The COVID-19 virus is impacting all our lives. It looks as though even Holy Week activities will be affected this year. Holy Week begins with observing Christ’s triumphal entry inot Jerusalem on Palm Sunday (April 5) and ends in celebrating the triumph of His resurrection on Easter (April 12). Normally, this period includes a Maundy Thursday observance with a meal and worship, as well as a Good Friday Prayer Vigil.
But this year we anticipate the church will still be closed to public gatherings for most — if not all — of that. However, we will have a worship service online available at fccvalpo.org, and our Facebook page for Sundays and Maundy Thursday. A Good Friday prayer vigil in which we each pray in our homes is encouraged. In fact, please pray whenever you wish… but DO pray!
At this time we don’t know if we will be able to gather on Easter Sunday. If we can, there will be 9:30 worship. Either way, there will be an Easter worship service online. The children’s Easter egg hunt will be postponed.
We will continue to post Elders’ Inspirational Moments on our Facebook Group (which requires Facebook users to request membership) on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Worship services will continue to be posted on YouTube. Both can be easily accessed from the church website (fccvalpo.org) or Google phone app.
If you don’t have access to an online connection, let the office know if you’d like to get a mailing each week of the sermon, scripture readings, and prayers from each Sunday’s recorded worship service.
We are all learning a new way of being “church” with one another. This time of “Sheltering in Place” offers each of us an opportunity to pay more attention to where our focus lies. What does our faith tell us with respect to coping and trusting? This Lent should stand out as a memorable time of reflection and repentance for each of us… if we choose to use it as such. May you be well, safe and kind.
Spring Work Day
The spring work day to spruce up things and get the building and grounds ready for summer was scheduled for April 18; but the Facilities Servant Group is rescheduling to a date later in May. The next Bell Tower should have the new date. Many hands will be needed; and as always, there will be donuts, coffee, and lots of fellowship.
Facilities Servant Group Chair
I would love to send all our families with Sunday School little ones some info, games, videos, etc. to help keep your children busy during this time at home. I’m finding, though, that some families do not have e-mail addresses in the church directory; so I hope that any of you who are interested in getting this info will email me at: email@example.com
Let me know you’d like to be on the list. Meanwhile, stay sane, stay healthy, and know that you’re loved!
Troop 907 Pork Chop Dinner Postponed
Troop 907 regrets to inform you that their spring Pork Chop Dinner fundraiser will beaa postponed anda rescheduled for a time in the future. It was to be held at FCC Saturday, April 18. If you purchased a ticket in advance, it will be honored when the new date is set. The pork chop dinners help fund many of the troop’s summer activities.
First Christian Church is proud to sponsor Troop 907; and we want to congratulate Alex Schmidt, the next Eagle Scout emerging from that troop. For more information on Scouting or the dinner, please call Dale Price or Drew Armstrong.
Dear Valparaiso First Christian Church Family,
Thank you so much for your kind note of encouragement. The prayers and good wishes of friends are what’s keeping us going right now. Margaret and I seem to be on this protracted journey neither of us would have chosen, but when you have friends willing to walk with you, the way seems not quite so long and a little less scary. Blessings to you all. We will keep in touch.
Greg & Margaret Russell
Friends of FCC, Valpo,
Please know that you are in my prayers in these challenging days. I give thanks for you and your con-tinued faithfulness as we all learn new ways to be the church together. I pray that on the other side of this, we will have learned some things along the way and are even more empowered to live as disciples of Christ in the world. Please know that you remain in my heart and thoughts.
Blessings and peace,
Associate Regional Minister, Christian Church in Indiana
Dear Friends at FCC,
Thank you for allowing us to use your space for our events. The Pinewood Derby and our Blue & Gold Banquet were both very successful. We thank you for your hospitality.
Ian & Sue Foster
Dear First Christian Church,
Every eight weeks you open your doors to the people of Northwest Indiana to donate at Red Cross blood drives, and I want to thank you. I like to give blood and it’s far easier having a regular, reliable location. I’m sure it must cause extra work for you, and the effort is appreciated. Were it not for the regular blood drives at FCC, I would no doubt have given less blood over the past dozen years. By opening your doors to blood drives, every member of First Christian can take credit for more blood getting where it needs to go. Thank you!
(A message received through our website)
Food Pantry News
Volunteers were glad to be able to serve 277 families providing food for 638 people in February. Several congregations had fun with the Souper Bowl Sunday and the pantry benefitted as well. Money not designated for food was used to buy paper towels which were offered to every family as an “extra.” (Paper towels are greatly appreciated by pantry clients.)
Plans are now being made to offer Easter menu items to pantry families. Foods needed for this are:
- Jiffy muffin mix
- Cream style & kernel canned corn
- Canned fruit
- Jars of applesauce
- 11 oz. coffees (regular & decaf)
- Boxes of teas (at least 20 bags)
- Hot chocolate
- Boxed au gratin/scalloped potatoes.
Monetary donations will buy dinner rolls and hams. Pick-up dates for the special dinner items will be April 6th and 8th.(We observe social distancing, but stay open as an essential service.) Of course, basic items will be needed as usual. In fact, March has an extra Monday so extra items will be needed. Thanks to all who donate time, food items, or money enabling the pantry to assist families in our community who need our kind of help.
Nan Steeves (Founder)
Anne Egolf & Sharon Crowder
Red Cross & COVID-19
From the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Pampee Young
With constant news coverage of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), it’s easy to be swept up in misinformation and fear. Please know that the American Red Cross is monitoring and adapting daily to the evolving situation. Here are a few key points I’d like to share:
ESSENTIAL ACTIVITY: Your blood drive is officially an “essential activity,” as outlined by the United States Department of Health and Human Services and the Food and Drug Administration. It is an imperative for community health and public preparedness to maintain blood supplies during this challenging time. They greatly help patient survival.
NO TRANSMISSION: There have been no reported cases of any respiratory virus being transmitted by blood, including this coronavirus. Donating is safe and people should not hesitate to give blood.
ALWAYS CAUTIOUS: The Red Cross always employs thorough safety protocols to help prevent the spread of any type of infection. In response to COVID-19, we’ve implemented additional precautionary methods, including but not limited to:
- Donors are temperature-screened before entering the blood drive. If their temperature is above 99.5, the donor is asked to donate later.
- Red Cross staff check their own temperatures before reporting to work and are not allowed to perform duties if above 99.5 degrees.
- Blood donors are asked to use hand sanitizer before and during the donation process.
- Staff wear gloves throughout the process, changing gloves between every donor.
- Donor beds are sanitized between every donor
- We use the recommended space between each donor to facilitate social distancing.
- The safety of our donors, volunteers and staff always comes first.
NEED NEVER STOPS: Our commitment is tested every year with unexpected weather and illness events. In such times we must hold tighter to our humanity and protect the most vulnerable among us. Thank you for your steadfast support! Note: FCC’s next drive is scheduled for Wednesday, April 15, 1:30-6:30 P.M.
FCC Dates for 2020
(All of these are tentative thanks
to — you guessed it —COVID-19.)
Administrative or Ongoing
Worship @ Avalon…3rd Friday, 1:00
Worship @ Pines 3rd Friday, 2:30
Elders 1st Tuesday, 6:00 PM
Bookies 4th Tuesday, 7:00 PM
Men’s Fellowship & Bible Study
Wednesdays at noon
Men’s Fellowship Dinner
3rd Tuesday, 6:30
Disciples Women Ministry
Hannah Circle 1st Monday, 7 PM
Mary Circle 1st Monday, 9:30 AM
Ladybugs Thursdays, 2:00 PM
at Marian Eckert’s
Looking for Grads
It will soon be time to recognize our 2020 graduates (high school and college). Please let the office know if you have a family member who will be graduating this year so we can make sure they are included on Grad-uate Recognition Sunday in June.
Thriving After Abuse
Unfortunately, due to (what else?) COVID-19, it saddens us to say the women’s event, Thriving After Abuse, has been postponed. It will be rescheduled as soon as safety allows. Our dedication to the program remains strong. We’ll notify everyone as soon as we have a new date.
Prayer in Hard Times
Keep us, good Lord, under the shadow of your mercy in this time of uncertainty and distress. Sustain and support the anxious and fearful. Lift up all who are brought low that we may rejoice in knowing nothing can separate us from your love. In Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
Lord Jesus Christ, you taught us to love our neighbor, and to care for those in need as if we were caring for you. In this time of anxiety, give us strength to comfort the fearful, to tend the sick, and to assure the isolated of our love and yours. In Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
God of compassion, be close to those who are ill, afraid, or isolated. In their loneliness, be their consolation; in their anxiety, be their hope; in their darkness, be their light; through him who suffered alone on the cross, but reigns with you in glory, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Merciful God, grant serenity and hope to those who are suffering severe economic hardship, give them the knowledge that these days will pass. Help us all to be kind, loving and forgiving in a way that gives you joy. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Gracious God, give skill, sympathy, and resilience to all who are caring for the sick; wisdom to those searching for a cure; and energy to first responders. Strengthen them with your Spirit that, through their work, many will be restored to health; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Sometimes going through a difficult time triggers questions a bit deeper than we ordinarily look into. As Christians we have at least a baseline belief in God and Jesus Christ. But what does that mean when the future is uncertain and life feels unfamiliar? It may seem at odds to speak of faith in God and yet experience fear. Spiritual Direction, or Spiritual Companion-ship, is a ministry that provides a trained listener to help someone explore their relationship with God, their faith, and their life. It is very individualized. The Director, or Companion, listens to the individual AND to the Holy Spirit throughout each session.
I completed an 18-month course of study through Lindenwood Retreat Center in 2010. Since then I have been privileged to serve as a Companion to many people. As Minister of Spiritual Care here at First Christian, I consider this role part of my ministry and there is no charge to my church family.
During our time of being “home- bound,” I would be honored to “meet with you” by phone. All information shared is held in strict confidence. If you are interested or have any questions regarding this ministry, please call me at 508-0418.
A Note from Dan
Hello! Well, here we are, in the midst of very unusual days. If you can get online, you’ll find many musical videos worth a bit of your time. I am so grateful for all my years of teaching music AND for the opportunity to continue working with musicians here at FCC.
I am not sure when the choir will reunite for rehearsals. I’ll remain in contact with you via text and/or email in that regard. If you have not been getting my emails or texts, call me at (219) 309-3465. We will figure out a way to communicate.
Hopefully, our next Men’s Dinner will be at 6:30 on Tuesday night, April 21. Our Wednesday Noon Bible Study will probably start again on April 22:
Apr 22 Romans 5:1-11 – Pain & perspective, the fruit of suffering
Apr 29 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 – Pain & persistence, Paul’s thorn
Note: The Bookies will not meet in March. “The Orphan’s Tale” will be discussed when we meet in April.
All are invited to join the Bookies Reading Group! We meet the 4th Tuesday each month at 7:15 PM in the church library. We’d love to have you join us whether you’ve read the book or would like to know if it’s one worth reading. We’ll choose the next several books when we meet on April 28.
Dinner And A Movie
(I.E., Postponed for Now)
Friends & Family Fair
Sunday, May 3,
Is On Hold
As a follow-up to the January 19th mission brainstorming event, the Vision/Mission Team is planning something new. This fair will have plenty of opportunities to learn more about the many ministries and groups already available at First Christian; PLUS, there will be plenty of opportunities to add your ideas and interests to the possible formation of new groups and new programs within and through this church into our community. This may include making some changes to activities we’ve been involved in as well as offering some new activities that will help us put our new mission statement into action. AND….there will be FUN! We’ll have carnival-style games for the kids and free food. Stay tuned for updates.
The need for a positive ID hit the Social Media market last year. Effective in March 2020, our app(lication) manager can no longer represent the church without the church being a registered app designer. Thus, I have registered on behalf of the church to be the Google Play designer, but can’t do so with Apple. The Apple issue is the need for the designer to have an Apple device (iPhone, iPad, Apple computer, etc.) from which Apple can confirm the designer is who they claim to be. Lacking an Apple device at church and not having one personally, I cannot register as the designer. Therefore, by the end of March, those of our congregation who have iPhones, etc., may find that the First Christian Church app does not function. When that happens, you can still reach most of the same information through the church webpage at www.fccvalpo.org. If you are an iPhone user and interested in supporting the Apple App(lication), I can give you directions on how to become the church’s app designer.
During this period of social distancing and quarantine, the church has sought new ways of providing spiritual support. This has included a greater reliance on the internet. The congregation has relied on physical presence to provide most of its services and to receive contributions, which make those services possible. During this time of separation, please consider remote ways of continuing your pledges to support those services and the innovations needed to reach everyone at home. Giving can be done remotely by at least two methods:
- A paper check: Place it in an envelope and mail it to the church: FCC, 1507 Glendale Blvd, Valparaiso, IN 46383.
- Electronic giving through Pushpay: https://pushpay.com/g/fccvalpo?src=hpp
Electronic giving can use checking or savings accounts, credit cards, and debit cards. Electronic giving can be one time, only during this period of no public worship services, or regular (weekly, biweekly, or monthly). We know that many of you may be under financial stress, and we understand that your family needs come first.
Yours in Christ,
(Social Media Coordinator, App Manager, and learning to say no)
29 SPRING BREAK No meeting as we will all be “Sheltering at Home.”
12 Easter Sunday Even if there’s worship, the egg hunt’s postponed so enjoy the day!
19 Youth Encounter This multi-racial worship & dinner event for youth is from 5:00-7:00, but we’ll need to be at church at 4:15 to have time to get there. (If the service is cancelled, we’ll paint “Valpo Rocks” on rocks to hide in local parks from 5:30—7:00.)
26 Youth Night Our “regular meeting”: 5:30-7:00 with games and food (Kelli) and Bible study (Rev. Dave).
I miss hugs. I miss casually saying hello to the person I’m standing behind in line at the library. For that matter, I miss the library and March Madness and restaurants. I miss my retirement fund. I miss news stories about more than one subject – some of them even light-hearted. Most of all I miss my church family: singing with choir, listening to Mickey’s prayers, eating cheap pizza with the men’s Bible study, and shaking hands with Cornelius while basking in his well-dressed smile.
For people around the world, the pandemic is confusing, frightening, and disruptive. But for people of faith, it offers special challenges and possibilities. For starters, we know that panic and fear are not from God. Calm and hope are, as is the sound advice of medical professionals and public health experts. (I don’t know Dr. Fauci’s political party, but I might vote for him if he ran for president.)
Christianity makes it possible to respond to this crisis (any crisis) seriously and deliberately, yet maintain a sense of calm and hope. Panic, by confusing and frightening us, pulls us away from the help God wants to give. Jesus said many times, “Do not be afraid!” And there are other things he’d tell us. Here’s three:
- Don’t demonize. I read that when an elderly Chinese man got on a subway in New York, the car emptied and people started shouting slurs, blaming his country for spreading the virus. Let’s resist the temptation to demonize, which increases in times of stress. Covid-19 is not a Chinese disease. It is no one’s “fault.” Likewise, people who become infected are not to blame. When Jesus was asked about a blind man: “Who sinned, that this man was born blind?” He responded: “No one” (Jn 9:2). Illness is not a punishment, it’s just a fact of life. More importantly, many things have been cancelled by the coronavirus. Love is not one of them.
- Care for others. This pandemic may be a long haul; some of our friends and family may get quite sick. Let’s do what we can to help others, especially the elderly, disabled, poor, and isolated. Take precautions; don’t be reckless and risk spreading the disease, but also don’t forget the fundamental Christian duty to help others. “I was sick, and you came to visit me,” said Jesus (Mt 25). Since we can’t visit, try calls and letters. And let’s keep in mind: our church family has a special responsibility to make sure the Food Pantry is well stocked (and to bless the workers running it!)
- Pray. Churches around the world have had to cancel corporate worship. It’s prudent and necessary, but comes at a cost. For many, it removes one of the most consoling parts of our lives. I’m not naïve enough to think many people are pining for one more sermon from Rev. Dave, but I know I’m not the only one who misses communion and Christian fellowship (and Cornelius’s smile). What can we do instead? Well, our service is now on Facebook and fccvalpo.org. Give that a shot. Even better: pray. Prayer reminds us we’re still part of a community, and that the God we meet in Jesus Christ is with us always.