Sunday School Relaunch

Sunday School Relaunch

Sunday, June 6, 2021

All Ages at 9:45 am

 

Relaunch: VERB – reintroduce or restart. On Sunday, June 6, 2021, at 9:45 am we plan to restart Sunday school with in-person classes here at the church. We have gathered as much information as possible to make this decision. Of course, the safety and health of our members and guests are of utmost concern, but we also desperately desire to be back together studying God’s Word! So, here are a few things you need to know when coming that Sunday:

  • All participants (unless under the age of 5 and those with health issues which cannot wear one) will be asked to wear a mask.
  • Some classes may be relocated based on size and distancing requirements.
  • Not all classes have chosen to meet in-person, but rather will return at a later time. If you are a part of one of these classes, but would like to come and participate in one of the classes which are meeting in-person, you are more than welcome to come and be a part of the class of your choosing.

We hope and pray that all will continue to show grace to each other as we journey together through these crazy times. We respect each person’s decision about whether or not they will participate and so look forward to the day when masks and distancing are a thing of the past. But until that time, we look forward to this relaunch and our study of God’s Word through Sunday school.

 


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Regathering Guidelines

Dear Church Family and Friends,
 
I trust you and your families are doing well. I want to take this opportunity to let you know how much we appreciate your support, prayers, and patience during this unprecedented time. These have been truly odd days for many, and extremely difficult days for others.
 
Little did we realize how long this process would take when we changed our regular church gatherings and group events. We have never closed our church. We have continued to have “Drive-In Church”, along with radio broadcasts in our parking lot and around the memorial garden. We have also been on Facebook Live at 11 a. m., and on FOX 16 at 9 a. m. Sundays. So, First Baptist Church has never really stopped meeting in one form or another.
 
After meeting with our Deacons and Trustees this past Tuesday evening, the decision was made to begin having Sunday morning worship in our church sanctuary again for all who are able and ready to attend beginning this Sunday, June 7 at 11 a. m. So, this Sunday is “Regathering Sunday!”
 
As you can imagine, the task of moving our services back into the church sanctuary has taken a lot of thought, planning and preparation. Our concern from the very beginning has been the health and safety of our members and attendees. This concern will continue to be the case as we move forward, following guidance from the Arkansas Department of Health for reopening places of worship. Remember, we are still in Phase 1 of “Reopening Arkansas”. We do understand that several things will be different than before. We cannot help this. But we do trust and pray any changes will be temporary.
 
Opinions are numerous on the best approach for our moving back into the sanctuary, and a lot of grace and understanding will be needed by all during this time. We should be led by faith and not fear as we go through the process of re-opening our sanctuary. Again, thank you for your patience and understanding during this time.
 
There may be some who are not ready to regather in the sanctuary for Sunday worship, and that is fine. Don’t feel compelled to gather in church right now if you have health concerns. If you are uncomfortable returning to sanctuary worship right now, I understand that. I believe the Lord understands that. You are completely free to do as you feel you need to do in order to protect your personal health, your family’s health, and the health of others.
 
You can still join in worship on Facebook Live on Sundays, 11 a. m., at www.facebook.com/firstpinebluff/live. Also, as you know First Baptist Church broadcasts our Sunday morning messages on KLRT FOX 16 every Sunday from 9:00 – 9:30 a. m. We will also continue broadcasting our live worship service for the time being on an FM station in the church park lot for those who wish to continue coming for “Drive-In Church”.
 
For your health and the health of others, please keep in mind the current Arkansas Department of Health guidance for church attendance. This is for the protection of all:
1. You have not had a fever of 100.4˚F or higher in the past 2 days.
2. You do not have cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms typical of Covid-19.
3. You have not had known exposure to someone with Covid-19 in the past 14 days.
4. If you are 65 or more years old, or if you have underlying health conditions, you may wish to refrain from attending at this time. Again, this is OK for the present time.
5. The Arkansas Department of Health has required that a face covering must be worn in churches while indoors. Face coverings for children under 10 years are optional. Face coverings for children under 2 years old are prohibited by CDC guidelines. The only exceptions to the wearing of face coverings will be:
* Worship leaders, only while addressing the congregation
* Performing singers, only while singing
6. You must maintain 6-foot spacing between people.
7. Meet and greet will be before or after the services outdoors, but please not in the foyer. And the 6-foot spacing still applies outside, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.
8. Except for congregant family groups, seating in the sanctuary must have 6 feet between individuals.
 
I know these guidelines are new, and we are not used to them, and we may not even like them, but please bear in mind that we do not want anyone to be exposed to Covid-19 or to any other disease during this time.
 
Also,
1. We have face masks at the entrances for those who do not have a face mask. I recommend you bring your own if you have one.
2. Hand sanitizer is available at the North and South entrances.
3. Every other pew will be “taped off”, and unavailable for seating, in order to help maintain the 6-foot distancing.
4. To protect their health, our Sanctuary Choir will resume at a later phase of regathering.
5. All pew Bibles, hymnals, connection cards, offering envelopes, and pencils have been temporarily removed from the pew racks. The hymns and Scriptures will be on the projection screens.
6. The offering plates will not be passed during the service. To give to First Baptist Church, you may place your offering in the box marked “TITHES & OFFERINGS” at the entrance to the Sanctuary, or you can mail your offering to the church office, or hand your offering to a parking lot attendant. You can also give online at www.fbcpinebluff.org.
7. Anyone desiring to speak with me can call me directly at 501-425-7097, or with Bro. Bryan at 870-489-8970.
8. At the close of the service, ushers will dismiss each row starting at the rear of the Sanctuary. Please wait until your row is dismissed to exit.
9. Again, please maintain six feet of social distancing as you exit the building, and refrain from gathering in the Foyer.
 
Whew!! That’s a lot. We may have to do this for a few months; we don’t really know. But all of this is temporary and is designed to help us get through the current Covid-19 crisis without any of our folks getting sick. Again, please understand no one likes this, but the health of all is affected by what we do.
 
All churches and businesses are grappling with the consequences of the Corona virus pandemic, so please realize we are not alone in trying to do our best to take care of each other as we try to get past this present medical concern.
Let me repeat what I said at the beginning. These are truly odd days for many, and extremely difficult days for others. No one saw this coming, and all are having to make adjustments.
 
As we begin to implement this change here at First Baptist, I would prayerfully make one main request. Please be gracious and understanding with others. This grace could include the fact that you are a staunch believer in the value of a mask or face covering while someone else might not be. Or your “social distancing” may be a lot different than someone else’s. If we’re not careful, we can begin to become quite legalistic about things that may possibly take place as we re-gather for worship.
 
Please keep in mind our call by the Lord to be gracious and understanding with each other. If you choose to not wear a mask inside, please be respectful of those who do, and of the 6-foot distancing, understanding that others may have some health concerns and fears. And if you do wear a mask or face covering, please do not be harsh with those who, for whatever reason, do not. And note that I will wear a mask indoors when I am not in the pulpit.
 
While that may seem a bit “negative” to think about during this exciting time of re-gathering, all you need to do is visit your local stores to see some of the things people say and do as they grapple with these issues.
While we may have some challenges ahead, I believe with all my heart that we are up to the task because as believers, we can be filled with grace. Let’s get through this time together.
 
Romans 12:10, “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another.”  We want this time to be a tremendous witness to the world of how things can be accomplished while seasoned with the grace God gives to the believers. Our community and nation needs a Godly and committed and Spirit-filled church more now than ever before!! We want to be that church!
 
We will do our best to worship together again in a way that brings glory to God and encouragement to all believers and is a good witness to our community. And, I might add, that we would see souls won into the Kingdom of God!
 
This will all pass, and the day will come when we will all feel comfortable about getting out and attending church and other activities again. But whether you are able or ready to attend church in person or not right now, know that you are loved and that your prayers and faithful service to the Lord are appreciated.
 
If you know of someone who does not have access to email, please help by passing this information on to them.
 
If you have any questions or concerns, or if I can ever be of assistance to you in any way, please do not hesitate to call upon me at any time.
 
For Christ and His Kingdom,
 
Pastor Ken

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A DAY TO REMEMBER by Pastor Ken Thornton

Memorial Day is the day when we remember those who have died in military service to our country.  It was originally called Decoration Day because it was the tradition to decorate the graves of those who died in the Civil War.  After World War I, Memorial Day was expanded to include those who had died in any war or military action.  Memorial Day is now observed on the last Monday of May.

I believe wars are sometimes necessary to preserve freedom, or certainly to beat back an invading enemy.   The right of personal or national self-defense when attacked is an inherent right.  War may be forced upon a nation, and that nation can either defend itself or surrender.  What else could we do as a nation after Japan attacked us at Pearl Harbor, or Germany was wreaking havoc in Europe? 

I also believe every American owes a huge debt to every man and woman who died while serving this country.  There are privileges we enjoy each and every day that were gained or preserved by those who paid the ultimate price in the service of and for our country.

There is a song called, “American Soldier”.  The song tells of a soldier who is called to duty and he says, “I will always do my duty no matter what the price.  I’ve counted up the cost, I know the sacrifice.  Oh, and I don’t want to die for you, but if dyin’s asked of me I’ll bear the cross with honor, ’cause freedom isn’t free.”  And “freedom isn’t free.”  Every freedom we enjoy as Americans have been purchased and preserved by the blood and sacrifices of so many who have answered their nation’s call.  Every headstone in every National Cemetery tells a story about sacrifice.

            We call it “Memorial Day” because it is important to remember.  Memory is important.  Some of our memories are happy, and we can recall wonderful experiences.  Some of our memories are sad, and we may weep as we remember them.  But memory is very practical.  If you couldn’t remember that a red light means “stop”, or you weren’t able to remember what day it is, or your anniversary your spouse’s birthday – you’d be in big trouble. 

            God has given us the gift of memory.  In a moment you can be a child again or skipping rocks across a pond or walking around where you grew up.  You can fall in love, get married, and have children all over again.  You can do all this through the memories fixed in your mind.  We are saddened to see people struggle with memory loss.  It is like losing a treasure that has been gained over time. 

Ralph Waldo Emerson (essayist, poet, and philosopher) and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (Midnight Ride of Paul Revere) both were literary giants of their day and had a tremendous influence upon American literature in the 1800s, and they were actually friends.  In 1867, Emerson’s health began to decline.  By 1871 or 1872 he started experiencing memory problems.  Emerson and Longfellow died in the same year, 1882, within a month of each other.  I have read that, although weak and failing, Emerson summoned the energy to attend Longfellow’s funeral, and that he said to his daughter, Ellen, “I cannot recall the name of our friend, but he was a good man.”

            It is sad when memory fails us.  We tie a string around our finger and do different things to help us remember.  Calendars are printed to help us remember.  Christmas is marked to help us remember the birth of Christ.  Easter is marked to help us remember His Resurrection.

            Memorial Day grew out of the human need to remember where we have been.  Only a clear understanding of the past can help us understand where we are headed.  The cherished memories of a nation, a town, a church, or a family provide the values and dreams that one generation passes on to the next.  Forgetting means we lose touch with the past.

            This was on President Lincoln’s mind on November 19, 1863 as he made his way to the Pennsylvania battlefield.  He truly feared he might be the last president of the United States.  The nation was on the brink of self-destruction.  The ceremony that afternoon would dedicate the site of the cemetery for the approximately 8,000 soldiers killed (somewhere between 46,000 and 51,000 casualties) at Gettysburg in the 3-day battle the previous year.  Lincoln’s remarks helped provide the seeds for what would become Memorial Day.  Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was delivered at the height of a civil war when its outcome was far from clear. 

            In the Gettysburg address delivered at the Gettysburg battlefield in November 1863, he stated, “It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.  It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain…”  Lincoln had every reason to doubt as to whether the nation would be able in 1863 to bring this “great task” to a successful conclusion.   The outcome would ultimately determine whether the dead had indeed “died in vain.”

A tremendous price has been paid by many who gave their lives that we might enjoy the privileges that we have.  We do not appreciate the sense of uncertainty that hung over the outcome of the Civil War when Lincoln spoke at Gettysburg.  Too many Americans have become disconnected from our nation’s history, and we do not appreciate as a nation the sacrifices of our nation’s forefathers.

            President Woodrow Wilson said, “A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday will know what it is today, nor what it is trying to do.”  Karl Marx, the father of Communism said, “Take away the heritage of a people, and they are easily persuaded.”  Think about that for a minute!  

For many, Memorial Day has become just another Monday holiday.  It marks the beginning of summer.  It is normally the weekend of the Indy 500.  School is usually out.  The pools are normally open.  It provides the first real chance for picnics, BBQs, and maybe an outing to the lake.  

But Memorial Day is more than just a three-day weekend.  We observe a Memorial Day so we do not forget!  The next generation must be taught to remember the lives, the legacies, and the lessons of those upon whose shoulders we stand.  We remember the men and women in uniform who paid for our freedom with their blood.  They paid the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.  Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).   

As a military chaplain, now retired, I have been a part of many military funerals and memorial services.  Some of these services have been in military chapels.  Many have been in cemeteries where military honors were rendered.  Many of the memorial services have been in deployed locations during wartime, some on the flight line, many in the back of the military transport aircraft returning the fallen back to the United States.   Often at the end of my remarks or prayer, certainly at the playing of taps, I would salute the flag of the United States draped on the casket, thinking about my fallen comrade.  I still think about them.  I still honor them.


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VBS at FBC

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Family Virtual
Vacation Bible School
July 14-18, 2021
Kindergarten to COMPLETED 6th Grade

The decision has been made to switch our VBS event to a virtual experience. Family Virtual VBS 2021: Concrete & Cranes! Fun for the whole family – all of the excitement of VBS, at home! This Summer, we are bringing a virtual VBS experience to your home the week of July 14-18, 2021. We want your family to join us for everything you love about VBS including Bible study, music, crafts, and snacks, plus recreation ideas.  All registered families with receive exclusive content and more!
 
Grab your hard hat and your tool belt! As kids explore a world of concrete and cranes, rivets and rebar, bulldozers and backhoes, they will learn to build their faith on Jesus as they uncover the truth that He who began a good work will be faithful to carry it on to completion.
 
Theme Verse: “I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 1:6
 
Motto: Jesus! Our strong foundation!
 
Dates: July 14-18, 2021
 

Registration Information:
We welcome all children Kindergarten through completed 6th grade. Bible stories, music, snacks, crafts, and great learning for all of our children. Be part of this unique experience by clicking this link to register.

Family Virtual VBS 2021

Prayer Support:
Please begin now to pray for this week we have to serve our community and children.
 

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COVID-19 Update

All, I sure miss gathering with you at church on Sundays, Wednesdays, and other days. God bless you and your families during this time. Please feel free to call on us if we can be of assistance to you. The church office number is 534-4741. My cell number is 501-425-7097. Your calls are always welcome. And feel free to drop by the church for coffee or conversation!

We plan to have Drive-In Church on Sundays at 11 a. m. through the remainder of May around the church memorial garden, weather permitting. All other services and events are cancelled for right now.

If it is raining, we will still be on FM radio in the parking area, as well as on Facebook. When you arrive in the church parking lot, you will be given a church worship program with the songs printed in it, as well as the FM radio station to tune to. This service will be broadcast to your FM radio. You can remain in your vehicle for the service, OR, you can sit in your lawn chairs with the 6-foot social distancing, except for family members who may sit together. (We are following the Governor’s guidelines) For those who would like to give their tithes and offerings, there will be an offering box located on a table near the podium.

Our Sunday morning service is broadcast live on Facebook at 11 a. m., and may be found at www.facebook.com/FirstPineBluff/Live Also, as you know First Baptist Church broadcasts Sunday morning messages on KLRT FOX 16 every Sunday from 9:00 – 9:30 a. m.

Great news!! Our church website is back up and running, and it looks great! It can be found at https://www.fbcpinebluff.org/ You can find the Builder newsletter, church calendar, recent audio and video sermons, and other things, such as a giving portal on our new website.

If you have any questions or concerns about our service format or schedule, please feel free to call me.

The last couple months have been full of unprecedented changes in our lives. People and churches are trying to figure out how to live and minister in a period of social distancing. Our lives and schedules and norms have changed. Churches today have never ministered through a pandemic like the COVID-19. But these changes won’t last forever.

For right now, we need to do what the health professionals recommend. We need to take the commonsense actions that will decrease the spread of this virus. People over the age of 65 and those who have preexisting conditions are most vulnerable. If you’re in these categories, please be careful and wise. Use that mask when you go out if you have one. Don’t unnecessarily expose yourself to disease.

The Bible tells us there will be trials. 1 Peter 4:12 says, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you.” We are told to expect tough times. These are some of those times, but again, they won’t last forever.

At times like this, we need to hang on to truths that don’t change. During times of crisis, it’s really important to remember the fundamentals. Know that this will pass. We will “get on” with our lives soon. Churches will gather again. Things will “normalize” for us in time.

Focus on what’s unchanging, not what is changing. There are many changes to our world and community. We don’t know what all these changes will be. We now have opportunities for ministry we did not have before, such as live streaming on Facebook. We need to be flexible, but remember what hasn’t changed.

The Bible says, Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” In all this change, you can count on that truth. You can also know that God’s love for you and our community has never changed. God’s working in our lives has not changed. Do not let all the changes make you lose sight of everything that is still the same.

God is going through this with us. This virus did not surprise God. He will walk through every bit of it with us. We may feel alone at times. But we will never be alone. This virus did not sneak up on God. And it won’t stop the church. Jesus himself reminds us that “all the powers of hell will not conquer” the church (Matthew 16:18).

God doesn’t just want His church to survive during this period. He wants us to thrive. This is the difference between how we deal with pain as believers and how the world does. The church sees every need in the world as an opportunity for ministry and to do good for God’s glory.

Isaiah 41:10 says, “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Focus on that truth and not all the noise on the Internet and news right now. It will replace your worry with worship.

1 Corinthians 4:8, 14 says, “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; . . . knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you.” Easter tells us that we win no matter what happens. So, we will win! Even if a virus or other disease or accident takes our lives, we will go straight into the presence of God. On that day, all our pain, sickness, and sorrow will be over. There is no COVID-19 virus in Heaven.

We don’t know what the future holds, but we do know Who holds it.

Romans 16:20, “And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.”

Rest in these truths. We are kept firmly in God’s hands! Hope to see you Sunday morning around the memorial garden!
 
Pastor Ken

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