Showing posts with label Philadelphia Baptist Association. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Philadelphia Baptist Association. Show all posts

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! 


Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Our Lunch with the PBA Diversity Group

On Sunday, September 30, 2018, Lansdowne Baptist Church hosted the head of the Philadelphia Baptist Association's Diversity Group, Rev. Julia Bruton-Sheppard. Members and friends of Lansdowne Baptist shouldered the jobs of setting up and providing favorite foods from their lives. Accompanying the food were stories associated with those foods and meals held in the past. The idea was that food brings us all together. As Reverend Julia observed, food is a powerful unifying force when God's Holy Spirit is involved.


Honestly, I should have taken pictures during the story
telling, but I was too wrapped up then in listening
and enjoying to do anything else. 
With my background in archaeology, I observed that throughout human history breaking bread together has been directly associated with hospitality.

We had dishes from all over the country and from Africa to try. By the time everyone was fed (and we could have fed a great many more), and each story was told, we were a much closer group. All the ways society tries to separate us seemed to dissolve in the face of favorite foods and stories everyone could relate to. I highly recommend this exercise for every church, every group, everybody. It was a blessed afternoon. We were fed physically and spiritually. 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Standing With, Praying For Victims of Las Vegas Massacre, and More

We here at Lansdowne Baptist Church are grieving right along with the rest of you following the horrific massacre in Las Vegas Sunday night. With 58 dead (as of this writing) and 528 wounded, we are stunned at how much harm one person willingly inflicts on an innocent crowd today. We pray for all those who fell to the gunman, their families, their friends, all who know or knew them. We stand by you in your grief. 

But prayer is a first step. It should always motivate us to action. Jesus called us to go out into all the world and that we must do. We are made for good work by the God who loves and saves us by grace alone. We will endeavor to do what we can to encourage others to work for the ways of love and mutual aid rather than hatred and mutual destruction. We work with our association, the Philadelphia Baptist Association, and our denomination, American Baptist Churches USA, to be peacemakers, as referred to in the Beatitudes.

Matthew 5:1-12: When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Please join us in every way you can to work for peace in our divided, hurting society.


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

1000 Ministers March for Justice



A few images from the 1000 Ministers March for Justice of August 28, 2017, starting at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and ending at the Department of Justice. Ministers, priests, rabbis, and other faith leaders all marched. Over 3000 concerned faith leaders showed up to march for justice for every person oppressed, outcast, and marginalized in our turbulent society today, moving far beyond the expectations of those who organized the march. We came to express our desire to love God and love neighbors. We came to call on our elected leaders to do likewise.

Persistence was required for me as delays began when I arrived. I kept Luke 18:1-8 in mind as I persisted. I started at the Crystal City Underground parking lot in Alexandria, Virginia, took the Metro to the Mall, praying all the while for a person hit by a subway car at L'Enfante Plaza that day (and all persons impacted by that tragedy), headed on over to the MLK memorial down near the Lincoln Memorial (a substantial hike, praying to get there in time and represent my faith well), and joined the growing assembly of marchers there at 11:45 instead of 10:15 or so, as I had hoped. I was in time for the final speech at the memorial and the mile and a half march from the memorial to the Department of Justice. On the way we sang "This little light of mine" with some interesting verse variations, "Sanctuary," and called for justice in a variety of ways, given our various God-given talents. One quote from the event that resonated with those faith leaders present: “It’s time for moral leaders of all religions to get rid of their fear and their political laryngitis and stand up together,” said the Rev. Al Sharpton, who led the march with Martin Luther King III. “We agree that morality must be above party politics.”

I was gratified to meet some of my friends and colleagues there, and to know that others were present, including denominational leaders of American Baptist Churches USA, the Philadelphia Baptist Association, and fellow seminary graduates of Palmer Theological Seminary.

Disclaimer: The "unique" camera views are due to the fact that it was a sunny day and the screen didn't give me much of a view of what I was recording. Still, this will give you a small sense of what happened from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.



Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Nothing Too Wonderful for God


Sermon based on Genesis 18:1-15, focusing on hospitality, Abraham, Sarah, and God. Exploring closely how God's insistence on hospitality impacts upon all of us today during incredibly tense, inhospitable times. Includes current crises playing out in our community. Please watch, share, pray, and act.

Friday, May 12, 2017

310th Annual Philadelphia Baptist Association Meeting

On Saturday, May 6, 2017, the Philadelphia Baptist Association, the oldest religious association in the United States, celebrated 310 years together. To celebrate we explored various aspects of poverty and how to deal with it in our churches in and around Philadelphia. One member (many being pastors) from each church was asked to sign a historical document before the end of the proceedings, The Baptist Principle of Association. It was a beautiful and meaningful day.

It reads:
...we who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.  --Romans 12:5, NRSV

1. Being led by the Spirit, we create together, that which we cannot achieve alone.
2. Baptist Associational Life is understood as autonomous member congregations building connections for a common mission in Christ Jesus.
3. Being mindful of our diversity, we acknowledge our need for being connected as autonomous congregations and we will create and maintain safe spaces of mutuality, respect, support, and learning.
4. We will make quality relationships among our congregations our highest priority, so that we may experience the aliveness of our kindred spirit in Christ Jesus.
5. Our appreciation of Christian hospitality drives our commitment of being supportive of and fully present with one another.
6. We hold ourselves accountable for listening to member churches not currently active in associational life and for seeking to engage them in our work as their gifts are critical to our well-being.
7. With regularity and through a variety of methodologies, we seek to discern the leading of the Spirit as our congregations strive to make a difference in the world today.
8. We are mindful that people will become invested in and committed to that which they have a hand in creating.
9. We will pay attention to the ways that we gather (settings), and ensure to the best of our ability that members in every sector of the Association feel invited and represented in our life together.
10. We will intentionally focus our conversations on possibility, generosity, and restoration of community.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Domestic Violence Workshop: October 8, 2016

On Saturday, October 8, 2016, the Philadelphia Baptist Association’s (PBA) Domestic Violence Learning Community presents, a domestic violence workshop titled “Institutions: Hiding Behind the Lipstick: Silence No More.” The program takes place at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Germantown (41 W. Rittenhouse Street, Philadelphia) at 11 a.m. This is a free event. 

This is a theatrical presentation addressing the institutions of Domestic Violence, including bullying in school, mental illness, drug addictions, incarcerations, religious bondage, and more. 

The desire is to continue to educate PBA churches about this epidemic, with the intent of helping "each one, reach one" person who might be suffering from domestic violence in their local congregation.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Friends Praying and Acting



For Baptist Heritage Sunday, this sermon explores the many ways Baptists have served in the world, and how we go about our business there. We Baptists have long grappled with major social issues, seeking God’s will through the Holy Spirit’s guidance on decisions like the end of slavery in the United States, the integration of freed slaves into society, women’s rights, and civil rights. Today we continue to seek God’s guidance in the challenges facing us. Like Barsabbas and Matthias, the vast majority of us do our work quietly behind the scenes.

Based on Acts 1:15-17, 21-26.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

LBC Attends PBA Annual Banquet Celebrating Mission


Lansdowne Baptist Church members attended the annual Philadelphia Baptist Association mission banquet this October. The emphasis was hospitality and outreach to the community, including the immigrant community. One of our own received recognition for her years of diligent service to a local interfaith food cupboard.

ABC-USA President Don Ng (taken stretching an iPad's camera
to its limits)
The president of American Baptist Churches USA, Don Ng, was the keynote speaker. He told the moving story of his father coming to the United States, fighting in World War II and receiving citizenship based on that sacrifice. Don Ng told of the struggles to bring his father's wife and son over from China to join him. The First Baptist Church of Boston assisted Mr. Ng in his efforts and helped his family after their arrival in the US. This church helped them navigate the rough waters faced by all immigrants to this country. Mr. Ng spoke movingly of the trouble he faced as a child growing up in America, a first generation child of immigrant parents who was not treated well or taken seriously by the school system he was raised in, even as a native-born son of the US. He called all churches to assist immigrants in their struggles and make a positive impact on their lives.


Thirty of the PBA's 129 churches were represented in that banquet hall at the Hilton Hotel in Philadelphia, providing over 600 members to celebrate in fellowship together. The youngest recipient of an award for community action was eleven and her efforts were well recognized. I wonder what we will accomplish together for next year? 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Philadelphia Baptist Association President Reflects on Ferguson, Missouri, Turmoil

The lack of relationships, or people distancing themselves from one another speaks clearly as I listen and watch the events unfold in Ferguson. The lack of representation of one sector of a community in the necessary functions of governance leaps to the foreground. I ask myself, where are the leaders? How did things stay so bad for so long? Where are the healthy relationships that lend to a well-functioning community?

The humanity of Michael Brown, the 18 year old shot dead in the street, seems not to be acknowledged. His body lay in the street for hours. Why? The pain of such indifference resonates with the experiences of so many people(s) who join in protest in Ferguson and across our nation. It is as if we think we can be a healthy society and ignore the plight of any member.

Today, I am saddened by the events in Missouri and I stand convicted. I need to tend to my relationships. Each human encounter is meaningful and I should be mindful of it. It is my perception that we have physically and emotionally abandoned one another and are largely a narcissistic society.

Today, I will tend to my relationships, my own humanity. I will not be dismissive!

The Apostle Paul writes, if one part suffers, every part suffers with it. (1st Corinthians 12:26)

Rev. Dr. James E. McJunkin, Jr., Executive Minister
PHILADELPHIA BAPTIST ASSOCIATION

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Philadelphia Baptist Association's Baby Manna Project

Lansdowne Baptist Church is a member church of the Philadelphia Baptist Association. Associations exist to allow individual churches to join together to do more than they could alone. The Philadelphia Baptist Association is the oldest in the United States, predating the country's founding, and having just celebrated its 307 year of active service. For more on the PBA and what it has done, see: http://philadelphiabaptist.info/?page_id=184

One of the many mission projects undertaken by the PBA is the Baby Manna project. This is an important mission designed to bring much needed formula and other baby products to those babies living in poverty in the Delaware Valley. Currently, there are over 12,000 babies born into poverty in the Delaware Valley every year. Most of these children are bottle fed as they must be cared for by someone other than their mothers. Costs for infant formula is high and rising. Impoverished caregivers have been forced to give hungry infants sugar water or watered down formula, which of course are poor substitutes for proper nutrition. Infant malnutrition leads to lasting and devastating impacts on children's lives.

One hundred percent of donations to the Baby Manna program are used by Philabundance to purchase infant formula and baby products made available to Philabundance's member agencies and the people they serve.

Have a positive impact on the lives of those who struggle to nurture their infants while struggling under the crushing impact of poverty in our region by donating to this worthy program.

You may contact the Philadelphia Baptist Association to find out how to contribute at:

8711 Ridge Avenue
Philadelphia, PA  19128
www.philadelphiabaptist.org

Or you may go directly to Philabundance at this address: http://www.philabundance.org/programs-2/baby-manna/