Weekly Word from Pastor Curry: April 16, 2021

Greetings Friendship Family!

I trust God that each of you is well and that you remember and reflect in who you are in Christ and whose you are, God’s beloved! I trust that you have your hand firmly in God’s hand! He is certainly faithful!

As we continue to move through April, there are many things taking place and many changes taking place, so we need to remain flexible and adaptable. When I first began to lead the Youth Ministry here at Friendship over 18 years ago, I worked with youth leaders and volunteers on the subject of change.  Change is the process whereby we shift from one status or state to another. Change is a process, and many say change is inevitable. For the last year, we have dealt with change, and it has been unsettling at times.

When I worked with youth leaders and volunteers on the subject of change, I used the highly acclaimed book Who Moved My Cheese: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life to discuss change and its effect on us individually and collectively. It’s an allegory that helps us know that change happens, that we should anticipate change, adapt to change, and ultimately enjoy change.

So speaking of change, let me share some things with you. Last week I told you that California would move away from its four-tier system for reopening on June 15th and fully reopen its economy if certain conditions are met, marking a significant shift or change here in California. Additionally, this week, California lifted all church restrictions to avoid constitutional conflict with the Supreme Court. They recommend that churches follow the tier system guidelines but not mandating that churches adhere to specific guidelines or tiers.

As your pastor, I have consistently taken the cautious approach, but I do not want to be overly cautious and not fully serve the body here at Friendship. After reviewing our recent gathering survey and additional feedback from members, I have decided to return to in-person worship gatherings on Sunday, May 2nd, and each Sunday following.  

Again, effective Sunday, May 2nd, we will begin to meet live weekly with a capacity limit of just under fifty percent. Setting a capacity of just under fifty percent allows us to practice physical distancing in our worship service still. Attendees will still need to wear a mask during worship. Remember, this is a state mandate. Also, attendees will still need to register to attend the service. Beloved, this is the only way we can monitor capacity. So please be patient with us and not complain. We will also still practice sanitizing procedures.

Further, we will shift and change our worship service times again beginning May 2nd. We will return to our standard 8am and 11:30am worship service times. Things to note about our plan for Sunday in-person worship:

  • Our goal is for each service to be 90 minutes long. 
    • The first service will go from 8a to 9:30a.
    • The second service will go from 11:30a to 1p
  • We will still disinfect in between services. 
  • We will stream both services. 
  • Ex Hour will run from 10am -11am.
    • We will have an on-campus version and a virtual version. 
    • If you want to participate in Ex Hour on campus, you will be able to do so. 
    • We are working out the details on Ex Hour and will update you by April 30th. 

Again, as I said last week, being cautious is part of my personality, and we are making adjustments as things change around us! Again, I am asking for your patience. I am also asking for your prayers and continued participation. Also, please be careful as you move around more within the community, attending events, going to restaurants, the mall, the movies, and other places. Please wear your masks whether you are vaccinated or not! As I have said before, if you are not ready for in-person worship, don’t push yourself. 

Let me highlight this week’s announcements :

Tonight is the next Virtual Women’s Monthly Fellowship. This is a Virtual event. The Speaker is Sister LeShon Archer, who will share from the topic, “When Waiting Gets Personal” based upon the book “Wait and See – Finding Peace In God’s Pauses and Plans” by Author Wendy Pope. Again this event takes place virtually via Zoom. Register HERE.

Swing into Spring is in full effect! Remember this event is for all children, Preschool through 5th Grade, and includes inspiring teaching, dancing, music, small group time, crafts, and FUN! Swing into Sprint takes place on Sundays virtually via Zoom at 5pm through May 2nd. If you haven’t signed up or missed the first session this past Sunday, you can still participate. It’s not too late. Swing into Spring is a spring adventure where participants will learn that “The Mission Continues.”  Our Children’s Ministry will send you the link to attend once you register. Register HERE.

Our Spring Session of our Grief Class starts on Tuesday, April 20th. This class will meet virtually via Zoom for four weeks, from 7:30pm to 8:30pm. For more information, please go HERE.

Leaders, I wanted to give you a heads up. Our next Leadership Meeting takes place on Saturday, April 24th, at 10am, and it will be an in-person meeting here at the church in the Sanctuary. You will receive an email reminder next week. I look forward to seeing you then.

We are excited to announce that we have a new Bible study class starting on Tuesday, April 27th. The class is entitled Read the Bible in Ninety Days!  Yes, you can read the entire Bible in 90 days from cover to cover. Twelve pages a day is all it takes to read the Bible in ninety days! This class will be co-facilitated by Millicent Crenshaw and Dr. Laseanda Wesson and is a virtual course. Again it will take place on Tuesday beginning April 27th from 7:30p to 9p. The course includes discussing the reading, a weekly participant guide, and videos that review each week’s reading. Class materials (90-day Bibles and Participant guides) are available; please contact the church office for further information and assistance. More information is also available HERE.

Brothers, mark your calendar for our RHEMA Virtual Men’s Summit. It will take place on Saturday, May 1st, from 10am to 12pm via Zoom. Our theme is “Be Still and Trust God!” based on Psalm 46:10. Our speakers will be Rev. Dr. Marcus “Goodie” Goodloe and Pastor Stephen Thurston. More details are coming but plan to join us on Saturday, May 2nd.

Remember Celebrate Recovery has resumed its onsite in-person gatherings at Friendship Baptist Church. Celebrate Recovery now meets on campus, in person, every Thursday at 7:00 pm in the Multipurpose Building. Celebrate Recovery is for all those with present or past hurts, habits, or hang-ups. We will have CR literature, general session speakers, small groups, and more.

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. If you have information on clinics, please contact my office so we can share that information.

As many of you know, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine distribution has paused this week and will remain paused next week.

  • For those who received your vaccination at Second Baptist on March 20th, remember your second shot is Saturday, April 17th. from 11:00am to 11:20. You should have received an email stating this information.
  • For those who received your vaccination at New Hope Presbyterian Church on Sunday, March 28th,  your second shot takes place on Sunday, April 25th. We do not have the times yet but will email you as soon as we do.

We recently received 35 COVID Recovery Kits through Providence Health and the Yorba Linda Rotary ClubThese kits are designed to help individuals who have been diagnosed with Covid-19 and after recovering at home. Each kit includes a pulse oximeter to monitor breathing, a thermometer, a box of masks, and a package of sanitizing wipes in a small canvas bag. If you or someone in your family could benefit from one of these kits, please call the church office and arrange to get one.

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
  • 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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