Thursday, June 4, 2020

Beyond Loaves and Fishes: Justice & Nonviolence



 

A short message concerning what we can do together to assist our African

American brothers and sisters to push back against the sin of racism so

deeply baked into our society. It's a message of encouragement for

everyone and a call to action.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Beyond Loaves and Fishes: Micah Week 3







This week we picked up with Chapter 2. There will be lots of material about human downfall and what we must do to walk with God instead of stumbling along in the dark being miserable. We ended with Chapter 4. It was a wild ride. You are all invited.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Anit-Racism Resources

If you are looking for resources that will allow you to fight racism that is so badly harming our communities across the nation and around the world, please follow this link: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1BRlF2_zhNe86SGgHa6-VlBO-QgirITwCTugSfKie5Fs/preview?fbclid=IwAR28P0Fj1Q45vWf7bcIBZDYnyK27Q3Wm0Sz2ZWoD-k30aWnUhibuOXNsPjA&pru=AAABcncwwWM%2Ag_ZhqwgXau1saPP5XcsvoA

ABC USA Letter Refuting Racial Injustice

What follows is a letter from American Baptist Churches USA dealing with the chaos that has occurred as a response to racism following the violent death of George Floyd: 


Dear American Baptists,

The death of George Floyd has caused widespread pain, rage, protests, and violence in Minneapolis and across the United States. I appreciate the input received from officers of the Regional Executive Ministers Council, members of the National Executive Council, and others in constructing a response to this event. While American Baptists have never advocated violence, we grieve with those feeling the pent-up pain from years of racial discrimination and injustice. The horrifying video captured at the corner of Chicago Avenue and 38th Street in Minneapolis has released years of frustration that can never be fully understood by those who have not consistently lived with injustice historically and presently.

Acts of current racial injustice as well as the effects of historic racial injustices have been brought into the light in recent weeks as we recognize that African-Americans have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. In a recent study, the Centers for Disease Control found that 45% of individuals for whom race or ethnicity data was available were white, compared to 55% of individuals in the surrounding community and that 33% of hospitalized patients were black compared to 18% in the community. Unequal access to healthcare, jobs, education, and training have all been influenced by the racialized society in which we continue to live.

Unfortunately, acts of violence have been cast upon many ethnically distinct groups within our congregations and among our international partners. Many Chinese as well as Asian-Americans are being targeted, harassed, and even physically attacked because of comments made about COVID-19. In Malaysia, we are hearing reports of the government using information collected from the treatment of persons affected by COVID-19 for deportation despite earlier statements that no one who sought medical services for the coronavirus would be arrested based on their immigration status.

Racism and Xenophobia have deep roots in American history and culture and wrongs cannot be righted overnight. While expeditious action is critical to the pursuit of justice for George Floyd, dialogue, conversation, systemic change, and continued acts of justice to curb the sources of prejudice and discrimination are needed.

In these tense times of ache and agony and stinging memories of bias and wrongdoing, we are called again to combat racism and resist violence. American Baptists have historically advocated against both violence as well as racial injustice. “Our denominational history is rich with resistance against violence. From Roger Williams speaking in defense of First Nations People, to the Abolitionists, down to Walter Rauschenbusch, and Martin Luther King, American Baptists in particular have been on the forefront for the cessation of violence and the coming of Shalom.” (American Baptist Case Statement on Violence from the 2015 Mission Table). I am calling on people of faith to find the resources of the Spirit to calm their anger. “Lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3, NASV)

Our denominational history is also rich in working toward justice in general and racial justice in particular. “Racial justice,” as defined in our 1989 ABCUSA policy statement, “is recognizing our oneness in Christ, confessing that we have not become what God wants us to be, and committing ourselves to pressing on to that mark of high calling by which we can become a liberating symbol to our nation and world of what it means to be the people of God. In so doing, we can challenge our nation to live up to its high purposes.”

“Thus says the Lord: Stand at the crossroads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way lies; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.” (Jeremiah 6:16, NASV) I charge our American Baptist family to continue to search, advocate, and live where the good way lies.

Dr. C. Jeff Woods
Interim General Secretary
American Baptist Churches USA

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Beyond Loaves and Fishes: Micah Week 2






After last week's introduction to the Old Testament prophets and how
their jobs changed over 1000+ years, we now turn to the prophet Micah
and what he had to say about Israel, power, corruption, downfall, and
hope. It will be a wild ride. You are invited.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Join Us This Sunday, 5/24/2020, Online for Worship

All are invited:

Come and join us for Sunday worship when we continue our sermon series covering the fruit of the Spirit (this week we're exploring peace and where to find it in turbulent times) and honoring our service men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedoms. Stay safe and join us at www.facebook.com/LansdowneBaptistChurch at 11 a.m. East Coast time.

For all of you who feel the work of this church is vital to the community and the world, we appreciate your financial support of our ministries. To contribute to our mission, you may send checks to the following address: Lansdowne Baptist Church, 17 E. LaCrosse Avenue, Lansdowne, PA 19050. 

God bless you all.  ~Pastor Jeff Snyder

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Bible Study: Micah, Week 1



This week we begin our exploration of the Old Testament Prophets with
the minor prophet Micah. We begin with a review of the history of the
prophets and where Micah comes in the long line of prophets that spans
1000+ years of the history of Israel. The job changed over the centuries as
the fortunes of the Israelite's changed. What does any of that have
to do with us. Come and see.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Join Us This Sunday, May 10, 2020

https://www.facebook.com/LansdowneBaptistChurch/videos/588350805116441/

Come and join us for Sunday worship when we begin a new sermon series and honors our mothers for Mother's Day as well. Stay safe and join us at www.facebook.com/LansdowneBaptistChurch at 11 a.m. East Coast time.

Bible Study: Mark, Week 16



On Tuesday night, May 5, 2020, we completed our study of the book of Mark. Focusing on the crucifixion and resurrection, and what it means for us.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Pastors: ABC USA Best Practices Recommendations

These are incredibly difficult times for everyone. Pastors are facing unique challenges that go against our inclinations to reach out, help, and comfort directly, being present for our beloved congregations and communities. Here, however, are the best practices recommendations from our denomination, American Baptist Churches USA (ABC USA). 

VALLEY FORGE, PA (4/15/20)—The Regional Executive Ministers Council (REMC) of American Baptist Churches USA has released a new document, “REMC Recommended Best Practices for Pastors During the COVID-19 Crisis”.
The best practices recommended by the REMC touch on worship services, memorial services, weddings, and pastoral care.
Read the “REMC Recommended Best Practices for Pastors During the COVID-19 Crisis” below of view a PDF document.

April 2020
REMC Recommended Best Practices for Pastors During the COVID-19 Crisis:
The following are recommendations for American Baptist Pastors during this time of the COVID-19 crisis and restrictions.
Traditional pastoral ministry has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and government Stay at Home directives. It has changed the way we worship, fellowship and provide pastoral care. In general, there are to be no groups of ten or more people.
  1. Worship services should not be held in person. Services should be held by Facebook, streaming, and video conference.
  2. Memorial services should be restricted to immediate family members of ten or less people. Larger services should be planned for after social distancing restrictions have been lifted.
  3. Wedding services should be restricted to immediate family members of ten or less people. Larger celebrations and/or receptions should be planned for after social distancing restrictions have been lifted.
  4. Pastoral calls to those in the hospital, nursing homes, and shut-ins should be postponed until after social distancing restrictions have been lifted.
  5. People in hospitals, nursing homes, and shut-ins are considered at high risk of being infected with the virus.
  6. Pastoral care must take on other expressions: greeting cards, phone calls, email, texting, Face Timing, and other creative ways to be present.
  7. The ministry of prayer has been become even more important.
  8. RESOURCES:
    Best Practices for Funerals During the COVID-19 Crisis ABC USA Resources: www.abc-usa.org/coronavirus
The membership of the Regional Executive Ministers Council includes the chief executive officer of each region entering into covenant with the American Baptist Churches USA (33 in total) and the General Secretary.
American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with approximately 5,000 congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.

Message from the National Council of Churches Concerning this Pandemic


Now is a Time to Imagine a Bold New Future 

A statement by the Governing Board of the National Council of Churches

“Be still, and know that I am God!
I am exalted among the nations,
I am exalted in the earth.”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.

-Psalm 46:10-11 NRSV

The Governing Board of the National Council of Churches, meeting during the Easter season 2020, sends greetings to all with the eternal message, “Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!”

These joyful words are a balm, especially, during these difficult days when the COVID-19 pandemic is sweeping over the country, and indeed the entire world, causing illness, death, and the disruption of lives and livelihoods. At the time of our meeting, April 28, 3,090,844 people worldwide have tested positive for the virus, and 213,273 have died.

In the United States alone, there are 1,003,844 cases, and 57,962 deaths have been reported. Fortunately, some areas in the country and around the world are experiencing a decrease in the daily numbers of confirmed, new cases of infection. It remains uncertain whether these positive trends will continue or if a new wave of the virus will emerge. Thus we acknowledge that uncertainty and fear remain. In the midst of such tribulation, we claim that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1, NRSV).

This pandemic shines a light on our ability as a nation and as a people to rally together in a time of crisis. We rejoice and express thanks for all those who are providing aid and comfort to the ill and suffering. This includes first responders, medical personnel, chaplains, and others providing humanitarian assistance. Our prayers are with the scientists and researchers and other experts who are working on improved testing, new vaccines, and guidelines that will enable a return to normal life.

We are grateful to the countless individuals who have come to the aid of their neighbors out of moral conviction, religious faith, or love. We also give thanks for educators, civic officials, and religious leaders, who are learning new, creative ways to teach, lead, and minister to their communities.

This pandemic also shines a light on the hierarchy of human life as we live it. Many essential workers considered essential are treated as expendable. Grocery clerks, orderlies, custodians, restaurant workers, delivery drivers, warehouse workers, and countless others — are at the bottom of the economic ladder. They are required to show up at work and maintain the comfort of others without having necessary resources to protect themselves or their families. We support measures to safeguard their well-being and elevate their economic and social status.

We urge everyone to continue to adapt to those guidelines which will limit the spread of the virus. Now is not the time to ignore measures intended to limit illness and loss of life.

As we are mindful of all the good happening around us, we must also name the injustices and challenges that we confront. This crisis reveals dangerous biases. In particular, we condemn the hate-speech and hate-crimes directed against the Asian-American community, as well as attacks on our siblings of other ethnic and religious backgrounds who are experiencing hatred and xenophobia during this time.

The pandemic has uncovered the systemic racism and classism that is intrinsically part of our national DNA and has shined a light on the vast disparities in our healthcare system. Large cities are reporting over 70% of reported deaths are of African Americans.

A grossly disproportionate number of persons of color are suffering and dying from COVID-19 because of the systemic poverty and racism that plagues our society. We reiterate our determination as a Council to work to end racism.

Further, the economic collapse that is underway shines a light on the weakness of our social safety net, including economic and healthcare inequities, and the tenuous nature of our purported prosperity now that tens of millions have quickly been thrown out of work. As some corporate interests rightly seek government funding to support their workers, others inappropriately seek vast sums from our government to enrich themselves; meanwhile, those of more humble means have received inadequate assistance. We pledge to continue to advocate for our nation’s resources to be utilized to help the most vulnerable among us, including immigrants and refugees.

Finally, this is a time of grief and sadness for millions of people. The loss of life and the numbers who are suffering is staggering. The anguish is compounded by our inability to be near our loved ones as they pass away and to gather in community to celebrate their lives and participate in rites of committal. Although many have died alone, they are not expendable and their loss to us is irreplaceable. We pray that their memory be eternal, and that their loved ones be comforted.

As people and communities of faith, we know that God is with us, and that we are all in this beautiful creation together. A central message of the ecumenical movement has been the resolve to stay together despite our differences. When we do so as a society, we are able to coordinate and extend our response to the pandemic and, in seeking to remedy the weaknesses and faults in our society that this pandemic has exposed, insist that those who are suffering be placed at the center of our concern.

Now is a time to imagine a bold new future, and a way forward that considers the best interests of all of God’s people. The pandemic is a crisis and all crises provide opportunities for change and renewal. People seek and need connection with one another and they desire to collaborate to build a new future that integrates justice and peace with health and well-being. We celebrate that and we are committed to participating as full partners in working for the beloved community.

Read the statement online here.
###
Serving as a leading voice of witness to the living Christ in the public square since 1950, the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) brings together 38 member communions and more than 40 million Christians in a common commitment to God’s love and promise of unity.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Bible Study: Mark, Week 15



This week we explored Jesus' arrest, trial and execution and what it all means for us today. Come and watch. All are invited. If you wish to join us, next Tuesday evening at 8 p.m., we'll be covering Jesus' burial and resurrection, with all its amazing implications for us today. Subscribe and become a regular at the J.S. Brooks YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBxxX5sENGIcCowZ314locA We meet Tuesday evenings at 8 p.m. .

Friday, April 17, 2020

Pianist Akira Ikegami Opens YouTube Channel

One of our pianists, Akira Ikegami, a piano teacher, has opened his own YouTube channel. At this point he has four piano music uploaded, but expects to add more content, including tutorials and music-related topics. Akira hopes people will find these entertaining, and that the music will brighten up their mood during this uneasy time. If you go to his channel and like what you hear, hit the Subscribe button and click on the bell. Then, you'll get a notice every time Akira adds new material. 

You can access Akira Ikegami's channel from:

If you want to hear a sample of his music, here's an example, Chopin, Nocturne in E Flat Major, Op 9, No. 2: https://youtu.be/N9QRR65cvQs

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Bible Study: Mark, Week 14



On Tuesday evening, April 14, 2020, we explored Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, what it meant to be the Messiah, and head toward the culmination of Jesus' ministry on earth and all that means for us. Please join us Tuesday evenings at 8 p.m. on the J.S. Brooks YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBxxX5sENGIcCowZ314locA?view_as=subscriber). 

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Bible Study: Mark, Week 13



Tuesday, April 7, at 8 p.m., we picked up where we left off before Lent. We will be wrapping up our discussion of material leading up to the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus over the next few weeks.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Seeking Support for Community Work


Lansdowne Baptist Church is seeking to become a greater influence in our community, loving all our neighbors better and in doing so loving God. We work with the Interfaith Food Cupboard right now, have a multiple raised bed garden to help feed our congregants in need and the hungry people suffering from food insecurity in our community. The church has an annual feast where we welcome in our neighbors and break bread together, with the help of our volunteers and local businesses who want to help. Every year, we attend the National Night Out to meet with our neighbors for an evening of fun. Last year we had an Easter egg hunt. For the past two years we've offered Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service events at the church. We also provide our minister's sermons and Bible studies here on the blog. We'd like to do more and we'd like to offer you a chance to help. In the future we'd like to have our church services on Facebook Live every week, free for anyone who wants to worship with us, but we'll need new equipment for that. We'd also like to have a stronger missional outreach into our community. We'd like to help our neighbors more directly during this pandemic as so many struggle to make ends meet in uncertain times and feed children without school lunch programs that are so often a lifeline for many hard working families. You can make a donation by clicking on our PayPal Donate button and following the simple instructions there. 


God bless you. Stay safe during these days of COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. We are praying for you and staying home to help flatten the curve right along with the rest of the world. 

How the Virus Stole Easter // By Kristi Bothur // With a nod to Dr. Seuss



Please listen to this inspirational message for Easter. Be encouraged. And join us on Facebook Live for our Good Friday and Easter celebrations at https://www.facebook.com/LansdowneBaptistChurch

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Reflecting on Generosity: Proverbs 12:23-28



Several things came up this week that spoke to me of generosity in times of the COVID-19 pandemic. What stories of generosity do you have to share?

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Do Not Be Afraid




Jesus tells us this about our fear in Luke 12 (NIV): 

Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Children of Light



The Sunday service held on Facebook Live on March 22, 2020, based on Ephesians 5:8-14. What are we as children of light supposed to do in the world, particularly in a time of crisis? Come and watch. All are welcome.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Spring Has a Story to Tell Us

John 1:1-5: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.
5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

The world all around us, even in the midst of crisis, awakens and speaks to us these truths. 





Thursday, March 26, 2020

Lenten Live Stream: Week 3, March 24, 2020



We are going to explore Jesus as a miracle worker this week and see what that means for us this Lenten season when so much has been tossed up in the air by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Here's a Link to Today's Worship Service via Facebook Live 3/22/2020

Pastor's perspective for Facebook Live worship.
Note to pastors, if you don't give the service a title, you don't get to live-stream!
Follow this link to see the recorded worship service of Sunday, March 22, 2020, in the age of the pandemic. I hope this gives you some comfort and you'll join us again next Sunday. Strong message of hope and support. We even have an old favorite hymn.
https://www.facebook.com/LansdowneBaptistChurch/videos/691165211639317/

Don't Live in Fear

Romans 8:15-16 reads: 15For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God...

I want to add an observation to this from scholar Eileen R. Campbell-Reed from an article she wrote in Christian Century. "The Gospel of John tells us Jesus inspired a crowd of 5,000 to pull bread and fish from their cloaks and baskets and share food with everyone. People called it a miracle." God provides us with a sacred abundance that will see us through even this pandemic. What do you suppose we as individuals and as a congregation have up our collective sleeves? Remember too, when God provided manna to the his children in the wilderness, it would only last a day (it also came every day) and anyone panicky enough to hoard manna found it rotting the next morning. If we don't succumb to panic and don't hoard, there will be enough for everyone. 

Thanks for Prof. Campbell-Reed for the good thought! Thanks to Paul for the ever relevant letters! 

Have a blessed day.
God has placed sources of joy all around us

Please share this message with your friends!
~Rev. Jeff Snyder

Rest Assured: God Has Plans for Us

Jeremiah 29 reminds us God has big plans for us: 11For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. 12Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. 13When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, 14I will let you find me, says the Lord ...


God has not abandoned us. God is not smiting us. this isn't caused by some tv preacher's hot button issue of the day that god's heated up about. god didn't send us jesus out of anger, but out of love for all humanity. spend some time in prayer today, walk with god, and be assured. i'm praying for you too. 

~Rev. jeff snyder 

Facebook Live Church Today

In these days of social distancing and gatherings no larger than ten, Sunday, March 22, 2020, at 11 a.m., Lansdowne Baptist Church will meet virtually via Facebook Live for a short Sunday morning service during Lent. You will find a link to our Facebook page in the left hand column with information about our church. Imagine, worshiping with your coffee, robe and slippers is you like! God is good! 

Remember also, you are never truly alone. God is with you always. God has plans for you, as Jeremiah 29 reminds us: 11For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. 12Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. 13When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, 14I will let you find me, says the Lord

We hope to see you there! 

Peace, 

Pastor Jeff Snyder




Friday, March 20, 2020

American Baptist Leaders Calling for Prayer

Members of the National Executive Council and Regional Executive Ministers Council are calling for 21 days of prayer beginning March 21 to April 11, 2020. See it here: https://www.abc-usa.org/2020/03/american-baptist-leaders-issue-call-to-prayer/?fbclid=IwAR2UxgMA-ui8TsPwQO0SlC4TkphieNwyZJBodylappyEv5FJStJp_hboI4s


COVID-19 Information Resources for Pastors and Congregations

American Baptist Churches USA has collected some valuable resources for use by ministers and their congregations in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Immersing ourselves in fact is one way to avoid fear, and certainly a way to avoid misinformation, allowing us to follow the instruction in Ephesians 5:5: Let no one deceive you with empty words. See: https://www.abc-usa.org/coronavirus/

May we all stand on our faith in God. May God be our rock in times of trouble, our firm foundation in the storm. 

Pastors Looking to Livestream Services

No, this is not the laptop I'm talking about.
Hi pastors! If you're looking to livestream, here's a couple tips. I started doing this two years ago for Bible studies ... and never expected that experience to be as useful as it is today. 

If you're going with Facebook Live, it's easy. It will work entirely with your own laptop's camera and microphone. I'll attach a link to a quick video on how to get started with Facebook Live. That video had all I needed to provide a Sunday worship service on the first Sunday our church closed in March due to COVID-19. Link: https://lansdownebaptistchurch.blogspot.com/2020/03/how-to-livestream-your-church-service.html

One thing you need to know, the preview won't last long. On my computer, it freezes if you don't go live quickly. If it does freeze, just start over and roughly 30 seconds to a minute later, you'll be live and nobody will know the difference. 

Now, YouTube Live is another kettle of fish. For this you'll need an encoder. OBS Studio is free and works well. Follow a YouTube instructional video on how to get started. There's a steeper learning curve here, but it's worthwhile. 

Another thing you'll likely need. If you're like me, you can't keep up with the newest, most expensive equipment. My laptop is a few years old and has limited storage by today's standards (150 GB hard drive). This can be a problem as you need a decent amount of memory available for livestreaming seamlessly (along with a good, strong, fast internet connection). I was pushing the limits and discovered flash drives (tiny, meant to install in your laptop and stay there) with 128 GB memory, for a very reasonable price on sale. Needless to say, that nearly doubled the amount of space I had to play with. I transferred all the photos from the laptop to the flash drive (how did I end up with 60 GB of photos, that's over 11,000!) deleted the photos from the laptop's main drive, and the computer is running faster than it has in years. The errors caused by limited space should be done. One thing, when transferring files, open the overall file (in this case Photos) and select all the files & photos within, and pull those over to the flash drive for copying. If you try to pull over the overall file (Photos), you'll get an instantaneous shortcut to the file, but the material IS NOT transferred. You can see the disaster this would create if you weren't careful. 

We live in a new age. We will have to figure out how to stay connected with our congregations differently, how to hold worship digitally when needed, and perhaps this will change some of the things we do after the pandemic is over forever moving forward. That may be something God wants from us. It's worth considering, prayerfully. 

Good luck! 

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Update and Advice with Pastor Jeff



An update on how we'll handle Sunday's service in the age of coronavirus and how we handle uncertain times as Christ's followers.

Annual Community Dinner Postponed

For everyone's safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, our annual free community dinner has been postponed until further notice. We hate to do it, but we love our community and want you all to stay safe. Once the pandemic has passed, we'll brush ourselves off, thank God we're here, and prepare to celebrate together, breaking bread in joy. See you then. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Beyond Loaves and Fishes: Lenten Live Stream 2



On Tuesday, March 17, 2020, we continued our study of Jesus, using the book Jesus: The God Who Knows Your Name by Max Lucado. We explored Jesus as friend. He was a friend to his disciples, to the outcasts, to the overlooked, the powerless, and the lost. He is our friend as well. See what that means for us. If you like what you see and want to join in on Tuesday evenings, connecting with others interested in seeing how our faith is applicable to our daily lives and making a personal connection in the age of "social distancing," go to YouTube and subscribe at my J.S. Brooks channel and become part of the conversation. Here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBxxX5sENGIcCowZ314locA?view_as=subscriber. . ~Rev. Jeff Snyder

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Sometimes You Need a New Plan

Sometimes you just need a new plan. I am building an N Scale model railroad on a door at home. It helps me decompress after a stressful week. I was looking to make my own trees. I selected a tree plan from a YouTube instructional video (they cover just about everything on YouTube), had most of what it took to and decided I could make a few reasonable substitutions. Well, the result is what I call my zombie tree (in the foreground) ... even from a distance you can tell something's just wrong about it. 
Meet my "zombie tree." A different plan was required.

It was discouraging. But, I sat back, thought it over, admitted I didn't have all I needed to successfully complete that plan. I went back to YouTube, found another plan, and this time made no substitutions. At the same stage of development, this tree looked a lot more like a tree. 

Looks more like a tree to me.

The finished tree I liked well enough to make another ... with a third on the way ... and try two different leaf application plans. I enjoyed the results of both. 
Two finished trees with another on the way.

But why am I telling you all this? Because, life right now seems to be strongly suggesting we try another plan. The one we are familiar with just isn't going to work during this COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. We need a new plan for church worship. The PBA developed one in league with the CDC's recommendations and American Baptist plans from around the nation. Here it is and we have the resources to implement it and that's what we will do to keep everyone safe. We can worship together now as we will gather in numbers below the unsafe threshold and we have plenty of room for social distancing. It will seem unfamiliar at first, perhaps a little unsettling, but the safety of our beloved church community is the priority. Here's what the PBA offers as a new plan. 

I have compiled and listed below recommendations for congregations to follow as we live through the challenges that we face given the outbreak of coronavirus.

First:
The PBA Ministers Council gathered this week and discussed the challenges and shared helpful recommendations for congregations as we face in this public health emergency. Please click on the link to review their recommendations and share your thoughts by filling out the survey https://form.jotform.com/200715356940150

Further, the Ministers Council plans to develop webinars and an online community that helps us to coordinate our efforts in serving and protecting church members.

Second:
I have gathered and compiled some of the recommendations from Regions across ABCUA. The PBA does recommend our churches consider the suggestions below:

WORSHIP
Churches face decisions now and in the future about cancelling worship services.  We have been advised to avoid gatherings over 250 people (now the number is down to 50); our larger churches will have a more difficult decision.  In your sanctuary, spread out!  Create some distance between persons
If possible foregoing print bulletins, and replacing them with electronic or projected versions, is advisable. If this is not feasible, make sure greeters are wearing gloves as they pass out bulletins, and have worshippers sanitize their hands as they enter the sanctuary.
Consider live streaming or podcasting your services for those who elect not to attend, and to prepare for the possible cancellation of live worship in the future. 


MUSIC
It is not known at present how long COVID-19 is able to remain viable on surfaces. Projecting lyrics is a good way to prevent the spread of the virus. Remember to disinfect the keyboards, remotes/mouse and desks. If this is not feasible a printed song sheet may be a better option, and if this will not work then encouraging hand washing and sanitizing after worship is recommended (which should be a standard practice).

OFFERING
Plates or baskets should be placed in a location where the people may leave their offering. Plates should be handled by gloved ushers and not passed by the congregation. While there are costs, encouraging online giving would also help protect those who handle the offering after it is taken.

PRAYER TIME
If your church passes a microphone around at prayer time, have the person holding the microphone in the front listen to each request and then repeat it for the congregation.

HANDSHAKING
Following CDC guidelines, handshaking should be avoided. As we greet one another or Pass the Peace, we should do so without physical touch of any kind. A gentle bow or a nod can be substituted. 
People could be taught to sign “I love you” or place their right hand over their heart and then turn it outward to their neighbors—the latter is considered by many to be a sign of peace. A friendly nod and smile is also a good alternative.

COMMUNION
Passing plates and cups is inadvisable at this time, as too many hands end up touching the elements and the potential for spreading the virus is increased. Churches may want to consider inviting congregants up front for communion, keeping a least three feet between members, and have gloved servers hand worshippers the elements. You may also consider using pre-filled communion sets.


OTHER RECOMMENDATIONS:

Who should forego worship gatheringsPersons who feel, or within the past two weeks, have felt unwell or run a fever should be discouraged from attending church services or events, both for their own protection and the protection of others. If anyone in a household is unwell, everyone in the household should remain at home.

In particular, the following persons who are at particular risk from COVID -19 should take extra precautions: persons age 60 or over, anyone with a respiratory condition such as asthma or emphysema, anyone with an autoimmune disorder, anyone who is undergoing or has recently received chemotherapy, and smokers.


Cleaning:  Make sure to wipe every surface that is often touched with disinfectant: doorknobs, handrails, the tops of pews.

Food service:  Food served at coffee hour, feeding programs or other gatherings should be in individual servings. If food is not in individual servings, a person wearing a new pair of food service gloves should be assigned to pre-plate and serve the food. Serving utensils should be handled only by the person preparing and serving the food.

Virtual meetings are encouraged where possible. Church or program staff may be encouraged to work from home, provided their physical presence is not required.  Some free or low-cost online meeting platforms include: Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting, Cisco Webex Meetings, and Microsoft Teams.

Pastoral Care:  Please be aware that pastors may need to reduce or eliminate their physical presence in hospitals and nursing homes.  Many facilities are already limiting such visits.  We have had our first case of a US pastor contracting this illness.  Pastors do not want to become unintentional carriers by entering high-risk areas; in addition, many pastors have family members in high-risk groups, or are themselves at high risk.  Prayer by phone or video can indeed be Spirit-filled.


The Rev. Dr. James E. McJunkin
Regional Executive Pastor

In the end, the new plan that succeeds (and it may take a couple tries to get it right) creates something beautiful ... and perhaps a little different from what was expected!