Updated March 20, 2020
 

Dear FBCN members and friends,

As of yesterday, the Rhode Island public was informed of 44 total cases of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) within our state, 11 of which were new overnight. Barring an extraordinary work of God to intervene against this virus, we can expect those numbers to grow more quickly and potentially spike in the coming days and weeks. That is not a comforting notion, but it is the world we find ourselves in. What do we do with all this news? Well, there are many ways that question is being answered, and not all of it in agreement, but I will spare you the medical, professional or social advice, as you’re hearing plenty of that already. And odd as it seems, I will also spare you the spiritual advice because contrary to popular opinion, ministers of Jesus Christ are not primarily spiritual advisors, spiritual gurus, or spiritual professionals. Ministers are proclaimers. And what they proclaim is not themselves, not opinion nor advice, but news. You see, when you get advice, you can take it or leave it. But when news is shared, you simply must live in light of it; or I suppose you could deny it. So, here is the only news I exist to proclaim: Jesus, the Christ, is King! Hear it now from the lips of a minister who knew well his place, Paul:

2 Cor. 4:5-7 – For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.

There is a lot of news going around. There always has been. But this Gospel that we proclaim is what remains truly newsworthy, because in the light of eternity, it is still the only good news. So, to answer the question, what we are to do today is to live faithfully, both admitting the dark reality of this spreading virus, and abiding in the all-consuming light of the glory of the Gospel. Let me be sufficiently practical now. The Church is the Church as it acts like it, proclaiming the good news in word and deed. The Church prays. The Church gathers. The Church teaches and celebrates the Gospel. The Church gives. And it gives so that each of those ends can be pursued, by faith, to the ends of earth. This is not advice. This is what the Church simply does and has done in light of the good news. God has not cast off his prodigal creatures but rather called them home in Christ. We must not cast him off amid the confusion and chaos that comes; whatever may come. So then, pray, gather (more on that), join us online for worship, and give faithfully.

Here are some ways we can currently, and legally, facilitate that (I’m open to ideas w/volunteers):

  1. Beginning on Tuesday, March 24, a morning prayer time will be hosted outdoors at the church, but not in the church, from 9-9:45am. This will continue 5 days a week, Tuesday thru Saturday. Come and stand or BYOC (bring your own chair). Dress for the weather.
  2. Pastor will be available to pray, give out Bibles, or open the door for gift drop-offs, Tuesday thru Saturday, from 10am-2pm (Checks ONLY Please! To be responsible, we will not receive cash or loose change offerings). Alternatively, you can mail checks, use Bill-Pay or give online.
  3. Sunday worship services will continue at 9:30am and be attended online only until further notice, via our Facebook page. However, if you or someone you know does not have online access, please email the church if there is interest in recorded sermons.
  4. We plan to assemble a care team. Contact the church if you are willing and interested in calling and checking in on church members and friends. You may not know everyone you call, but there’s only one way to fix that.
  5.  

Now, please receive the following with the humility and grace I intend it to carry. I must urge you all, for the collective good of us all, not to attempt entry into the church building for non-essential tasks. And if you are sick, at all, regardless of symptoms, do not put others at risk by entering church property. Ministers are not only proclaimers, but also protectors. And to best protect this flock, I will absolutely send away or call out anyone where these boundary lines are not being respected. In keeping with this concern for the safety of the flock, I have asked our office administrator (Thank you Dawn!) to work from home for the time being. Please do not question her integrity in adhering to that request. And I plan on respecting these boundaries as well. If I take ill, I will ask another to step in for me.

Lastly, I will tell you that I have been filled with a strange sense of hope and expectancy during this time. I do not know precisely what the Lord is doing or going to do, but I am confident he is performing a refining work upon his Church, and for that I am grateful. Many people have done church before, but in times like these, where church can’t be done as its been learned, we find out if indeed we are the Church. And as beloved children of the King, assured that we are indeed his, we need not live in fear. Rally to your King, and rest in him! Read Psalm 93 today for a reminder of who’s still in charge.

In loving service to Christ and to his bride,

Pastor Caleb            

 
Updated March 13, 2020
 

Dear FBCN members and friends,

As you and I continue to digest the bevy of information coming at us this weekend about the Coronavirus, let us be quick to listen, slow to speak and particularly cautious with our judgments (James 1:19-20). Towns, schools, businesses and churches have been put in positions they would greatly prefer not to be in, and at significant cost. But in seeking to act in the best interests of their citizens, students, employees and parishioners, they will be required to make decisions that seem either unnecessarily guarded or unforgivably moderate. Please join me in praying for them daily and let everything we say of their leadership be seasoned with grace. Like you, our local leaders are image-bearers of God. Like me, they are imperfect in mind and soul, and prone to error, hubris or fear. But they have been placed in authority over us by God, as a gift (Rom 13:1-2). As such, they are due our honor, our respect and our humble observance.

With that said, following upon a dozen or so conversations with local pastors and medical professionals in our region, I have arrived at the determination that to best comply with the spirit of ever-tightening governmental directives, as well as to sufficiently guard the flock and community witness of First Baptist Church of Narragansett, it is in the best interest of our friends, families and gospel witness to suspend ALL regular ministries located on our church premises for a minimum of two weeks. This means that the earliest possible person-to-person ministry performed at 305 Kingstown Rd will not reconvene until at least March 29th. In the interim, we will host weekly Sunday morning worship services at 9:30am via Facebook Live, from home. Bethany, my 3 year old daughter – who I’m convinced loves our church more than anybody – affectionately interjected, “I call it Home Church,” as we discussed the potential over dinner this evening (you never know what they are understanding until these precious moments). So please, DO NOT come to the church building this Sunday morning. Rather, prepare yourself to watch and worship with the Church, from your home. Follow along at: FBCN Facebook Page

Lastly, while “social distancing” is the law of the land during this cultural moment, social isolation is not. If you’ve got a friend, neighbor, or loved one who you expect feels further isolated by what is going on today, you can be the one to close that gap with a call, text or email. Most of us will be spending more time alone in the coming weeks. May we, the Church, use this time well to meet with Christ and meet the needs of others (there’s never been a better time to open your church directory, alongside your Bible).

With great love and careful consideration,

Pastor Caleb (fellow image-bearer)

 

 

Updated March 13, 2020
 

Dear FBCN members and friends,

As you and I continue to digest the bevy of information coming at us this weekend about the Coronavirus, let us be quick to listen, slow to speak and particularly cautious with our judgments (James 1:19-20). Towns, schools, businesses and churches have been put in positions they would greatly prefer not to be in, and at significant cost. But in seeking to act in the best interests of their citizens, students, employees and parishioners, they will be required to make decisions that seem either unnecessarily guarded or unforgivably moderate. Please join me in praying for them daily and let everything we say of their leadership be seasoned with grace. Like you, our local leaders are image-bearers of God. Like me, they are imperfect in mind and soul, and prone to error, hubris or fear. But they have been placed in authority over us by God, as a gift (Rom 13:1-2). As such, they are due our honor, our respect and our humble observance.

With that said, following upon a dozen or so conversations with local pastors and medical professionals in our region, I have arrived at the determination that to best comply with the spirit of ever-tightening governmental directives, as well as to sufficiently guard the flock and community witness of First Baptist Church of Narragansett, it is in the best interest of our friends, families and gospel witness to suspend ALL regular ministries located on our church premises for a minimum of two weeks. This means that the earliest possible person-to-person ministry performed at 305 Kingstown Rd will not reconvene until at least March 29th. In the interim, we will host weekly Sunday morning worship services at 9:30am via Facebook Live, from home. Bethany, my 3 year old daughter – who I’m convinced loves our church more than anybody – affectionately interjected, “I call it Home Church,” as we discussed the potential over dinner this evening (you never know what they are understanding until these precious moments). So please, DO NOT come to the church building this Sunday morning. Rather, prepare yourself to watch and worship with the Church, from your home. Follow along at: FBCN Facebook Page

Lastly, while “social distancing” is the law of the land during this cultural moment, social isolation is not. If you’ve got a friend, neighbor, or loved one who you expect feels further isolated by what is going on today, you can be the one to close that gap with a call, text or email. Most of us will be spending more time alone in the coming weeks. May we, the Church, use this time well to meet with Christ and meet the needs of others (there’s never been a better time to open your church directory, alongside your Bible).

With great love and careful consideration,

Pastor Caleb (fellow image-bearer)

 

 

March 12, 2020
 
Dear FBCN members and friends,

I am sure you have become increasingly aware of the global threat posed by the Coronavirus. With recent containment measures taken by the Federal and State governments to restrict travel (30-day ban on European flights), limit sporting events (NBA suspending season) and discouraging non-essential social interaction, the elders of First Baptist Narragansett want be vigilant, prepared and nimble to respond appropriately to the developing situation. Here is what we are asking of you now, beginning with this Sunday morning’s worship service:

  1. Pray for a quick and merciful end to the Coronavirus, and for people to seek Jesus amid it.
  2. Please do not attend meetings or gatherings if you are feeling sick, regardless of severity and symptoms.
  3. Please be mindful not to shake hands, hug, or touch others at gatherings. While you might be comfortable taking the risk, other individuals might not.
  4. Be flexible. If services or ministries are altered or suspended in the near future, it is with you in mind.
 

As followers of Christ, I urge you to remember your privileged position as an intercessor and ask you to stand in the gap for others, especially for our civil leaders at this time. You can begin tonight by praying at 7pm with your families, in lieu of attending prayer meeting. Prayer meeting at the church building will be suspended tonight and for the remainder of March. 1 Tim. 2:1-4 – First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Lastly, if you in any way feel vulnerable or high risk in the face of this pandemic, either due to anxiety, age, bodily weakness or recent medical history, please do not feel obligated to put yourself at risk by attending group gatherings and services. Jesus knows you and loves you, and a couple of missed services will not change that. Be at peace that King Jesus is on his throne and be in prayer that his kingdom would advance even now.

Num. 6:24-26 – The LORD bless you and keep you; 25 the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; 26 the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Amen,

Pastor Caleb