Weekly Word from Pastor Curry: April 2, 2021

Greetings, Friendship Family!

It’s HOLY WEEK!  Holy Week is what we call the week immediately before Easter or Resurrection Sunday. Holy Week begins with the commemoration of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, climaxing with the Last Supper and Passion of Jesus on Good Friday, ending with his Sabbath rest in the grave on Holy Saturday. On the eighth day, the Resurrection of Jesus is celebrated as Easter and marks the beginning of a new week, Easter week, and the Resurrection celebration.

Again, Easter is not just a day of colored eggs; it is the day that marks the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, after His crucifixion. Christ endured unimaginable suffering on the cross, sacrificing His life for ours. He was then resurrected as an example of His eternal life, and we should all take heed of this powerful example.

I ask that you take this holiday to think about how you can rededicate yourself to God and your brothers and sisters in Christ. As Christ rose from His mortal tomb, we should always be searching for ways to rise above the things in life that hold us back from being the person God has intended us to be. Let His story be the inspiration for you to break free of the chains that bind you spiritually so that you may be closer in your walk with Him. Easter is a time of celebration of our Lord, and what better way to rejoice in His gift than to renew ourselves in Him!

With that said, I hope you enjoyed our Maundy Thursday Service last evening! I can’t tell you how much I appreciated the exercise of just discussing the Word of God with people of the WORD! I pray you found it beneficial as well. If you missed it, you can check it out HERE.

Again, I want to invite you to join us tonight for our Good Friday Service at 7pm. Again, this is a virtual service. Come and hear these seven dynamic preachers encourage us in the message of the cross and Christ’s crucifixion. Our preachers will be the Rev. Belinda Wheaton-Wright, Rev. Kameron Durham, Rev. Fredia Travis, Rev. Eric Archer, Rev. Orienthio Flowers, Evangelist Francie Jones, and Rev. Jaron Singley. We will also have music from our music ministry. It will be a good time of worship and reflection. Remember, we are not having our Family Prayer Session this evening to give support to our Good Friday Service. 

On Sunday, April 3rd, we will celebrate Resurrection Sunday here at Friendship in the Sanctuary at 9am and 11:30am! Remember, masks and physical distancing will be required and enforced! Both services will stream live. THERE IS NO SUNRISE SERVICE! Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, we are full at both services. We appreciate the response we have received and can’t wait to host you at your church on Sunday.

Many of you are aware that Orange County and Los Angeles County moved to the Orange Tier on Wednesday, March 31st. Moving up to the orange tier allows for more businesses to reopen. Retail stores will not have to limit occupancy at all, and churches, movie theaters, museums, zoos, and aquariums can expand attendance from 25% to 50% of capacity. We had planned to operate under the 25% capacity for Resurrection Sunday and will still do so. While I know this limits our capacity, and several of you will not be able to join us in person even though you desire to because of our limited capacity, I felt this was the best decision for us given the timing. It would not be fair to my planning team, who have been working hard to provide a SAFE worship experience to pivot so we will stay the current course suddenly. I pray you understand. If I am honest, the most challenging part about this whole pandemic has been the lack of communication and lead time on decisions from our leaders.

Please know I am reviewing our plans and processes. I am already planning to increase our capacity for the first Sunday in May. Further, while we committed to only First Sundays for the second quarter of the year, that is under review and will most likely change in May. Please don’t hold me to it, but we will probably move to two in-person Sundays a month beginning in May. All I ask is for your patience, prayers, and understanding.

Here are some church announcements for you! 

There is a new Women’s Bible Study entitled, Breathe based on Pricilla Shirer’s book of the same name, starting on Wednesday, April 7th. The teachers will be Rev. Fredia Travis and Rev. Belinda Wheaton Wright and will run for twelve weeks through July 7th.  One of the most significant challenges among women in our culture is taking time to cease all the activities and just breathe. Believers are in bondage to busyness. By neglecting time for tranquility, serenity, and repose, we limit our Christlikeness and miss out on some of God’s greatest gifts. In the Old Testament, Sabbath was given to the Israelites as a gift, and it is still a gift to us today. If you are weary, worn out, and exhausted, then the Sabbath concept will change your life. All women are invited and encouraged to join us for this 12-week study and allow God’s Word to help you B-R-E-A-T-H-E. Find more information HERE.

We are excited to announce that Celebrate Recovery resumes its onsite in-person gatherings at Friendship Baptist Church on Thursday, April 3rd. The meeting begins at 7:00 pm.  Celebrate Recovery is for all those with present or past hurts, habits, or hang-ups is welcome. We will have CR literature, general session speakers, small groups, and more. Rev. Felton Patrick Christian will be the general session speaker for the first meeting, and he will discuss the topic of “Contentment.” Please join us on campus as we resume our in-person fellowship, celebrating our recovery!

Friday, April 9th,  the Side by Side Couples Ministry class, “The 5 Love Languages,” is scheduled to meet virtually at 7pm.  The topic for this class will be “QUALITY TIME.” You can join the meeting via the Zoom link HERE. Should you have any questions, you can contact Deacon Hilton McDaniel by email at [email protected] or call him at (949) 652-1489

There is a new Singles Bible study starting on Thursday, April 15th at 7pm. This class will be a virtual class via Zoom. The teachers are Deacon Allen Gobert and Sister Elona Brown. They will teach the book, They Were Single Too.  They Were Single Too spells out concrete steps for a healthy, God-approved attitude toward unmarried life and how one can truly serve God without a spouse. Again, go HERE to our Bible study page to sign up for this class.

We are calling all children Preschool through 5th Grade! Join us on a four-day adventure as we learn that “The Mission Continues” at this year’s Swing Into Spring virtual event.  Your children will meet up with our teachers for live virtual sessions.  Just like the SummerBlast event last summer, each day will include inspiring teaching, dancing, music, small group time, crafts, and FUN! Our materials and supply kits will give families everything they need to Swing Into Spring! Plus bonus materials that parents can use to keep the fun and learning going after meet-ups. Again, we will meet virtually on April 11, 18, 25 & May 2 @ 5:00pm via Zoom. Our Children’s Ministry will send you the link to attend once you register. Register HERE.

Here are some general information things I would like to share with you.

In April, FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will begin accepting applications to reimburse families for funeral services of a loved one who died a COVID-related death. Reimbursements can be as much as $7000. If you had COVID-19 funeral expenses, we encourage you to apply for this reimbursement opportunity. You will need to gather documentation which should include:
  • An official death certificate that attributes the death directly or indirectly to COVID-19 and shows that the death occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.
  • Funeral expenses documentation, including receipts, or funeral home contract, etc. Receipts must bear the applicant’s name, the deceased person’s name, the amount spent for funeral expenses, and the dates of those funeral expenses were incurred.
  • Proof of funds received from other sources specifically for use toward funeral costs. FEMA will not duplicate benefits received from burial/funeral insurance, financial assistance received from voluntary agencies, government agencies, or other sources.

We continue to advocate for the vaccine. As we do so, we will share information with you regarding locations to get a vaccination.  We were contacted this week by LEAD-ABC (Leadership Education to Advance Diversity of African, Black, and Caribbean Communities) of the University of California- Irvine. They are in partnership with Christ Our Redeemer AME Church in Irvine and are sponsoring a Vaccination Clinic on April 13th & 15th. The clinic will take place at KCS Health Center in Anaheim. There is a flier connected to the email post that offers more information and eligibility requirements. You must make an appointment. HERE is a link to their flier.

Those are my announcement this week. Thank you for your prayers, and thank you for reading; I know this was a lot.  I look forward to worshipping with you Sunday!

General Church 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) leadership 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. Remember, EX Hour takes place every Sunday through the video conference app, ZOOM. Join us for class on Sundays at 10:30a 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. No Ex Hour this Sunday due to Resurrection Sunday Celebration!
  • 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. 

I look forward to worshipping with you Sunday! I love you, Friendship, but God loves you, BETTER!  Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected!

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