These have been and continue to be very interesting and challenging days, but also days filled with opportunity and possibility.  The experiences within our church family are as diverse as the number of our attendees.  


Some have been distanced from their parents who reside in nursing home care, which has led to confusion and anxiety; others are struggling to work from home and the lines between family time and work are blurred; and some are grieving the loss of a schedule and normality.  While this is true, others testify to a closer walk with the Lord as many of life’s distractions have been removed; some are experiencing increased time and conversation with family around the kitchen table at a shared meal; and many are finding new ways to minister and love by preparing masks for strangers, delivering meals for the church family, or shopping for an elderly neighbor.  Most of us have probably not lived exclusively in either of these ‘worlds’ but we’ve moved back-and-forth with the ebb and flow of life – having both, good and bad experiences.


And I think the same could be said of ‘church-life’ – we are missing some things: corporate singing, face to face greetings, holy hugs, encircled prayers, children’s church, Sunday School on location, First Café fellowship, etc.  But, we’re also experiencing some good things:  Zoom small group discussions, purposeful telephone connections, Pastor Kyle’s daily worship on Facebook, a renewed sense of generosity, intentioned prayer for our healthcare workers, Dana and Lisa’s zoom chats with kids, serving our seniors with delivered meals, and absolutely incredible times of worship, as Pastor Chris and our production team are doing incredible work.  


As we move into our future together, some of these ‘new things’ and ‘changes’ will be permanent.  As a result of ‘zoom’ small group meetings, we have people ‘attending’ groups that have never done so before.  Our staff is finding ways to connect with people/children via technology, and it’s become another tool in our toolbelt of ministry.  Our improved on-line worship presence is expanding our reach and increasing our territory (if you remember the Prayer of Jabez).  These are all very good things!


Another ‘good thing’ that’s been happening over recent days is a discussion about our RE-GATHERING PLAN.  As a leadership team we’ve been asking:  What that can and should that look like?  


As I communicated last week, opinions are diverse, and public policy has been unclear and inconsistent.  That being the case, not all will agree with every detail of our ‘plan’ – some could say it’s too ‘restrictive’, others too ‘soon’ or too ‘loose’.  We understand that, but rest assured, our guiding principles have been (1) to seek God’s will and His wisdom in prayer; (2) to demonstrate love of neighbor; and (3) to be respectful of and cooperative with governmental authority.  All should understand that even as this plan is made-known it remains subject to change.  This is a fluid situation – in terms of the pandemic itself, governmental and regulatory alterations, and our own, local experience.  


Our RE-GATHERING PLAN/SCHEDULE, as approved unanimously by the church board is:


Sunday, May 10    No gathering at the church.  

(On-line services via Facebook and YouTube, FUEL at 9:15; PRAISE at 10:45; and CR at 6:00)


Sunday, May 17     No gathering at the church.            

(On-line services via Facebook and YouTube, FUEL at 9:15; PRAISE at 10:45; and CR at 6:00)


Sunday, May 24    No gathering at the church.            

(On-line services via Facebook and YouTube, FUEL at 9:15; PRAISE at 10:45; and CR at 6:00)


Sunday, May 31 First LIVE/GATHERING Services.              

BIG CHANGE…(PRAISE service at 9:00 a.m.; FUEL at 11:00 a.m.; and CR at 6:00 p.m.)

(On-line services via Facebook and YouTube, PRAISE at 9:00; FUEL at 11:00; and CR at 6:00)


Note the following with regard to LIVE/GATHERING services:


1.  We will be following the Governor’s guidance provided to religious entities, including:     

    a.  practicing physical distancing (6 feet)          

    b.  instructing the ‘sick’ to remain at home          

    c.  cleaning and disinfecting frequently (before and between services)          

    d.  requiring face coverings be worn (having masks available)          

    e.  restricting seating according to spacing guidelines          

    f.  dismissing attendees by family units

    (It is important for all to note that this criteria for attendance/worship is not ‘optional’.  

    We practice ‘social distancing’ and ‘wear masks’ for our sake and for benefit of the ‘other’.

    In so doing, we demonstrate love for our neighbor.)


2. We will make an ‘order of service’ change on May 31, 2020, moving PRAISE to 9:00 a.m. and FUEL to 11:00 a.m.  

The reason for this change is to allow a more intense and thorough cleaning of the worship area prior to the first service on Sunday morning.  We will request those who are older (above 60) and those who have other health concerns (considered ‘at-risk’) to attend this service, along with their families.  We want our most ‘at-risk’ population to be as protected as possible.  (We will be cleaning prior to the second service as well.)


3. Childcare areas will not be open during services at this time.  

Children will attend services with their parents as a family unit.  This policy is in-line with the Governor’s directive and recognizes the impossibility of applying ‘social distancing’ in a children’s teaching environment.  We know the great value in developing our children’s spiritual lives and we will continue to explore various options and opportunities to expand ministry as we can.  Our desire is to re-initiate a more ‘normalized’ children’s ministry as circumstances allow.


4. First Café will remain closed until further notice.  


We anticipate this schedule remaining ‘in-place’ throughout the summer months, but we remain flexible.  (For instance, if we find that two services are not adequate, because of reduced seating requirements, we may need to initiate an additional worship experience.) We will remain responsive to needs regarding worship as they become apparent.




We have a number of small groups meeting via Zoom.  We anticipate that many will continue doing so.  Some may desire to offer a ‘live-forum’ with others joining via Zoom or other social media venues.  We encourage these types of meetings, and will offer to accommodate these at the church (if desired) with the understanding that ‘guidelines’ be followed, and that the leaders of these groups assume responsibility for the building’s use, as previously adopted by the Program and Policy Committee.

These decisions will be made by individual Sunday School and small group leaders in coordination with pastoral staff and the Educational Committee (Keith Hare).  


REGARDING Celebrate Recovery:


In the days ahead we will be having more formalized discussions with our Celebrate Recovery leadership team discussing the re-gathering of this ministry group.  


Thank you for your understanding and patience as we journey together down a road we’ve never traveled before.  We ask for your continuing prayers.  


We are doing the best we can for our congregation and our community – and God is at work!  May you be blessed daily by God’s power and presence!

South Charleston First
Church of the Nazarene

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4923 Kentucky Street

South Charleston, WV 25303

©2019 by South Charleston First Church.

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