Tuesday, May 19th. Dear Church family, The church Session has met and determined that the church will remain “virtual” in worship until the state of Arkansas has been in Phase One for one month. That month timeline comes to an end on June 6. On June 11, the Session will meet again to see if the rates of infection have continued to remain low. If they have, they will move forward with opening the church to in-person worship.
The Session has already agreed to several safety protocols upon re-opening. This includes: distancing between seats, hand-sanitizing stations, and masks. Please make note: masks will be required upon return to in-person worship. We are hopeful that this will not be a long-term requirement but, for the near future, the Session has unanimously voted that masks must be worn in worship (whoever is leading worship in a given moment will lower their mask to do so).
Other issues, including congregational singing, childcare, and Sunday School, have yet to be determined. As we continue to plan next steps, please know that your Session worked together thoughtfully and thoroughly as they sought to discern what was best for this congregation. Their efforts have been, and will continue to be, so important and we thank them.
Please continue to check the church’s Facebook page and your email inbox for announcements as we head into June. We are hopeful we can be together in person soon. Until then, worship, adult classes, twice daily devotions, and thrice-weekly coffee-break concerts will continue on their various formats.
God be with you until we meet again, Revs. Blackburn
Wednesday, May 13th. In response to the economic catastrophe that has accompanied the Covid-19 pandemic, First Presbyterian is beginning a fund to assist those whose livelihoods have been undone. We will focus on small business owners (such as barbers), hourly workers (such as waitstaff) and gig workers (such as Uber drivers) who are in need. We will help them with rent, utilities or car payments. Here is what we need from you: we are asking that you donate some or all of your federal stimulus check, if you can afford it, to this fund. 100% of your contributions will go to those in need in our region. If you have questions or would like more details, please feel free to contact Phil or Keley. If you would like to help, please send a check to the church with “Covid” in the memo-line, or contact Cindy to make your contribution. We will keep you updated on this important work over the coming weeks.
Friday, May 1st. Dear Church family, It is amazing to consider that we have now experienced seven weeks in a row of virtual worship services. Who would have thought that our Spring would be like this? Many of us have been learning new skills in zoom Session meetings, virtual classes, and watching Facebook devotionals. In all these efforts, your response has been wonderful. So many of you have taken on the challenge with vigor and resolve.
We will need to meet this next step in our challenge with new skills and resolve as well. On Monday, May 4 the governor will share his recommendation for churches and other large groups. We eagerly await that announcement. Whatever the guidance, we do not anticipate resuming worship exactly as it has been, at least for awhile. The Session, the church’s board of elders, voted to move to virtual worship and they will be the ones who will consider all options and then vote on when and how to return to in-person worship. Once we have information to share, you will be contacted.
Until then, please consider what it will take for you, personally, to return to in-person worship. Your shepherd will be contacting you in the next 10 days to get your feedback on just that question. As we continue to wait and learn patience, we pray that you remain safe and healthy and that you see ways in which the Lord is working in your life and in this world.
Christ’s peace be with you until we meet again, Pastors Phil and Tasha Blackburn
Friday, March 27th. 2:40pm – The coronavirus has profoundly impacted our world in a very short period of time. It has caused confusion, fear, and uncertainty. Much of this turmoil is because COVID 19 is a new disease, and efforts to understand the virus are happening simultaneously with efforts to protect people and care for the sick.
The internet, which is often helpful in providing information and news, can also be erroneous and misleading. Sorting out facts from misinformation can be challenging, and sometimes the jargon can lead to confusion. Our congregation has several physicians who are willing to talk with members in an effort to answer questions about the pandemic.
If you would like to speak with one of the doctors, you may send your question to this email address email@example.com . Along with your question, please indicate whether you prefer an answer by email or phone and include your phone number and email address. Also, give the best times to call if a phone call is your preference. As questions are received, they will be shared with the different physicians and one of them will contact you.
Also HERE is a document that gives some basic information about the coronavirus, including some frequently asked questions. Within the document are links to the CDC and the WHO that may provide you with even more current information on the virus. There is also a link to the EPA that delineates cleaning agents that are affective against the virus. (Please note: Our knowledge and circumstances are changing very quickly, so some information in the document is already outdated.)
Sunday, March 22nd. 6:00pm -New content is coming to First Presbyterian Church’s Facebook page!
* Starting tomorrow morning there will be a new devotional called “Stressed? To the Nines.” It is an opportunity to offer prayer together, hear scripture and a short devotional with one of your pastors each day at both 9am and 9pm.
* On Wednesday at 1pm Rev. Tasha Blackburn will teach a class on incorporating silence into our spiritual life. Considering our situation, allowing silence to strengthen our faith seems pretty important right now!
* Rham and Phil will continue their midweek worship service, Silent Nights, on Wednesday at 6:15.
Saturday, March 21st. 11:15am – We know many of you are eager to help others in our congregation and in our community. Click here for some initial ways you can serve others this week.
- Use the church directory as your prayer list. Go person by person and lift several people up in prayer each time you pray this week. Then, send those people an email, text or give a phone call to let them know you prayed for them. Note: you can put our church’s directory on your phone. If you don’t already have this feature please contact the church office, 783-8919, and we can help you download it to your device.
- Write a note to our church members who are in assisted living and nursing facilities. We have contacted the facilities and they will accept cards. The current list and addresses of our members in facilities can be here. If you would like a packet of church notecards and a book of stamps to use, just contact the church office, 783-8919, and we will leave these for you in your home mailbox.
- If you are healthy and able, give blood. The Arkansas Blood Institute has had to cancel all mobile blood drives and they are already dangerously low on reserves. You can give blood at their office at 5300 South U Street.
- All church members now have a shepherd. If your shepherd has not contacted you, he or she will do so very soon. Please share your needs with him/her so that we can better serve you. Please also share any availability you have with him/her including if you can make deliveries, write notes, or make phone calls. All of this information is important and is being compiled in the church office so that we can support one another.
Friday, March 20th. 11:00am– Last night, the session voted to move worship to on-line only beginning this Sunday, March 22, 2020. Both DayOne worship at 9am and Sanctuary worship at 11am will stream at their usual times and from their usual locations on the church’s Facebook page.
Phil will stream this Sunday School class on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount at 10am this Sunday on Facebook Live. A PDF of the class notes will be available if you want to follow along.
Tasha will stream her regular Sunday School class on Lenten spiritual practices on Wednesday at 1pm.
Please note that the church office will, at this time, remain open its regular hours (M-F 8:30am-3pm).
This is a difficult time and we long to be together as the body of Christ. Even though we are apart physically, through your prayers and your study, your worship and your service, we will continue to be Christ’s body for one another and in this world.
Sunday, March 15th. 5:00pm- Hobson Preschool will be open for Monday, March 16th but will be closing Tuesday, March 17th with hopes to reopen Monday, March 30th. Please see the Hobson page for full details.
The First Presbyterian Church office will remain open with normal business hours. We will update with any other changes.
Friday, March 13th. 2:30pm- Dear Church family,
I want to share some updates with you regarding church events and planning. As of now, all non-essential church gatherings for the next two weeks have been cancelled or postponed. These cancellations include:
- The Mission Potluck and PW Bake Sale that was scheduled for this Sunday
- The Downtown Lenten Lunch and Worship Service that was scheduled for this Monday. Please note: this means all future Monday Downtown Lenten services have also been cancelled for the season.
- Handbell and Choir practice that were scheduled for this Wednesday.
- The FPC Book Club that was scheduled for next Sunday, March 22.
As of today, Friday, we are planning on having both 9 and 11am worship services on Sunday and Sunday School classes in between at 10am. We are also planning on having our monthly Session meeting on Thursday evening. Elders, you will receive information about that on Monday. Clearly we cannot preview the changes that will continue to come and so please continue to check the church’s Facebook page or go to our website www.1pres.org. All current updates will be shared on the icon that says The Hub.As we look toward worship on Sunday, please know that the following precautions have been and will be taken
- All surfaces in the main areas and worship areas of the church have been sanitized.
- The offering plates will not be passed but will be at the entrances for people to leave their offering.
- Hand sanitizer is at all worship entrances for your use.
- We will not Pass the Peace until this virus has passed. We will be greeting one another with elbows, hand waves, salutes, foot bumps, or a gentle nod of the head and a smile.
Even with these precautions, if you have an underlying health condition or are in a higher risk category for any reason, please err on the side of caution and remain at home. The worship services will be live on the church’s Facebook page at both 9am and 11am. Or you can watch them later in the day on that same page.Please know that plans are also being made around pastoral care for the next couple of weeks as well as ways we can still connect with one another even if we cannot connect in person. The church office will remain open. Obviously, calling is preferred over visiting in person when possible.
Our number one priority is the safety of the congregation and of our community. Under no circumstances do we want people to be placed at unnecessary risk. As the weeks unfold, our intent is to err on the side of caution. Our prayers continue for all of you during this time and we hope that you are also praying for us and for one another.
May Christ’s Peace be with you,
Thurs, March 12th. 5:45pm- Dear Church family, You may have already seen that we have decided to postpone the Mission Potluck and PW Bake Sale that was scheduled for this coming Sunday. We apologize for any problems this may cause but we want to be cautious about sharing food and calling together larger groups of people if it is not necessary. For now, we will continue to have Sunday worship and education as usual. For those of you who do not feel comfortable coming to church this Sunday or in coming Sundays, please know that we also share the worship services live on the church’s Facebook page. Click here to follow the page if you think you may want to participate in the service in this way. Please note: you can watch the services live or you can watch them later at your own convenience. We also put the videos of the sermons on the church’s website by midweek each week.Finally, the recommendations for handling this virus are changing quickly. While we will be updating our website and sending emails, our most up-to-the-minute information about the church will be on our Facebook page. Please check it regularly. While we do not quite know what the next few days or weeks may bring, we are comforted knowing that our Lord is the ruler of both heaven and earth. We are also able to be a source of comfort for one another and for our community.
If you have questions or concerns please feel free to call the church office, 783-8919, or contact one of the pastors directly.
May Christ’s peace be with each of you, Revs. Blackburn