Weekly Word from Pastor Curry: February 12, 2021

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Hello My Friendship Family!

My prayer is that today is a good day for you and that this week has been a great week. I will admit that this week has been a bit overwhelming for me, but I can report that God is my SUSTAINER. Do you know that He is your SUSTAINER as well? Well, He is! Psalm 54:4 states, “Behold, God is my helper; The Lord is the sustainer of my soul.” Amen! That’s a good word! He is the One that upholds us! God is the One who keeps us! Though we continue to experience the discomfort of the coronavirus locally, nationally, and globally. God is upholding us!

As you know, February is in full effect, and it has been a good month so far. The recent case numbers continue to decrease. The number of hospitalizations is decreasing. The number of deaths is also decreasing. Though California has surpassed New York in the total number of deaths, our numbers are down. Additionally, vaccinations are increasing with more vaccination locations opening up. Sadly, however, we do not have enough vaccines to distribute currently. We must continue to pray; pray that the numbers continue to drop, pray that vaccine production will increase, and pray that more people can be vaccinated quickly.  Pray, pray, pray!!! Pray and continue to persevere.  

Southern California remains in the Purple Tier, which is most restrictive but does allow some things to open up with limited capacity and operations.  Outdoor dining has returned, and people are continuing to move about more frequently and more freely. I just want to encourage you; we still need to be cautious and careful! I know. I keep saying the same thing! I just want you to be careful!

All of this information leads me to what took place Friday, after sending out my weekly update. On Friday, February 5th, the Supreme Court ruled that California’s outdoor worship only restriction was unconstitutional and unfair to religious freedom. They ruled that California could only restrict indoor worship to 25% of the building capacity. The court left in place, however, the no singing and chanting restriction. This restriction is under review until there is more evidence of the inequity of the ban. On Saturday, February 6th, Governor Newsom stated that the state would comply with the ruling and enforce what the courts have left in place, namely the singing ban. I have been on calls this week, and we anticipate the ban on singing will lift soon, though many are defying it already.

So here’s the big question, “What does this mean for us here at Friendship?” Let me be honest; I do not quite know yet. 25% of our building capacity is roughly 200. Between two services, we could see 400 people in person and up to twice that amount online. There is a cry from some in our membership for some form of in-person worship and Bible study. I am working to figure it all out. Please be patient with me as I seek wise counsel on where we go from here. No one wants to meet in person more than me. I promise you this! The current way we do worship is tough on me. I am working harder in this context, as is half of my team. I want to come back, but also I want to be safe. I have even heard some of our members have started attending Bible studies elsewhere because those churches are doing in-person Bible study. I know people need connection and are tired of isolation. Please pray for me as I work through our next steps.

While I do not know when we will gather in the Sanctuary, I know when our next in-person worship will occur. We will return to our Drive-In Service on Sunday, March 7th, at 9am. Registration is now open.  Register HERE. I pray that you will plan to join us for this creative and exciting outdoor worship event.

Here are things I would like to remind you of this week:

  • Valentine’s Day ~ Sunday, February 14th
  • Friendship Day ~ Sunday February 14th ~ Tune in for a Special “Look Back” Video
  • Rosa Parks Day ~ Sunday, February 21st
  • CSU Super Sunday ~ Sunday, February 28th

Beloved, I want to let you know that the Side by Side Couples Ministry class “The 5 Love Languages” will resume TONIGHT virtually via Zoom on at 7pm. You can join the meeting via the Zoom link HERE. Should you have any questions, you can contact Deacon Hilton McDaniel by email at [email protected] or call (949) 652-1489.

Also, for our children & youth and their families, a talent show is coming, and it’s all virtual. Do you sing? Dance? Do magic tricks? Do you tell jokes? Are you a junior comedian? Maybe you recite poems with dramatic flair. Perhaps you perform acrobatics or entertain your family and friends with funny skits and other entertaining specialties. If you have a secret or not-so-secret talent, we invite you to be a part of this year’s Virtual Talent Show! This opportunity is open to children, teens, parents, grandparents, and families as a whole. Again, we invited individuals of all ages to participate and entertain the Friendship family with their talent. Make us laugh, cry, and think! Here’s how you can participate: Record video with your phone sideways (landscape).  Keep the video short (under 2 minutes). Feel free to use Filters, special effects, etc.! TikTok is a great app to set your video apart! Submit your video by Saturday, March 13th, so it’s included in our Virtual Talent Show on Saturday, March 20th. Click HERE for a list of over 50 ideas and to register!

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). 

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.

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) 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. This study will continue through the end of this month. Remember, EX Hour takes place every Sunday through the video conference app, ZOOM. Join us for class on Sundays at 10:15a 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.

Friendship, I love you, but God loves you, BETTER!  Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected!

In His Service,
Rev. Kenneth C. Curry, Jr.
Senior Pastor
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