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Weekly Word from Pastor Curry: May 29, 2020

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My Beloved Friendship Family,

I will be honest with you; it is challenging to come up with a new greeting each week. I try to balance being both encouraging and realistic in my communication with you, but I often find it challenging to start. We are experiencing ambiguous and perplexing times, where hope and encouragement are needed, so I take my role and responsibility as your pastor seriously.  I want you to know I love you all, and I miss you terribly. I wish things were back to “normal” already, but normal appears to be a far way off. As I said last week, we are not sure what normal is anymore, nor are we necessarily secure in all the information that comes from our leaders. After I released my weekly update last week, our president, President Donald J. Trump, announced made the declaration that churches and houses of worship are ESSENTIAL, and we needed to get churches open again. He threatened that if the various governors did not comply, he would override them. Immediately, people started to wonder would the church be open Sunday. Governor Gavin Newsom announced on the same day that he would release guidelines for houses of worship to begin gathering on the following Monday, which was Memorial Day. He did release those guidelines on Monday. Those guidelines only allow gatherings of 100 people or less and include a list of other suggested restrictions for safety.

Beloved, I agree with President Trump, churches are essential. We have been essential since the day Jesus articulated that He was building a church. Institutions and governments do not make Christ’s church essential; Christ does! With that in mind, as much as I want to gather, and as much as I want things back to a proverbial normal, I am not willing to sacrifice our safety for the sake of gathering, nor will we sterilized worship so drastically so that we can say we had church. For now, things will remain as they are. We will continue to worship and gather online and virtually.

These new guidelines do not change anything for us at the moment. What they do, however, is give us a guide for where to start and how to think about gathering. I have told you I have Zoom fatigue. This is not a joke. This is the truth. I am on conference calls, Zoom meetings, and webinars almost daily, so that I can stay aware of what will be necessary to bring us back together eventually, but we are not there yet! Are we researching? Yes! Are we planning? Yes! Are we training? Yes! Are we ready? No! Let me say this clearly; there is NO DATE SET for our return to campus.

Did you know that for nearly 300 years, the church existed without buildings? Early believers understood the importance of gathering and community and made that happen without a building. Friendship existed for over a year without a building and then gave up that rented space to purchase land and shared space with Emmanuel Episcopal Church for three years. My point is this; buildings do not define us.
We are a community, not a campus
We are a people, not a place
We are a body, not a building
Here in 2020, we are being challenged to go back to our roots and make the best of a difficult situation. We will do it, and we will remain the church! I may not be able to explain everything that is going on and give you a concrete theological framework for all of this, but I do know that God is for us, and God is with us! He will help us through this! We can do this! We will do this!

I am asking my staff, ministry leaders, and all members to prioritize COMMUNITY and CONNECTIONS. We have sat here in neutral long enough. We still have work to do! So let’s get back to doing ministry, but let’s merely do it ALL virtually. The way I have said it to my staff is this, “Everything that is on our calendar let’s figure out how to do it virtually. I do not want us to cancel any more opportunities unless it is absolutely necessary.” This will require creativity, effort, and planning, but it can be done. Know that my staff is here to help and to serve.

Speaking of the staff, as many of you know, the majority of our staff have been working from home. As of June 1st, we return to campus to better serve you and to more intensely plan ministry for our church. While we are on campus more, our campus is not open to visitors. We are requesting that you call before showing up to the church. We will still do much of our business virtually. Help me to keep the staff safe and keep you safe.

Here are my updates for you this week:

  • EX HOUR: Ex Hour starts a new study on Proverbs beginning Sunday, June 7th. We have Ex Hour books if you would like to follow along better and study on your own. You can pick up a book on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9am to 11am and on Wednesdays from 4pm to 6pm beginning Tuesday, June 2nd. Remember EX Hour takes place every Sunday through the video conference app, Google Meet. Join us for class on Sundays at 10:15a by opening our church app, clicking “ATTEND” and choosing EX Hour. A Google account is not required, but if you access on a mobile device, you may need to download the Google Hangouts: Meet app. You can also join on your computer by visiting wearefriendship.church/exhour and following the instructions listed.
  • WEDNESDAY Prayer Day: Join us each Wednesday for Prayer. We pray at 6:30a, 12p, and 6:30p. To connect with our prayer services, please follow this link https://meet.google.com/yco-ykae-ugq or dial in at +1 (413) 418-4274 and use the PIN 287683504#.
  • RTNT Bible Study with Pastor Curry: After prayer on Wednesday evenings, please join me for RTNT Bible Study at 7pm. To connect with me for Bible Study, please follow this link https://meet.google.com/xqd-irci-oka or dial in at +1 302-455-8997‬ and use the PIN: 906 944 250#‬. ‬‬I hope you are keeping up with your reading and your SOAP journaling. An updated rending plan with the correct dates is HERE.‬‬
  • COVID Membership Assistance Fund: We are pleased to announce that we are now accepting applications for the COVID Membership Assistance Grant. If you are experiencing financial distress due to COVID19, we invite you to apply for one of our $500 assistance grants. We only have thirty of these grants available, and they are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. The guidelines are available HERE, and the application is available HERE.

Let me close by saying, my heart is broken, and I am grieving over the death/murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN. I have watched the video, and I am sickened. When I watch the video, and I hear a man ask for help, ask for water, complaining about his stomach being in pain, say that he could not breathe, and ask for his mother, I am sickened. This should not be and should not happen in these United States of America! But what enrages me most is how cavalier this police officer was as he presses his knee and body weight into the neck and breathing canal of this unarmed and defenseless black man! He had his hand in his pocket! He acts like this is business as usual and acceptable! This is not acceptable! No one deserves to meet their death in this way for an alleged crime. We are better than this. We have a justice system. And, that system guarantees fair and equal treatment under the law for all people who live in this country.

Join me in praying for Mr. Floyd’s family, the city of Minneapolis, as well as those who peacefully protest, the police department, along with civic and community leaders charged with serving and protecting its citizens. I’m also praying for women and men who lead communities of faith in Minneapolis, and who follow the teachings of Jesus. They need our prayers, and we need to PRAY! Lastly, I am praying for our young African American boys and men. They are struggling with this. I have engaged in conversations with the two young men who live in my house (our sons) and others that I have a relationship with, and they are overwhelmed and fatigued from all of this! And I understand their pain,so let’s encourage them and pray for them.
In times like these, you need a Savior
In times like these, you need an anchor
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

This Rock is Jesus, Yes He’s the One
This Rock is Jesus, the Only One
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!
Continue to pray. Continue to take care of one another. Continue to be the church!
Serving you and grateful,
https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/lK6ri-mjKfB2sIhmcqg2Hi5NyudCSRNzgARr3Mf2K6eUJbquKsJKTjRH8bwIsoC_hqMxDcBGgvz_iM-bLMT8GRoG7ZyW8HAgJwXEgcNgXaSzgCXTwPnItGvBjZf7eqWKVIIalN7w
Rev. Kenneth C. Curry, Jr.
Senior Pastor
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