With the progress being made in our state regarding COVID-19, many of you have been wondering about when our church will move into Phase 2. This past Wednesday, the deacons and myself met to discuss several matters, one of which focused on the specifics of Phase 2 regarding Praise Time & Sunday School. Here is what we have decided in order to help ABC move forward...
During the meeting, one of the questions we had to discuss was "What happens if one of our attending members tests positive for COVID-19 the following week?" After some discussion, we decided that it would be best to suspend services for just the following Sunday. This will allow us to care for the overall physical health of the congregation as well as follow CDC guidelines. If something like this arises, you will be notified by myself and your deacon. But please know that if someone contracts COVID-19, we are not at liberty to share the specifics as to who has it, unless the person gives consent.
And if you happen to be the one who tests positive for the virus, I would ask that you share that information with me so that we can take the proper precautionary measures to ensure the safety of the entire congregation. Beloved, I hope this update helps fill in the blanks with Phase 2, and if you have any questions please let me know.
It's hard to believe that two months have passed since we last gathered together on a Sunday morning. During this time we have felt the sting of separation as the scattered church. But we have also come to realize just how important the gathered church is and how much our presence with one another edifies the soul. That is why I am so excited to let you know about our plan to reassemble as the church. Your leadership (Deacons & myself) has been working diligently these last couple of days to craft a plan that seeks to honor God, cooperate with the governing authorities, and promote the health and well-being of the members of ABC.
ABC Reassembling Plan
On Friday May 15th, our state will enter into Phase 1 of reopening. Within this phase, our governor is allowing churches to begin meeting again indoors with specific requirements to be followed. So, where does this leave Amelia Baptist Church? Before we discuss conclusions on what to do in light of the Governor’s directives, we must carefully consider who we are as God’s people and what God commands of us in His Word for His glory and our good.
First, God’s Word reminds us that we are a gathering people. The very word “church” literally means “assembly”. We are a people who assemble together. As kingdom people, we draw spiritual nourishment by being with other believers, especially in corporate worship. We must never think that gathering is not an essential aspect of our lives as Christians. It is a crucial part.
Secondly, we are people who live by faith and not by fear. Within the past two months, there has been much fear mongering taking place throughout our world. We want to be cautious regarding COVID-19 and take the best possible safety measures to ensure a proper love for ourselves and our neighbors. But we must not live in paralyzing fear over what “might be” or “what if.” We are called to trust our God by faith, obey His word, and seek prudence regarding how we live and function in a COVID-19 world. Our faith informs, strengthens, and enables us to live fearlessly.
Lastly, we want to take into consideration the burdens and consciences of others during this time. There are people within our congregation who will be more cautious regarding reassembling as a church due to numerous reasons (i.e. high-risk category, health issues, etc.). Thus, we want to take the proper steps to ensure the care of our congregation when they meet as well as be overly supportive of people if they decide to stay home during this time.
So, what is a faithful plan in light of God’s Word & the Governor’s directive for reassembling?
Worship services will begin Sunday May 31st
Worship Services will be held at 11am on Sunday mornings in the Sanctuary and Ministry Center at 25% capacity each (35-40 people). This allows us to gather for one service in two separate buildings while also abiding by the Governor’s guidelines to ensure the care for our congregants. Here are some specific things we are going to do to ensure the safety of those who attend...
During this phase we will not have Praise Time, Nursery, Sunday School, Junior Church, Choir, or Midweek Activities (the mid-week devotions will continue to be sent out).
The building will remain closed to visitors during the week. Only specific members/committees may enter. And staff will resume regular office hours beginning May 25th.
Worship services will continue in the Sanctuary & Ministry Center. During this phase we will only implement Praise Time & Adult Sunday School (youth to join). There will be no Nursery, Children's Sunday School, Junior Church, Choir, or Midweek Activities.
This phase will begin at the discretion of the pastor and deacons.
All church activities will resume as normal. This phase will begin at the discretion of the pastor and deacons.
*Keep in mind that this plan is subject to change due to state government guidelines and potential COVID-19 surges.
I pray that this letter finds you all well on this final day of the month. It's hard to believe that April has come and gone and seven weeks of quarantine have passed us by. But no matter how many days pass, I do hope you are able to stay connected with one another through phone calls, letters, emails, Facebook, and other avenues. And I hope the sermons and weekly devotionals have been an encouragement to your hearts and minds as you seek to remain faithful to Christ during this season. Now that May is upon us, the deacons and myself met last night (via Skype) to discuss various matters regarding the needs of our church and plans for the future. Here is what we would like for you to be aware of...
First, all church services and activities will remain suspended until further notice out of safety for our congregation. With that being said, several of the deacons have been tasked with putting together a few contingency plans regarding how and when we can meet again. These plans will follow Governor Northam's guidelines as well as include a phased approach to ensure caution with reopening.
Secondly, the church business meeting that was rescheduled for May 13th will now be postponed until June 10th.
Thirdly, there will not be a May newsletter sent out this month. However, we are planning to mail out a June newsletter with details regarding financial updates, contingency plans, building & grounds info, etc.
Lastly, we are still planning to host Vacation Bible School during the week of July 13th-17th. We will make a final decision by May 13th on whether to host VBS this year or postpone to 2021.
As always, if you have any questions or know of someone in need, please feel free to send a note my way. I love you, miss you, and pray that we will be able to see one another soon.
I hope this letter finds you all well as we embark upon the month of April together. Before I give an update on church matters related to COVID-19, I first want to say THANK YOU again for reaching out last weekend when Amanda was sick with the flu. I’m reminded over and over that despite the season, your love and prayers are overwhelming for my family. Now even though it has not been long since our last church update, much has changed regarding COVID-19 around our state and country. So, in light of recent events, the deacons and myself met again last night (April 1st) via Skype to discuss further safety measures as well as needs that our church body has at the present time.
First, due to Governor Northam’s most recent mandate, all church services and building use will be suspended through at least May 1st. This means that the Easter Egg Hunt has been cancelled. BUT our Easter cantata and Easter Sunday celebration will take place at a later date when the church is able to gather together again. The deacons and myself will meet again on April 15thto assess church needs and on April 29th to assess the May calendar as well as needs.
Secondly, the church business meeting that was scheduled for April 15th will be postponed until May 13th in hopes that the ban will be lifted by this date. If it becomes impossible to meet in May, we will reschedule for June 10th.
Thirdly, out of safety for Mildred & Amy Maxey, I along with the deacons and personnel committee have decided that it would be best for them to remain at home during this time rather than come into the office. I will continue to be in the office during the day (except Thursdays) to study, write, make/take phone calls, and receive/send out mail. As a reminder, the office is closed to visitors while only certain members (building & grounds, tellers, treasurer, deacons, etc.) will be allowed access to the building.
Lastly, for those wondering about Vacation Bible School, we have decided to postpone VBS until mid-July (13th-17th). This will give us more time for prep if the ban on gatherings continues until June 10th. More information about VBS will be shared by myself and/or Michelle McDonald.
As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to send them my way. I love you, miss you, and pray that we will be able to see one another soon.
I pray you are all doing well! Because it has been several days since I last reached out, I want to provide you all an update as to what is going on with the ministry of ABC. The deacons and myself met (via Skype) last night to pray, discuss how we can best care for the congregation at this time, and think through a practical timeline on assessing church activities. Obviously, these decisions are not ideal as we would love, more than anything else, to be back together again. But for the time being, the following reflects the best course of action for the care and love of ABC.
To start off, the deacons will be checking in on their deacon family lists periodically to see if there are any needs and/or prayer requests. Also, if anyone is at an “at-risk” level for COVID-19 and unable to get out of the house, please let your deacon know so that we can take care of getting supplies, groceries, etc. If you do not have a deacon, but have a need/prayer request, please contact me (email or phone).
With regards to the teaching ministry, I will be uploading weekly sermons beginning this Sunday. There will be a standard audio and video recording which will be accessible on the "Sermon" page. In addition, I will be emailing out a mid-week devotional on Wednesdays. I realize that there are some in our congregation who do not have email or internet access. For those members, I will be mailing out a copy of the devotional on Monday mornings.
As of right now we will continue to have office hours Monday through Friday from 9am-1pm. BUT…out of safety for the staff, congregation, and community, no visitors will be permitted into any of the ABC facilities until further notice. Only bare essential members (tellers, building & grounds, deacons, etc.) will be allowed to enter. This policy begins today March 19th. If it becomes necessary, we will shut down the office. When and if that happens, we will let you know. And several people have been asking about what to do with their tithes & offerings. I would encourage you to mail them into the church office.
Lastly, the deacons and myself will be assessing the state of things every two weeks. So right now, all church activities & services are suspended through April 1st. We will meet again on the night of April 1st to discuss the care of the church and the activities planned through Easter weekend. Please know that everything we decide will be communicated through emails, the Facebook page, church website, and phone calls.
As always, if you have any questions please feel free to contact me. And please know that as your pastor I love you, I miss you, and I am praying for you. May Christ be glorified through us in this season of great affliction around the globe.
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’” (Psalm 91:1-2)