Weekly Word from Pastor Curry: April 23, 2021

Greetings & Salutations Friendship Family!

I am so grateful to God for you! I am grateful for your faithful participation in the ministries here at Friendship, even though the last year things have been virtual and seemingly unnatural to how we have done things in the past. I am grateful to be in partnership with you in worship, ministry, and service. Lastly, I am grateful to serve you as your pastor. I am grateful, and I want you to know it!

The last year or so has been a rough season, but you have adapted and maintained. I want to encourage you, everything is not perfect, but we are all the better for having endured the nuances of the last 13 months. Please know I am not claiming a premature victory over the Coronavirus. I know we still have a journey ahead of us, but I want you to know that I see you, I know what you have endured, and I see Christ in you, the hope of Glory!

Now, my word of encouragement for you is this week is, “Keep pressing! Keep going! Keep trusting in God, no matter what!” I want to encourage you this week with a song from Maurette Brown-Clark. The song is entitled It Ain’t Over. It was featured on her 2007 album release entitled The Dream. Our Voices of Joy Choir have presented this selection in worship in the past, and Sister Tonya Whiteside was the lead on the selection in our worship service. The song reminds us that God is the ultimate authority and that He has the final say in any and every situation. I realize that there is more going on than just the Coronavirus, and many of you are still dealing with family issues, personal health issues, mental health situations, etc. My reminder to you is God is ultimately in charge, and He has the final say in all situations. To hear this song, please go HERE. It really encouraged me.  Beloved, we will need to keep making adjustments as we recover from the trauma of Coronavirus season and trust God through it!

This week has been an interesting one. Tuesday, we learned the verdict in the Derrick Chauvin murder of George Floyd. Guilty on all three counts! Many were excited about this guilty verdict. I feel the majority of us felt relief.  Relief that perhaps the killing of unarmed black individuals at the hands of police officers will cease and be addressed head-on. This is my hope and prayer. I hope we will use the statistical analysis to show the disparities in policing and develop a plan that will help everyone with accountability, transparency, and equality. For this to happen, we must remain vigilant and prayerful.

I read an article on Wednesday in the LA Times that stated California now has the lowest coronavirus case rate in the continental United States. Our latest seven-day rate of new cases is 40.3 per 100,000 people, which is dramatically lower than the national rate of 135.3 per 100,000 people. THANK YOU, JESUS! Our case rate has been among the lowest in the country for some time, and the numbers reflect the sustained and significant progress the state has made. THANK YOU, JESUS! Additionally, hospitalizations are down, and the plan to open the economy fully with less restrictive requirements is still slated for June 15th.

However, we must remain cautious and be careful as we move around more within the community, attending events, going to restaurants, and going to the movies. Please continue to wear your masks, vaccinated or not! Wash your hands regularly and watch your distance.

As you know from last week, we are moving forward with our regathering efforts beginning Sunday, May 2nd.  On May 2nd, we will begin to meet live weekly with a capacity limit of just under fifty percent. Our goal is to still provide for physical distancing. Attendees will still need to wear a mask for worship. Remember, this is a state mandate. It will stay in place until the state lifts it. Also, you will still need to register to attend the service. Beloved this is the only way we can monitor capacity.

Further, we will shift our worship service times again. We will return to an 8am and 11:30am worship service. Our goal is for each service to be 90 minutes long. We will still disinfect in between services. We will stream both services each Sunday in May. Ex Hour will move to 10am, and we will have an on-campus version and a virtual version. Again, if you are not ready for in-person worship, don’t push yourself. I understand. Please pray for us as we move forward. These are exciting times, but they are also still very stressful times

Some things to note and remember…

As we regather, we invite our ministries to Spring Into Service. Your ministry needs you! Yes, YOU! Whether you are an usher, greeter, children, or youth leader or serve in ANY ministry, we need you BACK! We are returning to a weekly in-person worship service which means there is work to be done. AND if you were not serving before and are looking for a place to volunteer, WE NEED YOU TOO! If you want to volunteer, contact Rev. Eric Archer at [email protected], and he will direct you to the right ministry lead. And if you are unsure what ministry is right for you, fill out the CHANGE MAKER form by clicking HERE.

Let me highlight this week’s  announcements :

Leaders, I look forward to seeing you tomorrow, April 24th, in-person on campus for our quarterly Leadership Meeting. It begins promptly at 10am in the Sanctuary.

Swing into Spring is in full effect! Remember this event is for all children, Preschool through 5th Grade, and includes inspiring teaching, dancing, music, small group time, crafts, and FUN! Swing into Sprint takes place on Sundays virtually via Zoom at 5pm through May 2nd. If you haven’t signed up or missed the first session this past Sunday, you can still participate. It’s not too late. Swing into Spring is a spring adventure where participants will learn that “The Mission Continues.”  Our Children’s Ministry will send you the link to attend once you register. Register HERE.

Our Spring Session of our Grief Class began on Tuesday, April 20th. This class meets virtually via Zoom for four weeks, from 7:30pm to 8:30pm. For more information, please go HERE.

We are excited to announce that we have a new Bible study class starting on Tuesday, April 27th. The class is entitled Read the Bible in Ninety Days!  Yes, you can read the entire Bible in 90 days from cover to cover. Twelve pages a day is all it takes to read the Bible in ninety days! This class will be co-facilitated by Millicent Crenshaw and Dr. Laseanda Wesson and is a virtual course. Again it will take place on Tuesday beginning April 27th from 7:30p to 9p. The course includes discussing the reading, a weekly participant guide, and videos that review each week’s reading. Class materials (90-day Bibles and Participant guides) are available; please contact the church office for further information and assistance. More information is also available HERE.

Brothers, join me for our RHEMA Virtual Men’s Summit. It will take place on Saturday, May 1st, from 10am to 12pm via Zoom. Our theme is “Be Still and Trust God!” based on Psalm 46:10. Our speakers will be Rev. Dr. Marcus “Goodie” Goodloe and Pastor Stephen Thurston. Registration is now open. To register, go HERE.

The Deaconess and Mothers Ministries are hosting a “Young Ladies Sip & Say,” which will be an experience to remember! Join us for a CONFIDENTIAL experience to ask REAL & RAW questions and receive genuine biblical responses from women of God. This event will take place on Saturday, August 7th, 2021. The time and location will be announced at a later date. All Young Ladies Ages 18- 40 are invited, and you do NOT need to be a member of Friendship to participate, so invite a friend, cousin, sister, aunt, or niece. To help us ensure this is an event that meets your needs, please fill out & return the following questionnaire by Monday, May 10th by clicking 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.

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.

We continue to advocate for the vaccine. As we do so, we will share information with you regarding locations to get a vaccination. Please read the joint statement from the Black Orange County pastors HERE.

If you have information on clinics, please contact my office so we can share that information. As many of you know, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine distribution has paused last week and remains paused currently.

  • For those who received your vaccination at New Hope Presbyterian Church on Sunday, March 28th, your second shot occurs on Sunday, April 25th, from 3:40pm – 4pm.
  • We recently learned that Easterseals and CVS are partnering to bring the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to local communities! There are several locations, including Irvine, Paramount, and Ontario. Access more information HERE.
  • We (Black Orange County pastors and churches) are partnering with the Governor’s Office to bring Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to the OC on Saturday, May 1st. This vaccination clinic will occur at Second Baptist Church, located at 4300 Westminster Ave. Santa Ana, CA, 92703at from 8am-5pm and is for all those 16 years old and up. To participate, you make your reservations HERE. There is also a flier available HERE

We still have Covid Recovery Kits through Providence Health and the Yorba Linda Rotary Club. These kits help individuals who have been diagnosed with Covid-19 and are 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 9:00am worship service.‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

  • Our College and Career Prep Initiative (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
Posted in