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.
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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.