say no - just expect the ask. We are also working on an exciting daily Advent devotional we would like to walk through as a church that will be focused on children, but applicable to everyone.
Finally, we would encourage you with the words of Paul in Romans 8:35-39 that have been used for generations to remind followers of Jesus of just how secure we should feel no matter what earthly circumstances we face:
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
'For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.' No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
If you or someone you know is in need of pastoral care or resources, please feel free to reach out to Pastors Chris and Kathleen by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by giving them a call at 856-7266.
Pre-COVID pictures of our church family!