Thursday, April 2
First Pres Family,
During our Livestream Bible Study last night, we encountered this relevant biblical truth: God meets you in your medium. Your medium is your everyday life and experience. Just as the ancient Magi in Matthew chapter two were led to Christ by a star, the Lord will use what you know and what is around you to bring you closer to Jesus. How might God be using this extended time at home, supporting loved ones from a distance, and experiencing virtual community to bring you closer to the Savior?
Next week we will all have a chance to come closer to Christ during Holy Week. Our living rooms will become sanctuaries and our couches will become church pews. This may be the most memorable Holy Week we experience together! While Easter has a different feeling for each of us this year, we will allow Christ to be our consolation. The entire Holy Week schedule is below.
As I shared during worship, I resonate with the recent headline: Only generosity will save us after the coronavirus crisis. Generosity brings us closer to Christ. This week, our church deployed $18,862 in mission funds for our community. These funds will support those facing housing needs, people dealing with homelessness, as well as local food pantries. Because of your generosity, we can be part of the solution for our community. To support these great efforts and the continuing ministries of our church, visit Online Giving.
I look forward to seeing you online this Sunday!
God bless you,
11:00 am, April 5
Virtual Palm Processional
Create Palms at Home by downloading the instructions.
Share on social media with the hashtag #PalmSundayAtHome or email photos to the Church Office.
Please post or send these images by Saturday at noon.
7:00 pm, April 9
Home Communion Service on Facebook Live. Secure your own bread and juice to share in sacrament at home.
7:00 pm, April 10
Livestream Worship with Scripture and Music
Join us in solemn prayer and meaningful moments at the cross of Calvary.
9:30am and 11:00am, April 12
Invite family and friends to join us online to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection!
Monday, March 30
This week is Palm Sunday. While we won’t be in the sanctuary waving palms, we hope you’ll take part in Palm Sunday at Home. ALL generations in our church family are invited to make palms at home! Download our instructions and share photos/videos on social media using the hashtag #PalmSundayAtHome or email your images to the Church Office. During livestream worship on Sunday, we’ll share a video montage of all the paper palms people have created.
Don’t forget to join our “One Minute at One” daily prayer initiative. At the same time each day, we can unite our hearts together in prayer for our church, our community and our world. You’re invited to set a reminder to pray each day at 1:00 p.m. for one minute or longer. While we are physically apart, we can be spiritually united. This week’s prompts:
Pray that the Lord would guide the scientists of our world to find answers in stopping the coronavirus.
Pray that the Lord would give us a heart of compassion and creative ways to reach-out and serve:
• The sick and the suffering;
• Those who grieve the loss of loved ones;
• Those with sudden employment and financial challenges;
• The home bound and the homeless in need of life essentials.
Pray that the Lord would guide and protect healthcare workers on the front-lines along with employees providing essential services in their communities.
Pray for the Lord to grant wisdom to governmental leaders in decision making and actions that protect life and encourage peace.
May God bless you and keep you healthy!
Thursday, March 26
First Pres Family,
We continue to live in a holding pattern during the coronavirus pandemic. What makes this time especially challenging is that we don’t know when it will end. Because of this, we’re easily filled with anxiety and uncertainty. Our family life, jobs and ways of interacting have changed dramatically in a very short time. What do we do when we don’t know what the future will bring?
One of the most beloved verses in the Bible is Jeremiah 29:11-"I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the Lord; they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope.” When God’s people lived in exile, the Prophet Jeremiah reminded them of God’s powerful promises. As we all face the unknown, we can be encouraged by these great truths:
• While we don’t know what tomorrow will bring, God has a plan for your life.
• In the midst of crisis, God offers you peace.
• No matter how out of control things seem, God gives you hope for tomorrow.
We’ll be reminded of hope and truths like this during our Livestream Worship, Sunday at 11:00 a.m. Last week we reached 210 households through our YouTube livestream. As we continue to cultivate a culture of inviting others to experience First Pres, now is a great time to extend an invitation to a family member or friend to worship with us online, regardless of location. You can share the link firstpreswheaton.org/livestream.
Last Sunday, we announced a new Text-to-Give option for convenient and simple giving from your smartphone. Just text GIVEFIRSTPRES to 73256. Follow the prompts to securely make a one-time or recurring gift with your debit/credit card. You can also continue to give Online or mail your check into the church office (715 N Carlton Ave, Wheaton, IL 60187). It’s hard to express how grateful we are for your support during this unprecedented time. As I mentioned last week, because people continue to give generously, we’ve set up a Compassion Fund to assist people in our church who may be feeling immediate financial strain. For more information or to request a pastoral call, email the Church Office or call 630-668-5147.
I pray that you have been blessed as we’ve joined together in our One Minute at One initiative. In case you missed it, we're praying at 1:00 p.m. each day for one minute or longer as we lift up our community and world in the face this crisis. I encourage you to set an alarm or reminder and we will continue to send out weekly prayer prompts. If you have a personal Prayer Request, please share it with us at Prayer Request.
This past Saturday, we lost one of our faithful saints, Ruth Lundy. With a clergy exception, I was able to visit her at a safe distance to offer prayer and scripture in her final hours. We mourn her passing, but celebrate the resurrection through Jesus Christ. While there are not yet plans for a memorial service, you can read her online obituary.
God bless you, Pastor Kellen
P.S. While the church campus is closed, we continue to check mail and receive voicemails from the church office phone. Since we aren’t meeting in person, we had our first Zoom staff meeting this week!
Monday, March 23
Yesterday’s worship allowed 210 households to join together for inspirational singing, scripture, and a sermon! It was an hour of encouragement in a time when we need God’s direction most. Did you miss it? You can watch the replay on YouTube.
Pastor Steve communicated our new “One Minute at One” daily prayer initiative. At the same time each day, we can unite our hearts together in prayer for our church, our community and our world. You’re invited to set a reminder to pray each day at 1:00 p.m. for one minute or longer. While we are physically apart, we can be spiritually united. This week’s prompts:
• Pray that the Lord would calm our spirits and fill us with joy and peace as we trust in Him (Romans 15:13).
• Pray for our nation and the nations of the world in efforts to combat the coronavirus: for scientists; health providers; and governmental leaders.
• Pray for First Pres Wheaton, the churches of our community, and the global church—that Jesus followers everywhere would be salt of the earth and light of the world.
We also announced an exciting new ‘Text to Give’ option to make giving simple and easy. Just text GIVEFIRSTPRES to 73256. Follow the prompts to securely make a one-time or recurring gift with your debit/credit card. We’re especially grateful for your financial support during this challenging season as we continue to be the church.
God loves you and so do we!
Thursday, March 19
First Pres Family,
Greetings! Here are several updates for Thursday, March 19.
Bible Study Livestream
It was a blessing to gather online last night with church members and friends during our first Bible Study Livestream on our YouTube channel. We have begun a study of the Gospel of Matthew and you can watch the replay on YouTube. In a time of uncertainty, we can lean on God’s word to provide hope, comfort and direction to us. This Bible Study Livestream will continue on Wednesdays at 7:00 p.m.
On Sunday we held our first-ever livestream worship service. I’m grateful to our staff and AV team for responding so quickly to get our online capability up and running. I know we were all blessed by Kedrick and the music team's worship songs as well as Pastor Steve’s prayerful leadership. During the livestream, we reached 165 households and as of today, it’s been viewed 845 times. Be sure to join us for our worship livestream again this Sunday at 11:00 am and share the link with friends and neighbors: firstpreswheaton.org/livestream. We’ve also had requests for the “Coronavirus Social Story” that my wife Sarah created for kids with special needs and their families. You can access the document here.
Here to Help!
We are very aware that this is a season in which we are facing various hardships. We have a team of people in our church who are ready to help if you need support for things such as picking up groceries or supplies. If you’re facing an immediate financial strain, we also have generous members of the church who are stepping up to provide support and we’ve started a Compassion Fund for this purpose. If you need support, please contact the church office to request a pastoral call: via email or 630-668-5147.
Prayer Requests & Pastoral Visits
The Pastors and Staff continue to pray for the needs of our church family. If you have a prayer request, please let us know how we can be praying for you: firstpreswheaton.org/prayerrequest. If at any point you have a loved one in the hospital, short of an in-person visit, we would be glad to offer a video call over smartphone.
In the midst of this crisis, your fearless generosity matters as much as ever. While we are not meeting in person, our ministries to this church and community continue. Thank you for continuing or setting up your Online Giving or mailing your gifts into the church office.
In a time of increased concern, let’s remember Jesus’ question in Matthew 6:27, Who among you by worrying can add a single moment to your life? Let’s not miss the chance to love our neighbors, to be good citizens and draw closer to God.
God bless you,
P.S. We saw many people posting to Facebook during our worship livestream. We’d love for you to share your posts directly to our Facebook page by tagging us at @Firstpreswheaton.
Tuesday, March 17
In uncertain times, God’s people have always looked to the certainty of his Holy Word. Join Pastor Kellen at 7:00 pm starting this Wednesday, March 18, for a livestream Bible Study. You will be able to interact with a live chat and allow the scriptures to reveal God’s truth in this unprecedented season of life.
We look forward to seeing you online!
Monday, March 16
Good evening church family!
Did you miss watching our first-ever worship livestream yesterday morning? Do you want to rewatch yesterday's service with the ability to pause, forward, and rewind? You can watch the service online on YouTube . We hope that you will be blessed by Pastor Kellen’s sermon and that it can be a source of encouragement and peace for you.
In this time of uncertainty, we’re grateful for your ongoing generosity to our church community. Since we aren’t holding regular Sunday services for the foreseeable future, we’re counting on online donations to allow us to continue ministering to you and your family . Please visit Online Giving to give via PayPal (using your own credit or debit card). You can also mail a check to First Presbyterian Church of Wheaton, 715 North Carlton Avenue, Wheaton, Illinois 60187. We're so thankful for your support of this church!
We hope that you will join us at 11:00 am online next Sunday.
Friday, March 13
Coronavirus Response Update
First Pres Family,
There’s one command that’s mentioned more often than any other in the Bible. It’s the command: “Do not fear.” As we talked about during worship last week, in this overwhelming time of the coronavirus, our response as a church isn’t fear, but faith. In Psalm 23:4, David responds this way: "Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no danger because you are with me. Your rod and your staff - they protect me” (Psalm 23:4).
Choosing not to fear doesn't mean throwing out common sense. Following the announcement of Gov. Pritzker last night about not holding gatherings of 250 people or more and the cancellation of D200 schools, out of an abundance of caution we’ve decided to temporarily cancel in-person worship services, Sunday school and adult education starting this week.
For the first time, we will be live streaming worship at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday through our YouTube channel, which will be accessible through our website. If you’re unable to log on live, the full recording will be available on YouTube after the livestream. If you haven’t done so, please subscribe to our YouTube channel. When you subscribe, you can set a reminder for the livestream of our services.
We can still fulfill our mission of inviting all generations into a growing life with Jesus Christ even if we’re not meeting in person. Invite friends or neighbors to join us for worship online and share this opportunity on social media.
Online worship will be for the whole family! In addition to music, prayers and a sermon, there will be a message just for children. Be sure to include your kids as you watch from home.
We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and communicate further about when we will resume meeting for worship. At this time, the church office will remain open. However, for now we will not be allowing outside groups to use the facility and encourage groups/committees to postpone or consider alternative meeting options, using phone or video.
While we choose not to panic and instead be prayerful, here are a few things we can do as a church family:
1. Take good care of yourself and family.
2. Pray for our church and community during this concerning time.
3. Reach out electronically or over the phone to people in your groups even if they aren’t meeting.
One of the things I value most about our family of faith is that we are a generous church. Since we are unable to meet in person, now is the perfect time take part in online giving. You can make a one-time gift or set up recurring giving for your pledge.
Please follow the prompts at: Online Giving
Finally, if you need pastoral support, don’t hesitate to call the church office (630-668-5147) to set up a return call. Pastor Steve or I will gladly respond. If you have a prayer request, you can also submit an electronic prayer request here.
While it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the uncertainty of this situation, we can trust in the certainty of God’s sovereignty.
Blessings, Pastor Kellen