Weekly Word from Pastor Curry: February 19, 2021

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Hello there Friendship Family!

Blessings and greetings to each of you as you read this week’s update and view the video. I want you to know that I am growing more encouraged each day. Just as the song the Voice of Joy Choir often sings, “I’m encouraged to walk with Jesus all the way. Though trials come, they come to make me very strong. I am encouraged to walk with Him all the way!”

I hope and pray you are encouraged as well. Last week I shared Psalm 54:4 for you. This week I want to share 55:22, which states, “Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.”

David had been betrayed by one of his best friends, and his soul was in deep distress. He was restless and complaining, oppressed by wicked men, and distracted by many threats from his evil enemies. He was overwhelmed by trouble, broken-hearted with grief, anguished in heart, and deep emotional distress. Like many believers today, David was fearful of his growing number of enemies, overwhelmed by his many troubles, and sinking into a bottomless pit of despair. Despite his difficulties, however, David turned his eyes to the Lord and cast his burdens upon Him! David knew that God would sustain him through every difficulty he faced because God never allows the righteous to be shaken.

Today we too are increasingly overwhelmed by terrors and threats, which cause many fears and fainting within, but throughout the Word of God, we are reminded not to fear, for the Lord our God is with us, wherever we go. We are encouraged to cast all our cares upon Him, for He cares for us. AMEN!

This week has been an encouraging week because the new case numbers continue to decrease, and so does the number of hospitalizations. The news anchors are actually encouraging this week! 😊 It feels like they are reporting GOOD news and not just bad news. The deaths are still decreasing. Praise the Lord! I am HOPE FILLED!

This week has also brought with it good news on the vaccination front. Vaccination available and production are increasing. More vaccination locations are opening up. Both the State of California leadership and President Biden are working to deliver more vaccinations within the next several weeks. This global pandemic is beginning to turn around. PRAISE THE LORD!

Now, as I said last week, this does not mean we stop praying! No sir, No ma’am! We must continue to pray! Pray, pray, pray, and pray some more! Pray, Don’t Panic, Take Precautions, and STILL be patient! I feel like I haven’t said that in a while! 😊

Here are things I would like to remind you of this week:

As I pray and am encouraged, I become more excited about gathering with you in worship. I am SO looking forward to our next Drive-In Service held on Sunday, March 7th, at 9am. I can’t wait to see your faces and to worship with you in person though we will still practice physical distancing! I hope you will plan to join us! Remember registration is now open HERE.

Next Saturday, February 27th, will be an exciting day for Friendship as the Women’s Ministry will host its first “Virtual” Women’s Prayer Breakfast!!  It will take place via Zoom. Please join the Women of Friendship as they celebrate and participate in a time of high praise and prayer. We will hear the preached Word from the highly sought-after and much requested Rev. Dr. Jacqueline A. Thompson, Senior Pastor of Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland, California. Don’t put off until tomorrow; what you can do today! Register today HERE.
We look forward to seeing you there!

Remember, the Virtual Talent Show is coming. This event is for ALL children & youth and their families, a talent show is coming, and it’s all virtual. Do you sing? Dance? Do magic tricks? Do you tell jokes? Are you a junior comedian? Maybe you recite poems with dramatic flair. Perhaps you perform acrobatics or entertain your family and friends with funny skits and other entertaining specialties. If you have a secret or not-so-secret talent, we invite you to be a part of this year’s Virtual Talent Show! This opportunity is open to children, teens, parents, grandparents, and families as a whole. Again, we invited individuals of all ages to participate and entertain the Friendship family with their talent. Make us laugh, cry, and think! Here’s how you can participate: Record video with your phone sideways (landscape).  Keep the video short (under 2 minutes). Feel free to use Filters, special effects, etc.! TikTok is a great app to set your video apart! Submit your video by Saturday, March 13th, so it’s included in our Virtual Talent Show on Saturday, March 20th. Click HERE for a list of over 50 ideas and to register!

Also, our scouting ministries have been meeting virtually, and they are doing well. About this time, every year, we all start getting a little rumble in our stomachs that is specifically looking for Girl Scout cookies. Usually, you might follow your nose to one of the tables set out in the quad, but you will have to follow a link this year.  So yes, Girl Scout cookies are on sale! You can help support our scouts! All of your favorites are back! Click the link HERE to see all the varieties and order information. Also, you can call or text in orders to 310-493-8396. The sale ends on March 14th. Don’t delay; order today!

Now, I am pleased to announce that our Veterans Ministry is sponsoring their first workshop of the year!  On March 10th, they will host a virtual workshop via ZOOM for all veterans and their families. This workshop will be addressing Pre-planning Funeral Arrangements.  STOP! This workshop is not a dark subject. It’s a necessary one, and there are some extraordinary FREE benefits for veterans. Again, the workshop is open to all veterans and their families interested in finding out how to get Veterans burial allowances (sometimes called “Veterans death benefits”) that help cover burial, funeral, transportation costs, and pre-planning! For more information and to join the event on Zoom, please go HERE.
Lent refers to the 40 days, which comes before Easter in the Christian calendar. Beginning on Ash Wednesday (the first day of Lent), Lent is a reflection and preparation season before the Easter celebration. Lent is a time of repentance and sacrifice. By observing the 40 days of Lent, Christians replicate Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and withdrawal into the desert for 40 days. Many know of the tradition of abstaining from meat on Fridays during Lent, but Lent is about practicing self-discipline throughout the season. Many fast during this time. I am not calling us to another fast. Still, for those who would like to observe Lent this year, I offer the following Lenten Season Activity from Mt. Zion Baptist Church of Pleasantville, NJ, pastored by Willie Dwayne Francois III, a leader I met when I participated in the PRIME Program in 2019 at Hampton University.

Lenten Rhythm 

February 17th- April 3rd

Meatless Mondays:

 Abstain from all meat

Ten Dollar Tuesdays:

 Spend $10 or less the entire day

Water Only Wednesday:   

 Abstain from all beverages except water

Thrice Thursdays:

 Pray a minimum of three times throughout the day  

Fried-Not Fridays:

 Abstain from all fried foods

Silent Saturdays:

 Spend a minimum of one hour in silent meditation

I look forward to you worshiping with us Sunday, February 21! This Sunday is Rosa Parks Sunday! We celebrate Rosa Parks Sunday during Black History Month to remind ourselves of the sacrifices made for Black liberty and freedom. Most historians date the beginning of the modern civil rights movement in the United States to December 1, 1955. That was the day when an unknown seamstress in Montgomery, Alabama, refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger. This brave woman, Rosa Parks, was arrested and fined for violating a city ordinance. Still, her lonely act of defiance began a movement that ended legal segregation in America and made her an inspiration to freedom-loving people everywhere.

The bus incident led to the Montgomery Improvement Association’s formation, led by the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church’s young pastor, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The association called for a boycott of the city-owned bus company. The boycott lasted 382 days and nearly shut down the Montgomery bus Transportation System because, in all reality, they were dependent upon the very same people they discriminated against for revenue.  The boycott brought Mrs. Parks, Dr. King, and their cause to the attention of the world. A Supreme Court Decision struck down the Montgomery ordinance under which Mrs. Parks had been fined and outlawed racial segregation on public transportation. Rosa Parks became known as the Mother of the Civil Rights Movement!

We celebrate Rosa Parks here at Friendship because of what she has meant to us in our past. We here at Friendship have a special connection to Rosa Parks through our founding pastor, the Rev. Dr. James D. Carrington.  He and Rosa Parks shared a God Son, Curtis Dean, and when Curtis would bring Mrs. Parks to California for the winter, she would spend many of her Sundays here at Friendship.  She and Bishop Carrington built a lasting relationship, which continued to the day she died.  When the Rosa Parks movie was released, Bishop Carrington attended the premiere at her request.  

PBS: The Black Church Presentation
Also, I want to encourage you to check out the PBS Special on the Black Church. An intimate four-hour series from Henry Louis Gates, Jr., The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song, will explore the 400-year-old story of the black church in America, the changing nature of worship spaces, and the men and women who shepherded them from the pulpit, the choir loft, and church pews. I watched the first episode on Tuesday and was BLESSED! Check it out HERE.

We have a new virtual Bible Study Class coming on March 2nd. The class is entitled Precept Upon Precept-Prepare to Meet Your God: The Book of Amos. The class will meet on Tuesdays, 10:00am -11:30am and will be taught by our former Director of Christian Education & Discipleship, Sister Joyce Jackson. This Bible study class is a nine-week course. Please note to benefit the most from this study; you will need to complete homework.  There is a workbook that accompanies the study.  Click HERE to join the class or contact Angelica Holden for more information at [email protected] or call the church office at 714-528-0990.

I want to wish Mother Dorothy Gaithers a very special Happy Birthday! Yes, our own Mother Gaithers turns 100 years young tomorrow, February 20th! She was born on February 20, 1921, in Jefferson, Texas. She is the third and youngest child of Robert and Eva Spencer Jordan. Dorothy accepted Christ when she was 16 years old and was baptized at Salem Baptist Church in Dallas. There she was active in the Sunday School, youth choir, and Baptist Young Peoples Union. Upon entering Booker T. Washington High School in Dallas, Dorothy auditioned for the prestigious school choir, The Ambassadors. Her high school academic success earned her a scholarship to Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. As a freshman, Dorothy became a soloist in the renowned Tuskegee Choir, directed by William L. Dawson. She majored and excelled in home economics and social studies.  After graduation in 1944, Dorothy joined her parents in Los Angeles and pursued graduate studies at California State University and UCLA.  She united with Second Baptist Church and joined her beloved Cathedral Choir, where she faithfully served for more than 65 years. Among her dearest friends at Second Baptist are her fellow sopranos, affectionately known as The Back Row Sisters. She Joined Friendship in 2001. Dorothy’s professional career in social service spanned 43 years until retirement in 1987.  As a civil servant for the County of Los Angeles and later for California, Dorothy excelled as a social worker, deputy probation officer, psychiatric social worker, social service consultant, licensing program analyst, and program supervisor. Mother Dorothy Gaithers’ life demonstrates the faithfulness of God. Happy Birthday, Mother Gaithers. WE LOVE YOU! 

Things to remember:

  • Phone Line for Worship: For our members who may have a tough time connecting to our worship service online for whatever reason, we are now offering a way for those members to dial in and listen to service over the phone. To access the service via telephone, members and guests need to dial 1 216-930-8774‬ and enter the PIN: 464 267 559‬#. It is live for both the 8:00a and 11:30a worship services.‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

  • Our College and Career Prep Initiative (CCPI) has produced an excellent and comprehensive one-stop virtual academic and education assistance resource for parents and families of  K- through 12 and college-bound students. Click HERE to access our Google Classroom.  Feel free to share with others.‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

  • EX HOUR: Ex Hour meets weekly on Sundays, and we are studying Luke. This study will continue through the end of this month. Remember, EX Hour takes place every Sunday through the video conference app, ZOOM. Join us for class on Sundays at 10:15a via this link HERE. Also, there is a YOUTH EX HOUR: Our youth Ex Hour takes place during our designated EX Hour time via Google Meet. Parents, please encourage your students to join youth teachers for this biblically fun opportunity to learn God’s Word, connect with others, and grow. To join Youth Ex Hour, follow the link HERE
  • 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 HERE or dial in at +1 (413) 418-4274 and use the PIN 287683504#. 
  • FBC FOOD BANK OPEN: The FBC Food Bank is OPEN with a new drive-thru system where our clients will receive a pre-packaged food box and bag of groceries.  The Food Bank’s hours of operation are Tuesday - Thursday 2:30p-4:30p.  

  • COVID Membership Assistance Fund: We are STILL 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. The guidelines are available HERE, and the application is available HERE.

  • 2021 Bible Reading Challenge Issued: Continuing our Church Legacy, I would like to encourage ALL MEMBERS to read through the Bible in 2021 in one of the six ways we suggest. You can read the entire Bible, just the Old Testament or the New Testament, the first five books of the Old Testament (the Pentateuch), Psalms & Proverbs three times, or the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John). 

  • Church Calendar Available: The 2021 Church Calendar is NOW available online, and it’s available for you to download to your device. The 2021 Church Calendar is digital-only. There are no paper (or hard) copies. HERE is a link to the church calendar. 

Friendship, I love you, but God loves you, BETTER!  Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected!

In His Service,
Rev. Kenneth C. Curry, Jr.
Senior Pastor
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