UPDATE: March 30, 2020
See our ongoing prayer requests. See the sidebar on the right to worship with us online at our latest worship services. Join us online next week for Palm Sunday on April 5 at 10 am.
UPDATE: March 18, 2020
Click here to learn how you can receive and give care in the latest video from Interim Pastor Steve Schibsted and Associate Pastor for Caring Rev. Mark Stryker:
UPDATE: March 16, 2020
The First Pres campus will be closed March 17–April 7, per the shelter-at-home order from Alameda County and the City of Berkeley. We will continue to post updates on this page. If you need care, email email@example.com. If you have a prayer request, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
As you shelter in your homes, feel free to pray with these words, images, and songs, as part of a private Lenten retreat hosted from afar by Susan Phillips from New College Berkeley.
March 12, 2020
God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Dear First Pres Family,
I am sure you all are following the unsettling news regarding the spread of the Coronavirus in our community, state, country, and world. As your pastor, I want to encourage you to rest in the grace and peace of our Lord and to remember that God is sovereign—and as the verse above reads—he is our refuge and our strength.
That said, we want to be smart and do our part to help mitigate the transmission of this virus. We want to support Flattening the Curve of the Coronavirus especially in the crucial three weeks that lie ahead of us. The situation seems to be changing by the hour, so stay tuned, but here is where we presently stand regarding the life of our church:
Sunday Services and Other Gatherings
For Sundays, March 15, 22, and 29, we will not hold worship services in our sanctuary, and the campus will be closed. Instead, we will bring a worship service into your home via our website—a video from Steve will be posted on our website at 10 am.
In addition, all other Sunday classes, groups, committee meetings, and other scheduled gatherings are also cancelled. No rooms are available on Sundays March 15, 22, and 29.
We have also cancelled all scheduled programs and events on campus from Monday, March 16 through Saturday, March 21. However, our campus will be open for Cornerstone Children’s Center, Berkeley Christian Counselors, and 1951 Coffee Co. Staff will continue to work on campus and closely follow guidelines provided by health officials. On Thursday, March 19 we will decide and communicate about programs for March 23–28. Christian Formation ministries will email Community Group leaders to reiterate safe practices and recommendations if groups want to meet off-campus. We have cancelled several programs and will maintain a list on our Coronavirus webpage.
If You Need Help
This is a stressful season and we want to be available to bring comfort and offer encouragement as we travel this journey together. At this point, pastors and others will be available during the week to meet or to talk over the phone. Email email@example.com with care requests, including requests for assistance if you are self-isolating. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with prayer requests.
How You Can Help
Pray for our church family, community, and world that God will bring good out of this crisis. Pray for wisdom for our leaders as they make important decisions on how best to prevent the spread of this virus. Pray that this crisis will bring our divided country together.
Keep in touch with each other through all the various means of communication available to us. Again, this is a rapidly changing crisis so please check our website frequently to stay aware of the needs of our congregation. Although we may be somewhat physically isolated from each other during the next few weeks, there is no reason why we cannot remain connected and encourage one another.
Continue your regular giving online. Our staff is still working, our mission partners are still depending on us, and our bills still need to be paid. Please be diligent about keeping up with your regular giving. Click here to give online or you can still mail your contribution to church. In addition, new needs may arise which we may respond to as people in our community and world are affected by this pandemic.
Pay attention to guidelines given to us by public health departments including the City of Berkeley, Alameda County, and the State of California.
We love you, are praying for you and are available if you need us. Take special care of each other, your loved ones and neighbors, and know that the “God of all peace” is with you and will never abandon you. It is especially during times like this that we can “let our light shine” and bring comfort and love to others. Keep in touch and together, with God’s grace, we will weather this storm and come out of it a stronger community!
With much love,
Interim Senior Pastori