First Free Family,
Kansas entered Phase One of reopening this past Monday, so first things first, what is First Free planning to do? Governor Kelly presented a four-phase plan to reopen, which Sedgwick County adopted with no changes: Phase One, Phase Two, Phase Three, and Phase Out. As Kansas moves toward Phase Out we will begin to phase in resuming in-person ministry. For Sunday morning worship services, at this point we believe the wisest and most loving course of action is to wait until Kansas officially enters Phase Out. This means the earliest we would begin in-person Sunday worship is June 21. We’ve been in communication with other churches in Wichita and this is consistent with what a number of churches our size are planning. We’ll be sharing more details of what those mornings will look like as we get closer, but we are planning to have three services to spread out our numbers and will be implementing other mitigation practices such as social distancing and increased cleaning. Our plan is to phase in other Sunday morning ministries after that time, so we won’t initially have classes for children, students, or adults. Our team is still discussing when these ministries will resume. We will continue to offer an online option alongside our services, and will provide online resources for kids, students, and adults until we can resume those in-person ministries.
While we don’t think it wise to begin large in-person gatherings yet, we think we can safely begin phasing in community groups before reaching Phase Out. Pastor Jordan G. will be communicating with community group leaders to provide guidance on resuming in-person group meetings. The timing of when that should happen will vary among the groups so we encourage you to be in communication with your leader. If you aren’t in a community group, but would like to be, please let us know. Pastors Jordan K. and Lucas will be in communication with parents about when student groups will move from Zoom to in-person meetings.
We are so eager to begin meeting again, but want to do so safely and in a way that shows love to our community. As with all plans right now, our plan is subject to change! In the ideal outcome, Kansas advances from one phase to the next every two weeks, however we may move between phases for quite a while. If that happens, we will continue to evaluate our plan for moving forward. However, we won’t push up the timeline from anything stated above. Thank you for praying for our team as we’ve been working on this. Please continue to ask God for wisdom for us as a church, and know that we are praying for all of you as you each also have to decide when and how to resume greater activity.
In the meantime, we have decided to begin making our Sunday video available at 9am beginning this coming Sunday. We finish up our series in the Psalms this week with a look at Psalm 106. We encourage you to read it ahead of time and look for the ways it addresses the themes of sin, confession, and salvation. Praise the LORD! We worship a steadfast God who calls us to seek his salvation in light of our sin.
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May Giving Goal: $263,194
Still Needed to Meet Goal: $209,193
General Fund Giving Last Week: $54,001
Missions Partner Highlight
Each week, we’ll be highlighting one of our missions partners in our weekly emails so you can learn more about their ministries and be praying for the gospel to go wide through their work. If you would like to send one of our missions partners a note, please email Pastor Lucas and he’ll connect you.
Wayne and Jeannie serve as International Directors of Middle East Media (MEM) from Colorado. All of their media and training is produced by and for the people of the Middle East. Wayne leads five teams across the Middle East and North Africa to engage their culture in the truths of the Bible and expose them to God’s character. Their projects and training events are designed to share the gospel in culturally sensitive ways and to challenge the status quo in the Middle East. These projects include creating series to stream on YouTube, Facebook, and other platforms; hosting live events and filmmaking workshops; and translating the Bible Project videos into five dialects of Arabic. Wayne and Jeannie share the following requests:
- Stay-at-home orders vary across the Middle East and meeting through Zoom is possible for some, but not all locations because of unfavorable governments toward Christianity. Praise God that in one location, a local church borrowed MEM’s filming equipment to stream their service. Ask God to nourish believers under strict governments and lockdown orders who are unable to fellowship.
- Ask the Spirit to fill the media teams with creativity to engage the majority culture around them with the gospel. Pray for unity as they continue to produce media content remotely.
- Ask the Father to draw writers, filmmakers, graphic designers, and other creatives MEM engages who are not yet believers. Ask him to use the believing MEM staff and volunteers for his kingdom work!
- Wayne and Jeannie ask for prayer for their summer trip to the Middle East. Ask the Lord to lift restrictions and enable them to fellowship with their dear friends and team members there.
Praising our steadfast God,
Pastors Josh and Ron