June 14, 2020 Update – Phase 2 Reminders
- All previous guidance remains the same concerning whether or not you should attend (see May 24th Update).
- Evening service and Midweek Activities will resume, starting June 14th.
- Some Discipleship Groups will resume meeting at the church at 7pm on Wednesday nights while others will meet in homes throughout the week. Please see Shelley Jones or Larry Scott if you want to join one of these groups.
- Corporate Prayer will resume on Wednesdays at noon and Sunday mornings at 8am. For those who still wish to join by phone, please contact Pastor Jonathan.
- Youth activities will not resume until Phase 3, as our youth leaders need childcare that will not be offered until July.
May 24, 2020 Update – Morning Worship Checklist
As we prepare to gather once again for worship this morning, please use this checklist as a guide for participation:
- If you have had a fever or other sickness, please stay home
- If you are vulnerable, please use discretion on your participation in our morning worship. We will still be Live Streaming the service for a while, available here, on Facebook, or on YouTube.
- Prepare your heart for worship, not just fellowship
- Take time to quiet your heart before the Lord prior to coming to church, and through repentance, be cleansed
- Remember that sin spreads just as bad as a virus (1 Cor 5:6)
- Bring and wear a face mask if you are most comfortable with one on
- Sanitizer will be available, but a pocket hand sanitizer is always a good idea
- Bring your Bible! (and a pen or pencil for taking notes)
- Leave with enough time that you aren’t rushed
- Doors will open at 10:30 am
- We strongly encourage getting here early so that there is not congestion as people enter and are seated
May 17, 2020 Update – Re-Opening Plan
This is a longer update as it outlines the three phase process of resuming our regular gatherings. Please read carefully and don’t hesitate to reach out to the church office if you have any questions.
- We will resume our regular gatherings in phases to ensure the safety of all who attend
- Phase 1 will begin on May 24th and include only the AM Worship gathering
- Phase 2 will tentatively begin June 14th and include PM Worship and mid-week activities
- Phase 3 will tentatively begin July 19th and include Sunday School and childcare
- We will continue to Live Stream the services at least through Phases 1 and 2, possibly longer, for those who still need to stay home for health reasons
Phase 1 – Resuming Morning Corporate Worship Gathering
Having prayerfully assessed the current situation, the guidance given by the authorities, and having listened to the feedback that you, the congregation, have given us regarding your comfort level with resuming our regular gatherings, we have decided to begin Phase 1 next Sunday, May 24th. Phase 1 will include only the Sunday Morning Corporate Worship gathering; no childcare can be provided at this time.
Part of the rationale for beginning next week, even though our Governor is asking to limit gatherings to 10 people, is our locale. Governor DeWine has the responsibility of the entire state, some areas of which have been hit particularly hard with the virus. Brown county, on the other hand, has only experienced a .05% infection rate, significantly lower than other parts of the state. Praise God for His grace! One of the major factors that several members selected as being a signal to resume services is a low number of cases in our area. Further, the Governor has asked us to merely “stay safe,” lifting many of the restrictions we had been under. At this time, we believe we can safely gather without creating unnecessary risks of the spread of the virus.
That being said, we still have an obligation to protect the congregation when we gather. Therefore, we are planning to put the following protective measures in place to help keep us all safe:
- Rearranging chairs in the worship center to facilitate social distancing
- Controlling traffic flow through the building
- Discouraging any physical contact (hugs, handshakes, etc)
- Providing hand sanitizer
- Changing how the offering and Lord’s Supper is done
- Providing overflow seating, especially for those families whose young children may have difficulty sitting still through the whole service
Notes of Clarification
First, if you are sick, please stay home. The services will continue to be Live Streamed for at least a few months. Additionally, if you are at higher risk of infection, please do not feel obligated to be present; participation in our gatherings should be based upon your comfort level at this point. Gathering is the normal pattern of believers (as our hearts have yearned for this day!), but until the significant threat has passed, only come if you are comfortable and can do so in full faith.
Second, we ask that those who do plan to attend respect the wishes of others. As we have said before, this is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate love by putting the needs and desires of others ahead of our own. Therefore, don’t be offended if church family is only comfortable waving from across the worship center. Further, while we are not requiring the wearing of masks, nor are we providing them, we want you to feel the freedom of wearing a mask or taking whatever precautionary measures you feel necessary when attending. It’s inevitable that disagreements will arise regarding best practices. Let’s err on the side of grace and understanding.
Lastly, if you plan to attend our morning worship gathering, we ask that you please arrive early so that we can properly maintain the necessary social distancing and avoid a rush of people just as the service is starting.
Phase 2 – Resuming other Corporate Gatherings
Phase 2 will bring back in our other corporate gathering, including the PM worship service, Discipleship Groups, and Youth Group. Lord willing, we will enter this Phase on June 14th. We will be maintaining much of the same precautions as Phase 1, which means there will still not be childcare provided. There will be additional details as the date draws nearer.
Phase 3 – Resuming Sunday School and ETC
Because of the high level of contact inherent with childcare, and among young children, we feel it necessary to delay this until Phase 3, which will begin July 19th, Lord willing. Pastor Bobby is currently working on new protocols to ensure the safety of our children (and their families) from the spread of this or any infectious disease. Due to the interdependence of Sunday School and childcare, and because of the closer level of contact typical of Sunday School classes, these two must come together at this later date. Again, as we draw nearer to the start of this final Phase, we will provide more details.
Moving Forward with a Spirit of Grace
As we have said before, there is no one clear route for resuming our gatherings. We fully recognize that some in our congregation feel this decision is long over-due, while others will feel that we are moving forward too quickly. Please give grace and show love during this time of transition back to our regular gatherings. And let us, with joy, once more worship the Lord together, devoting ourselves not just to the apostles’ teaching, but also to the fellowship, the ordinances, and the prayers (Acts 2:42)!
May 7, 2020 Update
On April 30, 2020 Dr. Amy Acton extended the Stay-at-Home order until May 29th, but the new order allows for the gradual re-opening of the economy. While churches are (and have always been) constitutionally-exempted from these orders, the intention of the order says that it would be wise for us to abstain from public gatherings where infectious disease could easily spread. In so doing, we are seeking to submit ourselves to the wisdom of the governing authorities God has placed over us (Rom 13:1-2). The current order still restricts gatherings of more than 10 persons, so we are continuing to abstain from gathering in person.
A Plan to Re-Open
That being said, we have already begun the process of preparing for our re-opening, and are prayerfully considering the best first steps in the process. We realize that it will not be an immediate return to “normal” but rather a process with multiple phases. The aim in all of this is the physical and spiritual well-being of our congregation.
Different Paths, Same Goal
The first step of creating our Re-Opening Plan is to determine which path best fits our church and setting. Both paths have the same goal of resuming our regular in-person gatherings, but go about it differently in Phase 1.
PATH 1: This path involves resuming our Sunday Morning worship gathering, but with several modifications, including greater spacing between family groups, restricting contact between members, not providing childcare, and controlling the flow of traffic through our building. Positively, this would allow us to worship corporately, and see one another (from a distance). Negatively, this would require that we abstain from hugging dear ones that we have missed seeing, it would be challenging for families with children, and it would increases the likelihood of the spread of COVID across the whole church. Members who are sick or at-risk should still avoid our gatherings for a while.
PATH 2: This path involves resuming our Sunday School gatherings in homes on Sunday mornings, followed by the Sunday Service that is Live Streamed. Positively, this would allow for more intimate fellowship combined with corporate worship and study, much like the early church experienced. It would also limit the potential spread of COVID to small pockets of the congregation and abide by the spirit of the order by keeping gatherings small. This could also allow our older members the freedom to worship corporately, as most of our senior adults are already in Sunday School classes together and wouldn’t be exposed to younger members who are in the workforce. Negatively, 6-ft distancing would be challenging, children would be worshiping with family units (we could provide activities to do in another room of the house), some Sunday School classes may need to subdivide because of size, and logistically, we would need enough families willing to open their home.
Phase 2 will probably look the same for both paths, when in-person gatherings (Sunday School and Morning Worship) would resume in our church building, with the exception of childcare, as it is nearly impossible to provide childcare and maintain proper social distancing.
Which path is right for our church?
As a part of this process, we would like to get feedback from you, our members and regular attenders, on your comfort level of resuming various gatherings, as well as your expectations when that time comes. Please complete this short, anonymous survey by Sunday, May 10th to aid us in this process.
The Path of Humility and Love
Regardless of which path is chosen, we realize that not everyone will be satisfied. Just as there are differences of opinion from one church to next, so also there will be from one member to another. Some will think it’s too soon to gather, while others wonder why we ever stopped. In addition, once a formal plan is presented with its guidelines, some will think we are being too cautious while others will not think we have gone far enough.
We would ask that you take this opportunity to joyfully put the needs and interests of others ahead of yourself, thus imitating Christ Jesus (Phil 2:1-11). We are so proud of the way you, our church family, have handled this entire situation. We trust that you will continue to demonstrate the spirit of Romans 14, not passing judgment on those who differ or causing them to stumble (v 13). After all, if Christians in the early church could differ on eating meat and observing the Sabbath while “[pursuing] what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding”, then we can do the same, while differing on the ideas of gathering and wearing masks (v 19).
Lord willing, we will give another update on Sunday, May 17th that details the path and phases our church will be taking to re-open. Until then, let us seek to diligently build one another up in love!
April 4, 2020 Update
While we have grown accustomed to daily updates as this pandemic spreads across our nation and the world, a few things have become clear. First, we are not as invincible as we thought. And second, this will not be resolved as quickly as we would like. In light of Governor DeWine’s extension of the Stay-at-Home order until May 1st, we will continue to suspend all our in-person gatherings until at least May 3rd. Our ministry plan remains the same as laid out in the March 20th Update below with the following additions:
Tuesday Training @ 8:30pm on Facebook Live
This informal time of equipping will cover various topics, as we seek to creatively “equip the saints for the work of the ministry” (Eph 4:12).
Resurrection Sunday Celebration
Since we cannot gather for our usual celebration of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, we are encouraging members to email Pastor Jonathan their Easter selfies and family pictures and/or a short (30 second or less) Easter greeting to the church family no later than 9:30am on Easter Sunday so that these can be compiled and played during the Prelude of our Easter Sunday service. Sending your pictures and videos grants First Baptist Church the right to share it publicly.
Further, we intend to merely postpone our special celebration of Jesus’ resurrection until we can gather together again. Every Sunday that we gather, we are remembering His resurrection on the first day of the week, but we will celebrate like none other once this health crisis passes over.
Watch this 7 minute update from our pastor that covers these topics and more, including a brief update on our finances for the first quarter. As a reminder, members are encouraged to mail their tithes and offerings to P.O. Box 35, Mount Orab, OH 45154. This is the only method for giving at this time.
Though there are many fears, and there are surely some dark days ahead, the past two weeks have been an incredible blessing to see the church family come together and care for one another with remarkable acts of kindness and ingenuity. Let’s keep our light shining bright, and faithfully proclaim the hope that we have in Jesus during these days of desperation!
March 20, 2020 Update
I recognize this is a slightly longer update, but it includes several important details, so please read carefully. Below is a bullet-point overview followed by fuller instructions and important links:
- All in-person gatherings are suspended until further notice
- Use the 9:45 am time on Sundays for family worship (resources below)
- 11:00 am worship will be Live Streamed via several platforms
- 6:00 pm Service will be Live Streamed with interaction on Facebook
- Discipleship Groups will continue via conference calls
- Corporate Prayer will continue via conference calls
- Prayer requests will be shared via a free app
- Deacons will be our front-line workers for Family Care
- Remember, God is still in control!
Suspending In-Person Gatherings
At the present time, it appears that we will be unable to gather as usual for weeks, if not months. The thought of this grieves my heart, as it should (Read Psalm 84)! Though I have had the joy of interacting with several of you virtually, my heart longs to see, embrace, and worship with you again. Truly, one day in the courts of the Lord is better than a thousand elsewhere!
One thing that this current break in our normal pattern (Heb 10:24-25) should prompt in our hearts is a greater compassion and concern for members of our church family, such as our shut-ins, who often find themselves providentially hindered from gathering with us. If you find your heart wrestling with the decision to temporarily stop in-person worship gatherings, this 5 minute podcast may prove helpful.
What follows is our current plan for the foreseeable future of how our church will continue our regular ministries in light of COVID-19:
As we have assessed the various ways that we could attempt to continue Sunday School (via Zoom, Facetime, conference calling, etc), it seems impractical at present. However, this provides us with a wonderful opportunity to put into practice the God-given platform for biblical instruction, namely, parents teaching their children (Deut 6:4-9) and husbands leading their wives (Eph 5:21-25).
What we ask and pray that you do is set aside the time from 9:45-10:45 for scripture reading, discussion, application, prayer, and singing. We will be providing resources to facilitate family worship during the Sunday School hour, which will be available on our newly created Resource Hub of our website. As you form this practice as a family, it is easy to reproduce a shorter version of this for nightly Family Worship using the weekly Prayer Guide.
While Sunday School classes will temporarily be disrupted, Ed Jones will be connecting with each Sunday School teacher to give them resources for staying connected with the class during this time.
Sunday Morning Worship
Lord willing, so long as our worship team and pastor are permitted to travel to the church, we will be Live Streaming the entire service at 11am. We continue to work to improve the quality of the audio and video. This Live Stream will be available on our website, our Facebook Page, and on our newly created YouTube channel (subscribe so that you can easily find it again). If you would like to download the notes page to follow along with the Pastor’s message, it will be available on the Resource Hub. Again, we strongly urge you not to merely watch, but to fully participate in the worship service. Live Streaming is not ideal and is not a substitute for physically gathering, but in circumstances such as these, it can prove beneficial.
We encourage you not only to personally participate, but also to invite your friends to join you. This works especially well using Facebook, where you can establish a watch party and engage with them about the service. If you have a local friend “join us” for worship (including this past Sunday), please send their information to Pastor Tony so that he and our First Impressions Team can connect with them and even deliver a red welcome bag to their front step.
Sunday Evening Service
We will likewise be conducting our evening service by Live Streaming it to Facebook and our website (We aren’t sure at this time whether it will be available on YouTube). Facebook is the best way to facilitate discussion of the morning message, or to ask a question during the evening lesson. For those who do not have Facebook, a “Submit a Question” button has been added to the Live Stream page of our website.
Again, this is a great way to introduce an unsaved or unchurched friend to hear the Word taught. Please email Pastor Tony the name and contact information of any local friends you notice join us for at least part of the service so that we can follow up with them.
We will be resuming our study of the Book of Jonah this coming Wednesday, March 25th. We are forming new groups of 3 or 4 who will discuss the lesson via a phone conference call. We ask that all who wish to participate please watch the video on RightNow Media prior to the phone call discussion. If you are not already signed up with RightNow Media, simply text RIGHTNOW FBCMTO to 41411 to set up a free account made available through our church. Please visit the newly added Discipleship Groups page on our website for more information.
While we are encouraging members to stick to the usual 7:00pm time on Wednesday nights, one blessing of this setup is that each group has the flexibility to choose a consistent time that works for those involved. We encourage families to coordinate such that both husbands and wives can participate, finding a time with the others in their respective groups so that they can engage without distraction.
Weekly Corporate Prayer
Of any time, this is a time for fervent prayer. Pastor Jonathan will be continuing to lead times of corporate prayer on Wednesday at noon and Sunday morning at 8:00 am. This will be handled via phone conference calling, so group sizes will probably be limited to 8 or less. If you are interested in being added to either of those calls, please email Pastor Jonathan.
Throne of Grace Prayer Ministry
The Throne of Grace prayer ministry will continue as normally scheduled to pray during the service. This will likewise be done via phone conference calling. Cheryl Smith will be coordinating with each team as to who will initiate the conference call. Pastor Jonathan greatly covets these prayers to effectively communicate the Word of God, now more than ever.
Prayer Request App
We are also encouraging members to download the Awaken Prayer app to their mobile device, available free from the PlayStore or AppStore. This app allows members to share prayer requests with one another. To be added to our church’s prayer group, or for more information on how to set this up, please contact Debbie Scott.
Church Family Care
We fully anticipate that several in our church family will be suffering from either the health effects of COVID-19 or the economic impact of this pandemic. Therefore, our deacons will be the front-line workers for identifying and addressing those needs as they arise. These men and their wives will be regularly contacting the church families assigned to them to check in and pray with you. If you need assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact the deacon assigned to you:
- Ackley – Brandenburg: Ed Jones
- Bristle – Duderstadt: Bryan Barber
- Egbert – Huskey: John Baird
- Jackson – Lewis: Eddie Smith
- Marsh – Seip: Glen Jones
- Smith – Young: Jim Bush
Though our news feeds and conversations are filled with fear and despair, we must stand in stark contrast to the culture around us. Yes, we may face shortages and health crisis as well, but we are not alone. God is faithful. Even death has been overcome. Though the storm clouds may gather, the sun continues to shine. Yes, God is faithful. He may not protect us from all the painful effects of the Fall, but He will ultimately set us free. God is faithful. He has not left us alone, but given us His Spirit to indwell us and the Body of Christ to help us bear our burdens. GOD IS FAITHFUL. Let our hope be in Him and Him alone.
May this song be an encouragement to you today.
March 14, 2020 Update
We have continued to monitor the situation here in Ohio, as the number of confirmed cases has increased to 26, and we have become aware of a few of our members who have possibly been exposed to COVID-19 through work or family. They are already self-quarantined; please keep them and their families in your prayers. Given the nature of this virus, and the higher susceptibility among those who are older or have other pre-existing conditions, we are canceling all activities for the week of Sunday, March 15th.
After much work, we have figured out how to Live Stream our service on both Facebook and our website (click here). This Live Stream will, Lord willing, include the full service – worship in song, prayer, and preaching of the Word. It will be available a few minutes before 11:00am.
Since we do not currently have an online giving option, we would encourage you to either mail your tithe to the church (P.O. Box 35, Mount Orab, OH . 45154) or to drop it off at the church during the week.
As is our habit, we usually partake the Lord’s Supper together on the 3rd Sunday of each month. Since we will not be gathering together today, this will be postponed. If we are able to meet next Sunday (March 22), we will partake together during our monthly Worship-Based Prayer service.
Due to the activities planned for the Ladies Lock-In, and the timing of it, the WMM has decided to postpone this event until later in the Spring. More details about the rescheduled date and specifics of the event will be shared in the coming weeks.
Church Family Care
Let us look for ways to serve one another proactively through the next couple of weeks. It is likely that some of our members will lose work or at least a paycheck or two, while others will be unable to get out. Let’s keep in touch with one another regularly so that no one suffers, just like the early church did in Acts.
Due to the fact the need for those who have been infected to quarantine themselves, the CDC is asking to partner with churches (via the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio) to provide delivery services of food and other essentials to those who cannot get out. This would not require interaction with the persons, but more of a delivery service to their front door. If you are interested in helping in this way, please contact the church office
March 12, 2020 Update
As we are well aware, there is much concern regarding the recent outbreak of COVID-19, and fears of its spread here in Ohio. Currently, there are 5 confirmed cases in Ohio, none of which are a part of our fellowship. Our governing officials are wisely and proactively taking steps to mitigate the risks. At present, the ban on gatherings of more than 100 people does not apply to religious gatherings. Therefore, our regularly scheduled services on Sundays and Wednesdays will continue as normally scheduled, pending further notice.
We are closely monitoring the situation and are seeking to abide by the guidance given by CDC and Gov. Mike DeWine. Please review the recommendations below regarding your participation in our services. We will prayerfully follow this developing situation and take further steps as needed.
When considering your participation in our Sunday and Wednesday services, we caution you to practice the standard, flu-season safety precautions which we are already familiar with, including:
- Cough etiquette and hygiene
- Thorough and regular hand washing (particularly after touching your face)
- Use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) when hands are not visibly soiled
- Social distancing (limiting physical contact with others)
Risk-related Guidance for Participation
If you are immune-compromised, we urge that you use your best judgment when considering attending one of our services. We further request that you refrain from joining us for our church services if you:
- Have flu-like symptoms or respiratory symptoms with fever and shortness of breath (Please ensure that you are symptom-free for at least 24 hours without medication. This is particularly important for our children)
- Have traveled outside the US in the past 14 days
- Have been exposed to COVID-19
The following charts produced by the CDC are a helpful guide in distinguishing between COVID-19 and the flu, a common cold, and allergies:
As with all things, it is important that we assess the spread of COVID-19 through a biblical lens. First, while the media and our unsaved neighbors may be overcome with fear and panic, hoarding supplies and fearing the worst, as believers, we need not give in to a spirit of fear (2 Tim 1:7). Instead, we should take all our fears and anxieties and turn them over the Lord Most High in prayer (Phil 4:4-7). Second, we must remember that our hope is not in this life, but in the life to come. Death is inevitable, and God already knows the number of our days. Our salvation is secure and no virus can snatch us from the hand of our Savior (John 10:27-29). Finally, rather than pull back in fear, this is a critical time to let our light shine before men and love others. While our friends and neighbors are afraid, we can, with confidence, proclaim the good news of Jesus, who has overcome the grave.
I would encourage you to read this Gospel Coalition blog post, as it puts our current crisis in historical perspective.
Church Family Care
We have additionally asked our deacons to be the front-line servants in engaging with our church family during this season. While they will be reaching out to our church family, if you find yourself in need, please reach out to your assigned deacon. They are here to help you! The church family is divided among our deacons by last names as follows:
- Ackley – Brandenburg: Ed Jones
- Bristle – Duderstadt: Bryan Barber
- Egbert – Huskey: John Baird
- Jackson – Lewis: Eddie Smith
- Marsh – Seip: Glen Jones
- Smith – Young: Jim Bush
If you do not have your deacon’s contact information, please call the church office (937-444-2712) and they can get you in touch with your deacon.
This is a very fluid and fast-changing situation. Please check back as we will update this page as things change. We covet your prayers as we seek to faithfully keep watch over your souls as those who must give an account (Heb 13:17).