Outdoor In-person Worship Update!

Posted April 27… Updated June 16… Outdoor worship began June 6…

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Update #5

Due to staff time off, decisions on moving worship back inside will not be made until at least July.

Update #4

New guidelines for the state have been put into place on June 15, 2021. You can find all of the new guidelines summarized at www.rochesterfbc.org/covidguidelines-update which the FBCR Pandemic Task Force has gleaned from these guidelines. If you watched the video above, please note that health assessments are no longer required.

Update #3

Dress casual and comfortable for Outdoor Worship services.

Update #2…

The FBCR Pandemic Task Force (PTF) has been working to remain up to date with the guidelines from the CDC and State of New York and to determine the best plan for our upcoming outdoor worship. We look forward to the exciting opportunity to gather in-person outside starting June 6th. The guidelines to note:

  • Everyone will be asked to wear a mask to outdoor worship until seated. When seated, fully vaccinated worshipers may remove their masks. Those still awaiting their vaccination are asked to continue wearing a face covering.
  • Family Groups (FG – extended families who have already been in social settings without masks) may sit in clusters. We ask that each FG maintain a six-foot distance from others.
  • Worshippers can sit in folding chairs that will already be set up or bring their own lawn blanket or camp/lawn chair for use in the grass.
  • During Children’s Time, leaders and children will be masked. Other speakers in the service must maintain a six-foot distance from others (vocalist, twelve-foot) in order to be unmasked.
  • We will move back to our Zoom format on inclement weather days. Worship format decisions will be made each Saturday. All participants may sign up to receive automatic notifications to be sent to them by text, email, or phone (or any combination of the above). Any decisions NOT to proceed with on-campus worship will also be posted prominently on the Home and Online Worship pages of our website.

Our Welcome Home Sunday, utilizing the sanctuary, will be September 12. This very special celebratory day is our target date for resuming indoor worship. With the lessening guidelines, the PTF will also be considering the feasibility of sanctuary use for inclement weather days prior to that date and will keep you posted if we can logistically make it work.

Please keep checking back to the Diaspora Times for updates as they happen!

Update #1

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Original Article

We can all feel it. It’s time for the FBCR family to be together again in worship. Our Worship Committee, Pandemic Task Force, and various other volunteers are hard at work making that a reality. While the threat of increased transmission remains quite high in our area and around the world, the turning weather gives us an opportunity to take advantage of this virus’s primary weakness – the outdoors!

Experts are unified in the understanding that outdoor transmission rates of Covid-19 are quite low and with additional precautions and the rising rate of community vaccination, our Pandemic Task Force has a very high degree of confidence that worshipping outdoors is safe. So join us beginning June 6 and throughout the summer for worship on the beautiful FBCR campus!

Can’t make it to worship on campus or don’t yet feel safe? Join us on Zoom. We’ll still be in our digital worship space too. Just log in using the usual channels.

Our Worship Committee and other volunteers are at work tending to the details of this plan, so you’ll want to check back here regularly for details on the exact location, necessary precautions, and other details you’ll need.


If vaccination rates continue to rise and the current wave of transmission comes to an end as we anticipate they will, we will be able to celebrate a very special Welcome Home Sunday indeed. Assuming the aforementioned criteria, we will be back together again in the beautiful FBCR sanctuary on September 12. Watch for further information.

Pentecost Worship online

Updated May 25, 2021…

… The full service may be viewed online if you missed it.

Pentecost Worship with Sibling Churches, 11am May 23

FBCR will join with our sibling congregations in the Rochester Genesee Region ABC USA to celebrate Pentecost Sunday on May 23 at 11am.

Pentecost is a natural moment in the church year for the wider church to celebrate our unity and diversity as it marks the moments traditionally thought of as the beginning of the universal church. Among other images, the occasion remembers the miracle of many languages being understood as one. To that end, we the pastors of the participating congregations, would like to invite you to add your voice to the service for that day. Please see the specifics of a couple of different ways (one musical, one spoken) to do that below and feel free to participate in either or both of those opportunities by the deadlines listed.

The service will be held via Zoom. You can log in here or using the usual method on the home or worship-online pages.

2 Ways to Add Your Voice to the Service

Call to Worship

Record yourself on video telling us about your hopes.

First and for context, read Romans 8:22-27. It speaks of hope, or that which we hope for, being unseen. Nobody hopes for what is right in front of us. Now record yourself answering the question, “What is unseen in your world/community/neighborhood that you sincerely hope for?”

How to Record

  • Set your recording device for the highest possible resolution. If that doesn’t make sense to you, don’t worry about it. Just send us the best video you can and we’ll make it work.
  • If you’re using a mobile device consider finding an interesting/fitting background in front of which to record.
  • Minimize background noise as much as possible.
  • If you’re recording from a phone, please use landscape mode (sideways). 

How to Submit

Go to rochesterfbc.org/upload and click the upload link. A new screen will appear to allow you to select the file from your computer or device. Follow the prompts to select and upload.
DeadlineI won’t have time to include submission that come in after 8am on Monday, May 17.
Contact for problems

Digital Choir

What to Record

This year, for our joint Pentecost service, we are again venturing into a group virtual musical project: a virtual choir video recording of the hymn “On Pentecost They Gathered.” 
You can find the instructions both in the attached pdf, and as a document in the the project folder accessible via the following link, where your singers will also be able to access all subsequent materials: 

I’m looking for a total of 16 singers, 4 of whom are already covered by members of UBC Columbus, Ohio. That leaves 
3 more sopranos 3 more altos 3 more tenors 3 more basses 

How to Record

  • Set your recording device for the highest possible resolution. If that doesn’t make sense to you, don’t worry about it. Just send us the best video you can and we’ll make it work.
  • If you’re using a mobile device consider finding an interesting/fitting background in front of which to record.
  • Minimize background noise as much as possible.
  • If you’re recording from a phone, please use landscape mode (sideways). 

How to Submit

Email files to David at address below.

DeadlineWednesday, May 19

Contact for problems

Church Zoom Account Available for Meetings and Gatherings

As we lean into the activity of a new year and a new Church Council cycle we want you to know that the church Zoom account is available for meetings and other church activities. With increased traffic however, we’ll need you to schedule your time through the church office.

If you simply need space to chat and see one another, the account is as easy to use as logging in on Sunday morning. You don’t need a host or further privileges. If you need more advanced hosting features such as screen sharing, breakout rooms, privacy settings (waiting room or password protection) we’ll need to either provide a host or give you hosting privileges.

Please email Janet to schedule a time for your group to use the account and let us know if you need advanced hosting capabilities.

Inauguration Day Prayer Service

Houses of Faith from across religious perspectives will be together in prayer for our country on Inauguration morning. Join us to share in prayers led by faith leaders from around Rochester on Wednesday, January 20 at 9am via Zoom.

Join the gathering here.

FBCR Annual Meeting

The Annual Meeting of the First Baptist Church of Rochester and Society will be held on Sunday, January 31, 2021 a few minutes after worship concludes (roughly 11am).

The agenda will include the voting on the slate of nominees for the Board of Trustees: Sharon Hamann and Mark Harnischfeger, the voting on the slate of Officers to the Council, the voting on the slate of Chairpersons, and the approving of the various Delegates. The Pastor will give his report and the Board of Trustees were share the 2020 ending finances and present for approval the 2021 budget.

To attend the meeting you can login here or through the usual Worship login links.

Celebrating Advent and Christmas 2020

Christmas Eve Drive In Service:

Despite the pandemic, we will be together for a candle light Christmas service this year. On Christmas Eve we will gather, from the safety of our own vehicles, in the church parking lot to celebrate Christ’s arrival.

For the sake of planning this most unusual service it will be helpful to know how many vehicles may be present. Sign up is not necessary to attend, but if you know you’re coming please let us know with the fast, simple form here.

Service sound will be provided through the FM radio in your own vehicle. If you aren’t familiar already, you may want to learn to tune your radio before that evening. The station and all other instructions on how to view and hear the service will be given when you arrive that evening.

The service begins at 5:30pm and is available via Zoom for those who cannot attend in person. Login is here or via the usual worship login link.

Longest Night: Has concluded

On the longest night of the year, Monday, December 21, we will via Zoom for a moment of prayer and reflection setting aside time to acknowledge the grief and pain that faces us during this otherwise joyful season. The service will begin at 6:00pm and you can log in here or by using the usual worship link.

Rochester Interfaith Thanksgiving Service

For nearly 150 years, Rochesterians of different religious traditions have joined together for an Interfaith Thanksgiving Day Service. This year, we’ll continue this tradition of coming together and promoting the wellbeing of our broader community by holding our service online on Zoom and Facebook Live.

Rev. Myra Brown of Spiritus Christi will preach.Worship begins at 11:00 am with time for fellowship before and after the service.This year’s online format aims to be our biggest and most inclusive yet. Feel free to invite friends and family of all faiths or no religious affiliation at all to this important community event.

Our own Music Director, David Labman, and Pastor, Brent Bowden will be participating in the service.

Login here or on the home page.

IMPORTANT: Worship Format Change

In order to support the health and safety of the congregation and our wider community we are announcing some changes to our worship format effective Sunday, November 8.

While services will continue to be broadcast from the church sanctuary we are now encouraging all worshipers to attend worship via Zoom from home.

This change will allow us to manage the heightened risk of virus transmission we’re experiencing throughout our community. It will also allow us to keep the volume of in-person participants low enough to allow a small number of persons who are unable to attend digitally to continue joining in person.

If you do not have the option of attending online and would like to attend in person, please let the church office know by 5pm the Thursday prior to the Sunday of your attendance so that we can be prepared for your attendance.

Worship Tech Team Help

The team ensuring a joint online worship experience each Sunday could use a bit of help. Having a few more dedicated persons would create a volunteer rotation so that not everyone is needed every Sunday. While a general understanding of computers would be helpful, no particular experience is needed. All necessary training will be provided. To volunteer, contact pastor Brent.

Hybrid Worship

During the Pandemic, have you become quite familiar with Zoom? Are you capable of navigating your way around a computer – most of the time? Do you want to be part of on-campus worship experience? If you answer yes to any of these questions, we sure could use your help!

We have a small team of individuals who have been trained (some with little to no experience) on making sure our hybrid worship experience works as seamlessly as possible. There are 3 to 4 stations which assist in the hybrid worship process; each one with varying degrees of responsibility and experience needed. One station is in the midst of the congregation but the other three are located in the balcony (with one able to be done from home) which provides as much separation from others as one may desire.

Our goal would be to have enough individuals willing to assist in this task that each would be volunteering no more than 1 to 2 Sundays each month. We really need you. To learn more or to chat about what is involved, please contact Pastor Brent or Janet at the church office.

An Online Congregational Meeting? How?

June 14, following worship.

Go to www.rochesterfbc.org/junemeeting for details.

You may have heard by now that these extraordinary days combined with some extraordinary business at hand have led the FBCR Church Council to take the extraordinary step of scheduling FBCR’s first-ever online congregational meeting. While this is an exciting opportunity allowing us to move ahead with church life that will have a profound positive impact on our community now and when we return to gathering in person, it may also raise a few questions and concerns. I want to take a moment to anticipate some of those concerns and invite you to pose others.

The first and most obvious concern about having an online meeting is the ability for all members of FBCR to have a voice and vote in all matters before us. Those particular matters are spelled out in other notices, but let me detail here how the Church Council is planning to ensure full participation and inclusion. Here are some of the measures we are taking:

  • By using the Zoom platform participants will have 2 choices as to how to join.
    • By electronic device: instructions are available now for those who do not yet know how to use Zoom. Find them here.
    • By phone: dial in using the information and instructions found here.
    • We will be making great effort to identify those who may not typically use either method to work with them to include them in the meeting.
  • During the meeting we will make extra effort to ensure there are redundant checks to ensure no voice goes unheard or vote uncounted.
    • Participants will have the opportunity to “unmute” themselves during times of discussion and offer their voice. The Moderator will help keep the conversation organized.
    • “Co-hosts” of the meeting will scan the participants logged in by camera for a visual signal of problems on the part of participants and will call these to the attention of the Moderator.
    • A live technical assistance hotline will be available during the meeting. The attendant will first notify the moderator of any issues that arise then help resolve the issues so the meeting will not move on without that participant’s voice.
    • Votes of those present by video will be by hand signal and recorded for the record. Votes by phone will be taken by modified voice vote and recorded.
    • In the event anyone has trouble logging on or being heard or counted and is unable to make that known during the meeting, results will not be acted upon for 24 hours after the meeting. Would-be participants should report those issues and their results (inability to register yea/nay vote; unable to raise a particular point or question in discussion) by email to the office email or by phone at (585)244-2468.
  • In order to ensure that all decisions are reflective of the will and wisdom of the congregation items not reaching a clear consensus will be revisited at a later date under the discretion and guidance of the Church Council.

The Church Council believes that with diligence in notification and meeting procedures these measures will ensure a thoughtful process and yield an actionable recognition of the will of the congregation.

Should you have concerns not addressed herein, please direct them to me or to Moderator, Tasha Wilson, using the contact information in the church directory. If you do not have a directory, please request one by calling (585)244-2468.

See you all on June 14 (and a time or two before).

-Pastor Brent


The requisite notification by physical mail will go out shortly. However, as our staff are working from home this requires extra effort on their part. In order to support their wellbeing and streamline the process, please consider opting out of a physical notification of this meeting by going here and filling out a very simple form.

Recent Zoom issues (do you need an update?)

On Sunday there were issues with Zoom worldwide and our worship portal was affected along with many others in many locations. We apologize to anyone who tried to get into worship but couldn’t as we attempted to work around the issue. Suggestions for you if you had any problems.

  1. Download the Zoom update. (Make sure you have the latest update or you will be forced to download before May 30). When you open Zoom, if you have not updated yet, it will ask you to do so. You should follow their prompted instructions.
  2. Once this update is complete, restart your computer.
  3. Sign-in again to the worship-online through www.rochesterfbc.org. There are several links to do so on the Home Page and through the Navigation Bar.

If you can not get into the online worship (or Wednesday check-in):

  1. You should try to refresh the website on your browser by pressing the circle with the arrow. This will update any links which may have been changed.
  2. Wait 5 to 10 minutes and try the worship-online portal again. You may wish to refresh once more.
  3. You might also wish to try to get into worship a little early, so if there are any problems you can resolve them before worship begins. You can always mute your microphone and turn off your video until you are ready to actively participate in worship.

We will post issues and updates on the worship-online page of our website so you are aware if we experience problems in the future.

For technical assistance, call the church office at 585-244-2468. on Sunday or Wednesday to get assistance. Someone is generally available to take your call. If we do not answer, leave a message. We will try to get back to you as soon as possible. Unfortunately, when major occurrences happen, the call back may be delayed.

Coffee Hour following worship on Sunday

While Zoom isn’t the mode we would all prefer to go about our togetherness, we have recognized how powerful it is as a stand-in for physical shared space. On Sunday we are going to experiment with an opportunity to mitigate one of Zoom’s shortcoming. Stick around after worship and enjoy a time of fellowship in small-groups via Zoom. Smaller groups will allow more meaningful and distraction-free conversation. Don’t worry, there is no more learning curve or technology needed from the user end. We’ll explain how it works during the service Sunday. For now, just plan to stick around for a while after church.

Giving Statements Emailed

You should have received your giving statement by email yesterday if an email is on file with the church or by mid-May if it must be sent through the post office. We ask that you check your statement thoroughly. This statement will cover contributions deposited from January 1 through April 30, 2020.

Since our staff is working from home, the church mail is either being forwarded to them or picked up once a week at the church. Deposits are made weekly or bi-weekly, depending on need. The handling of mail and deposits is minimized to help ensure the safety of our staff during these days.

To ensure that every donation sent has been properly processed, we ask that you check your statement carefully. If you see anything you do not understand or does not appear as you expect it, you may either send an email to the church at or give us a call at (585) 244-2468. The phones are being answered by a staff member from home each day from 9:30 AM to 2:30 PM.

The last deposit for the month of April was made on the afternoon of April 28, 2020. Any checks received for the last two days of the month will be applied to the month of May 2020. Thank you for your help and for supporting the mission and ministry of the First Baptist Church of Rochester.