Weekly Word from Pastor Curry: April 9, 2021

Hello there Friendship Family!

I pray this week’s message finds each of you doing well and still celebrating God’s great love towards us and the power of the Resurrection!  I am still on a high after last week’s in-person worship service. It was so good to see so many of you here on campus. Your presence brought great joy to me on Sunday. Thank you for attending, and thank you for trusting our team to deliver a safe and thoughtful worship service. We had a great time in the Lord and Sunday!

I also want to thank those of you who joined us online. Thank you for continuing to support Friendship faithfully. Please know that I understand that there are several reasons why many are not ready to return to in-person worship. There are no hard feelings or anything like that. We are working to make sure that we minister with duality in mind. We are considering both the needs of those who gather and those who worship with us virtually.  For those of you who attended the in-person worship service Sunday, we sent out a survey Tuesday, and we would appreciate you taking the time to complete the survey. Your feedback means a lot to us.

In this week after Easter, a lot is going on, and there’s a lot to consider. First, as many of you know, here in California, the color-coded Blueprint for a Safer Economy has guided the state’s reopening process in each of its 58 counties during the pandemic. Recently, the counties we serve here at Friendship (Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino) have all entered into the Orange Tier, which is less restrictive than the two previous tiers of Purple and Red. The Orange Tier allows churches to open at 50% capacity. As I told you last week, we are working to understand the expectations for reopening fully. For example, are we expected to maintain six feet apart, or are we to take temperatures? We need to understand the guidance to regather fully.  

On Tuesday, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that California would move away from its color-coded tier system for reopening on June 15th and fully reopen its economy if certain conditions are met.  Governor Newsom’s two conditions are:

  • If vaccine supply is sufficient for Californians 16 years and older, who wish to be inoculated. 
  • If hospitalization rates are stable and low.

If this happens, most capacity limits will be lifted, although it is expected that large-scale indoor events, such as conventions, will be allowed only with testing or vaccination verification requirements.  The move away from the tier system means most everyday activities will be allowed. Still, the governor’s office urges common-sense health and safety measures like masks and vaccinations. Governor Newsom counts on a projection that enough people should be vaccinated by mid-June to allow for things to almost get back to a pre-pandemic normal.

As your pastor, I am still taking a cautious approach. For the rest of this month, our worship services will all be online only. We will move forward with in-person worship on Sunday, May 2nd. We will also have in-person worship on Sunday, May 16th, which is our 57th Church Anniversary. We will most likely meet in person also on Sunday, May 30th, for Men’s Day. So, we will begin with an every other Sunday approach, allowing us to evaluate our processes and note what is taking place with community spread and vaccination progress. I would hate to open fully, only to close again. Please be patient with me, as this is my first time leading through a pandemic. I can say we will meet on the First Sunday in June in person, and by the time we get to that, I will be able to tell you what’s next! Until further notice, you will still need to register to attend the in-person worship services. Registration for our next service, Sunday, May 2nd, will open on Monday, April 12th.

Know this, I want to meet in person consistently more than anyone! I am not kicking the can. I am being careful, which is a characteristic that defines my personality! Again, I am asking for your patience. I am also asking for your prayers, this is a lot, but we are making progress. I also ask that you still be careful as you start to move around more within the community; attending events, going to restaurants, and going to the movies. Please wear your masks, vaccinated or not!

Let me highlight this week’s  announcements :

Tonight the Side by Side Couples Ministry class meets virtually and continues their study, “The 5 Love Languages,” at 7pm.  The topic for tonight’s class is “QUALITY TIME.” 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 him at (949) 652-1489

Swing into Spring is coming! This event is for all children Preschool through 5th Grade! Swing into Spring is a four-day adventure where participants will learn that “The Mission Continues.”  Children will meet up with our Friendship teachers for live virtual sessions. Just like the SummerBlast event last summer, each day will include inspiring teaching, dancing, music, small group time, crafts, and FUN! Our materials and supply kits will give families everything they need to Swing into Spring! Kits will also have bonus materials that parents can use to keep the fun and learning going after the weekly meet-ups. Meet-ups will occur virtually on Sundays, April 11th, 18th, 25th & May 2nd @ 5:00pm via Zoom. Our Children’s Ministry will send you the link to attend once you register. Register HERE.

Brothers, we invite you to join our virtual monthly fellowship this Monday, April 12th, at 7:00 pm. In our time together, we will explore the topic; “Perhaps the Lord will help us.” Found in 1st Samuel 14:6. Our facilitator will be Deacon James Shelby. We will look at how this relates to us today and who our ride or die is. Register HERE.

Remember Celebrate Recovery has resumed its onsite in-person gatherings at Friendship Baptist Church. Celebrate Recovery now meets on campus, in person, every Thursday at 7:00 pm in the Multipurpose Building. Celebrate Recovery is for all those with present or past hurts, habits, or hang-ups. We will have CR literature, general session speakers, small groups, and more. Deacon James Shelby is the speaker for the next general session on April 15th.

There is a new Singles Bible study starting on Thursday, April 15th at 7pm. This class will be a virtual class via Zoom. The teachers are Deacon Allen Gobert and Sister Elona Brown. They will teach the book, They Were Single Too.  They Were Single Too spells out concrete steps for a healthy, God-approved attitude toward unmarried life and how one can truly serve God without a spouse. Again, go HERE to our Bible study page to sign up for this class.

Ladies, plan to attend the next Women’s Monthly Fellowship on Friday, April 16th. This is a Virtual event. The Speaker is Sister LeShon Archer, who will share from the topic, “When Waiting Gets Personal” based upon the book “Wait and See – Finding Peace In God’s Pauses and Plans” by Author Wendy Pope. Again this event takes place virtually via Zoom. Register HERE.

Here are some general information things I would like to share with you.

In April, FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will begin accepting applications to reimburse families for funeral services of a loved one who died a COVID-related death. Reimbursements can be as much as $7000. If you had COVID-19 funeral expenses, we encourage you to apply for this reimbursement opportunity. You will need to gather documentation which should include:

  • An official death certificate that attributes the death directly or indirectly to COVID-19 and shows that the death occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.
  • Funeral expenses documentation, including receipts, or funeral home contract, etc. Receipts must bear the applicant’s name, the deceased person’s name, the amount spent for funeral expenses, and the dates of those funeral expenses were incurred.
  • Proof of funds received from other sources specifically for use toward funeral costs. FEMA will not duplicate benefits received from burial/funeral insurance, financial assistance received from voluntary agencies, government agencies, or other sources.

  • We continue to advocate for the vaccine. As we do so, we will share information with you regarding locations to get a vaccination.  We were contacted this week by LEAD-ABC (Leadership Education to Advance Diversity of African, Black, and Caribbean Communities) of the University of California- Irvine. They are in partnership with Christ Our Redeemer AME Church in Irvine and are sponsoring a Vaccination Clinic on April 13th & 15th. The clinic will take place at KCS Health Center in Anaheim. There is a flier connected to the email post that offers more information and eligibility requirements. You must make an appointment. HERE is a link to their flier.
  • For those who received your vaccination at Second Baptist on March 20th, remember your second shot is Saturday, April 17th. 
  • For those who received your vaccination at New Hope Presbyterian Church on Sunday, March 28th,  your second shot takes place on Sunday, April 25th. 

We recently received 35 COVID Recovery Kits through Providence Health and the Yorba Linda Rotary ClubThese kits are designed to help individuals who have been diagnosed with Covid-19 and after recovering at home. Each kit includes a pulse oximeter to monitor breathing, a thermometer, a box of masks, and a package of sanitizing wipes in a small canvas bag. If you or someone in your family could benefit from one of these kits, please call the church office and arrange to get one.

General Church 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 9:00a worship service.‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

  • Our College and Career Prep Initiative (CCPI): Our CCPI leadership 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. Remember, EX Hour takes place every Sunday through the video conference app, ZOOM. Join us for class on Sundays at 10:30a 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.

  • 2021 Bible Reading Challenge Issued: 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).

  • Church Calendar Available: 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. 

I look forward to worshipping with you Sunday! I love you, Friendship, but God loves you, BETTER!  Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected!

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