On Saturday, September 26, we invite you to join us for a physically distant picnic and variety show. “Western Avenue’s Got Talent” will once again be joining our family picnic. The picnic will be held behind the church where we hold our evening worship service. Please bring food for your family, grab a square and enjoy the evening with us. The picnic starts at 6:00pm and the talent show at 6:45pm. If you are interested in performing at the talent show, here’s a Google Form to fill out with your information: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1LH3__Ti3lbovzX1OBiWuJ9huElbJvlA63cPuTR5y6dQ/edit
We can’t wait to see all your great talents!!
We are planning a men’s golf trip to Springdale Country Club, located in the mountains west of Asheville. This trip will be a wonderful time of fun and fellowship. Andy Lackey will also be leading a time of Bible study and prayer. Space is very limited. If you are interested in attending, please contact Andy at 704-872-4139 or firstname.lastname@example.org
We're excited to announce Avenue Kids is back!
1st - 5th graders
6:30pm - 7:30pm
Back field of the church
Bring your own chair
Spirit Walk: Presented by Brian P.
Though we know the Bible says to walk in the Spirit, the majority of Christians are illiterate (and even nervous) about how to practically live in His power. The result is lives marred by continued brokenness and ministries plagued by fruitlessness. In contrast, believers from Acts understood the ancient path of the Spirit Walk. That extraordinary power was not just for them, but also for us. Join us Wednesday at 6:30 PM in the WABC sanctuary for this 4-week study led by Brian P. based upon the book Spirit Walkby Steve Smith. The audio, along with PowerPoint, will also be presented on Facebook Live and Youtube.
This Friday, 8/28, is our Family Movie Night! This event is for Avenue Kids and all youth plus their families. The movie we are watching is Meet the Robinsons. We will be on the back lawn (where we normally have Sunday evening services). You may either bring your lawn chairs and sit on the lawn (following our regular social distancing rules) or you may sit in your car and listen through your radio station.
Due to the fact the Statesville movie theatre has closed, we will not be able to offer popcorn that night, however, when you drive in, you will have a choice of 1 candy, 1 salty treat, and 1 drink per person. In order to keep social distancing, we are asking that you grab these items when you drive in vs creating a line at the tables. We will have all the treats at both entrances to the parking lot, so feel free to enter either way. We will be ready to accept watchers at 7:45 PM and the movie will start promptly at 8:15 PM. It will finish by 10:00.
The COVID-19 Vaccine and the Mark of the Beast: Presented by Jeff Spry
With all of the unusual things taking place in the world right now, many people have begun to speculate what relationship these events might have to the end times. One current controversy working its way around social media concerns the COVID-19 vaccination and the Mark of the Beast referred to in Revelation 13:16-18. What if any connection might there be?
Please join us this Wednesday at 6:30 PM as Dr. Jeff Spry will address this very question and help us to better understand what the Bible actually says about this topic. This Wednesday, August 26, we will start having one EU class each week in-person in the sanctuary with social distancing like Sunday morning services. For those of you unable to attend, the class will be live-streamed on Facebook Live and also recorded to watch later on Facebook or our website.
Praying in the Spirit: Presented by Dr. Andy White
Please join us this Wednesday at 6:30 PM as Dr. Andy White will be speaking about how we can be praying in the spirit. The need for prayer in our world has never been greater. Yet often our prayer life feels inadequate and at times dry. What we all need is prayer with divine help. Praying in the spirit is trusting in faith and relying on God to hear, understand, and act. We hope to see you Wednesday at 6:30 on either Facebook live or YouTube for this very important presentation.
C.S. Lewis famously wrote that believers usually make one of two equal and opposite errors when it comes to Satan and demons: “One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.” As others have noted, these are not exactly equal errors. To disbelieve in the existence of demons is to disbelieve the Bible and the accounts and words of Jesus.
There is a reality beyond what we can see and the passage we will study this Sunday is one of the clearest and most vivid accounts in the Bible on the subject. Jesus purposefully crossed to the other side, calming the storm in the process, to enter into a storm of another kind. We can learn much about demons and even more about Jesus from this encounter in Mark 5.
Join us at either 8:30 am or 11:00 am for indoor services (11:00 am will be live-streamed) or at 7:30 pm for an outdoor service on the back lawn.
In reading and teaching the Bible, it is easy to make the Bible all about us. We place ourselves in the stories and anxiously await God to help us defeat the giants in our lives with our own five smooth stones. What if the Bible is not all about us? What if God never promised he would do such things in the first place? What if God told us of these events so we would refuse to put our faith in hoped-for outcomes but put all our faith only in HIM? This Sunday, as we continue through Mark’s Gospel, we will look at one the most misunderstood events in Jesus’ life and learn the true point of the amazing story of Jesus calming the raging storm.
This Sunday, June 28, we will follow the same schedule as last Sunday with two indoor services at 8:30 am and 11:00 am (11:00 am service will be live-streamed) and the outdoor worship service at 7:30 pm.
Dear Church Family,
Last Sunday, we held our first worship service in our sanctuary since March 8. With all the distancing protocols in place, we estimated a capacity of 300 people in the Worship Center, with overflow seating in the Fellowship Hall and Multi-Purpose Room as needed. We had 290 people in the worship center and sixteen more in the Fellowship Hall. It was wonderful to be back in that room with so many of our congregation.
Of course, we also had many worship online and at the 7:30 PM service on the grass lawn. We were worried about an approaching rain storm but I never felt the first drop of rain until a few second before the end of the message. God is good! He has given us nice weather for each of our outdoor services and this Sunday evening looks like another beautiful day to worship God in his creation.
To continue to offer the most opportunities to the most people to gather as the body of Christ to worship, we will also hold a worship service at 8:30 AM this Sunday along with our 11:00 AM and 7:30 PM services. We will livestream the 11:00 service. Some are ready to gather indoors. Others greatly enjoy worshiping outside. Others prefer to worship as a family or small group in their homes. We hope all who call Western Avenue Baptist Church home will take full advantage of all these opportunities to grow in their walk with Jesus as we worship him and study his word.
Finally, your staff and deacons meet online last week for our monthly deacons’ meeting. We have a few medical professionals serving as deacons and they wanted to reinforce their appreciation for the impact wearing a mask can have on an individual and those around him or her. We are not requiring masks be worn for the indoor services but are thankful for anyone who chooses to do so. We also join with our medical professionals in asking you to please stay home if you notice any symptoms of illness at all, especially a high temperature. If you are not sure, one of the doctors in our church membership will be in the foyer before both services to quickly take your temperature by scanning your forehead with a non-invasive infrared thermometer. Our cleaning company will thoroughly clean and disinfect the worship center between services.
We are doing what we can to provide you with the opportunity to worship with your brothers and sisters in Christ. We hope you will be able to join us at one of these services.
Jesus’ Response to Social Injustice
Presented by Jeff Durham
What is social injustice? Should Christians advocate for social justice? Is it even a term that Christians should use? And most importantly, what did Jesus say about this topic?
We invite you to join us this Wednesday (6/17) at 6:30 PM on Facebook or YouTube as Jeff Durham will address this timely and relevant topic.
WABC Middle Schoolers and High Schoolers -
We are excited to announce Middle School and High School at Western Avenue will have camp this year. It won’t be over night and it won’t be far away, but it will certainly be fun.
Middle School dates: Tuesday, June 23 - Friday, June 26
High School dates: Tuesday June 30 - Friday, July 3
We will meet at church each morning of camp. Each day will consist of teaching, worship, and activities. Our day will look like this:
9:00 am to 10:00 am - Worship and Bible Study
10:00 am to 10:30 am - Snack and Activity Prep
10:30 am to 12:00 pm - Activity
Activities will include group games, scavenger hunts, competitions, and messy games. You will need to bring a change of clothes on Friday for our Messy Games Competition. We will meet outside under the canopy.
Want to attend?
We need you to have filled out:
· 2020 Student Release
· COVID Release
You can find those forms online here:
Middle School link to register (if you just completed 6th - 8th grade): https://forms.gle/5XaRkvhAKtYkNnrn9
Middle School please register by June 21
High School link to register (if you just completed 9th - 12th grade): https://forms.gle/RFcvpz9XPBD6BvdW9
High School please register by June 28
Questions? Call Mark Collins at 704-872-4139 or email email@example.com.
Good morning! We have a couple quick updates for our Virtual Bible School construction crew! If you have registered for VBS, you can pick up your toolkit behind the church on Friday, 6/12, from 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. or on Sunday, 6/14, before the 11:00 service and after until 1:00 p.m.
While the deadline to receive a toolkit with snacks and crafts has passed, we want to give everyone the opportunity to watch the daily VBS videos. They can also be shared with family or friends who may not live in Statesville. Fill out this short form (https://forms.gle/cQDLMYoxxC5c6mPm9) to receive the link and password to access.
We worshiped online for the first time on March 15. We gathered in this manner for eight weeks. Then, on Mothers’ Day, May 10, we met outside on the back lawn and in our cars at 11:00 AM. We gathered in this manner for four weeks. Last Sunday, in an attempt to beat the heat, we gathered outside at 9:00 AM. It looks like we will only do this for one Sunday.
As we consider our next options, it is good to repeat what we have said multiple times over the last several weeks. Our goal is not simply to be able to worship indoors. Our goal all along has been to worship together. This is something the world does not seem to understand. Some do not understand our desire is not centered on a building to be in but a people to be with. This will remain our goal and will continue to guide our plans, as far as that is possible. We realize moving inside will reduce our ability to gather as one body but we have reached that time, knowing the heat is only going to increase as we move further into the summer months.
This Sunday, June 14, we will have two services. The first service will be indoors at 11:00 AM. We will meet in the Worship Center with overflow options in the Fellowship Hall and the Multi-Purpose Room. This service will also be livestreamed on our website, Facebook, YouTube, and broadcast live on local radio (1400 AM; 100.7 FM). We will observe distancing guidelines in all three locations, which are as follows (and will be explained in a video later in the week):
1)To ensure a distance of six feet between all family units, we will mark off every other row and ensure there are four empty seats between family units.
2)As you arrive, please wait to be seated by one of our ushers. He will find a row with enough seats for you or your family to sit together and then mark off four seats between you and the next worshiper(s). The balcony is also open.
3)When the sanctuary reaches capacity, you may participate in the worship service in the Fellowship Hall or in the Multi-Purpose Room. Chairs will be arranged to meet social distancing requirements.
4)We will dismiss by rows. You may place your offerings in the brown buckets as you depart through the foyer. We ask you not to congregate in the foyer but to continue outside to fellowship.
We will also hold a second worship service at 7:30 PM on Sunday on the back lawn (as we have the last few weeks). As long as it does not rain, the late evening is a wonderful time to meet outdoors. If it does rain, we will not meet at 7:30 PM (indoors or outdoors). This service will not be livestreamed. If it does rain, the morning service will be available online.
Worship at Western Avenue has been very different these past thirteen weeks. It appears it will continue to be different for at least the next three weeks. At the same time, the worship services have been wonderful with a beautiful unity among the body as we gathered in God’s glorious creation. As your pastor, I greatly appreciate your patience and understanding as we do our best to make wise decisions for the good of this church body and our community. May God continue to bless us as we work and plan to honor him in how we worship and live our lives to his glory alone.
We have met outside to worship the last few weeks. I have heard so many positive comments during this time as you have enjoyed these services outdoors. It has been a wonderful experience - with the exception of slowly increasing temperatures and maybe a few slight sunburns. I am thankful for the moderate weather we’ve experienced these past Sunday mornings but it’s starting to get a little hotter. I know the rising temperatures bring more distractions and possibly keep some at home.
We will meet outdoors once again this Sunday morning, June 7, starting at 9:00 AM.
We will also livestream this service on our website, Facebook, and YouTube at 9:00 AM.
We are working with the radio station to carry this service at 11:00 AM but we are not sure at this point what will work with WSIC (100.7 FM; 1400 AM).
We have plans to meet indoors and will do so soon (even quicker than expected if the weather is not as nice). However, our goal has never been to merely be indoors (as nice as that will be). Our goal has been to gather together so we can all worship together. This goal is best met at this time by worshiping outside. If we move indoors at this point, we will have to break into two services and spread across three rooms (sanctuary, fellowship hall, multipurpose room) to accommodate everyone. That is not optimal but may be necessary in the near future.
I greatly appreciate your patience and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday!
The recent deaths of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery are reminders that the sin of racism is still alive in America. And while we see instances of peaceful protests against such heinous crimes, we are also witnessing on our televisions exhibitions of violence and destruction, which include riots, looting, and the destruction of property. So how does this affect our church here in Statesville, NC? What can we, as a body of believers who hold firmly and dearly to the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, do in such times? How can WABC be a beacon of light in a dark and chaotic world, as well as a refuge for sinners and a source of racial unity? And what does God say about such issues of racism and violence? Join us this Wednesday at 6:30 PM as we address these important and critical issues.
We know it was disappointing for many of you to not be able to worship with your church family in person or online this past Sunday. We only had a few short days after the governor's news conference and did not feel we could do all that was needed to livestream from outside without potentially eliminating our ability to livestream anything at all.
We are meeting outside again this Sunday morning (May 17) and are working hard so those at home can participate online in the outside service. We now feel we have what we need to allow you to join us as we worship live outdoors. If it proves more difficult than we imagine, we will record the service later in the week for you to view on Sunday morning. We hope that will not be needed. We want to be together - either online or in person!
DUE TO WEATHER, THIS EVENT IS CANCELLED
We will hold a special outdoor service on Friday night, May 8, at 6:30pm, in the big grassy field behind the church building. (see diagram) You are encouraged to bring your chairs or blankets to sit as a family while we worship in song and open God’s Word for a brief time of reflection on his continued goodness to us. We are working to provide the ability to listen to the service on the radio in your car. Families are also encouraged to bring a picnic meal to enjoy as a family, staying as long as you want. If the weather does not allow us to meet, we will let you know as soon as possible via social media.
The day we have been waiting for has finally arrived. On Tuesday, Gov. Roy Cooper announced North Carolina would enter into Phase 1 of the plan to return to normalcy. Phase 1, which officially begins Friday, May 8 at 5:00 PM, allows churches of any size to gather as long as they meet outside and practice good social distancing standards. It has been eight long weeks since we last gathered together. We are all ready to meet and we plan to do so as soon as possible. We will hold a special service on Friday night at 6:30 PM in the big grassy field in the back of the church building. You are encouraged to bring your chairs or blankets to sit as a family as we worship in song and open God’s Word for a brief time of reflection on his continued goodness to us. We are working to provide the ability to listen to the service on the radio in your car. Families are also encouraged to bring a picnic meal to enjoy as a family, staying as long as you want. If the weather does not allow us to meet, we will let you know as soon as possible via social media.
On Sunday morning, we will return to the grassy field for our worship service at 11:00 AM. You can bring a chair or a blanket to sit in the grass or listen from within your parked cars (we ask those who will be sitting in the grassy area to please park in spaces farther away so those in their cars can be closer). If you cannot or do not wish to attend in person, we will continue to broadcast the service over our normal social media platforms and the radio. I look forward to seeing you face to face very soon.
The Lord’s Prayer
While we are living in a world of uncertainty and unrest, there has perhaps never been a time more critical for the church to be engaged in prayer. But how do we pray? What do we pray? Thankfully for us, the disciples had these same questions, questions which they asked our Lord Jesus. His answer was given during the Sermon on the Mount, and this prayer has become known as the Lord’s Prayer.
This Wednesday, we will begin a new study on this great prayer. While it is a prayer in which we know the words, it is one we desperately need to relearn of its power and practice. So join us this Wednesday at 6:30 PM on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/wabcstv/) as we study the most powerful prayer in the Bible, the prayer taught by our Lord Jesus to those closest to him.
Dear WABC Family,
I wanted to invite you to a special evening of worship, prayer, and fasting this Wednesday at 6:30 PM. This will be a Facebook Live event that will be in place of our regular Equipping University class. In Acts 13, we read where the Apostles were engaged in worship, prayer, and fasting as they prepared to launch from Antioch to take the gospel out to the world. This marked a point where we see the spread of the gospel explode as churches were planted and lives changed.
As we talked about Sunday, I think we are all longing for God to do a great work in our church, our community, and our nation. We have a deep desire for revival to be unleashed throughout the world. Yet it has often felt like the church is facing the headwinds of a culture that offers competing idols for our attention, whether it be entertainment, professional sports, shopping, or socializing in nightclubs. Might it be that God has used this pandemic to remove, for a time, some of the things that compete for our affections in order to create space and margin in our lives so we can focus on Him, and to restore our hunger for God.
This hunger for revival is the spirit within which we are inviting our entire church family as well as any of your friends and family to join us Wednesday evening. To prepare for this time, we are making the following recommendations:
If you have specific prayer requests, please send them to me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I and others on staff will be praying for these throughout the day on Wednesday.
We hope to see all of you Wednesday!
We began a study of Mark’s Gospel in January. We recently took a five week break to prepare our hearts and minds for Easter as we took a deep dive into Isaiah 53. This Sunday, we will return to the second gospel as Andy Lackey leads us in the study of Mark 2:18-22. In this text, Jesus answers the question of fasting in the presence of our Savior and King.
Join us online at:
or on the radio starting back this week on:
WSIC Radio - 1400AM, 100.7FM, 105.9FM
Easter Sunday is two days away. This day is a day we all look forward to every year – for many different reasons. On one level, we look forward to seeing family, enjoying a wonderful meal, and seeing our children dressed up in all their frilly lace and fancy bow ties. On a much deeper level, we enjoy sitting in church with our brothers and sisters, worshiping our risen Savior in song and in word.
This Easter, though everything is different, we can still realize most of these wonderfully happy desires. We may not all be able to gather together at Western Avenue in one of the three previously planned services but I encourage you to make the most of this Sunday morning. Wake up early. Enjoy a nice leisurely breakfast. Make the effort to get dressed. Gather together to tune in to the worship service at 11:00 on the website/Facebook/YouTube and let’s worship Christ. Try to be there at 11:00 or before as we will begin the service with a special video. Rodney and the praise team will lead us in singing some of our favorite songs. Sarah Claire King will also be with us to lead us in worship through song. I will complete our five week study of Isaiah 53 as we look at the concluding stanza, which tells us of the resurrection and its great impact on God, Jesus, and each of us.
Yes, this Easter will be very different from every other Easter you’ve ever experienced. In some ways, it just may be the one you remember the longest and, I pray, with the fondest of memories.
We would love to see those memories. Share some pictures of you or your family’s Easter worship with us on the church’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/wabcstv/). If you took the challenge and made an Easter bonnet, we would especially like to see that!
In the past week, I have tried to help you prepare for our celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. Each day this week, we have walked with Jesus as he made his way to the cross. You can watch these videos (about 12 minutes in length) here:
On a lighter note, I spent some time the last two weeks interviewing a few of our pastoral staff. You can watch these videos to learn a little bit more of the people who love to serve you:
On an even lighter note than that, I took advantage of an empty church building to show you parts of the church you probably never get to see. You can see those here:
May God bless each of you as we use this technology to worship our risen Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ!
What a better way to spend some of your free time during quarantine than memorizing scripture. Andy Lackey has challenged us to memorize Philippians! While this may seem like a daunting task, taking it one day at a time (10 minutes a day, 5 days a week), it can be done!
If you are on Facebook, you can access Andy's Facebook group with videos and posts here.
If you are not on Facebook, you can access all of Andy's videos for this Bible Memory Group on the WABC YouTube page.
Western Avenue at Home
Make plans to join us Sunday morning, April 5 for worship service livestream at 11am. We've added a livesteam option through our YouTube channel, offering another way to watch this week.
Western Avenue will livestream the worship service on Sunday morning at 11:00 AM as we sing together and study the first three verses of Isaiah 53.
We also will use picture-in-picture technology to provide a dedicated sign language interpreter so our deaf community can participate and worship with us.
Please share with anyone who would benefit from this service.
Click here to watch the video from the Facebook Live Andy Lackey taught Wednesday, March 18.
I wanted to wait until later in the week before sending this update about our Sunday morning services and other ministries. The situation continues to change at such speed that it is difficult to keep up. In the midst of an avalanche of information, I want to give some important and essential information about Western Avenue in the days and weeks to come.
Thank you for your patience and understanding. This is uncharted territory for all of us. As you do with your family, we will rely on the Lord to protect and provide as we walk in faith with Him!
The coronavirus has changed all our lives. For many, it is only a matter of certain inconveniences. For others, the situation is much more serious. We have all heard the people most susceptible to COVID-19 are our senior adults. How can we care for these precious saints in our church and in our neighborhood? This is our mandate from Scripture. The apostle Paul writes, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil 2:3-4). Paul goes on to tell us this is the mindset of Jesus in coming to serve us.
Elsewhere, John writes words that strike us in our heart: “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:16-18). I am constantly encouraged by the love I see being poured out on one another within our congregation. We now have a very real opportunity to do so all the more.
I want to encourage each of you to use this time to get to know your neighbors and inquire if there is any way you can assist them in meeting their needs and acquiring personal items and food. This is what it means to obey the greatest command: to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:28-31).
What about our church family? I want to ask for individuals and families within our church to “adopt” our senior adults. I have a fifteen-page document listing households with older senior adults. Each of our twenty-one deacons are already caring for 4-5 widows and shut-ins. This lowers the number of households on the list considerably but there are still many couples and individuals to care for.
If you are willing to adopt one of these homes, please let us know by emailing the church office at email@example.com.
This post will likely get shared by many – please do not indicate your desire to help in comment section below. We may not see it.
We hope to have enough volunteers so that each family has only to care for one household. If you would like more than one household, please let us know. We will send you contact information via email. Once you receive your family, we ask you not to visit their homes but call them to assess their current situation and needs. Please reach out to them often as it appears this situation will continue for several weeks. If they have the capability, perhaps you can FaceTime with them. If you have children, perhaps they can send letters or draw pictures for them.
We realize all seniors are not created equal; some are more susceptible and more dependent than others. At the same time, some have family nearby who are already taking care of all their needs. We praise the Lord for this but it is good for them to know their church family loves them and cares for them, as well.
If your adopted family’s current needs are too much for you to handle, you can contact the church office.
I hope to see the church rise up and be the church to this special segment of our church!
Late Saturday afternoon, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper issued an executive order mandating there be no crowds of more than one hundred people in attendance. Within the hour, several members of the pastoral staff met with Andy White, the chairman of the deacons. After much discussion, we have decided that Western Avenue will not meet as a church body Sunday morning. We will livestream our worship service at 11:00 AM. You may participate in the service by watching the live feed on Western Avenue’s Facebook page or our church website (westernavenue.org). Please do not come to the church building unless you have specifically been requested to attend to serve in a specific capacity.
We do not believe this is a Hebrews 10:24-25 issue. There, the author urges believers to “not neglect to meet together.” This is not a matter of negligence. This is not your decision but ours (along with our governing authorities and health professionals). Your conscience should be clean because you are indeed “providentially hindered” from attending.
At the same time, we do see this as a Romans 13 issue. In the opening verses, the apostle writes, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment” (Rom 13:1-2). This is not a matter of church persecution but an opportunity to serve our entire community in love. This is not a matter of fearful overreaction; there is a crucial difference between fear and prudence. Instead, this is a matter of expressing love for our neighbors, our elderly, the most susceptible among us, and concern for a potentially overtaxed healthcare system. All these compel us to join these unusual efforts to minimize contact to slow the spread of the coronavirus (and other viruses active at this time).
Your church staff will meet again on Monday. It is almost certain more developments will occur. We will take all these into consideration as we make plans for the days and weeks to come. These are not easy decisions. We realize some will disagree with the track we have taken. We think this is the best way to honor God and love our neighbors, the two things God has called all his children to do.
Western Avenue Church Family,
As of Thursday morning, there are 12 cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in North Carolina. The reactions to this news vary wildly from panic to apathy. As followers of Jesus who trust in the good providence of God, we must not move towards either of these two extremes. The best course of action is to take these events seriously and exercise vigilance to do all we can to stop the spread of the virus to protect ourselves and others. This is what it means to love our neighbors as ourselves. We understand this virus can spread quickly, even exponentially. At the same time, it seems the spread of rumors, misinformation, and fear are easily outpacing the spread of the virus. For that reason, we want to share with you our thoughts and our plans.
We do not want to overreact and we do not feel it is wise to do nothing. We think we have come up with a moderate approach that will serve us well this week. We will then reevaluate the following week as conditions continue to develop. This Sunday, March 15, we will meet to worship at 8:30 and 11:00 but we will not meet for Sunday School. We understand our Sunday School classes, especially in our preschool and children’s areas, are much more intimate and put people in a more susceptible position to spread germs. It is easier to keep one room disinfected than multiple children’s rooms filled with toys and adult classes filled with hugs, handshakes, and discussions. There simply is not nearly as much interaction with individuals during the worship service and we even ask that our normal physical interaction be reduced greatly. We will also not be able to provide childcare during either worship service. Parents, it is up to you to bring your children with you into the service or worship with your family at home through the streaming service provided online.
We hope the majority will decide to worship with us this Sunday morning. We leave the decision entirely up to each person and family. If you attend the services on Sunday morning, we ask you to use standard flu-season precautions. Practice proper cough etiquette and hygiene. Wash your hands regularly or use hand sanitizer (there are dispensers in several locations). Practice social distancing by limiting physical contact with others. We are asking everyone to absolutely refrain from shaking hands or hugging. We are sanitizing highly touched surfaces such as doors, handles, tables, water fountains, and sinks. We also ask those who have flu-like symptoms or have been in contact with someone with similar symptoms to stay home and worship with us electronically. We ask those who have traveled internationally or even locally to a place known to be affected to stay home. We advise those who are most susceptible to contracting the virus to stay home, which includes older adults, people with chronic medical conditions or immunosuppression (people with recent or upcoming surgeries; people on autoimmune treatments, including steroids; people with impaired heart, kidney, or liver function; or people going through cancer treatment). We also ask those who serve as caregivers to at-risk individuals to stay home.
This also means that we will not have our regularly scheduled programs on Wednesday night (preschool, children, youth, Equipping University). It is the policy of the weekday preschool to follow the schedule of Iredell-Statesville Schools while leaving the ultimate decision to attend or stay home to our parents. County schools are closed on Monday so we will decide our course of action then.
I am thankful Western Avenue is set up to stream our worship service live at 11:00 AM each Sunday. You can view the services on our Facebook page and the homepage of our website (westernavenue.org). We use this technology weekly to allow those in our family who are sick and unable to attend to remain connected to the church body. Though we certainly never intended to use this technology as alternate to attending in person, we are glad to have the capability to do so in a situation like this.
Our staff and deacons will continue to discuss this issue and develop plans as the situation evolves. In the meantime, we ask you to act wisely in a way that honors the God we serve. The Holy Spirit led the apostle Paul to write these words: “The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil 4:5b-6). The command is “do not be anxious.” The means to obey this command is given next: prayer. Please pray for the many medical professionals, public safety professionals, educators, missionaries, and others who are affected. Pray for the Lord’s protection from illness among our people. Pray for gospel opportunities to come from this outbreak. Pray for wisdom regarding ministry impact in the event of local COVID-19 cases. We want to be a church that reflects our trust in Jesus Christ and his love to our community.
Join us Friday, March 6, 2020, at 6:00 pm in the Western Avenue Baptist Church Worship Center for a joy-filled musical experience featuring animated videos, energetic vocals and exuberant piano, guitar and mandolin instrumentals! Randall Goodgame and the Slugs & Bugs Live concert have ministered to countless families. The concert is geared toward preschool and elementary school age children and their parents. Age appropriate Gospel truths are woven throughout the concert and Randall's heart is for families to leave with a deeper understanding of Jesus's love for them.
Tickets are FREE, however, we do ask that you reserve your free tickets online at www.wabcapps.org or stop by the church office. To find out more about Slugs & Bugs, visit their website and blog at www.slugsandbugs.com.
If you are planning to attend the ALONGSIDE conference this Saturday, please purchase your tickets online by today (February 19, 2020) - We look forward to seeing you all Saturday!
We would love for you to join us at Alongside: Loving Teenagers with the Gospel - ONE DAY EVENT It is going to be a great time for you if you are a parent, youth leader, or youth volunteer. If you are a teacher, a coach, or anyone who is involved in the lives of teenagers. Tickets are only $10. The seminar features Drew Hill, author of Alongside: Loving Teenagers with the Gospel (winner of ECPA 2019 Christian Book Award). It is a great resource for parents and anyone involved in youth ministry. To purchase tickets and learn more visit westernavenue.org/alongside