Dear Members and Friends of First Church,

Each of you is precious to me, and in this unusual time of national epidemic and quarantine I miss being able to see you in person. This is an update on what is ahead for us at First Church. The President on Monday afternoon called for a nationwide two-week “self-quarantine”, limiting gatherings to 10 people and fewer, in order to give our country a good opportunity to get virus contagion under control. Thankfully, the number of cases of coronavirus has been minimal in our area and thus it does not appear that we in Southwest Florida are experiencing a “community spread” event.

Because of the President’s appeal, we have made the following decision: we will not be holding public worship services on the weekends of March 21-22 or March 28-29, but are planning at this time to resume live worship at our usual schedule beginning the first weekend in April (Palm Sunday). For these next two weekends when our facility is closed, we are inviting everyone to worship with us online in the comfort and safety of your home. All the pastors will be participating in worship, and we hope you will join us. In fact, we recommend you do so at the very time you would be coming to church!

To participate, go to and click on the “Worship Online” button located at the top of your screen. Beginning Saturday at 5:30PM this weekend’s message will be available. We encourage you to visit the page before Friday to ensure you can find where the feed will be located. If you have any issues, please contact our Communications department at 239-221-8319, option 3, for assistance during regular business hours (M-F; 8:30AM-5PM).

Nearly all events that involve more than a small group of people are cancelled through the end of March. We are updating the website as quickly as possible as new information is available. Please use the “Read More” link under the COVID-19 announcement found on the website homepage. We will also be sending out a special e-version of First Things First on Saturday afternoons for the next two weeks. If you don’t receive it, please email and someone will be able to look into the issue for you.

Our pastoral staff are eager to be in communication with you (by phone or email) and want to know about your personal concerns and prayer requests. Please feel free to respond to this email, and one of us will be in touch with you. We also want to let you know that our Meditation Garden remains open for quiet prayer and reflection, and a member of our pastoral team will be available Monday through Friday next week from 2-5PM in the Sanctuary if you would like personal prayer. Our prayers for your health, safety and security are with you all.

Yours in Christ,
Pastor Doug Pratt