Letter from Pastor Brent Re: Covid-19 Response

Dear FBCR Community,

            Whether you are a formal member of the worshiping body at FBCR, a sometimes-attendee to church events, or even simply part of a group that utilizes the FBCR campus we consider you part of our community. With the continuing spread of COVID-19 in the news and on all of our minds I want to take a moment to assure you of our commitment to preserving the wellbeing of this community. Community wellbeing means attention to individual health and attention to the necessity of our shared lives and presence with one another. The spread of the virus may momentarily put these two important facets of community at odds with one another. For the time being we will prioritize individual health while developing ways for community to carry on in new and different forms.

            I would like to inform you of some measures now in place and some others that may be put in place in the near future to mitigate the risks presented by the pandemic. The situation is developing rapidly and our response is likely to shift frequently as well. Please consider these measures up to date as of the time of this correspondence and watch for other communications via your inbox or www.rochesterfbc.org/covid19 for the most up to date information.

Steps FBCR is taking immediately:

  • Eldergarten scheduled for Thursday, March 19 is cancelled.
  • Second Hour Forum is cancelled for this Sunday, March 15.
  • Our building staff have increased the frequency with which surfaces are sanitized.
  • Hand sanitizer has been made available throughout the building.
  • The Worship Committee has worked to minimize the use of shared and passed objects during worship (offering plates, microphones, hymnals, communion elements, and the like).
  • *The ordinance of the Lord’s Supper (Communion) has been temporarily suspended.
  • All refreshments and food services on campus have been suspended.
  • Monday evening’s Church Council meeting will be conducted via Zoom. Council members who wish to join in person are invited to meet in the church library. Log on information will be communicated by email.

Steps FBCR may need to take in the near future:

  • Further cancellation of events, gatherings, and/or worship services.

Steps the FBCR worshipping community should take:

  • Clean your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol based sanitizer of 60% or greater alcohol content; avoid close contact with those who are ill; clean and disinfect your home and workspace often; cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue.
  • If you show signs of illness of any kind stay at home until you have been free of fever and all other symptoms for 24 hours without the aid of medication.
  • If you are in a high risk population (immunocompromised; those with pre-existing medical conditions especially Heart Disease, Lung Disease, or Diabetes; aged 60+ and especially aged 80+) strongly consider not attending worship or any other public event where large groups will gather. See information below about virtual worship options.
  • If you are not in a high risk population, be mindful of those who are. Stay in touch with your faith family, support, and care for them in situationally sensitive ways (phone calls, notes, etc.).
  • Check your preferred methods of communication frequently and/or visit www.rochesterfbc.org/covid19 for the latest information, activity/event/worship status.
  • Reach out to other members of the FBCR worshipping community who may not receive electronic communications to inform them of this and future communications.

Steps users of the FBCR campus should take:

  • Strongly consider the guidance of Monroe County Commissioner of Public Health, Dr. Michael Mendoza, of limiting groups to 50 or fewer persons.
  • Clean your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol based sanitizer of 60% or greater alcohol content; avoid close contact with those who are ill; clean and disinfect your home and workspace often; cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue.
  • If you show signs of illness of any kind stay at home until you have been free of fever and all other symptoms for 24 hours without the aid of medication.
  • If you are in a high risk population (immunocompromised; those with pre-existing medical conditions especially Heart Disease, Lung Disease, or Diabetes; aged 60+ and especially aged 80+) strongly consider not attending worship or any other public event where large groups will gather.
  • If you are not in a high risk population, be mindful of those who are. Stay in touch with your faith family, support, and care for them in situationally sensitive ways (phone calls, notes, etc.).
  • Check your preferred methods of communication frequently and/or visit www.rochesterfbc.org/covid19 for the latest information, activity/event/worship status.

In addition to these measures the FBCR Missions Committee is in the process of connecting with our partners to discern if there are any emerging needs we may be able to support. We will also monitor the local situation through news reports, social networks, and other outlets to discern if FBCR might be able to assist during this time of need across our area. These needs will be communicated through the church website at the page listed below.

For those who choose not to attend worship on Sunday and each Sunday until this outbreak is contained, we will set up an online worship option. Information on how to access that stream will be sent via church communication channels and posted on the web site listed below. We aim to make access to that platform as simple as possible. I know that not everyone will be able to access the service electronically, but we will make every effort to include you.

These measures will not only give the FBCR community the greatest opportunity to avoid the risks associated with the spread of the Corona Virus, but also position us to be good neighbors participating in the efforts of the wider community to mitigate the spread of the disease. As the situation progresses, however, other measures may become necessary. In order to stay up to date with FBCR’s response as well as any opportunities to serve the wider community, please follow the information at www.rochesterfbc.org/covid19.

Finally, friends, please pray for this wonderful and unique community, for the wider Rochester area, and indeed for all the world as we face these challenging moments together. If you know someone who might be made lonely by community efforts to mitigate illness, reach out to them. If you know someone who might find hardship due to the irregularity and inconsistency of life in the coming days, make note of their need, help where you can, and make the need known that others might help too.

            Let us be good neighbors to all.

            Gratefully,

            Rev. Brent Bowden

            Pastor, First Baptist Church of Rochester.


* Baptists believe that communion is a symbol of the grace imparted by God and as such does not, in itself, impart grace. Therefore communion is highly important, but not critical to the spiritual wellbeing of the faithful. This allows for the practice to be suspended in extraordinary circumstances.