This post will be updated with the latest information and announcements.
Update #3: 03/19/2020 8 a.m.
Dear First Baptist friends,
What a week it has been. Like many of you, I have found myself in the midst of a sea of ever-changing information, attempting to make wise decisions for both my family and our First Baptist Church family. I have also been attempting to master technology that I’ve never used before, with hilarious effects. (so many videos deleted!) On Tuesday night, the deacons and I tried out a digital meeting format on a program called “Zoom” so that we could discuss our plans for the immediate future. We aren’t perfect at using this technology yet, but we were able to meet, and I want to communicate those decisions to you now.
For the remainder of the month of March, we will be suspending in-person worship and all scheduled in-person events. We are transitioning as much of these things as possible to digital formats. Sermons & simple worship services will be available on our website. Zoom video calls will be set up. Phone calls to check up on each other will be made. We will do all we can to continue being present for one another even as we follow all the recommendations being made by the CDC and our state & local governments.
The deacons will gather again on Zoom on March 31 to make decisions about the following weeks, as we will have even more information at that time. Thank you for your patience as we transition to these new, digital ways of being community, and as we make decisions for the coming days, weeks, and months.
At this time, Jean and I intend on keeping office hours as usual. However, as you and I both know, this could change depending on decisions made by our state & local governments. That means that as of right now, you can call us at the office, or email us as usual, and we will respond as we always do. Please refrain from coming by in person, though, if at all possible.
I want you to know, though, that despite all this, we are still the body of Christ. Wherever we are and whatever we are doing, we will still be the Church even when we congregate digitally in the days ahead.
Please don’t forget to take deep breaths whenever you are feeling overwhelmed. God is with us now, even in the midst of this. Just as God was with the Israelites in their wilderness wanderings for 40 years; just as God was with his people in exile; just as Jesus was present to His disciples when they were frightened by His presence out on that lake; just as Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to be the Comforter to all of His disciples; God is with us now.
May God’s peace which surpasses all our understanding be with us now and forever.
With Great Hope,
Update #2: 03/13/2020 8 p.m.
Dear First Baptist Family:
I am sure you are aware that the COVID-19 virus and our response to it is an ever-evolving situation. As of tonight, again, since there are no known cases in our county, it is still my plan for us to worship together on Sunday morning.
However, in addition to the extra cleaning and precautions that I made you aware of yesterday (original letter below), there are additional steps that we will be taking to fully enforce “social distancing.” On Sunday morning, March 15, we will not be hosting early morning coffee, the fellowship time following worship with coffee & refreshments, nor Sunday School. We will simply gather in the sanctuary at 9:30 a.m. (yes, the choir will still gather at 9 a.m. for rehearsal). Following worship, I will wave at you from a distance as you depart the sanctuary instead of greeting you individually as I typically like to do.
Additionally, we will postpone the planned chili supper & game night for another date (yet to be determined). Instead of trying to predict for future weeks at this time, we will continually send out email updates, post to our website, and post to our Facebook page. If you have friends or family members who you know are prone to not check such places for information, would you please help me by spreading the word to them?
The funeral service planned for Wanda McCord will continue as planned on Monday, March 16 with visitation beginning at 10 a.m. and the service beginning at 12 p.m. This will be an opportunity for us to practice our “social distancing” in live time- by avoiding physical contact, sitting with distance between us, washing our hands thoroughly, and using hand sanitizer.
I am anticipating that we may not gather in person following this Sunday’s worship service for a few weeks. If or when that decision is made, I will be communicating it to you. As soon as I have details on how we might still worship together using technology, I will be sure to pass that information along to you.
If you are wondering how you can be of help in these days, there are so many ways. Most importantly, please listen to the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control, the Indiana State Department of Health, and also the Tippecanoe County Board of Health. If you are over the age of 60 or if you have chronic medical conditions, please stay home as much as possible. If you find yourself in need of help in picking up groceries, medicine, or other necessities, please give me a call at 765-428-0232. If you are exhibiting any signs of sickness, please stay home and worship with us by watching the service on our website https://firstbaptistlafayette.org/category/sermons/ Staying home when we are sick will help limit the impact and the spread of disease, and this is a significant way that we help our community.
Another way you can be of help is by calling to check on your friends and neighbors who might be staying at home more than usual. Make sure they have everything they need, and if not, do what you can to help them.
Finally, if you are under the age of 60 and are exhibiting no signs of sickness, consider volunteering. Go to the website for Food Finders, LTHC Homeless Services, or your other preferred community partner. They are all responding in live time to those who are most vulnerable in these days, and they are in desperate need of reliable volunteers. Go directly to their websites, and sign up there to volunteer.
It may seem strange to go through so many precautions when we have yet to see this disease directly infect anyone in our community. If we come out the other side and reflect, “wow, we hardly saw any impact of COVID-19 at all,” then that means we have been successful. It will mean that we have taken the necessary precautions and protected the people of our community. I pray that will be the outcome!
Friends, remember that we are the body of Christ, wherever we are and whatever we are doing. We will still be the Church however we congregate in the days ahead. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me. Also, if new information is made available tomorrow that changes my plans, I will send you yet another message.
May the peace of Christ rule in all of our hearts and minds, even in these days.
Pastor Lisa Hood
First Baptist Church of Lafayette Schedule (as of 03/13/2020)
Sunday, March 15
9 a.m. Choir Practice in the Sanctuary
9:30 a.m. Worship
Monday, March 16
10 a.m. Visitation for Wanda McCord
12 p.m. Funeral Service for Wanda McCord
All other weekly activities are canceled, including the Tuesday morning women’s breakfast and choir rehearsal. A decision about Sunday, March 22 & the following weeks will be made at a later date.
Update #1: 03/12/2020 4:00 p.m.
Dear First Baptist family:
Like you, I have found myself pouring over information this week about the COVID-19 virus that is spreading around the world. As new information has come out each day, I have found my initial impressions changing. Know that I am carefully watching the latest updates and recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and the Indiana State Department of Health as to how we can best respond. At the same time, I am mindful that the pages of Scripture are filled with reminders to not be afraid. Over 300 times, actually. But taking actions to be prepared is not the same thing as being afraid.
As of this moment, we intend to move forward with our worship service on Sunday morning here at First Baptist Church, since there are no known cases in our immediate area. However, I am paying close attention as this is unfolding. We have already added additional hand sanitizer to either entrance to the sanctuary- please use it. We will make sure that heavily trafficked areas are thoroughly wiped down with Clorox (handles to doors, pew backs, bathrooms, etc.). And if we all follow the suggestions of the CDC for our own personal hygiene, that will only help: Wash your hands thoroughly and often. Avoid touching your mouth, eyes, and nose. Stay home if you are sick.
We will practice the recommended “social distancing” during our service as well. We will still have the passing of the peace at the beginning of our service, but I will ask you to limit touching one another. Instead, try waving and smiling. Our sanctuary has ample space for us to spread out, so feel free to utilize that space in order to prevent sharing germs with others. Instead of passing the offering plate, you can come forward to place your offering in the plate, or you can even try out giving your offering electronically. The deacons have already decided a course of action on how we can modify communion in a few weeks, too.
Another way we can help take care of one another is by not coming to worship in person if we exhibit any signs of sickness, especially fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. Additionally, if you decide that it is most prudent for you to stay home to avoid contact with others, know that I fully support that decision. The official recommendation from the CDC is to avoid crowds as much as possible if you have chronic medical conditions or are over the age of 60. And if you ARE choosing to stay home, you do have ways to stay connected with this community of believers. For example, we have already been working on making sermons available online. All you have to do is go to https://firstbaptistlafayette.org/category/sermons/ to watch the latest sermon each week. If the time comes for us to move to only meeting for worship digitally, I will make that information available to you at the appropriate time. Another way we can stay connected is by making phone calls, sending text messages, or try Facetime/video chats with one another. If being alone starts getting to you, then pick up your phone, give me a call, and I will be happy to chat with you!
Know, too, that I am listening for the ways that we can respond to those in need in our community who are always hit hardest in times of uncertainty, not necessarily by the disease itself, but by the rippling effects of decisions to close places of employment, businesses, schools, and to cancel gatherings of all kinds. As I am made aware of such opportunities to respond, I will be sharing that information with the diaconate board so that we can take appropriate action.
Friends, remember that we are the body of Christ, wherever we are and whatever we are doing. We will still be the Church however we congregate in the days ahead. My prayers are with you as you discern the right decisions for you and your family. Let us especially extend our prayers to those who work in healthcare; to those making decisions for our community, state, country, and world; and to those who will suffer from and suffer because of this virus.
May the peace of Christ rule in all of our hearts and minds, even in these days.
Pastor Lisa Hood