Florida's Oldest United Methodist Church with Sunday Services at 8:00am, 9:30am, and 11:00am

Covid-19 Updates

July 5, 2020

Dear Friends,
First United Methodist Church of Pensacola will remain closed to in-person gatherings and meetings until AT LEAST July 31, 2020. We will continue to evaluate our situation as we move forward.

The Reverend Mr. Ken Autrey has been informed, as of July 2, that he has tested positive for the Covid-19 Virus. He is in overall good health and continues to improve daily. We ask that you keep Rev. Autrey and his wife Pamela in your prayers. If you have been in contact with him the last couple weeks, we ask that you take the necessary precautions until you are symptom free for at least two weeks from June 22. If you do start to present any symptoms, please get tested as soon as possible. 

All persons should continue to maintain the following guidelines on campus:
• All church staff & volunteers are required to wear a mask while inside the church buildings.
• No more than two people in an office at one time, masks must be worn, social distancing (6ft) must be maintained
• Maintain social distance at all times in all spaces (especially while eating)
• Masks can be removed if you are in an office with no one else and you shut your door.
• Please wash hands regularly

All program staff are encouraged to do as much work from home as possible and only come into the office if necessary. 

We are eager to return to corporate worship and in-person meetings. And, at the right time, we shall do so. Until then I urge you to trust in God, to pray, and to follow the learned advice of our nation’s leading scientists and health care professionals: when you are out, practice safe-distancing, wear a face mask/covering, and repeatedly sanitize your hands. Remember: good faith and good sense go together.

Your Pastor,
Dr. Wesley H. Wachob
P.S. Hebrews 13:8


June 28, 2020

Dear Friends,

Bishop David Graves and his cabinet, again, last Thursday, recommended that our UMC churches continue to refrain from in-person worship services and meetings for the immediate future.

In light of the recent increases in Covid-19 cases in our state, in our county and community, First United Methodist Church of Pensacola will remain closed to in-person gatherings and meetings for the immediate future. We will continue to evaluate our situation as we move forward.

Though the church-buildings are closed, the Church itself is ‘open’ — every day, seven days a week, our church is sharing the Gospel of Christ with our community and world. First United Methodist Church of Pensacola continues to feed the hungry on Monday and Thursday. Throughout the week, we share Bible studies, Sunday School lessons, and morning devotionals with our congregation and friends. And, on Sunday, we will continue to offer Worship at 8:00, 9:30, and 11:00am online; as well as ICON online at 6:30pm. We invite you to find a place to connect with us online during this time when we cannot be together physically. 

We will keep our members and friends in our thoughts and prayers daily. We ask that you keep us aware of your needs. Click HERE to visit our Covid Resource page for help, prayer, volunteer opportunities, and more.  

As always, thank you for your faithful stewardship. Please continue to assist us as we carry out our planned ministry and mission for the year 2020 by giving as your are able. Click HERE to give online. 

We are eager to return to corporate worship and in-person meetings. And, at the right time, we shall do so. Until then I urge your to trust in God, to pray, and to follow the learned advice of our nation’s leading scientists and health care professionals: when you are out, practice safe-distancing, wear a face mask/covering, and repeatedly sanitize your hands. Remember: good faith and good sense go together.

Your Pastor,
Dr. Wesley H. Wachob
P.S. Hebrews 13:8


May 30, 2020

Dear Friends,
Greetings to you in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

Following the recommendation of Bishop David Graves, all the buildings of First United Methodist Church in Pensacola will remain closed to in-person gatherings and meetings through June 30, 2020. This closure includes the Methodist Children’s Academy. We shall continue to evaluate our situation as we move forward, and we shall provide you with weekly updates regarding the reopening of our buildings.

Though the church-buildings are closed, the Church itself is ‘open’ — every day, seven days a week, our church is sharing the Gospel of Christ with our community and world. First United Methodist Church of Pensacola continues to feed the hungry on Monday and Thursday. Throughout the week, we share Bible studies, Sunday School lessons, and morning devotionals with our congregation and friends. And, on Sunday, we will continue to offer Worship at 8:00, 9:30, and 11:00am online. In addition to our already scheduled events and services, starting June 7 at 6:30pm, we will be offering ICON online. You can find more information below. We invite you to find a place to connect with us online during this time when we cannot be together physically.

We will keep our members and friends in our thoughts and prayers daily. We ask that you keep us aware of your needs. Click HERE to visit our Covid Resource page for help, prayer, volunteer opportunities, and more.

As always, thank you for your faithful stewardship. Please continue to assist us as we carry out our planned ministry and mission for the year 2020 by giving as your are able. Click HERE to give online.

It is our prayer that God will keep you and your family safe and well through the days of this pandemic. We look forward to the day when we can return to our normal lives.

Thank you,

Your Pastor,
Dr. Wesley H. Wachob
P.S. Hebrews 13:8



MARK YOUR CALENDARS


ICON Online
Sundays beginning June 7 | 6:30pm | watch on Facebook and FUMCPensacola.com
We are excited to offer our ICON service online starting next Sunday, June 7. You will be able to tune in via Facebook and our website for music, readings, and a sermon by Rev. Brandon Bures. 

Facebook LIVE Hymn Sing
June 10 & 24 | 6:00pm | watch on Facebook
Join us every other week for our Facebook LIVE Hymn Sing with Dr. Rick Branch, Heidi Branch, Libby Kephart Hargrave, and Brian Brown. Those watching live can request any song from the United Methodist hymnal for our quartet to sing along with YOU!    

Click HERE to view the complete online weekly schedule for our ministries. 


April 30, 2020

Dear Friends,
Greetings to you in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.
I am writing this letter to let you know that your church is alive and well and doing the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ. I have asked our staff to provide you with summary statements about the work of your church. As you read below, I pray that you will join your hearts and voices with mine in praise and thanksgiving to God. For, as you will see, even in these harrowing and unfortunate days when the whole world is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, your church—with God’s help and your support—is energetically serving Christ and ministering to our members, our community, our nation, and our world.

Note Well: Out of an abundance of caution—the First United Methodist Church of Pensacola will remain closed to in-person gatherings and meetings through May 31, 2020. This closure includes the Methodist Children’s Academy. This was a difficult decision to make, but after prayer and discussion with other clergy and following the leadership of our Bishop David Graves, I believe this is the safest and most prudent decision. We shall reevaluate our situation as we move forward.

While we cannot be together physically during this time, your church has numerous ways in which you can remain active in  worshiping and serving God and helping your neighbors. We invite you to find a place to connect with us online!

CHILDREN
The Children’s Ministry team is connecting with our families and their children multiple times a week through our Sunday Children’s Sermon with Dr. Rick, interactive Sunday school lessons on Zoom and Facebook, and a weekly Lectionary Lesson with Ms. Lisa! Our grade levels have enjoyed Zoom calls to connect with their peers, including our weekly 4th Grade Chilltime and bi-weekly devotionals for our 3rd Graders. Starting on May 11th, our Children’s Ministry is inviting all our families to come together for the Jesus Storybook Bible Challenge, to read the Jesus Storybook Bible in just 44 days! The team also continues to check in with our families with weekly calls, texts, and postcards.

Click HERE to view the Children’s Ministry Weekly Schedule.

Contact: Lisa Bond, Director of Children and Adult DiscipleshipLBond@FUMCPensacola.com
Social Media: Children’s Facebook Page

TWEENS & YOUTH
The Tween and Youth Ministries of FUMC are offering multiple weekly opportunities to connect online. Both age groups are able to participate in weekly Sunday school lessons and Friday Devotions on facebook, as well as three weekly bible studies via Zoom. The weekly Lectionary Lesson with Ms. Lisa is provided as a resource for our tweens on Sundays and the Youth are given the opportunity for worship and fellowship on Sunday evenings via Zoom. The ministry Facebook pages and Instagram also offer daily conversation starters and surveys. Our Tween & Youth Ministry team makes sure to connect with our young people and their families through weekly calls, texts, and emails. 

Click on the links below to view the Tween & Youth weekly schedules.
Tweens
Youth

Contact: Denise Van Atta, Director of Tween & Youth Ministries
DVanAtta@FUMCPensacola.com
Social Media: Youth Facebook Group  |  Youth Instagram  |  Tween Facebook Group

ADULT CHRISTIAN EDUCATION & DISCIPLESHIP
While we are unable to meet in person, FUMC Adult Christian Education continues weekly online. Dr. Wesley H. Wachob is providing daily devotions, Monday- Saturday on Facebook. 17+ classes, studies, and groups meet and connect throughout the week via Zoom. 

Click HERE to view the schedule of weekly online classes and groups. 

Contact: Lisa Bond, Director of Children and Adult Discipleship
LBond@FUMCPensacola.com

 50-FORWARD
The 50-Forward Ministry is connecting online like never before through Facebook, email, and Zoom. Our 50-Forward Facebook group provides a place to share and connect. Jennifer Piver is also providing a 30-Day Prayer Journey for group members to participate in. The Coffee with Friends group meets weekly on Tuesdays at 9:30am via Zoom. Jennifer provides check-in emails multiple times a week as well as phone calls and letters to those without internet access.

Click HERE to view the weekly schedule. 

Contact: Jennifer Piver, Director of 50-Forward & Pastoral Care Ministries
JPiver@FUMCPensacola.com
Social Media: 50-Forward Facebook Group 

MUSIC
The music ministry staff  is providing music each week for our Sunday morning worship. While our choirs can’t participate each Sunday in worship they are connecting through weekly Zoom meetings. Dr. Branch has been working on new music to share with the congregation. Our Music Ministry is also working on a very special virtual Sanctuary Choir piece, so stay tuned for more information! 

Contact: Rev. Dr. Rick Branch, Minister of Music
RBranch@FUMCPensacola.com

MISSIONS
Our Missions ministry has continued to serve those in need in our community throughout this time. The Kids Feeding Program has provided shelf-stable foods every other week to 32 families (180 kids), First Church provided 30 to-go meals for Milk & Honey children, staff, & volunteers during spring break. The Family Food Box program continues to supply 12-20 families, including shut-ins, with food boxes on the 2nd and 4th weeks of the month. Serving the Hungry is providing hot meals to those in need in our community on Mondays and Thursdays at 11:00am. We have served an average of 95 clients on Mondays and Thursdays since the shutdown. We are also providing soap, sanitizer, feminine hygiene and basic necessities in pre portioned bags each Thursday.  

Contact: Rev. Brandon Bures
BBures@FUMCPensacola.com
Social Media: Serving the Hungry Facebook

PASTORAL CARE
Our Pastoral Care Ministry is actively caring for our congregation daily through the delivery of meals, medical equipment, and prayer shawls as needed; and our Pastoral Care team is praying over your prayer requests as they come in. Our team is making regular phone calls to check on our members most at risk. Volunteers have also been delivering the latest Upper Room edition with a box of cookies from Ruth’s Kitchen to those who request it. Our staff is making it a priority to stay in contact with new members and fielding new information from online visitors and members. 

Click HERE for more info on how to get involved or receive help.
Click HERE if you would like to help knit and crochet prayer squares. 

Contact: Rev. Brandon Bures, Associate Pastor
BBures@FUMCPensacola.com
Contact: Jennifer Piver, Director of 50-Forward & Pastoral Care Ministries
JPiver@FUMCPensacola.com

FACILITIES
The custodians have continued to work during our closure. We are taking advantage of a vacant campus to refresh and upgrade our facilities in preparation of our reopening and for our upcoming 200th Anniversary celebrations. You will notice upon returning, the painting and restoration of the Aldridge entrance to Wesley Abbey, the sanctuary main entrance, the administration building entrance, the dining room foyer, the fountain, and new sod landscaping and flowers around the sanctuary and columbarium. This work has saved the church thousands in contractor dollars. The gym floor is washed, the carpets in the dining and ICON worship areas have been shampooed, the floors in the Methodist Children’s Academy freshly waxed, all in anticipation of our return to full, safe and sanitized operation, whenever that may be.

Contact: Rev. Ken Autrey, Executive Pastor
KAutrey@FUMCPensacola.com

FINANCE
The pandemic has been difficult for all of us, yet we have done our best to continue the mission and ministry of the Church in our community. Although we have not been able to be together, as you’ve read above, our ministries have continued in some creative ways. The staff has done a great job at holding down expenses within their programs, but many of our expenses at the church are fixed. This means expenses continue to be incurred and bills continue to be paid. At this time, pledged giving is down 5% year to date, and our total revenue is down 13%. As should be expected, giving is down, but we are grateful that our situation is not worse. Because of your gifts, we are still doing ministry and we are able to pay the salaries of all our church staff. We have been blessed. Thank you for your faithful stewardship. Please continue to assist us as we carry out our planned ministry and mission for the year 2020 by giving as your are able. We hope to be together soon to celebrate our Easter heritage and enjoy our fellowship once more.

Click HERE to give online. 

Contact: Rev. Ken Autrey, Executive Pastor
KAutrey@FUMCPensacola.com

Contact: Liz Noyes, Director of Finance
LNoyes@FUMCPenscola.com

As you can see, dear friends, God is with us! And, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31b). I urge you to pray, read Holy Scripture, worship God every day. Do something kind for someone else, every day: a call, a card, an email, a text. Keep your faith; remain calm; trust in God. We shall be together again, soon.

Your Pastor,
Wesley H. Wachob
P.S. Hebrews 13:8

Click HERE to view the complete online weekly schedule for our ministries. 


March 29, 2020

The clergy and staff of First Church continue to be here for you and your families, and we pray for you all daily. As we have monitored the evolving situation that is COVID-19 (the coronavirus), we have made the decision to keep our campus closed at least until April 15 under the guidance of our bishop and state and local health officials. This closure includes the Methodist Children’s Academy and all church functions, events, and services.
 
This means we will not gather in person for worship on Sundays, April 5 & April 12. Rather, First Church will continue to provide worship opportunities, via our website, FUMCPensacola.com, and Facebook.com/fumcpensacola. Now, April 5 is Palm Sunday which begins Holy Week, and April 12 is Easter Sunday. We know it may pain some of us to not be able to gather during these highest of holy times in the Church’s year, but rest assured that we are planning some special online experiences over the next couple of weeks – you’ll see some details in the next few days. Also know that as soon as we can gather together again safely as one big family, we will all share in a beautiful Resurrection Celebration. What a glorious day that will be!
 
In the meantime, stay safe. We will continue to post updates and concerns as these arise, so we urge you — routinely, check your email and the church’s website. We also have a new Covid-19 Resource Page from which you can request assistance, volunteer, donate, or ask for prayer. Keep watching for more updates.

March 17, 2020

Dear Friends,

Greetings to you in the name of Jesus Christ. May the peace of God, which is greater than our understanding, fill your hearts and minds in these difficult days. I am writing to you in order to inform you of some very important changes in your church’s weekly schedule. The following brief instructions are to help you as we negotiate our way through the next several weeks.

After much consideration, and under new guidance from our public safety officials and our bishop, First Church has made the difficult, but necessary decision to close the church campus to all activities through the end of March. This closure includes the Methodist Children’s Academy and all church functions, events, groups, and services. We are encouraging our congregation to follow the guidelines that our leaders and health professionals have put into place to protect you and your loved ones, especially those at greater risk.

Click here for the latest guidelines.

Your church is still here for you. While we can not gather together, face-to-face, we ask that you connect with us and your community in the following ways. 

We will not gather in person for Sunday worship on Sundays, March 22 and March 29.
Rather, First Church will again provide worship opportunities, via our website, FUMCPensacola.com, and Facebook.com/fumcpensacola. This coming Sunday the service will first stream at 8:00am and repeat again at 9:30 and 11:00am. Afterwards the service will be available on demand for replay at any time. Services will include a sermon by Dr. Wesley H. Wachob and special music, prayers, and readings. Tune in on Sunday morning for ONLINE worship and join with your friends and neighbors in praising God.

The Church Office will be closed until April 1.
FUMC clergy and staff will be working remotely as much as possible, using phone, email and videoconferencing. Our work will focus primarily on connection and care. However, communication with our church family is important to us, so we will be opening our phone lines from 12:00 noon – 2:00pm, Monday – Thursday. We are working hard to develop ways for our whole faith community to show up for each other, even when we aren’t able to be together. You can always email us at info@FUMCPensacola.com, or visit FUMCPensacola.com and Facebook.com/fumcpensacola for updates.

We will not gather on campus for any classes or groups.
We encourage classes to visit with each other using your class email, facebook group or other regular means of communicating with each other. Make a plan for how your class or group will stay connected during this disruption in face-to-face time together and share that plan with Lisa Bond (LBond@FUMCPensacola.com).

We are still offering our online Lenten Bible Study via Facebook Groups. Click HERE to join this daily devotional and discussion throughout this Lenten Season. 

If you have a pastoral care emergency or to speak to one of our pastors, call 850.259.3177.
We know that many hospitals and nursing homes are closed to outside visitors. Still, we can connect by phone. Let your clergy team know what’s going on with you and your family so that we can care for you in this season.

Click HERE to submit an online prayer request or email prayer@fumcpensacola.com. Please note that all prayer requests are confidential unless otherwise noted. 

Continue to support the church with your tithes and offerings as you are able.
Your continued faithful giving will ensure the church is ready to respond to any needs as they arise. You can give a one-time online gift or set up recurring gifts through the church’s donations page. There has never been a better time to set up an online, recurring gift to avoid any interruption to your financial support of FUMC. To schedule a recurring gift online, if you haven’t already, visit FUMCPensacola.com. Contact Liz Noyes for help with this. If you still prefer to make your gifts by check, we ask that you mail them to: 6 E. Wright St., Pensacola, Florida 32501. We will be checking the mail regularly. Your ongoing support provides stability as FUMC works to continue to care for our community.

This is a very fluid situation and things can change by the day. We will continue to post updates and concerns as these arise, so we urge you — routinely, check your church’s website.

“Seek the LORD, and His strength: seek His face evermore. Remember His marvelous works that He has done; His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth…. “Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Psalm 105:4-5; 1 Corinthians 1:3).

Your Pastor,
Wesley H. Wachob

P.S. Hebrews 13:8

Click HERE to receive future email updates.


March 13, 2020

As the COVID-19 virus continues to affect our community and our world, First Church has decided, under the encouragement of the Alabama-West Florida Conference and CDC, to cancel all in-person services for this Sunday as well as all church sponsored classes, groups, and events for this upcoming week (March 15 – 21). Cancellations include our Wednesday Night Lenten Service and Dinner.

We will have one LIVE-STREAMED service at 11:00am this Sunday, with a sermon by Senior Pastor, Dr. Wesley H. Wachob and some special music. We encourage you to use this time to gather with your family in your homes for a time of worship and prayer. Visit  FUMCPensacola.com or our Facebook page on Sunday morning at 11:00am to join us!

Even though our personal interactions will be limited, the ministry of our church will continue. Throughout the week we will continue to monitor the situation and make further decisions concerning our future services and events at First Church. We ask all our members to maintain a ministry of prayer. This is a great time to call and offer support to those in need. As always, please let us know if you or anyone you know is in need of care so that we can respond. We also ask that you help spread the word by sharing and forwarding any updates to our First Church community. 

It’s important to remember that unlike other parts of our state, we have had no reports of anyone connected to our church or community infected with COVID-19. So you should not be overly worried. This closure is out of an abundance of caution. However, we ask that if you or your loved one is part of a vulnerable population to take extra precautions in your daily affairs. 

As of now, the Church Office will remain open for the staff. We encourage you to call (850-432-1434) or email us with any questions or concerns.


March 12, 2020

Dear Church Family,

When we gather as a faith community, First Church always strives to provide an environment of safety and care for all. With updates about the coronavirus (COVID-19) hitting the news several times daily and in light of The World Health Organization officially declaring the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, First Church will be implementing some best practices that we hope can help us to work together for the physical and spiritual well being of all who come to our campus.  

First of all, as always, First Church will lead with faith, not fear. The clergy and staff are well aware that this is an anxious time for many of our neighbors, and we hope to be a non-anxious, steady and faithful presence that demonstrates an unwavering trust in God. We ask all of our church family and friends to join together in praying for those affected by the virus, all who are working around the clock on our behalf to minimize the impact of this new virus, and all who are working tirelessly for a cure.

Secondly, we are asking everyone to adopt practices to keep yourselves and those around you healthy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages everyone to stay home if you are sick, to wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (especially after going to the restroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose), to cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue, to get into the habit of not touching your face, and to forego shaking hands.

Thirdly, we are adopting the following practices immediately on our campus to stay healthy:

  • asking staff and volunteers to wash their hands frequently and to stay at home if they are sick,
  • implementing a sanitizing protocol in our children’s ministry area,
  • wiping down bathrooms several times on Sunday morning as well as wiping down high-touch surfaces, such as, door handles and water fountains,
  • placing hand sanitizer in high traffic areas and encouraging everyone to use them,
  • asking Pastors and ushers to use hand sanitizer and to refrain from shaking hands,
  • having ushers hold onto the offering plates rather than passing them, and
  • asking worshippers to refrain from shaking hands and instead greeting one another by waving. 

Starting this Sunday, we will be:

  • suspending communion until further notice, 
  • printing all hymns and responses in the bulletin, and
  • refraining from passing the attendance pads 

We don’t want anyone to be afraid of coming to worship. All these practices are being done out of an abundance of caution. We are in a state of watchful preparation right now. As of the writing of this email there are no reported cases in our community. But these practices are important precautions to take given the ease with which this virus can spread. Our First Church staff is monitoring the situation closely and if it becomes necessary to implement further precautions, we will communicate them in another e-mail. In the meantime, please let us know if you hear of anyone needing care so we can respond.

For those that are unable to make it to worship on Sundays, we want to remind you that the Main Sanctuary services are streamed live each week on the church’s website, FUMCPensacola.com and on our Facebook page. Wednesday night Lenten services are also streamed starting at 6:00pm.

Thank you for helping during this uncertain time. Working together, we can minimize the impact of this virus and work toward a healthier community.

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