Pandemic. A somewhat foreign word used to describe a serious, contagious plague. Believers in Jesus Christ might be interested to know the role of the Greek language, the language of the New Testament, in the word “pandemic.” “Pan” means “all” and “demos” means “people”; thus, pandemic means “all people.” The World Health Organization posits this definition: “An epidemic occurring worldwide, or over a very wide area, crossing international boundaries and usually affecting a large number of people." Therefore, the leadership of FBC Pryor, along with the rest of the world, has been monitoring the situation closely. Last night, I spoke in detail with Pryor Mayor Larry Lees, who is also a member of FBC. He informed me of the precautionary measures being taken by the city, like closing the library and the Pryor Creek Recreation Center, effective Wednesday March 18, 2020, and other measures to be placed on the city’s website (http://pryorcreek.org/). Further, this morning I initiated a conference call with Personnel Committee Chairman Travis Mileur and Chairman of Deacons Jerry Russell to discuss precautionary measures for FBC Pryor relative to the Coronavirus pandemic. We are all in agreement that heeding the recommendations of national, state, and local government leaders who are all conveying recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (https://www.cdc.gov/), and, closer to home, The Oklahoma State Department of Health (https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/) is the best decision for FBC Pryor. We do not believe that any of these entities is acting in a way which either encroaches upon religious liberty or compromises separation of church and state. There have been no commands, only recommendations – reasonable, competent suggestions given which can perhaps impede the spread of this virus, and thus protect the citizens of the United States, and we believe this defense is best empowered by cooperative efforts from individuals, churches, schools, and businesses following the advice of these governing entities (see Romans 13:1-4 and Hebrews 13:17). Therefore, effective immediately, the First Baptist Church of Pryor, Oklahoma, is suspending ALL services and events for the foreseeable future. Our hope is that we will see a drop in coronavirus cases and that we can resume services as early as Sunday April 5, 2020. But we cannot make that decision now. We will continue to monitor the situation and be communicating with our followers through our email distribution list (which, if you are not on, please call the church office at 918.825.3232 and give us your email address), through the church’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/FirstBaptistPryorOK/), and the church’s website (https://pryorfbc.org/). This means no Worship Services, no Bible Studies, no Sunday School, no Hope for Hearts events, no Keenagers’ events, no Student Ministry or Children’s Ministry events, no Belles and Beaus Banquet – nothing.
FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH SERVING
The FBC staff will continue to serve and be available, perhaps modifying office hours and working from home when office hours are unnecessary. Lights throughout the campus will be off, excluding emergency lighting. Doors will remain locked. Thermostats throughout the campus will be set to “OFF” except in one or two locations where staff will be present. Yet, we will be posting a fresh sermon each week we are canceled, recorded several days earlier, which will be uploaded to the church’s website (https://pryorfbc.org/media) by 10:15 A.M. each Sunday, along with some worship service music from past Sundays. This will allow worship and discipleship to continue, at least to some degree, during our “quarantine” period.
FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH GIVING
We all know that the nation’s economy is being dealt a deadly blow. We expect that each of us will incur setbacks, as will churches across the land. Yet, we are encouraging our people to maintain their faithful, cheerful giving of tithes and offerings even during this temporary shut-down (see 2 Corinthians 9:7-8). This can be done online (https://pryorfbc.org/give-online) or through U.S. mail sent to P.O. Box 885, Pryor, OK, 74362 or 601. E Graham, Pryor, OK, 74361.
The phrase “and it came to pass” appears nearly 400 times in the Bible. This is because things like pandemics come to pass, they don’t come to stay. This too shall pass. God is still on His throne. We’re not in the Tribulation, but if your heart is not right with God, now is a good time to get it there.
Dr. Michael A. Cox
FBC Pryor, Oklahoma
March 17, 2020