June 19, 2020
Dear Church Family and Friends,
Many of you are already aware that the state of New Jersey has lifted some of the restrictions put upon local churches. Indoor gatherings of 50 people or less are now allowed and outdoor gatherings of no more than 100 people are also permitted. I will not share the health safety requirements of the state, but will do so in a future update. You can get all these details from the Legislative Update from Senator Tom Kean firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is great news and the deacons and trustees have already met to discuss reopening plans. It was agreed that the best date for First Baptist in Bloomfield would be the Sunday after the July 4th weekend which would be Sunday, July 12th. Adequate time is needed to prepare the church with cleaning, and to acquire necessary protective equipment such as extra safety masks for those who may not have one. A church reopening checklist sent by the Conservative Baptist Association was also reviewed and many of the suggestions will be implemented. More details of the plans that were discussed will be communicated as we get closer to that date. As that time approaches, it is also possible that the state might increase the number of people who can meet indoors.
There are some who would have a concern about the lingering health risk, and for this reason might choose to stay away from gathering in church for a period of time. This is understandable, and for this reason, we hope to show the services via video for a time, and possibly as a continuing ministry of the church.
As for the Annual Business Meeting, a tentative date for the meeting will be Wednesday, August 5, 2020 at the usual time of 8:00 p.m. in the sanctuary of the church. The Budget Committee will be meeting before then, Lord willing, on Saturday, July 18 at 9:30 a.m. The Nominating Committee will have met before then and will have contacted the nominees for the open positions in the church. Your prayers are needed so that this will all come together in an orderly way.
May the Lord’s Blessing continue to be upon you and your family,
Rich Callahan, Interim Pastor
July 5, 2020
Dear Church Family and Friends,
I know many of you are looking forward to meeting again for worship and the personal contact with God’s people. The enemy knows that keeping the people of God apart for a length of time, will cause them to be not as effectual for God. We must admire the faith of believers in Communist countries, for example, who meet despite the laws of the state which forbid Christians to assemble. When the Apostles stood before the Sanhedrin and the High Priest in Jerusalem and they were told not to preach Jesus, Peter and the other apostles responded: “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
We can also refer to the admonition of Scripture: “Let us not neglect to meet together as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near (Hebrews 10:25). In recent weeks, many Christians and other religious groups have complained to the authorities around the country, and filed lawsuits against perceived double standards against churches and synagogues gathering.
A Judge in New York State ordered the Governor and the Mayor of New York City to lift the restrictions on religious groups meeting together. We praise God for those who understand the importance of worship in the midst of a pandemic and civil unrest.
First Baptist Church in Bloomfield will be opening on July 12th for the 10:00 a.m. worship time. More details will be given in the update next week concerning the safety precautions that we will have to participate in during the time in church. It is understandable that some will continue to not assemble for a time because of health concerns. Though the deacons, trustees, and other church leaders have not discussed the other groups meeting and activities at the church yet, that will be planned soon.
May we all continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Rich Callahan, Interim Pastor
July 10, 2020
Dear Church Family and Friends,
It is hard to believe that it has been about 4 months since First Baptist Church in Bloomfield closed its doors along with many other churches around the world. Finally, we can send out the message, “Open for Worship”. This period has given each of us much time to reflect on the importance and necessity of gathering together with other Christians for worship, mutual encouragement, and the up-building of our faith. Isolating ourselves from other Christians can only result in a lukewarm faith, unless that isolation is in God’s will as some are imprisoned for their faith today. We pray that the result of this great test that has come upon the world will be more people will see their need of God, seek Jesus Christ, and come to know Him as Savior. Our hope and prayer also is that more Christians will seek Christian fellowship.
If you are planning to come to worship this Sunday at 10:00 a.m. at First Baptist, I have some directives for you which were discussed by the Deacons and Trustees for the protection of all. I will number them just to make it easier to follow.
1.If you feel sick or have any type of fever, cold, or flu, please stay home until you are well.
2.If your health is compromised at the moment, we respect your judgement that you may not be ready to come to church yet.
3.The ushers will be checking temperatures of everyone coming in, including me, so please do not be offended. This will help some people feel more secure.
4.Please wear a mask in church. The state recommends anyone over 2 years of age to wear a mask unless there is some type of health issue where a person cannot wear a mask. If you do not have a mask, one will be provided for you.
5.Disinfectant dispensers will be provided at each entrance for you to use upon entering and leaving the church.
6.Please greet people at a safe distance and avoid shaking hands with people.
7.It’s fine for families, spouses or close friends to sit together. Otherwise, please try to keep a distance of six feet all around you.
8.Please wear your mask over your nose as well. If you feel faint at some point, please notify someone around you and they will notify an usher to assist you. Please do not try to get up and leave without assistance. Sunday will be a warm day.
9.Please wear your mask while singing also. The Praise Team will have the option to wear it or not while singing as they will be at a distance. Please do not leave any masks or cloths behind.
The church has been cleaned and had minimal usage during the period of closure, and will continue to be cleaned weekly.
The message for Sunday will also be on the Facebook page for First Baptist and on the Richard Callahan Channel at 10:00 a.m. The message title is “Dedicating the Temple” (2 Chronicles 6-7). Live streaming of the service should start in about 2 or 3 weeks.
My thanks to you for your patience and support during this trying time and may God give each one of you grace so First Baptist Church in Bloomfield comes back stronger than ever!
Rich Callahan, Interim Pastor
An excerpt from Combined Deacon & Trustee Board Meeting-September 6, 2020 held on Sunday, September 6, 2020. The following items were discussed and approved.
The Church has been phasing-in the opening of the various ministries during the COVID-19 situation with adherence to state and federal guidelines.
Phase 1: The reopening of the building for worship services commenced on Sunday, July 12, 2020. Sermons would continue to be broadcast on YouTube as was done prior to the reopening. Prayer meeting would also be continued each Wednesday through the Zoom meeting application. Services and large meetings would be held in the sanctuary to allow for social distancing. Temperatures will be taken at the POE and face coverings are required. Cleaning and disinfection of the facilities will occur weekly.
Phase 2: The attendees of this meeting chose Sunday, September 20, 2020 as the date to begin Phase 2, in which the Small Group Study of the book of Job will resume. The video will be shown and a series of questions regarding it and the study will be handed out for discussion at the next session on September 27th. The Family Care ministries will also resume with the details to be worked out with the staff. No food will be offered but water bottles will be available. It is hoped that the post worship service activities during this phase would commence by 11:30 and conclude by 12:15.
Phase 3: On Sunday, October 25, Phase 3 of our reopening plan will commence, consisting of ESL and other outreach ministries.
All phases of our opening plan are contingent upon Federal, State, and local guidelines and mandates.
Reported by Deacon Vice Chairman Alex Villanueva
I hope that you all were able to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday over the last several days. I am writing to you today to let you know that we will be canceling our Sunday morning service and activities tomorrow, Sunday, November 29. We are doing so because of potential exposure to COVID-19 within our church family. Those that were potentially exposed have already been notified, so if you haven’t received any such communication then you are at no additional risk. On a positive note, this exposure happened over the course of last weekend and since that time no one in our church family has been symptomatic. Yet, because of the asymptomatic nature to this virus, we thought it best to cancel our gathering tomorrow.
We will be closely monitoring this situation over the course of this next week and we will notify you if any additional changes will be necessary. Thank you so much for your understanding and grace with this news. We hope and pray that in-person services will be quickly restored to us for the sake of the Advent Season.
Blessings on all of you and continue to take wise precautions as you go forward. If you know of members or regular attendees who do not have access to email please call them to notify them of this news. Thank you so much.
In moments of uneasiness and fear I am reminded of the very first question in the Heidelberg Catechism which asks this: What is your only comfort in life and death? It then answers in this way: “That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him.” This is truly a wonderful consolation and I leave it for your encouragement.
Resting in Him,
I wanted to take a moment to let you know that we will be resuming in-person worship services this upcoming Sunday, December 6th. It was important for us to be cautious this past weekend but I am very happy that this is no longer necessary at this point. Unfortunately, this pandemic is not yet behind us so we must remain vigilant. We continue to encourage you to stay home if you are not feeling well as it is better to err on the side of caution. If we make sacrifices individually to protect our church family this will then aid in our ability to continue to meet in-person in the days ahead. Rest assured that we take your safety very seriously and will do our best to provide safe, disinfected spaces for our gatherings. I look forward to celebrating the Advent Season with you over the next several weeks.
Grateful for His mercy,
On April 7th, we will be returning to an in-person format for our weekly prayer meetings. We will, however, continue to offer Zoom Format to those who are unable to join us in-person. Thank you for your patience as we consider how to restart various ministries. (from our weekly bulletin, March 14, 2021)
Pastor and deacons met and made the following policy change:
In response to the recent changes with CDC Guidelines related to mask wearing and social distancing we have made the following changes:
1. Temperature checks have been eliminated
2. Masks are now optional inside of our building
3. We have created two different seating sections;
one which promotes social distancing and one that allows for closer contact