Coronavirus COVID-19 Updates and Resources


UPDATE: August 28, 2020 – Phase 3 Regathering announcement

This letter is being sent to FBCJC members. You can find and FAQ (frequently asked questions) sheet with additional details here or read them at this post.

Dear FBC Family,

As we sincerely hope you have heard by now through our worship announcements and digital communications, our Lead Pastor, Dr. Doyle Sager was diagnosed with lung cancer on August 12. On August 17,  Doyle met with his oncologist. The lung cancer is stage 4 and has spread to the liver, bone, spleen, and two lymph nodes. Chemotherapy will begin soon, and biopsies taken to determine the exact approach to be used in containing the cancer. Doyle, Janet, and their children and grandchildren are grateful for your prayers and words of hope and encouragement. For the latest updates from Doyle and his family please visit Doyle’s Caring Bridge site– https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/doylesager.

The news of Doyle’s diagnosis impacts our congregation. In these uncertain and challenging pandemic times, we now hurt for Doyle, Janet and their family.

We are writing to share with you our decision to begin Phase 3: Regathering for Modified In-Person Worship on Sunday, September 13th with worship in the sanctuary at 8:15am and 10:45am.

Why are we regathering for worship now? The question of regathering is a question the four pastors have held in prayer, discernment, and conversation these last several months. The consensus among our leaders is that the time has come to offer in-person worship as safely as possible as long as we are able for those in our congregation and community who are able to physically gather and feel safe to do so. We believe this is in the best interest of our congregation given the grief we are experiencing about Doyle’s diagnosis and the difficult months ahead. For those not ready or unable to attend in-person, our online worship services will continue, and we encourage you to join us there.

Coronavirus is a reality with which our community and world will struggle for an indeterminate amount of time; the grief and change we experience due to our pastor’s illness is a new reality. What has not changed is the fact that many of you are not able to physically gather due to age and health considerations. What will not change are (1) our commitment to providing virtual worship and study options for the significant portion of our congregation that cannot physically gather and (2) a commitment to your safety and that of our neighbors, which is our Christian witness to our community. We continue to monitor public health recommendations and the available coronavirus data for Cole County. We continue consulting with medical professionals. If and when the percent positivity rate in our community significantly increases or the public health department directives change, we are prepared to pivot back to virtual only.

One way for us to honor Doyle is to continue to be a church who welcomes warmly, serves generously, grows faithfully, and leads people into life-giving relationships with Christ and each other; God’s invitation to live out our mission is not cancelled. We are a community of Christ-followers committed to “seeing what love can do” in our own lives and among our neighbors. Many of you strive each day to love, serve, and minister among the people in your lives and the people in our congregation. Let us not grow weary of joining God’s good work in the world. Let us move forward in hope and courage, knowing God will give us strength, creativity, and resources to share hope, healing, and love in our community.

Thanks to the immense work of our Phase 3 Team Leaders, Glenna Honich and Lisa Allen, we are prepared to gather as safely as possible on September 13th with help from our team of 40+ volunteers. Please see the FAQ page included in this mailing for specific information about our safety protocols, information about entrances and parking on Sunday mornings, and what to expect when you come to worship.

With you, we continue to seek God’s guidance for this unprecedented season of ministry and life. We give thanks to walk this road with each of you and continue to be amazed by our congregation’s generosity and giftedness.

Christ’s peace and hope to you,

Hannah, Melissa, and Rod

UPDATE: July 21, 2020 – Phase 3 Update

Dear FBC family:

As the months roll on, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact all of us. We are thankful for your patience as the leadership of FBCJC attempts to make decisions about in-person gatherings. 

We had hoped by this time to make an announcement regarding the launch of Phase 3, our return to a modified in-person worship. But recent reports, including some cases in Jefferson City churches which had resumed meeting, have led us to keep our finger on the “pause” button for the time being. 

We will continue consulting medical professionals and monitoring health department information, seeking the best scientific data available. We’ve also taken into consideration the results of the survey we recently sent to our congregation. You can view those results on the back of this letter. As always, our central concern is your safety and that of our neighbors. This is our Christian witness to our community. 

When the launch time for in-person worship does come, we’ll be ready! Volunteers are busy preparing for Phase 3. Lisa Allen and Glenna Honich are serving as co-leaders of the Phase 3 implementation and working closely with Rod Maples, their staff resource person. Cleaning and personal protective supplies have been purchased, volunteers are being recruited, and volunteer training is planned. When we determine it is safe to begin Phase 3, we’ll be ready to roll. 

Like you, we miss being together. And like you, we are disappointed that this strange season has stretched into months. But through it all, the living Christ is still working in our midst and the mission of FBCJC continues: 

  • We’ve carried out several mission projects in the city this summer. 
  • Many of our families took part in a distance Vacation Bible School. 
  • Several small group Bible studies have been meeting regularly. 
  • Faith formation groups will launch the week of August 23. More information on next page.
  • Our deacons have been contacting church members, checking on people and discovering needs. 
  • Plans are in the works for creative approaches to ministry this fall among all age groups.
  • And of course, our online worship continues each week. 

Through the work of a wonderful church staff and an amazing team of volunteers, we will continue to find creative ways to carry out our mission. New challenges require new methods. God’s Spirit has never been imprisoned by human circumstances. 

Through all of this, let’s remember to support one another with prayer. Many families in our congregation are struggling with decisions about school, childcare, job status and much more. Many of our senior adults are dealing with isolation. We encourage you to pray fervently and to find ways to serve and reach out to others. 

God bless you and keep you safe.

Doyle, Hannah, Melissa and Rod

RESULTS OF REGATHERING FOR WORSHIP SURVEY

During the last week of June, we invited the FBCJC family to complete a survey regarding regathering for worship. 197 people responded to the survey. A summary report of the responses is below. Please note: this survey was completed prior to the recent uptick in local cases.

  • 85.3% watch our online worship services two-four times a month
  • 55.8% would return to services now with social distancing and registration required, masks strongly recommended, no congregational singing, no nursery. 55.6% of those who would return under these conditions would attend the 8:15 am service, 44.4% the 10:45 am service.
  • For those who said they would not attend in person yet if we opened, the biggest reasons were not wanting to register (34.3%), waiting until a vaccine (23.8%) and waiting until we can sing together (19%).
  • 47.2% of respondents have participated in our online Bible Studies or Spiritual Formation opportunities. A majority want virtual and in-person small group opportunities.
  • The respondents were overwhelmingly positive regarding their current physical, spiritual, and financial health.
  • 53.5% of respondents were born between 1946-1964; 20.8% born between 1925-1945; and 19.8% between 1965-1983. The remaining responses were from those born 1984 or sooner.
  • We also received several very helpful comments, overwhelmingly supportive of and grateful for our cautious approach to reopening and our creative approaches to ministry. Some other common themes:
    • Continue to listen to science and health experts and be cautious
    • Many explaining their age is the reason they would not be able to attend
    • A desire for online church to continue even if we return in person
    • A few requests to mandate masks and enforce social distancing if we gather again

UPDATE: June 24, 2020  – Entering Phase 3

In the next few weeks our church will be announcing that worship services will resume.

As much as we all would like to return to church just like it was before, we still do not have a vaccine available. Some of us are still at a higher risk of being infected. Social distancing is still a wise precaution.

The video below by Dr. Steve Whitt, an infectious disease specialist (and a member) gives you guidelines of some of the changes that will be enacted from a health standpoint to minimize risks. More details will also be released.

As always, we want to responsive. Please call or email the church and we will answer your questions with the latest information we have available.

UPDATE: May 22, 2020

Beloved FBC family,

Let us begin with this simple truth: we deeply miss meeting together in person. Whether Sunday worship gatherings, Bible Study classes, or Wednesday night meals, we long to gather together. God wired us for community and relationships, and while technology can help ease the distance, it is not the same.

And yet, the facts tell us we must move slowly and continue to exercise caution. For all our wishing, COVID-19 is not going away quickly. At the heart of our FBC witness is the call to love our neighbors, doing all we can to protect one another from the virus. For us this means moving slowly and paying attention to local health experts. We are fortunate to have Dr. Steve Whitt, Chief Clinical Officer for MU Health Care, as a member of our congregation. Dr. Whitt met with our pastors and is creating a brief video to help all of us understand how to be safe during this season. The video will be posted soon on our website and social media accounts and shared via email with you.

I imagine the primary question on your mind is this: when will we worship together in person?

The answer is still: not yet.

While these days involve difficult decisions, and we deeply miss gathering together, we are committed to planning for the long game, not for immediate gratification. We love you and want us all to be healthy in the next 12 to 24 months.

REOPENING PHASES (See enclosed Regathering Phases handout)

PHASE 1 / SHELTER-IN-PLACE. We’ve been in Phase 1 since late March as local and state officials enacted Shelter-in-Place orders.

PHASE 2 / REOPENING BEGINS SLOWLY. After consulting with medical personnel, we will implement Phase 2 on June 1. This phase will focus on reopening the church office and allowing some small groups to gather in person on and off campus in adherence to local health recommendations.

During Phase 2:

  • Church office reopens but the building will remain closed to the public and outside groups until further notice.
  • Worship and Bible Study options will continue online for all.
  • On-campus gatherings of small groups must be coordinated through the church office and follow currents safety policies/procedures.
  • Physical distancing will be practiced when gathering. (Read handout for further details regarding physical distancing and masks.)
  • Our staff and volunteers will practice recommended disinfecting protocols throughout our facilities.
  • For your safety, we ask high-risk individuals to not attend in-person gatherings.

PHASE 3 / WORSHIP GATHERINGS RESUME. Phase 3 allows for worship gatherings to resume. Currently, we are not announcing a start date for Phase 3. We will use Phase 2 to prepare for Phase 3 by enlisting a team to help implement protocols and procedures for the safety of all who attend, so we are ready when we are able to safely gather again.

As your pastor, I want to thank you for your encouraging words and support of our church’s approach to ministry during this pandemic. It means more than you know. These are not easy days. As you know, there are many voices and opinions about how to best respond to the challenges in front of us. Our commitment and heart continue to be loving you and our neighbors the best we can by listening to the recommendations of local health officials on best practices for the good of others. We know it may seem slow to some, but slow is better than unnecessary risk.

I am so very grateful for the tremendous work of our staff and volunteers during these days. They are working as hard as ever in new ways of ministry, and you can count on this continued faithful commitment throughout this season.

Please join us this Sunday online as we conclude our “Home Repair and Maintenance” series. We will also honor our 2020 High School Graduates with a video and insert. It’s going to be a great Sunday to gather in heart and spirit to worship our Great God together. You can find our online services at facebook.com/fbcjcyoutube.com/fbcjc, or fbcjc.org.

We love you. We are praying for you and with you. If you have further questions, please feel free to contact me or any from our Leadership Team, listed below.

Grace,

Doyle Sager
Lead Pastor


LEADERSHIP TEAM // Pastors; Ray Wallace, Deacon Chair; James Preston, Spiritual Formation Coordinator; Sondra Allen, Authentic Relationships Coordinator; Ron Medin, Missions Coordinator; Kris Crawford, Communications Coordinator

UPDATE: May 1, 2020

Dear friends,

As many of you know, businesses are slowly reopening in our city and state per Governor Parson’s Show Me Strong Recovery Plan. Beginning soon, you may be able to get that long-anticipated haircut, sit in your favorite restaurant, or return to the aisles of your favorite store. Albeit, it may look a little different for a while – like limited numbers or more folks wearing face masks.

The Governor’s plan permits the return of in-person worship gatherings beginning May 4 “as long as necessary precautions are taken, and six feet of distance can be maintained between individuals and/or families.”

Some churches may return to worship in person right away.

But for our church, not yet.

Our Sunday services and ministries are not favorable to physical distancing. And physical distancing continues to be one of the best ways to love our neighbors and protect our families. It isn’t about us. It is about loving our neighbors well.

We will continue to monitor the situation closely, listening to health and science experts about best practices and timelines to determine our next steps.

Until then, we will continue to gather online on Sundays and throughout the week as we continue our mission of leading people into life-giving relationships with Christ and each other.

Thanks for your patience and understanding. We love you deeply.

Doyle, Rod, Hannah and Melissa
FBC Pastors

UPDATE: March 25, 2020  CORONAVIRUS CARE PLAN

Dear FBC Family:

As promised, we want to keep you up to date on the latest information regarding our church’s response to the current pandemic.

First Baptist Church will implement a shelter-in-place, work-from-home (WFH) protocol, effective Friday, March 27. At the urging of the Centers for Disease Control and the Missouri State Medical Association, we are taking this action for the safety and health of our church staff and community.

This WFH plan, which will stay in place until further notice, means the building will be closed with a few exceptions. At times, maintenance crew, accounting staff, pastors and a few volunteers will be in the building to carry out essential work, including care of the facilities, financial business, and the recording of online worship.

Our administrative and pastoral staff will handle phone messages and email remotely from their homes. You may continue to contact the church office at 573.634.3603 or info@fbcjc.org and staff will respond to these messages as well as their work emails as soon as possible. Church mail will be picked up regularly at the U.S. Post Office.

We will continue to communicate regularly via email, website, and social media accounts. We post content daily on Facebook and Youtube. Please join us each Sunday for worship at 10 am on Facebook, Youtube, and our church website. You can find information and links for all of these at fbcjc.org/connect.

Ministry continues. God is at work. Your faithful and consistent giving is crucial. You may continue to mail your gift to the church office or give online at fbcjc.org/give. We thank you for your generosity.

Once again, I am thankful to God for our wonderful FBC JC staff and volunteers. Their hard work and creativity in uncertain times are reminders of God’s sustaining presence. We are thankful that during so many changes, we know a God who is faithful.

On behalf of our church staff, I want to thank you for your prayers and encouragement. It is indeed a privilege to serve such a loving, supportive congregation.

Grace,

Doyle Sager
Lead Pastor

UPDATE: March 17, 2020  CORONAVIRUS CARE PLAN

Dear FBC Family:

We are continuing our commitment to keep you informed and offer pastoral care and guidance in this time of uncertainty. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently issued a recommendation that all public gatherings not exceed 50 people. Yesterday, President Trump urged that gatherings be limited to no more than 10. Governor Parson affirmed that restriction.

SUSPENDING SUNDAY AND WEDNESDAY GATHERINGS/ACTIVITIES

After consulting our church’s elected leadership, we are announcing First Baptist Church’s activities will be suspended until further notice, effective Wednesday, March 18. This means no Sunday morning gathering for worship or Bible teaching and no Wednesday night activities. Most meetings at the church will be canceled (the exception being small committees and teams which are deemed essential). At this point, the church office will remain open and will keep regular hours. The only exception is we will close at noon on Fridays beginning March 20 to reduce our need for volunteers in the office.

We have made this difficult and unprecedented decision in order to cooperate with the best scientific-medical assessment. Please consult the CDC website for the latest information (www.cdc.gov). We believe this action is the responsible choice as we seek to protect the most vulnerable among us, and by extension, to protect all of us, since we do not yet know the full extent of this disease’s outcomes. In order to love our community and world, we are doing our part to slow the transmission of COVID-19.

GROWING FAITHFULLY IN NEW WAYS

The good news is that God’s work goes on even when new methods are required. Each week, we will prepare and post a worship service on the church’s website and Facebook Page. It will be posted each Sunday morning at 10:00 a.m. From our own homes, (perhaps even in our pajamas?) we will worship “remotely together.” I love the Apostle Paul’s words in 2 Timothy 2:9: “The Word of God is not chained!” Indeed. God’s Word always finds a way to get loose and do its work.

We are also working to prepare worship guides for you and your family which will follow the sermon themes. In addition, as much as possible, we will assist Bible study small groups to meet and for fellowship to continue through various methods. During this time of isolation and separation, we are committed to be the Body of Christ and stay connected.

Based on the recommendations of local health officials, our pastors and volunteers are suspending visits to hospitals and care facilities. But deacons and teams are being enlisted to carry out congregational care via phone calls and other methods.

GIVING GENEROUSLY IN ALL THINGS

During this unusual season, I encourage your faithfulness in financial stewardship. Our obligations and commitments continue. Thank you in advance for your generosity. We realize this is a great deal of change for everyone to process. Please reach out to our church office if you have questions or concerns.

Our Missions Leadership Team is preparing ways for our congregation can respond to needs among our church family and community during this time. We will share opportunities in the coming days. If you or someone you know needs assistance, please contact the church office, a deacon, or one of the pastors. We are in this together. We will continue to keep you informed along the way via email, Facebook, and this page on our website (fbcjc.org/virus).

First Baptist Church has a great history of rising to the occasion. The Civil War left our congregation beleaguered and scattered, yet we recovered and grew stronger. The fire of 1987 devastated our sanctuary, but we rebuilt, and God blessed. The God of the resurrection seems to thrive in difficult situations. May God bless us in these strange days — days which are filled with possibilities because God is present.

Grace,
Doyle Sager, Lead Pastor

UPDATE: March 14, 2020

As the coronavirus continues to change the way we experience our lives and our social connections, I wanted to inform you that we are still planning our regular worship and Bible teaching schedule tomorrow, March 15: worship at 8:15 & 10:45 a.m.; Bible study groups at 9:30 a.m.

Though we ARE having church, we strongly encourage our senior adults and those with vulnerable immune systems to stay home. Also, if you’ve recently had a fever or are feeling ill, please stay home for the well-being of others.

As usual, Sunday’s sermon will be posted online, on our Facebook page and website by Monday.

Next week, we will be sharing more plans to maintain community and fellowship in these unique days. For now, consider these thoughts:

  • The first-century church did not always have a place to gather, yet they thrived.
  • The church is not a building or location. It is the people.
  • First Baptist Church remains committed to carrying out our God-given mission, though the way we do it may be different for a while.

ONE FINAL PASTORAL WORD: Please read enough online articles and watch enough news to stay informed and be prepared, but after that, take a break. Live your life. Experience the never-failing goodness of God.

God is a very present help in time of trouble…be still and know that I am God. – Psalm 46

Grace,
Doyle Sager, Lead Pastor

UPDATE: March 11, 2020

We have been monitoring closely the news related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and wanted to bring you up to date concerning our response. Let me begin by reminding us of our strong and loving God. The One who created and saved us is with us in every trial. I love the psalmist’s description of one who is trusting in our faithful God: You will not fear the terror of the night…or the pestilence that stalks in darkness or the destruction that wastes at noonday. (Psalm 91:5-6.). In this challenging time, those of us who know the Lord can quietly trust and refuse to give in to fear or despair.

Our trust in God, however, never cancels out our need for wisdom and caution. One of our concerns is for older adults in our church. While you may personally feel strong and healthy, please remember that senior adults have been identified as the most at risk. In the Apostle Paul’s words (1 Corinthians 12), we are the body of Christ, belonging to each other and connected to each other. What happens to one affects all of us.

With that in mind, the following are steps we are implementing immediately or in the near future:

  1. Continue to remind our church family of hygiene basics:
    1. Wash hands often
    2. Stay home when sick
    3. Refrain from shaking hands
    4. Do not cough into hands
    5. Avoid touching face (nose, eyes, and mouth)
  2. Suspend our greeting time in morning worship beginning March 15
  3. Begin a new protocol for Communion beginning April 9 (Maundy Thur)
  4. Begin new Sunday morning offering protocol March 29
  5. Designate and stock sick rooms for adults and children
  6. Commit to extra attention in cleaning our church facilities
  7. Provide additional hand sanitizer stations throughout our church facilities

Should the virus directly impact Jefferson City and nearby communities, extra protocols are in place and will be shared if and when necessary.

Through all of this, we will NOT be deterred from carrying out our mission: We WELCOME warmly, GROW faithfully and SERVE generously, leading people into LIFE-GIVING relationships with Christ and each other. Our commitment is to be present for each other in these difficult times and to maintain our sense of community. Our congregation has a great legacy of caring for one another and for our community. We will continue to do that, no matter the challenges.

To summarize,

  • We have taken precautions, followed guidelines and are prepared for various scenarios.
  • We will continue to monitor the situation and keep you updated.

Please consider checking these CDC resources to stay updated on the very latest and most accurate information.

CDC Resources

Also check our church website right here (www.fbcjc.org/virus) for updates. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

In conclusion, remember that our lives in Christ are grounded in hope, not fear (2 Timothy 1:7). Our loving God holds us in gentle, caring hands and will not fail us.

Grace,
Doyle Sager, Lead Pastor