OUR RESPONSE TO COVID-19
Hello First Baptist Church,
We exist to see lives renewed through relationships with Jesus in the Twin Cities and beyond. In all we do, we seek to glorify God (1 Cor 10:31) and “whether in word or deed, we do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to the Father through him (Col. 3:17).” As a church, we want to be an enduring presence in our city, while also being a restoring presence. This means we respond with wisdom and discernment on behalf of our local community, as the Lord said to the prophet in exile, “seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you… and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare (Jeremiah 29:7).”
We are reminded in Psalm 46 that even as it feels like the earth gives way, and the mountains are moved into the heart of the sea, God is our refuge and strength. He is a very present help in these times of trouble. This is a sobering time. Let’s not waste it, but allow God’s Spirit to use it to help us trust in him more fully. Be still, and know that God is God. All of our daily rhythms are being altered and we are needing to adjust. This is a chance to slow down, and know that God is God. He is the LORD of hosts, and he is with us. He is our strong fortress, and we can find refuge and strength in his presence.
We can also learn afresh what it means to love our neighbors and make sacrifices for them. You may not be afraid of COVID-19, and you may not be in the at-risk categories, but people we know and love in our church and beyond are at increased risk. Each of our responses says something about our love for them.
We will also be reminded in this season how much we long for one another and our gatherings. When you feel the absence of the church gathered, allow it to reinforce your need for it, and let it build toward a sweet reunion when we gather again.
As we discern how and when to return to gathering physically, the elders and leadership of First want to hear from the congregation at large. Please fill out the form below to contribute to this conversation.
UPCOMING EVENTS AND BUILDING USE
One significant way our community will be affected by COVID-19 will be the use of our church building and scheduled events over the next 8 weeks. We will be complying with all CDC and Minnesota Department of Health guidelines. These guidelines significantly change the way we will fellowship together through the use of our building. Read the detailed list of the changes to our event calendar for the next 8 weeks here. Most events have been canceled or postponed, and a few events have been modified.
If you are a ministry or team leader, we will be communicating with you directly regarding scheduled meetings. In the meantime, please consider the following before you plan to meet:
- Can the meeting be canceled, postponed, or modified (remote meeting)?
- By meeting, will you satisfy MDH social distancing recommendations?
We ask for your patience as our leadership works to reschedule and rework our event calendar. Communication regarding each event will come in time.
SUNDAY MORNING CHURCH SERVICES
We have currently decided to cancel our Sunday morning gatherings for the next eight-weeks. As you will read in this email, we plan to continue supporting our church members and regular attendees throughout this time, but will not be gathering as an entire church on Sunday mornings.
The annual meeting that was scheduled for April 19 has been postponed until further notice. We will update you when it is rescheduled as plans become more clear in the coming weeks.
CHURCH OFFICE HOURS
We will be reducing our scheduled office hours. Beginning Monday, March 23, our church office will be open M-F from 11:00am to 1:00pm. You can call the office between those hours at 612-332-3651. If you call outside those hours, please leave in our general mailbox as we will check our voicemail daily.
Another way to get in touch with us is via email. You can email a staff person directly (email addresses found on our website) or send an email to . We will do our best to respond to your emails in a timely manner.
Our church staff will continue to work diligently to serve our church family, but will be doing so remotely. Please reach out if you need anything. We will continue to pray and lead with the wisdom and grace that God provides. Please be in constant prayer with us for our church, city, state, country, and world.
NAME CHANGE PROCESS
The name change process is being put on hold. We care more about our people than a predetermined process. We are not confident that we can continue the process at this time in a way that loves and considers our people well.
Our plan was to meet on March 22 for a New Name Town Hall meeting. We have canceled that meeting, and will not attempt to conduct it through another format at this time. The elders goal was to recommend a final name to you during that meeting, but we will not be doing so at this time.
We fully intend to resume the process when the meeting restrictions are lifted, but we do not know exactly how and when we will proceed. We are committed to making this significant decision in a way that promotes unity rather than discord. We do not believe we can do that right now, so the process is postponed until further notice.
As a result of the delay, if you or someone you know has not taken the survey yet, there is still time. Go to www.fbcminneapolis.org/new-name and let us know what you think through the survey.
HOW WE PLAN TO SERVE YOU
Community Groups: Pastor Alex is giving recommendations to CG leaders about how to meet together and helping them each find the best answer for their group. We are also working on helping to facilitate some new groups if you want to gather with others in the church on Sunday mornings or another time throughout the week. In the gathering of small groups, we want to be clear: this is an opportunity, not an obligation. If you are sick, are in the at-risk population, or would like to show more discretion than others, please do not hesitate to not gather with others. This is a unique season in which distancing is most prudent.
Member Care: Though we are asking for our community to show discretion and not gather publicly, we are all still in need of fellowship. We were not created for isolation. To provide resources and accountability to our community, our leadership plans to do the following:
- Elders and staff will be in contact with our members and attendees to check in regularly.
- We will send a weekly email on Fridays with:
- Devotional scripture reflection from Pastor Jeremy
- YouTube playlist with songs to sing together at home
- Liturgy in two formats that we are calling Simple Liturgy and Simpler Liturgy
- Resources for families
- If you have a prayer request or physical need you would like our leadership to be aware of, please fill out this form.
We do not intend to replicate our physical Sunday gathering because that isn’t possible. We want to disciple our people during this unique season and we intend to do that in the absence of the Sunday gathering. This weekly email is one avenue of discipleship and will guide you through worship with your family or community group.
We know that this is a lot of information to take in at once, and there are still many unanswered questions. It is perfectly normal for these changes to cause sadness for you and your family - it certainly is for our leadership. As we move forward, we encourage you to call one another, make use of social media in a positive way, and pray diligently. God is sovereign over the rise of COVID-19 and will be present with us even when we are not present with one another.