Letter From the Pastor

March 13, 2020

Dear Church Family:

Be not afraid! It is a thread that weaves itself throughout the whole of the Bible from God’s instructions to Joshua to the disciples before God during the Transfiguration. These are fearful times. The World Health Organization this week deemed the coronavirus (COVID-19) a global pandemic; numbers of cases of the virus in our state and country are rising, and it is growing less clear what the coming days will look like. How the Church responds will be crucial to our witness in our community. I believe our neighbors are looking to see if we have anything different because of our faith and trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Prince of Peace. We have an opportunity to shine as a light of hope, care, and patience, demonstrating for the world how faith provides true assurance against worry and fear.

The Early Church was applauded for the selfless acts they performed when plagues swept through the Roman Empire. The act of love for those who were infected is still remembered today. They brought food, water, and cared for those at a high cost to themselves. When the plagues ended, many people came to Christ because of the decisive action the Church took in a time of need.

I wonder if the Early Church was told the best way to protect the most vulnerable was to distance themselves, would they have done it? I believe, yes. There is still much confusion about the best way to slow the spread of the global pandemic, but one thing is certain, gathering in large groups is a problem.

I now believe we must take another step, in faith together, to be a church that cares deeply about the most vulnerable.

First Baptist Church of Dalton is suspending all activities, including the 10:30 worship service, until further notice.

This decision was made after prayerful discernment. It was made with the collective wisdom of the ministerial staff and other trusted laity, friends, and experts. This is a temporary decision. This decision is made with a heavy heart. This is one of the hardest decisions the Church staff has made.
This is our opportunity to respond in a Christian manner, not out of fear but rather out of love for one another and love for our community. I know this appears like an extreme measure, possibly even a knee jerk reaction, and certainly a reaction out of fear. It is none of those things. FBCD has the opportunity to stand up for the least of these, the most vulnerable, and share with our community that we are putting their needs ahead of our own. If our choice not to gather encourages others to distance themselves for this season and keeps the spread of this virus down, that can only benefit those who are in the direst of situations.

How then can you stay “connected” to the Church if you are not able to attend in person? I know that the gathering of God’s people in worship is an integral part of Christian community. That said though, how we worship and how the church has worshiped in the past can, and at times must, change. I often refer to us as a family. We are just that—a family of faith. Whenever two or more are gathered in His name, we know God is there. I am requesting the Church gather in smaller communities, no more than ten, if everyone is feeling well on Sunday mornings at 10:30 a.m. FBCD will stream the service and you can gather together in these small communities to encourage one another and to pray. Your Church staff and technical laity are committed to making this happen each week. So, on your phone, tablet, or computer, simply type in fbcdalton.org/streaming and you will be taken directly to our live stream. Let me also remind you that if you do not have access to the live stream capabilities, you can also listen to the worship service by tuning your radio to 98.3 FM. You can contact any staff member by phone or email (all of the staff emails are first initial last name [no space between the two @fbcdalton.org i.e.; jbarlow@fbcdalton.org). Our Church phone number is (706)278- 2911. After hours you can access our minister on call 24/7.

We care about you and want you to feel free to contact us with any and all concerns.

What will this do to the stability of FBCD? We depend on tithes and offerings to keep the lights on. Tithes and offerings are the way the Church continues to operate. Though you will not be able to attend, faithful giving to our Church will still be possible. 

Let me remind you of three specific ways that you can give your tithes and offerings:
1. You can access online giving through SecureGive. Go to our Church website, fbcdalton.org, and simply click the “Give Online” link and it will guide you through the DONATE tab. If you have questions about that process or get confused making your contribution in that manner, contact Phillip Cannon, Jan Anderson, or me, and we will guide you in that process.
2. You can simply mail your offering to the Church (P. O. Box 827, Dalton, GA 30722-0827). Jan Anderson, our Financial Manager, collects all of the mail that comes to our post office box or to our regular mailbox. She will be the only one who opens that mail, so your giving remains secure.
3. You can set up giving by drafting your bank account with the money coming directly to the Church. Use the address above.

Our primary means of communication is our email service (MailChimp). We do our best to keep you informed via this service. All of our ENews, sympathy announcements, and other important announcements are sent via this service. Sign up for First Baptist Member ENews. If you are not on that list, please sign up today. If you need to know how, simply open your computer/tablet browser and type in the following: http://eepurl.com/Yfjf9. Follow the instructions from there. Remember to request, when prompted, an html version of contents. The contents are much easier to read than plain-text. Again, if you have any questions, contact us.

We also want you to know that our ministerial staff and deacons are suspending their hospital and shut-in visitation rounds for the time being. Ministers will make visits on a member by member basis of need and health for all considered. This is a caution for those who are visiting and for those being visited. Deacons are being encouraged to make phone calls and send emails, instead of making these visits. I encourage you to do the same. Keep in touch with your Sunday School class. Keep in touch with our shut-ins. Keep in touch with the people God lays on your heart through email and phone call.

As you can see simply from the content of this letter, FBCD is doing our very best to stay informed and to keep you informed and safe. We want to be a prophetic voice of love and care for the least of these in this uncertain time. The staff of FBCD is planning to gather every morning at 9:30 a.m. to review plans and procedures that we have in place and those that need to be amended. Thank you for your continued support and for taking the time to read this letter. Again, be not afraid, shine the light of God into the world, care for one another, and lift one another up in prayer through this uncertain time.

On the Journey!
Jonathan Barlow Senior Pastor