March 17, 2020

Dear First Church Family,

As you might have already guessed, for the coming Sunday we will be moving our worship gathering on-line, and closing our school as of this Friday. As the Learning Center has already sent an email focused on more school-related matters, I will focus here on matters related to our Sunday morning ministries and how we will spiritually and emotionally support you and your families in these challenging days.

In regards to Sunday, we will have a streamlined version of our classic worship up on YouTube by Saturday morning, and likely earlier than that. We will also have a version of Waumba Worship along with a special video from Daniel, our director of family ministries, with the story along with activities families can do at home which will both go up on YouTube around the same time. (This will be our version of Waumba Chapel for our Learning Center families as well, in case the school needs to remain closed after Spring Break.) We will share the links on our church’s Facebook and Twitter pages, as well as my personal page, and you can also go into the search feature in YouTube and type in First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood, and find our YouTube channel. Then you can subscribe and if you look for the bell symbol on the page also get notifications when a new video goes up. Also, to keep everyone safe, Jason and Aaron, two beloved members of our church family, have decided to limit their wedding this Friday to a small family affair. To give everyone else a chance to share in their joy, we will post their wedding service on our YouTube channel for all who wish to see it.

Also we are developing a number of other ways to stay in touch with you and support you and your family during these days of Covid-19. Here is a quick run-down of those ways:

  1. If there are times, Lynn, our church’s office manager, will not be able to be in the office, the office phone will be forwarded to her so if you have a need or concern you can reach someone. And, if for any reason, you need to contact me directly, my cell number is 954-257-6751. I can also be reached through Facebook messenger, WhatsApp and via my e-mail,
  2. I will also be making a practice of calling a certain number of folks each day just to check in and say hello. I hope that in that way, I can reach out to each family connected to the church or school around once a week.
  3. In addition, we are developing a daily e-mail devotional that you can subscribe too via our website, and hope to have that up and running in the coming days.
  4. I will also be working to introduce a daily video devotional on YouTube, and also working on doing a weekly Facebook Live.
  5. And for Learning Center families, we are working on distance learning opportunities and other ways that your child can stay engaged with their class and their teacher if we may not be able to gather in person in the coming days. 

These difficult days can be scary for us all, which reminds me of the most frequent command from God in the Bible, which is just that: do not fear. Of course, that is a lot easier said than done when every day brings updates of more closings and new restrictions, but those still remain wise words. We need to be careful and safe, and diligently follow the guidelines of the public health officials who are working to stop this virus in its tracks. But we also need to remember: These difficult days will pass, and together with God’s help, we will make it through these challenges. Please know that First Church and I are committed to be here for you and your family, to be a community in which you always feel invited, welcomed and loved, even if that inviting, welcoming and loving might be happening via the internet or over the phone lines for a little while! 

And please remember, this is not the first time our nation or world has faced such challenges. In 1918, we faced a flu epidemic bigger than this one and one that occurred in the midst of a World War! And we not only survived those days but even rebounded into a decade of celebration and prosperity that came to be known as the “Roaring Twenties.” (After all that, people probably needed to let down their hair a bit!). And as they made it through those days, and came out on the other side, we will do so as well.

Please know that I am praying for you all, and do not hesitate to reach out to us for anything. And please remember that God loves each of you no matter what, including in these days of Covid-19!

Grace and peace always,

Kennedy McGowan
Your Pastor and friend

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