Church Family,

I hope this update finds you and your family well. I am excited to announce that we will be reopening for services beginning Sunday, May 24th. Here is the information you need to know about reopening:

o We will offer two family worship services at 9AM and 11AM.

o No childcare will be offered during these services, but the chapel will serve as a space for families with children birth-Kindergarten who feel uncomfortable sitting through worship in the sanctuary. We will have coloring sheets, apple juice, and the worship service will be broadcast in the chapel. Rest assured, the room will be set up in a way that follows social distancing guidelines.

o Adult community groups will continue to meet digitally using whatever methods work for your group. These groups do NOT have to meet on Sunday mornings. We suggest you discuss with your community group a day and time that works well with everyone’s schedule.

o In between our services a cleaning crew will completely wipe down both the sanctuary and the chapel.

o We are encouraging senior adults(65+) and families with small children to utilize our Troy Street parking lot and for all others to park in our Main Street lot and enter through the front of the sanctuary.

o For families that will be using the chapel, we will have both our Main Street chapel doors open and the Troy street chapel doors open.

o We will be spaced out in the sanctuary using every other pew and sit in the center of the pew. After the service ends we will dismiss people by section. We ask that you exit through the same doors that you enter.

o We ask that any fellowship time with others be done in the parking lots so that we can clean the facility and continue to follow proper CDC guidelines.

o You will be receiving a digital form from us to indicate what service you will be attending to ensure that we have the proper volunteers for our services.

o We strongly recommend that anyone who is not feeling well, has preexisting conditions,or is fearful about returning to church to please stay home. We will continue to broadcast our service on our website, Facebook, and YouTube.

Your Pastor,

Taylor

 

May 7, 2020

Church Family,

I hope that you have all had a good week. Even though we have not met for two months I am still proud of the work that God is allowing us to participate in around our community. Our Wednesday restaurant idea to support small businesses has been a huge hit, and all of the restaurant owners and workers have been so grateful for our support during this time. We are truly being the hands and feet of Jesus in our community, and I could not be more excited to see what opportunities God will open up for us as a church.

I do not have a new update for you in terms of when we might be able to return to church. I would anticipate our governor giving another update sometime soon. I think in this next update she will give churches a better idea of when we will be able to return. While we as a staff are still finalizing our plan, I can tell you that we will have two worship services so that we decrease the number of people in our sanctuary at one time. I cannot tell you how long that will last because this is a fluid situation. I do expect churches will have to incorporate a phased approach when they are allowed to return, and we as a staff are building our plan under that assumption.

I was on a conference call yesterday discussing how we should manage stress during this time. Here are some things I would encourage you to do: continue to stay in the Word and in prayer, make sure you are getting enough sleep, exercise regularly, eat healthy, and stay on a routine. Make sure you are addressing your spiritual, mental, and physical needs during this time.

This coming Sunday during our virtual coffee I will have our Children’s Minister, Cindy Thomas joining me. We will talk about Mother’s Day and all of the great ways Cindy is engaging our preschoolers and children during this time. Should you have any questions for Cindy we will also have some time to answer questions about our ministry to preschoolers and children.

This week I will be resuming our series entitled, The Story of Scripture, as we are walking our way through the entire Old Testament in 2020. I have enjoyed our time going through some of the psalms, but I am excited to get back into our study of the entire Old Testament. I look forward to seeing everyone on Sunday morning beginning at 9:15AM on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, or our website. I hope all of our mothers have a great weekend with their families!

I love being your pastor, Taylor

April 30, 2020

Hello Friends,

Another week has passed, but Governor Ivey’s news conference on Tuesday has given all of us a glimmer of hope about getting back to normal. I am optimistic that we will be able to gather for corporate worship sooner rather than later. Jay Wolf, pastor of First Baptist Church, Montgomery said on Tuesday at the governor’s press conference, “At this time, Alabama does not meet the criteria proposed by the CDC for re-opening houses of worship for large in-person gathering. Re-opening our places of worship will be a process, not an event.

We as a church will follow the CDC recommendations and will seek to honor requests from our local, state, and national officials. In my opinion, the worst thing we could do as a church would be to violate the spirit of recommendations made by the CDC. Our reputation in the community and to the non-Christian world is vitally important so we will do what is best to love our neighbor as our self.

I want to give all of you an update about what we as a staff are doing to prepare for our return to in person worship gatherings. We met at length on Tuesday to discuss all of the issues that need to be addressed before we could return to any on campus activities. This conversation included: community group options, multiple worship services to stay within CDC guidelines, sanitation stations, the use of masks and gloves, spreading out in the sanctuary, a cleaning team to wipe down the facility in between services, summer programming such as mission trips, children and youth events, and Vacation Bible school. I’m confident that we have addressed most of the issues that will need to be answered before we return.

The burning question is, “When will we return to on campus activities?” I cannot give you an answer. I can assure you though that our priority is the safety of everyone. Please pray for wisdom as we determine the course of action that is best for our church.

This coming Sunday during our virtual coffee time I will have as my guest, Gavin Thomas, our technology guru. We will use this time to interact with you about all of the different digital platforms we are offering. We have heard from many people who would like to connect better with us digitally. Gavin will be ready to answer any questions you might have, and even walk through some steps with you if you are having trouble with our digital platforms. We only have 15 minutes before our service begins so come prepared with any questions you might have.

I look forward to seeing everyone Sunday for our online experience beginning at 9:15AM on Facebook, YouTube, and our website.

Looking forward to worship on Sunday!

Taylor

April 23, 2020

Church Family,

I hope everyone is having a good week. These weekly updates I write are beginning to bother me because I’d much rather be seeing you in person. Let us remember to pray for one another even though we are not able to be with one another. Many in our midst are dealing with anxiety, depression, isolation, and fear of the unknown. We still need one another, and I would encourage you to keep in touch with those in your community groups and other friends in church.

Our staff has continued to remain busy preparing for online services, checking up on people through texts, emails, phone calls, and having discussions about what church will look like when we return. We have received positive feedback about the gift cards that we have distributed to people in need across our community. People have been so grateful for the generosity we have shown them, and I know they are feeling the love of Christ through these gift cards.

We created a short survey and sent it to everyone via email today. Please take 2-3 minutes and fill out this survey. We want to make the most informed decision as possible regarding our return to church whenever that might be. Your response to these questions will help guide our discussion and decision making. We are hopeful that our return to church is sooner rather than later, but our top priority in returning will be the safety of everyone.

I hope you will join us for our Friday night prayer service tomorrow in our Main Street parking lot at 6pm. We are partnering with The JOY FM to broadcast our prayer service. You can listen on 94.3 or 96.1 on your radio. Should Main Street fill up drive around to the Troy street parking lot to park. In addition, we will be using our intercom system on top of our building to broadcast our prayer service across the community. You can go to our Facebook page to see the daily prayer requests that we have been posting leading up to our prayer service.

I look forward to seeing everyone Sunday for our online experience beginning at 9:15AM on Facebook, YouTube, and our website.

Looking forward to tomorrow night,

Taylor

April 16, 2020

Hello Friends!

I hope this update finds you doing well. I really enjoyed our Easter services last weekend, and I hope that they were meaningful to you. We do not know when we will be able to gather again, but I am thankful that God has given us methods of technology so that we can still stay connected. I know that we all long for the physical gathering of congregational worship, but until that time arrives we will continue to be creative about ways we can interact with one another.

Bob Gross and our Missions Committee have been hard at work figuring out how our church can meet the needs of people in our community. We made the decision to allocate $10,000 towards people in our community that were out of work due to COVID-19 and were still waiting stimulus or unemployment checks. We asked church members to identify people that needed financial assistance, and we have been distributing gift cards to those people the last couple of weeks. In addition, we have people who are sewing surgical masks and scrub hats for those in our doctor's offices, nursing homes and hospitals. As people are sewing, they are praying for those that will receive the masks and hats. We are also looking to provide meals for employees at both hospitals that are working around the clock to take care of sick patients. This includes doctors, nurses, lab techs, pharmacy workers, CNA's, custodial staff, etc.

Doug Mann and our facilities team have been working hard on some projects around the church. Electricity has been setup for our new digital outdoor sign. We are hopeful that it will be up by the time we all return to church. The new pew cushions arrived a few weeks ago. We have stripped and waxed the floors in our children’s area as well. When we return there will be some exciting changes to the church!

Financially, you are continuing to give generously and faithfully, and our budget is in a very healthy spot even though we are not meeting regularly. As a reminder, we do have many ways you can give digitally through our website, church app, or text to give. You can go to our website to learn about all of those giving options. Thank you for being obedient to give as God has given us!

I was reading the story of Gideon this morning in the book of Judges. God gave Gideon great success against the Midianites. At the end of the Gideon account, however, the people ask for Gideon to be their ruler. He declines but makes an ephod (priestly garment) of gold instead. Sadly, the people of Israel begin worshipping this ephod instead of God. Here is the lesson: God gave victory to his people and they began worshipping something else as a result. When COVID-19 ends who will we worship? The medical researchers, the doctors, the nurses, and the government are to be commended for their hard work, but they are not to be worshiped.

As a reminder we will have our online experience beginning at 9:15AM on Sunday on Facebook, YouTube, and our website.

Until We Meet Again,

Taylor

April 9, 2020

Hello Friends!

Almost a month has passed since we last gathered together as a church on March 11th for our Wednesday night service. Even though it was just four weeks ago it feels like four years ago! I would imagine some of you like myself have never been removed from church activities for this length of time. The gathering of Jesus’s church is such a rich experience! I want to emphasize, however, that the church is still alive and well in Dothan and around the world.

I read a story recently about a Christian in Africa who was zealous to enter into one of the most dangerous prisons in Nigeria. This prison houses 250 senior leaders of the radical group Boko Haram. Many of these leaders are simply awaiting execution. The Christian man was told the warden would never allow him in to show these men the JESUS film. The man was granted access to show the film and thirty-five of these Boko Haram leaders became followers of Jesus.

Earlier this morning a man stopped by our church who needed a ride home from work. I offered to drive him home, and on the way home I was able to share the gospel with him. He told me he hoped that when he died he would go to heaven. I told him he did not have to HOPE, but he could KNOW. I pray he will become a follower of Jesus. God’s church is alive, and his spirit is working. I love what one pastor I respect said about the sovereignty of God during COVID-19: “The same sovereignty that could stop the virus and doesn’t is the very sovereignty that sustains the soul in it.” God is good AND he is sovereign in the midst of this crisis.

Here are some details about Easter weekend:

  • Tomorrow morning from 9AM-11AM we will have 150 Easter bags available for children at our Troy Street entrance. I would encourage you to come and pick up Easter bags for your family.

  • Tomorrow evening at 6PM we will broadcast our Good Friday service on our Facebook page. Tune in with your family to this special service focusing on the cross and Christ.

  • Easter Sunday will begin at 9:15AM with a community group lesson by Dave Maddox, a children’s lesson by Cindy Thomas at 9:45AM, coffee with the pastor at 10:15AM, and our worship service at 10:30AM. All of these will be available on our website, YouTube, and Facebook.

Grace and Peace,

Taylor Rutland

April 3, 2020

Church Family,      

I hope this update finds you and your family doing well. COVID-19 is continuing to spread across our state and our country, but we know that God is sovereign over this virus. On a personal note, Ashley and I have a dear friend from New Orleans, LA who is battling the coronavirus, and she is in her 90s. We ask that you pray for her and her family during this difficult time. Her name is Joyce Harrington, and she has been an encouragement to our family over the years. She has prayed faithfully for us and supported us throughout our years in ministry in New Orleans and now here in Dothan. 

I have continued to be impressed with your dedication and faithfulness to our church. I hear stories regularly about how you are providing support and encouragement for those in our church and community. The church is not a building, but a group of people devoted to the mission of Jesus Christ to go and make disciples. You can go and make disciples regardless of our ability to meet in this building every week.I enjoyed my meal from Charlotte’s restaurant on Wednesday, and we will continue to think of creative ways that we can help small businesses in our community. Our church has been blessed with many financial resources, and we want to be good stewards of those resources.

I want to encourage you to be faithful in prayer and Bible reading during this time. All of us during this pandemic have been given something that we claim we never have enough of: TIME. What will you do with that time? Will you waste it on worldly pursuits, or will you leverage that time for the gospel? Be strategic in how you manage your time during this disruption in your life.

On Tuesday after consultation with our personnel committee, I made the difficult decision to lay off our three Family Life Center part-time employees due to the indefinite closure of our Family Life Center. We do not have a reopen date at this time, and I will work with church leadership to determine the best use of that building in the future. I want you to know because transparency is so important and even more so in a time of crisis.

This Sunday we will have one of our community group teachers, Mike Coe, teaching an adult bible lesson on our main Facebook page at 9:30AM. For those of you that are already meeting with your community group I’d encourage you to continue to do that. We are providing this option for any people who are not able to connect with a class during this time away. Cindy Thomas will host a preschool and children’s bible study lesson at 10AM on both the Children’s Facebook page (FBC Dothan Kids) and our main Facebook page. You will also be able to see our full worship service at 10:30AM on our main Facebook page, website, and YouTube. Please remember that you can continue to give your tithes and offerings through our website, church app, text to give, mail, or at Troy Street on Sunday mornings from 9AM-10AM.

Your Pastor,          

Taylor Rutland                   

March 26, 2020

Hello Friends,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

This has been a bizarre time for me as your pastor. The church has always gathered to support, encourage, pray, and do life together. COVID-19 has prevented us from doing many of the works of the church that we love to do. I want to focus in this letter, however, on all of the ways that God is working through this pandemic.

First, I am thankful that God is allowing us to reorient our lives back towards Him. With many of the everyday distractions shut down, it is an opportunity for us to enjoy His creation, to spend more time with family, and spend more time in His word. Have you noticed that since this pandemic began to hit our state that we have had hardly any rain in our area? Take advantage of God’s creation during this time!

Second, I am thankful that God has allowed this time for me to examine my own personal idols. Many of the things that I love to do have been taken from me during this crisis. No sports on TV and no eating out are two that come to mind. Surprisingly, I have not missed these activities as much as I thought I would. God is replacing those idols with dependence on Him. Have you taken time to examine your idols?

Third, I am thankful for our new youth minister, Trey Gibson, who will begin officially this Sunday, March 29th. Trey has been unanimously voted on by our youth committee, personnel committee, and our deacons. He will be meeting students and parents digitally for now, but I cannot wait to introduce to him to the church at large when we reconvene.

Fourth, I am thankful for you! Our church has stepped up in many ways during this pandemic. We waived tuition for daycare families through April 5th so the financial burden could be eased during this time of uncertainty. We packed hundreds of bags for children at Jerry Lee Faine Elementary School so that they would not go hungry in between meals. We have supported small businesses through our effort at Basketcase restaurant yesterday. The workers and owners were so appreciative of our business. Our community groups have been creative in gathering digitally via conference calls, Zoom meetings, and Facebook. We have continued to be THE church even though we cannot GATHER at church.

This Sunday we will have one of our community group teachers, Russell Lee, teaching an adult bible lesson on our main Facebook page at 9:30AM. Cindy Thomas will host a preschool and children’s bible study at 10AM on both the Children’s Facebook page (FBC Dothan Kids) and our main Facebook page. You will also be able to see our full worship service at 10:30AM on our main Facebook page. I would encourage you to also share these videos to your own Facebook pages so that word can spread about the Gospel.

Until We Gather Again,                                                                                                                                      

Taylor Rutland                                                                                                            

 

March 25, 2020

Dear Church Family,

I'd like to encourage you to find as many ways as possible to be involved in our community during this pandemic. I went by Basketcase restaurant for lunch, and they are so appreciative of the business that our church has given them today. Thank you for showing the gospel to the people in that restaurant.

I'd also encourage you to reach out to the Wiregrass Area Food Bank (334) 794-9775 to see if there are any needs they have that we as a church might be able to assist.

Many have mentioned driving by Flowers, Southeast Health, and Extendicare to park and pray. Pray for the medical workers, the patients, and the residents.

Contact an elderly neighbor, family member, or church member to encourage, pray, and serve them if they have needs.

I hope to be back together again sooner rather than later!

Your Pastor,

Taylor Rutland

 

March 16, 2020

Dear Church Family,                                                                                         

As I have said from the beginning, our response to COVID-19 is changing by the minute. As you are probably aware, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) is now recommending postponing gatherings larger than 50 people. This has major ramifications for almost every program and event we do at the church. We do not know how long this recommendation will last, but until the CDC communicates differently we will not be having Wednesday or Sunday gatherings on site.  

This is an opportunity for us a church to be out among the people. The opportunities to show compassion and serve our community during this time are endless. 

You as a church have already stepped up in a big way! Our finance team made the decision yesterday to waive tuition for the next two weeks for our Child Development Center families, and cover salaries for teachers. In addition, we have partnered with Faine elementary school to send children home with snacks to supplement whatever food they receive at home. 

We will continue to broadcast via Facebook Live my Wednesday evening Bible study, and our Sunday morning worship services.  

For families, our children’s minister, Cindy Thomas, will provide a children’s bible study lesson at 10AM prior to our worship service at 10:30AM. For community groups, I’d encourage you to develop a rotation of homes, gather at 9AM for breakfast, begin Bible study at 9:30AM, and then watch our worship service together at 10:30AM. Again, this situation is fluid and the CDC might decrease the number of people later. 

Even though church will not be meeting on site, we are still in need of your giving to keep the ministries and operations of the church going. Here are the ways that you can give: 

Many of our people desire to give by check, we will have deacons at the Troy Street entrance from 9AM-10AM on Sundays to receive checks should people like to give this way.

You can mail your checks to First Baptist Dothan, 300 West Main Street, Dothan, AL 36301       

To use text-to-give, simply text the word “Give” to 938-444-8962       

To give using the church website, please visit www.fbcdothan.org and select Give      

To give through our church app, please download Church App—Tithe.ly through the app store.      

Of course, our office is open Monday-Friday 8AM-4:30PM should you like to hand deliver your offering to the church. 

Prayerfully,

Taylor Rutland

 

 

March 13, 2020

Dear Church Family,     

I wanted to give you an update regarding our response as a church to COVID-19.

First, we care about ALL human life. Even though we do not currently have any known cases in Alabama, we want to be praying for those who currently have the virus.

Second, we will cooperate with local, state, and federal officials regarding large group gatherings. Fortunately, this is a decision that does not need to be made at this moment, but the situation is fluid.

Third, should our services be cancelled I will continue to preach via Facebook Live and we will be utilizing our social media platforms. Please follow us on Facebook (First Baptist Church of Dothan, Alabama), Twitter (@FBCDothan) and Instagram (firstbaptistdothan) to receive the most up-to-date information.

Fourth, online giving platforms are available and encouraged. You can give electronically 1 of 3 ways; text to give, the church app, and through the website.

•To use text-to-give, simply text the word “Give” to 938-444-8962

•To give through the church app, please download Church App – Tithe.ly through the app store.

•To give using the church website, please visit www.fbcdothan.org and select Give.

Fifth, there are things we can do to prevent any illness from spreading through the church.

•If you feel ill, in any way, please stay home and let someone in the church office know so that we may pray for you and offer support.

•Please make sure that you utilize good hand washing procedures and help children do the same. •           Cough and sneeze into your elbow, not your hand.

•Avoid touching your face, the virus can live on surfaces outside of the body and become introduced to the body through mucus membranes such as the eyes, nose, and mouth.

•Use alternative greetings to handshakes; such as fist or elbow bumps, waiving and/or verbal greetings.

Last but not least, God is sovereign over his creation. We trust his provision over our lives.  Psalm 105:2 says Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works.

Prayerfully,

Taylor Rutland