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Spiritual Sustenance

Pastor Art Fairbrother: 'Nothing catches God by surprise'

By Sarah E. Reynolds | Jun 18, 2020
Courtesy of: Art Fairbrother Pastor Art Fairbrother, pictured with his wife, Jen, leads Faith Temple Church of God.

Belfast — Growing up in Waldo County and attending Faith Temple Church of God, Pastor Art Fairbrother met his wife, Jen, in church. Little did he know at the time that after living out of state for a time, he would return to lead the congregation in 2019. He is also youth and discipleship director for the Church of God in Northern New England, including Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

During March and April, he held services on Facebook Live, with two of his three sons playing piano and drums and Jen singing. He continued holding a Facebook check-in and devotional session Monday through Saturday evenings, but said he is now cutting back to a couple of times a week.

For about the last month, worship has been held drive-in-style, with parishioners in their cars and the service taking place in the parking lot, broadcast via FM transmitter on an unused frequency, Fairbrother said. These services have also been recorded and made available on the church's Facebook page. People have enjoyed seeing each other, even from a car, he said. The church will continue to have outdoor services through the summer, and those attending can remain in their cars or bring a chair to set up in the parking lot.

He said the shutdown had made him see a need for broader communication in order to reach more people. A number of people have logged onto Facebook or come to the parking lot services who either had not been part of the church previously, or had been away from it for some time. Sometimes, he said, there are as many as 45 cars in the church lot.

He and his church council of four phone church members every couple of weeks to check in, with each one taking a certain number of names. Fairbrother said he is aware that some congregants buy groceries for others they know are in need, and leave them on their front porch, or quietly pay someone's rent.

The pastor himself has been contacting the families of Belfast Area High School football players he used to coach to learn about people in the community who may need help, he said, and he has gotten involved in the Greater Bay Area Ministerium to make more community connections as well.

The enforced isolation and reduction in activity caused by the shutdown "has caused us as a community to slow down and get back to what's important," he said. He spoke of the need to relax our desire to be in control at a time when many people are feeling out of control, and to trust in God. "Nothing catches God by surprise, and he'll take are of us through this."

The church's contact information is on its Facebook page.

Editor's note: Our series of interviews with Waldo County clergy explores how their congregations are finding new ways to worship, to connect with each other and the wider community, and to find hope and encouragement in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

Clergy interested in participating in the series may contact the editor at sreynolds@villagesoup.com or 338-3334, ext. 110.

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