Murfreesboro First Church of the Nazarene Family and Friends,
School has started, and that looks very different than what we have seen in the past on some levels. But I want to encourage you to take a second, closer look. Our community has a few things this late summer and early fall that we didn't see as much of last year along the way of masks and distance, but there are so many things the same. There are teachers and school administrators, bus drivers and teachers aides, custodians and staff members of all various trades who are at the schools early, staying late and giving of all of their talents, abilities and overwhelming store of ideas to do what they have always done, educate and care for the kids of our area. It really is true, some things never change.
And we are about the same work, too. We may have a few surface area issues that we have adopted to deal with the current issues that we are facing, but the underlying goals have not changed. We are still about loving our neighbor. We are still about making Christ-like disciples in the nations. We are still about redemption and holiness. We are still about inspiring a loving relationship with God and with one another. To this end, we are committing all that we are, just as we see our teachers, our medical professionals, our frontline workers from each and every industry that are at it everyday in so many ways to care for one another.
There is not near as much reason to fear as there is reason to rejoice. We have a very tough fight ahead of us and all around us, but we are far from being alone. God is with us and we can see that hope in one another.
I take a moment to commend you. You have been doing the work of the church non-stop throughout this time. You have loved justice, sought mercy, and walked humbly with our God. We have sought Him daily in personal times of prayer and in the Word and we have sought to serve Him by loving our neighbor and caring for one another, and you are to be commended and encouraged in the amazing witness you have born of the goodness of Christ and His image shining through you. While we have deeply missed being together for our times of worship, we have been most essential this season by practicing steadfast love for neighbor. Thank you.
As we continue to meet here at 1618 Hamilton and look to expand our discipleship options both in face to face opportunities as well as online, we want to continue to remind you of some of our current policies and approaches we are practicing for the community health of each person we are in contact with at these services and classes as well as beyond:
Foot Traffic: As we come and go and move about the church please be mindful. Avoid those places where we might bottleneck foot traffic in door ways or in aisles as we converse and catch up with one another. Leave plenty of room for others to pass and allow for plenty of room when talking. If the weather is nice, let the conversation be taken outside for your health and for the health of others. As much as possible, try to keep our handling of doors and the like to a minimum. We don't want you to pick up something unawares and we are getting closer to flu season all the time.
Seating: Given our average attendance, we will have plenty of seating at this time. Each pew has a section “taped” off to remain unused for recommended safe spacing. When seated, fill in with those from your household from the arm of the pew to the center. Please seat one household (those with whom you came in a car together) to a pew. As we are learning and adapting, we will not have the nursery or children’s church open so please reserve the overflow rooms for families with younger children to give them a little more room to stretch and move during service. We will have activity packets for our kids but this will allow them a little more space. During our classes that are beginning to meet, leave as much space as possible and we will adjust to larger rooms as necessary. Thank you.
Masks: We want to encourage you to wear masks while inside the building, moving about, while singing, and while fellowshipping with others at First Church. While they are not full proof, they do substantially mitigate the spread of contagions. Many in our congregation are in at-risk categories. We do this for others. While seated, during the sermon or portions of the service while not singing, you may remove your mask if you wish, but please where the mask while encountering others. We have reusable masks available if you do not have one. Enclosed are instructions for proper use and cleaning. Thank you.
Offerings: During this time, we are trying to limit direct contact as we learn and move forward. We will collect tithes and offerings at the close of the service. They may be left in the offering plate as you exit. Our counters will record and deposit the offering following services. We have added an option to give electronically through the church website or phone application.
Physical Contact: One of the most awkward things right now is the feeling of greeting one another without a hug or a handshake. We will get there, JUST NOT YET. For now, no hugs or hand shakes. We will not have printed bulletins. An electronic bulletin is available online and via email for all who would like to sign up for them. We will post announcements on the screen prior to service.
Prudence and Online Presence: We are continuing to use Zoom for our Sunday School class and will post offerings for other online discipleship opportunities. Our Wednesday night prayer meeting will also be on Zoom and we encourage you to connect this way. We understand not all have this option so the sanctuary will be open if you would like to gather here, but please use the guidelines listed above. For worship services we will offer a connection through Facebook Live on Facebook.com @murnaz.
What we need most from you: Keep seeking grace, keep asking, “How can I be Christ to my neighbor?” Your neighbors and friends need to hear a good, HONEST word of encouragement from you when we gather. There’s been no shortage of gloom, doubt, or fear to go around. And we have every reason for solemn concern. But we are a people who proclaim: “if God is for us, who could stand against us!” Let’s gather in hope. (Romans 8)
I am so eager to see you. I am so eager to hear your voices and to know you are in the presence of the Lord with me as we pray, hear the Word, and praise His holy name. Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Please check back regularly to our Facebook page for regular updates and contact Pastor should you have any needs, concerns, or questions.
You are loved.
Grace and Peace to you,
Pastor Matthew & Kara and the Church Board of Murfreesboro First Church of the Nazarene