All posts in “Featured Stories”

Life at home during COVID-19

Our three pastors and their wives “gathered” this week for a wide-ranging Zoom conversation. Topics include toilet paper, bad outfits, scary kids’ movies … and encouraging words for our church family.

Kaylin’s Quarantine Run

Kaylin Carlson prayed for a way to bring creativity and fun to people during COVID-19. Kaylin’s Quarantine Run has done even more — and it just keeps growing.


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Healthcare during COVID-19

We spoke via Zoom with three healthcare professionals who are part of our church family. Topic: COVID-19 and bringing your faith to work.


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On silence: a prayer devotional

Each Wednesday during this unusual season, our church family is setting aside time to fast and pray. In this week’s short video message, Pastor Josh and Brandy Pardee talk about the value of silence — quieting our minds and listening to God.

On fellowship: a prayer devotional

Each Wednesday during this season of COVID-19, we are asking our church family to set aside time for fasting and prayer. In this week’s short video, Jason and Erin Blume talk about the importance of fellowship, and three specific areas you can pray for.

Some Days

by Jessi Uran | 3-minute read


The ground beneath me shifts
but there is no earthquake.
And the dirt thaws.

The sky above me darkens
but there is no rain.
And the birds sing.

The air around me howls
but there is no whirlwind.
And the flowers bloom.

It is the season of spring.
Yet disaster is to my right and
death is to my left. Each night I mourn the increasing wake left by this strange, invisible storm. Read More

A walk among the stones

by Jim Killam | 7-minute read


As the weather slowly turns warmer, First Free Kids Director Kari Heckler walks her neighborhood more.

“I used to run, and then it turned into walking after I blew out my Achilles tendon a few years ago,” she says. “That was so symbolic in my life, because it forced me to slow down and walk instead of run. The difference that I find, especially right now when we are really slowed down, is that I look around when I’m walking.”

Lately, she notices hearts in windows — symbols of hope amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Trees are blooming. She sees things she would have run past before with scarcely a glance. Read More

New donations warehouse serves COVID-19 needs

by Jim Killam | 3-minute read


Chuck Meyers, Win-Bur-Sew Fire Protection District

First Free Rockford is partnering with the Salvation Army and Rockford Sharefest through the Winnebago County Emergency Operations Center to get needed supplies to agencies serving the homeless, needy, and those affected by COVID-19 throughout Winnebago County.

A warehouse inside the former Circuit City store has been set up by the Winnebago County Emergency Operations Center. It’s staffed by Salvation Army members and Rockford Sharefest volunteers. First Free has already made a $4,000 donation to help with warehouse set-up. We’re also offering the use of our church vans to pick up pre-scheduled donated supplies that are delivered to the warehouse. Read More

Permission to be scared

by Jim Killam | 3-minute read


Lauren and I had a fight Sunday afternoon. I’m not sure either of us could tell you what it was about. We retreated to separate ends of the house for a while to decompress. By Monday, things were fine again.

 “Fight” is a relative term for us. We almost never do. In a great marriage, a few words of exasperation can feel bigger than they really are. And that’s what Sunday was: frustration and helplessness in not being able to help our kids with childcare. In having to treat our parents like we are radioactive. In the two of us seeing and feeling needs, with the biggest of those needs being to stay home.

 And we’re not even to the bad part of this thing yet. Read More

Coronavirus Q&R with Dr. Terry Buzzard

by Jim Killam | 7-minute read


Dr. Terry Buzzard is a physician and regional medical director for Physicians Immediate Care, which operates more than 20 clinics in Illinois and Indiana, including Rockford and throughout the Chicago area. Terry and his family are members of First Free Rockford. We spoke with him Wednesday evening about the coronavirus pandemic.


Dr. Terry Buzzard of Physicians Immediate Care

What are you seeing in your clinics?

A lot of doctors’ offices are actually somewhat less busy because of the shelter in place order. People are kind of staying away. But we are getting phone calls or visits with concerns about it.

We have protocols set up where a patient comes in and they are asked some standard questions, risk evaluation questions. If they answer yes, we basically put them in a mask, ask a couple more questions, and then send them back to their vehicle. Then a nurse goes out and does the initial questionnaire evaluation. Those nurses have to gown up in PPE (personal protective equipment – for this type of illness, a mask or respirator, a gown, gloves and eye protection). They don’t know what they’re dealing with yet. Read More

Notice: The main office is closed and all public gatherings are suspended until further notice.More Details