Dear First Presbyterian Church Family:

In the midst of a challenging week in our world, I want to share some good news with you.

First, my wife has fully recovered from the COVID-19 Coronavirus and my family has been reunited. After 14 days of quarantine and self-isolation, the health department has given Jessica the all clear! At a press conference this morning, Dr. Erin Bever, the Director of South Heartland District Health Department said: “The first confirmed case in our region has made a full recovery. She has been symptom free since March 22nd and has completed her self-isolation period. We certify that it is safe for her to be back in the community. She followed all the protocols and guidelines so well that no one in her family got sick, and her family is also safe to be in the community. There are also no other cases in our region that can be linked to her.

 From what we know about this disease, the average Coronavirus patient infects 2.5 people. The first confirmed case in our region followed the self-isolation guidelines so effectively, that we have no new infections related to her. She has served her community well and helped to “flatten the curve.” We hope that all suspected and confirmed cases take the self-isolation guidelines as seriously.”

This is good news indeed! Jessica’s full recovery and my family’s ability to thrive during the time of her illness and quarantine would not have been possible without the support of you, our church family. Your prayers, messages, calls, texts, cards, meals, care packages, and endless love that you lavished on us over the past two weeks is the clearest sign to me that God is with us in the midst of this pandemic. God’s love was clear through the love you shared. Thank you and I give thanks to God for you!

I have more good news to share! You church staff has been hard at work this week, pivoting to adjust to our new reality and dreaming of ways we can continue to grow in our faith during this time of physical isolation. We have decided on a weekly rhythm of engaging with our church family:

Monday Check-in: A radio-show type broadcast that church staff will do. We will give you some announcements and then have a bible study chat about the scripture for the week. If you didn’t catch that this week, you can listen here: https://soundcloud.com/damen-heitmann/scripture-chat-32320 If you are more a visual person, you can watch Damen and Greg share the Monday Check-In here: https://youtu.be/W1aBUeWRTlY

Wednesday Kids Corner: While we can’t meet in person for Wednesday Night Live or Sunday School, our amazing Director of Christian Education, Stephanie Brader, will produce a short video and share resources for our children and families every week. While these are geared towards children, we think the whole church might benefit from Steph’s insight and teaching. If you are a grandparent, feel free to use these with your grandkids too! You can watch her video here: https://youtu.be/4CqyNmpmnT0 And here is a link to the resources: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1lI86RFvR2KlTTM5jxspALk1LRuRVF5Wi

Friday Feature: Each week, Pastor Damen or I will have a special guest musician share a musical reflection on the scripture that we discuss at the Monday Check-in. This week the musician was Hannah Jensen and she wrote an original piece of music and was interviewed by Pastor Damen about it. You can listen to that here: https://soundcloud.com/damen-heitmann/friday-feature-32720-hannah-jensen

Sunday Worship: We will continue to share our “Stay-at-Home” worship services on Sunday starting at 10:25am with music you know and love led by our amazing organist and familiar prayers and liturgies, providing a constant in the midst of so many changes. Your pastors will continue to preach engaging, relevant, and biblically-based sermons like we always do. Last week we had more than 300 tune in to our worship service via our livestream on the internet and we don’t know how many listened on the radio.

Here is the link for our bulletin this Sunday:

https://fpchastings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Bulletin-03.29.20.pdf 

Here is the link to our livestream. We use Facebook Live to broadcast our services, but you don’t need to have a Facebook account to watch, just click on the link below.

https://www.facebook.com/fpchastings/posts/3243117942376194

If you would prefer to listen over the radio, you can catch us on KICS 1550 AM starting at 10:30am. If you can’t get the radio signal, but want to listen to the radio broadcast, you can do that here: https://www.radio.net/s/kics

Even in the midst of the chaos and the unknown, we are still people who carry with us the Good News of the saving love of Jesus Christ. I pray that each of you have a blessed weekend knowing that you are loved by God and by your church family. Hope to “see” you on Sunday on-line during our “stay-at-home” worship service.

Your Servant in Christ,

Pastor Greg