News & Events Highlights

Here you will find information on some of the exciting things going on at FCC. Visit this page often to review featured events, ongoing opportunities, and various updates from the congregation.

From the Moderator: A Return to Gathering

Kerrie Kleppin-Winn
August 12 2020

Dear Friends,

I hope you are well and finding reasons to enjoy the blessings of summer.

I am pleased to let you know that First Central’s Council, at the recommendation of the Regathering Task Force, has voted to regather for worship in person starting this Sunday, August 16, 2020. We expect this will be welcome news for those who have been ready to return for some time. Also, those who plan to continue online worship will be glad to know our recent investment in new technology will enable us to keep streaming weekly worship services even after the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic has passed.

What can we expect from the service?

The initial phase of in-person worship will mean changes for those worshiping in the sanctuary as well as at home. As our worship leaders explained in the July 15 newsletter, with this hybrid service they will do their best to direct everything to both the online and in-person audiences, though some features of a particular service may favor one or the other.

There will be no choir. Instead we will use a cantor, with congregational singing reduced or even eliminated at first, since singing is considered a higher risk activity than talking. Preachers and speakers will most likely remove their masks when at the pulpit and lectern, so the pulpit and lectern will be 20 feet away from the first row where people will be sitting. Orders from the governor’s office require that all hymnals and bibles be removed from the pews, so everything will be printed or you can use your own digital device. We will hold off on communion until we have some experience with the rest of worship.

Is it safe?

While we know the risk of attending worship in person can never be zero, our public health and infectious disease experts on the task force believe we can offer a low risk environment for most congregants who wish to attend – if we have everyone’s diligence and cooperation.

Because there is ample evidence of asymptomatic transmission, we ask that you adhere to the following guidelines reliably, not just at worship, but in regular day to day activities:

  • Stay home whenever possible, and especially:
    • When you are sick with any symptoms, particularly those associated with Covid-19.
    • If you have any underlying health conditions such as those listed on the CDC website.
    • If someone in your home is ill. Isolate them as much as possible, self-quarantine and follow all other protective guidelines where possible.
  • When you do go out:
    • Keep at least a 6-foot distance between yourself and others with whom you do not live
    • Wear a mask (properly-covering both the mouth and nose) around others with whom you do not live, especially when you are indoors or cannot keep at least 6 feet apart.
    • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, or correctly use alcohol-based hand rub.
    • Avoid crowds where you cannot control physical distancing.
    • Always be aware of conditions where you may have put yourself at risk, so that you can limit contact with others for their protection.

What do I need to do when attending in-person worship?

  • Before coming to church, seriously evaluate if you are in the high risk categories and stay home if you are sick, especially if you are coughing (even with allergies). COVID-19 symptoms currently listed on the CDC web site include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Wear your mask or face covering into church, throughout the service and as you leave. Disposable masks will be available for those who do not bring their own.
  • Enter the church through the wooden front doors or the accessible (southwest) door. These doors and the doors leading into the sanctuary will be propped open. The glass door (office) entrance will be closed on Sunday. Use the center aisle to enter pews and the side aisles to exit pews. Persons with mobility issues may exit using the center aisle.
  • Everyone will need to practice physical distancing. Pews will be marked with seating areas properly spread out. Our sanctuary can accommodate 47 household zones, according to the current rules, which we believe will provide ample capacity to accommodate those who wish to worship initially. It will be crucial that you resist the understandable human urges to shake hands and hug.
  • Printed bulletins will have everything you need for worship (hymnals and bibles have been removed from the pews) or you can use your own digital device. Children’s activity packets will not be available, so please bring something to occupy your littlest worshippers if needed.
  • Exit the sanctuary at the front (east end) through the northeast doors, leaving the building through the Memorial (south patio) doors. There will be no Coffee Hour in this initial phase.
  • Restrooms available will be the men’s room just off of the South Lobby and the women’s room in the Main Parlor.

The Regathering Task Force continues to closely monitor COVID status and public health recommendations to see if modification of church services is advisable. They are not yet suggesting we resume any other activities of the church. Other programming and functions will be considered separately.

If you have the opportunity, please express your appreciation to the volunteers serving with me on the Task Force: Lyn Bouma; Stephen Bouma; Michael Cich-Jones; Bonnie Harmon; Scott Jones; Katie Miller; Philip Smith, M.D.; and Scott Sumpter, with additional contributions from Laura Grams, Bethany Lowndes and Sara Sharpe.

This group has dedicated countless hours to ensuring our return to in-person worship is as safe as we can make it, while also fulfilling the spiritual and emotional needs of our congregation by creating a meaningful, worshipful experience.

Whether your choice is to remain at home to worship or you will be attending the service on August 16, let us respect our varied opinions and decisions on regathering and keep each other in our prayers.

Warm regards,

Laura Mitchell



Katie’s Musings – COVID Consent

Kerrie Kleppin-Winn
August 12 2020

To mask or not to mask… that is the question. …. no actually, it really isn’t a question.  #WearAMask and #ListenToTheScientists Realistically, … More

Scott’s Column: Being Wise

Rev. Dr. E. Scott Jones
July 20 2020

Back in May I read an article about what gay men can teach everyone else about how to live during a pandemic.  … More

What Will Worship Look like?

Kerrie Kleppin-Winn
July 15 2020

As our Task Force continues to develop the plans and protocols that will guide our congregational life in the months ahead, today … More

UPDATE: From the ReOpening Task Force

Kerrie Kleppin-Winn
July 8 2020

Greetings everyone, I know you are all eager to hear about when and how First Central will begin to look and feel … More

Scott’s Column: Ten Years

Rev. Dr. E. Scott Jones
July 7 2020

I look so young in that photo.  Which I was.  I was only 36.  That picture was taken the day I first … More

Theology Brunch: Pandemic Theology

Rev. Dr. E. Scott Jones
July 8 2020

How should people of faith understand the pandemic?  What actions might our faith lead us to? Two of the world’s leading religious … More

Pandemic Spirituality

Rev. Dr. E. Scott Jones
June 24 2020

This spring Senior Minister Scott Jones wrote a series of five essays connecting our pandemic and quarantine experiences with the spiritual wisdom … More

Katie’s Musings: COVID Time

Katie Miller
June 24 2020

I think the weirdest thing about COVID life is the passage of time.   June is almost gone.  But May was only … More

Re-Creation: Summer Worship Series

Rev. Dr. E. Scott Jones
May 28 2020

“What is given at the beginning challenges man to the self-transformations that will allow him, in spite of everything, to stand in … More

Living Well During the Pandemic: Zoom Forums

Rev. Dr. E. Scott Jones
May 26 2020

We are living through a public health crisis with profound implications for all other aspects of human living—morality, psychology, culture, politics, economics, … More

From the Health Team

Kerrie Kleppin-Winn
May 13 2020

Submitted by Bonnie Harmon, First Central Health Team   In preparation for this week’s Adult Forum on Mental and Spiritual Well Being, … More

From The Refugee Team

Kerrie Kleppin-Winn
May 5 2020

We received word last month that our (current) refugee family was struggling during this time of pandemic. The bread-winner of the Khamis … More

From The Health Team – Mask Mastery

Kerrie Kleppin-Winn
April 24 2020

Your mask protects me, and my mask protects you. I hope you have heard this many times by now. It is the … More

An Interview With… Sally Lewis

Kerrie Kleppin-Winn
March 18 2020

Late last year, the Council – with guidance from the Health Team – asked First Central member Sally Lewis to step into … More

State of the Church 2020

Rev. Dr. E. Scott Jones
January 27 2020

At yesterday’s Annual Meeting, Senior Minister Scott Jones delivered his annual “State of the Church” address. This being my tenth Annual Meeting … More

TAGG – One Easy Way to Give to First Central!

Kerrie Kleppin-Winn
November 20 2019

TAGG, which is an acronym for “Together A Greater Good” is a non-profit organization unique to Omaha.  The phone app was launched … More

From the Health Team: Cold & Flu Season

Kerrie Kleppin-Winn
November 19 2019

Here we are again, right at the onset of cold and flu season. We are all interested in things we can do … More

Education Spotlight: What’s Happening Downstairs?

Kerrie Kleppin-Winn
November 6 2019

On Sunday mornings, the kids all head out of the sanctuary after the Children’s Sermon.  But then what happens? Most Sundays, the … More

Parables: Wednesday Night Bible Study

Rev. Dr. E. Scott Jones
September 11 2019

“The parables give us access to the way Jesus re-imagined the possibility of living, of being in the world.”–Brandon Scott Our Wednesday … More

First Central Library

Cassie Williams
June 21 2019

Ever wondered what books are available in the church library? The First Central Library catalog is now online. You can access it … More

Scott’s TED Talk

Rev. Dr. E. Scott Jones
April 2 2019

In February Scott was an invited speaker to this year’s TEDxUNO where the theme was Resilience.  His talk, “Living Open” has now … More

Feeling Creative?

Kerrie Kleppin-Winn
August 6 2020

If you’ve been feeling creative or may be looking for an outlet to relieve some stress, the Art Team has come up … More