COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Updates

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COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Updates

April 9, 2020 Update: 

Dear friends,

Tomorrow is Good Friday, and we will gather for worship online at 7 p.m. using Facebook Live and YouTube. Good Friday observes the day of Jesus' suffering and crucifixion on the cross. The Tenebrae service is a series of seven scripture readings that ends in darkness. If you have a candle at home you might consider having it in your worship area so that at the end of the seven readings you can extinguish the light in your home as we mark the death of Jesus. (If you have seven candles you could extinguish a candle following each reading.) The accompanying worship information is available here as a PDF and may be printed in advance.

April 8, 2020 Update: 

Dear friends,

Tomorrow is Maundy Thursday, and we will gather for worship online at 5:30 p.m. using Facebook Live and YouTube. This service remembers the Last Supper Jesus shared with his disciples, and will include the celebration of Holy Communion. We encourage you to participate in the sacrament from home. Please do not make an unnecessary trip to the store for elements you can use at home. As close to bread and juice as you can manage from your kitchen and pantry will be perfect. (Bread, crackers, tortilla, etc.) If you would like to bake bread for your Maundy Thursday service, Heath Brosi has provided this delicious recipeThe accompanying worship information is available here as a PDF and may be printed in advance.

April 6, 2020 Update: 

Dear friends,

As we enter Holy Week, know that a full schedule of online worship services are planned through Facebook Live and YouTube:

HOLY WEEK

  • Holy Monday Midday Prayer, 12 noon
  • Holy Tuesday Midday Prayer, 12 noon
  • Holy Wednesday Midday Prayer, 12 noon

These online Midday Prayer services offer reflection on the last days of Jesus’ ministry through scripture, sermon, and prayers offered by our pastors.

  • Maundy Thursday, 5:30 p.m.

This service remembers the Last Supper Jesus shared with his disciples, and will include the celebration of Holy Communion. We encourage you to participate in the sacrament from home. Please do not make an unnecessary trip to the store for elements you can use at home. As close to bread and juice as you can manage from your kitchen and pantry will be perfect. (Bread, crackers, tortilla, etc.) If you would like to bake bread for your Maundy Thursday service, Heath Brosi has provided this delicious recipe.

  • Good Friday (Tenebrae), 7 p.m. 

Good Friday observes the day of Jesus' suffering and crucifixion on the cross. The Tenebrae service is a series of seven scripture readings that ends in darkness. If you have a candle at home you might consider having it in your worship area so that at the end of the seven readings you can extinguish the light in your home as we mark the death of Jesus. (If you have seven candles you could extinguish a candle following each reading.) 

EASTER

  • Easter Sunrise, 7:30 a.m.
  • Easter Morning Worship, 10 a.m

These joyful online services celebrate Jesus' resurrection with prayer, scripture, sermon and special music.  

April 3, 2020 Update: 

Dear Friends,

You’re invited to participate in Facebook Live worship on Sundays at 10 a.m. while we are unable to gather in person! These services include interactive elements involving prayers, scripture, reflections, and music. To join in the Sunday morning worship experience, simply visit the church’s Facebook page. The video will begin at 10 a.m. Sunday. It will also be available on the church’s YouTube channel on Sunday morning so you may watch or rewatch it at any time. The accompanying worship information for this Sunday is available here as a PDF and may be printed in advance. 

April 2, 2020 Update: 

Dear friends,

As we approach Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Easter, know that a full schedule of online worship services are planned through Facebook Live and YouTube. The schedule of services includes:

  • Holy Monday Midday Prayer, 12 noon
  • Holy Tuesday Midday Prayer, 12 noon
  • Holy Wednesday Midday Prayer, 12 noon
  • Maundy Thursday, 5:30 p.m.
  • Good Friday (Tenebrae), 7 p.m.
  • Easter Sunrise, 7:30 a.m.
  • Easter Morning Worship, 10 a.m.

Information about the services , including the Facebook Live and YouTube links, can be found here.  

April 1, 2020 Update: 

Dear friends,

The Governor of Texas announced yesterday that required social distancing, suspension of all gatherings over ten people, and the continued closure of non-essential businesses to the public is effective through April 30. Therefore, the Penn Street campus remains closed to the public through April 30. The Governor continues to make allowances for the facilitation of online worship, food ministries, and essential financial, safety, and security functions. This allows the food ministries at Community Crossroads to continue with modified delivery methods. Essential staff are working hard on a full schedule of online worship for Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Easter as we keep staff presence in the building to an absolute minimum. Financial staff are in the building once a week to process contributions received by US mail and online giving. A member of our maintenance team checks the building daily for safety and security.

Know you are welcome to email staff members or leave messages on their office voice mail as messages can be accessed remotely. For a staff directory, please use this link.

March 31, 2020 Update: 

Dear Friends,

Today essential financial staff were at the office to perform the necessary end of the month bill payments, make a weekly deposit of contributions received through the US mail, and to perform the essential quarterly tasks required. As several members have been calling the church office requesting updates on their contributions, quarterly contribution statements were mailed as well. The financial staff are in the office one day each week to perform essential financial tasks.

As always, if you have any questions for the financial staff, feel free to contact Wes Hogue.

March 30, 2020 Update: 

Dear Friends,

During this time of social distancing and staying at home for the health of the community, know that your church is praying for you as we support one another through these days. Several church members have made themselves available to support you in these important ways:

  • Reaching out through frequent phone calls (from daily to weekly) to encourage those who would welcome a friendly voice
  • Delivering groceries to those needing assistance getting groceries in the home for any reason

To arrange either supportive phone calls or grocery assistance, please call Michael at the church office (817.335.1231 ext. 229) or email him.  He is able to check phone messages remotely when not able to be in the office.

 

March 29, 2020 Update: 

Dear Friends,

The church office phone system is up and running again after some issues last week. Staff are checking voicemail and email remotely, so please do not hesitate to reach out. Click here for a listing of staff email addresses. 

March 27, 2020 Update: 

Dear Friends,

You’re invited to participate in Facebook Live worship on Sundays at 10 a.m. while we are unable to gather in person! These services include interactive elements involving prayers, scripture, reflections, and music. To join in the Sunday morning worship experience, simply visit the church’s Facebook page. The video will begin at 10 a.m. Sunday. It will also be available on the church’s YouTube channel on Sunday morning so you may watch or rewatch it at any time. The accompanying worship information is available here as a PDF and may be printed in advance. The printable children's worship bulletin is available here.

March 26, 2020 Update: 

Dear Friends,

We are currently experiencing issues with our office phone system.  If you call the church number and cannot be connected to the voice mailbox you are seeking, please click here for a listing of staff email addresses. Feel free to email the staff person you were trying to reach. Staff are checking their email remotely as well as voicemails.  If this is a pastoral emergency, and you are not been given the prompt to reach the pastor on call, please call Michael at 817.360.0768.

March 25, 2020 Update: 

Dear Friends,

Today is the first day we are living into the new realities concerning Stay at Home in Fort Worth and Tarrant County. As shared in our March 24 update (see below), only essential ministries/functions and essential staff as defined by the city are present at either the Penn Street campus or at Community Crossroads. The Community Crossroads Food Pantry has been very busy and 99% of the calls received at the Penn Street office have been neighbors asking if they would be able to received food today or tomorrow. The relief in their voices when they know we are able to continue this essential ministry has been profound.

Last night the Session gathered for conversation via Zoom. It was good to gather for prayer for our congregation and community and to offer care and encouragement for one another. Your elders are a remarkable group of leaders. Several have offered to call any member who would like a regular contact during this time of Stay at Home for encouragement and support. If you would like to receive regular calls from an elder, please email Michael Waschevski. There are also church members available to assist with grocery pickup and delivery should you find yourself needing help. Please email Michael and he will place you in contact with those organizing this important ministry of care for the congregation.

Praying you feel God’s presence surrounding you, upholding you, and giving you a peace that passes all understanding…

March 24, 2020 Update: 

Dear Friends,

Today the City of Fort Worth announced enhanced restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The city’s restrictions begin at 11.59 p.m. tonight and are in place through April 3, though the situation will be reevaluated as that time nears. The Penn Street campus remains closed to the public. Only essential business can occur in the building and only essential staff will be allowed entrance. The essential business that First Presbyterian will conduct includes the following:

  • WORSHIP: While the city’s ban on all public worship remains in place, the allowance for facilitating online worship permits a maximum of  ten staff onsite in order to facilitate online worship.  We will keep levels below ten out of an abundance of caution. We will also enforce social distancing while in the building.

  • COMMUNITY CROSSROADS: Essential services include feeding ministries for those most vulnerable in our community. In fact, we are already experiencing an uptick in need. At Community Crossroads, neighbors are not allowed to gather in the building and social distancing is enforced outside. Our police officers continue to provide security and support during these ministries.  No more than 10 staff/volunteers are allowed into Community Crossroads as we carry out these essential ministries.

  • OFFICE/FINANCIAL/BUILDING: US mail continues to be delivered and received. Package delivery continues – and several packages are for our important ministries at Community Crossroads. One clergy person will be allowed in the office to receive packages and answer phones if not also working on facilitating online worship.  All other Program, Administrative, and Maintenance staff will not be on the Penn Street campus unless working on facilitating worship or prepping meals for Community Crossroads. Our financial staff will make a weekly deposit of checks received in the US mail  and will cut checks to pay bills biweekly. Limited financial staff will be allowed in the building to conduct those essential tasks. (Payroll is handled through a vendor and remote access does not require staff present on Penn Street for payroll to occur. All employees of First Presbyterian Church continue to be paid during this crisis.) If you have questions about financial matters you may talk with Dana Fickling at: 817.454.2013. The building will be checked daily by our Facilities Manager for its safety and security.

Please know in these unprecedented times that your pastors and staff remain committed to being connected to you.  Staff can remotely access all emails, files, membership database, and financial records.  Please do not hesitate to email us.  Email addresses are found here. If you wish to speak with a pastor, please call (817.360.0768), (817.913.2590), or (817.454.7699).

As Isaiah reminds us so beautifully of God’s faithfulness, Do not be afraid, for I am with you…

March 23, 2020 Update: 

Dear Friends,

As you no doubt have read or heard, Tarrant County has closed non-essential businesses to the public. Effective immediately, the Penn Street campus is closed to the public. Only essential staff will be allowed in the building (never more than 10 in one space) in order to prepare for and offer online worship experiences, meet the essential ministry, business, and financial needs of the church, and to ensure building safety and security. Community Crossroads, at this time, will continue offering the essential feeding ministries for those most vulnerable in our community.  At Community Crossroads, neighbors are not allowed to gather in the building and social distancing is enforced outside.  No more than 10 staff/volunteers will be allowed into Community Crossroads as we carry out these essential ministries.

Your pastors and staff remain committed to being here for you and connected to you.  Staff can remotely access all emails, files, membership database, and financial records. Please do not hesitate to email us.  Email addresses are found here. If you wish to speak with a pastor, please call (817.360.0768), (817.913.2590), or (817.454.7699).

May you feel God’s presence and peace in full measure as we live through these days of separation one from another.

March 20, 2020 Update: 

Beginning this Sunday, March 22, you’re invited to participate in Facebook Live worship on Sundays at 10 a.m. while we are unable to gather in person! These short services include interactive elements involving prayers, scripture, reflections, and music.  To join in the Sunday morning worship experience, simply visit the church’s Facebook page. You do not need to have a Facebook account to watch the video, unless you would like to comment during the livestream. The video will begin at 10 a.m. Sunday. It will also be uploaded to the church’s YouTube channel on Sunday morning so you may rewatch it at any time. The accompanying worship information is available here as a PDF and may be printed in advance.

March 19, 2020 Update: 

Dear friends,

As we continue to adjust to new ways of engaging in ministry during the pandemic, the Program Staff will be meeting this afternoon by Zoom. Part of the conversation will include how the Youth Bible Study via Zoom went last evening, and what other opportunities we might begin to offer using this and similar platforms. 

Of course work continues for the Facebook Live worship experience this Sunday at 10 a.m. Starting tomorrow (Friday) look for directions through our website, Facebook page, and Friday Worship email on how to join the worship experience.

Phone calling of all member households and prospective member households by staff, elders, and congregational leaders continues. If you haven’t received a call yet letting you know the church is praying for you and wants to know you and your household are ok, you will! If you have changed phone numbers in the last few weeks, you can update it by calling Patty O’Brien in the church office.  (817.335.1231 ext. 223)

March 18, 2020 Update: 

Dear friends,

Several updates to share with you today about how ministry is continuing and being planned for in the days and weeks ahead:

1. Planning and preparation continue for a Facebook Live worship experience this Sunday at 10 a.m. Full directions with how to access the broadcast will be made available Friday here, on our Facebook page, and through the Friday worship email.
2. Food distribution has continued at Community Crossroads with adaptations to avoid gathering groups in the building. On Monday, 87 sack lunches and 8 children's lunches were provided to go. In addition, 40 families received formula/diapers. On Tuesday, 12 families were provided 24 bags of groceries. Grocery distribution continues today and tomorrow.
3. Staff, elders, and congregational leaders continue reaching out to every member and prospective member household at FPC as we assure one another of the church’s prayers and concern, receive reports on how households are doing, and to be sure every household has adequate food and supplies. The conversations have been rich and meaningful. If you haven’t been called yet, you will be soon. The goal is to reach every household by the end of the week. If you have changed phone numbers in the last several weeks, please let Patty O’Brien in the church office know.
4. Staff is preparing to offer Zoom studies and meetings, with a first experience tonight for the Senior High Bible study. More to come!

As we live through these days as a community of faith, remember that we belong to God. Excerpts from Isaiah 43.1-5 offer us words of encouragement and hope:

But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.

For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…
…you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you…

Do not fear, for I am with you…

March 17, 2020 Update: 

Dear friends,

Please know you are in the prayers of your pastors, Session, and staff each day. During the course of this week we are attempting to make contact – preferably by phone, so we can hear one another’s voices – with each member household and prospective member household. We are calling to let you know you are in the prayers of the church, to see how you are doing, and to make sure you have what you need at home in way of food and supplies (and if you have family, friends, or neighbors who can be helpful to you.) We will continue to nurture our relationships as a community of faith while we cannot gather in person. Remember, the office is open from 8.30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and we are here for you.

Additionally, several staff are meeting today to plan worship experiences online for the next Sundays that will incorporate clergy and staff offering scripture, reflections, prayers, and music. More information will come out later this week about how to participate in FPC worship this way.

As we continue to navigate our way through this pandemic together, we do so trusting in God’s grace and faithfulness, reminding us that we are not alone.

You might find this choral composition by Elaine Hagenberg a meaningful way to pray today.

God’s peace,
Michael Waschevski
Associate Pastor/Moderator of Session

March 16, 2020 Update: 

Reminder that the church office is open during normal business hours (Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.), and pastors and staff are available. If you have pastoral concerns or other needs from the staff, please don't hesitate to reach out via phone or email.

March 13, 2020 Update: 

Given the rapidly changing situation concerning the COVID-19, I have consulted with the Session regarding actions that address the primary concerns facing our community: 1) protecting the most vulnerable in our community (those over 60 and those with health issues), and 2) responsibly participating with others in the Fort Worth community to do our part to limit potential spread of the virus through large gatherings. 

For the safety of our community and to help limit the potential spread of COVID-19:

  1. Public worship services (Sunday Penn Street, WOW, Midday Prayer, Wholeness and Healing) and other gatherings (choirs, youth and children’s events, adult studies, PW Circles, etc. are suspended from March 15 – March 29. 

  2. The Early Education Center (EEC) will be closed for the next two weeks in line with the FWISD decision to be closed during that period.

  3. Community Crossroads critical food related ministries and Formula and Diapers will continue with modified distribution methods. Dori Al Hammami, Director of Community Crossroads, will be in direct contact with volunteers.

  4. The Church Office will remain open Mondays-Fridays during regular office hours (8.30 a.m.– 5 p.m.) and staff will increase engagement with the congregation through phone calls and emails, while providing both daily devotionals/prayers as well as an order of worship that could be used in the home each Sunday worship is suspended. Visit this page for worship materials to use at home. 

None of these decisions were made easily or lightly, realizing the profound impact they have on so many. COVID-19 is considered a public health crisis and we are taking guidance from global (WHO), national (CDC), regional (TxDSHS) and local (Tarrant County Public Health) authorities. We believe these decisions were necessary to protect the most vulnerable in our community (those over 60 and those with health issues), and to responsibly participate with others in the Fort Worth community to do our part to limit potential spread of the virus through large gatherings. 

Let us be faithful and vigilant in our prayer for all those affected by this outbreak, and for the medical personnel and government officials seeking to respond. Let us resist and reject fear and suspicion based on ethnicity or nationality; this virus is affecting people of all races and ages.

Above all, let us remember and rejoice that “nothing in life or in death can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Brief Statement of Faith; Rom. 8.38–39).

Rev. Dr. Michael Waschevski, Associate Pastor/Moderator of Session

 

March 12, 2020 Update:

First Presbyterian Church is staying up-to-date with the progress of COVID-19 (coronavirus) around the world. We are monitoring updates from governmental agencies and health experts, as well as responses from the PC(USA). At its meeting this Sunday, March 15, our Session will be discussing current and future First Presbyterian responses as we closely monitor the situation, stay current with public health guidelines, follow best practices for hygiene, and exercise appropriate caution and care in responding to this situation. The Session will model a response that is faithful, gracious and wise — trusting God in all things, remaining calm in a time of distress, extending compassion to those who are suffering, and praying for the healing of the world.

Currently, FPC will continue our present schedule of worship services and activities, including regular hours of the Early Education Center, the church office, and Community Crossroads. Please continue to visit this page for the latest information.

In addition:

  • Please know that extra sanitization and cleaning measures are being taken - especially concerning doorknobs, handrails, faucets, drinking fountains, and other frequently touched surfaces throughout the buildings.

  • When visiting our campuses (Penn Street and Hemphill), all are encouraged to make use of the hand sanitizers placed throughout the buildings and especially outside the worship spaces.

  • Worshipers are always encouraged to participate, or not, according to their comfort, conscience and condition. Other worshipers should honor these decisions and refrain from making judgment or taking offense.

  • Since passing the peace is a particular concern at this time, instead of shaking hands or embracing, we will verbally share the peace of Christ and forgo physical contact during this moment in worship. We continue to review communion practices and will make adjustments as necessary and prudent.

  • We encourage you to use your own judgment in protecting your own health and the health of others. Reduce touch and contact to avoid placing yourself or others at greater risk. If you are feeling ill, you may choose to stay home and/or keep a safe distance from others. Even if you believe you are not sick, but are coughing or sneezing, be mindful of the anxiety this may cause in others around you.

  • If you decide to stay home from worship or other ministry activities, we will find ways to stay in touch — through prayer circles, small groups, ministry teams, social media, or emails and phone calls. We don’t want to create situations where those who are ill also feel lonely or isolated. We want to pray for you and provide other forms of assistance and care as needed.

Let us be faithful and vigilant in our prayer for all those affected by this outbreak, and for the medical personnel and government officials seeking to respond. Let us resist and reject fear and suspicion based on ethnicity or nationality; this virus is affecting people of all races and ages.

Above all, let us remember and rejoice that “nothing in life or in death can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Brief Statement of Faith; Rom. 8.38–39).

Grace and peace,

Rev. Dr. Michael Waschevski, Associate Pastor/Moderator of Session
and FPCFW Staff Leadership Team