Showing posts with label community. Show all posts
Showing posts with label community. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

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.

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

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

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

Friday, March 20, 2020

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

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. 

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! 


Monday, March 16, 2020

Meeting at the Well



Sermon for Sunday, March 15, 2020, based on John 4:7-14, the most complex story in the book of John, in which Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at the well. Life application connections made to the current coronavirus pandemic facing us all. This was an experiment (as so many pastors were making that Sunday) using Facebook Live for the first time. The recording you see here was made in parallel with that recording. That's why the angle and you see me looking between my computer screen (with camera and microphone) and my iPad with my sermon notes.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Annual Dinner with Our Community

The Lansdowne Baptist Church's annual dinner, free for all who come, will soon be upon us. It occurs on Saturday, April 4, 2020. Please call the church office and let us know who you are and how many people you will be bringing with you. We look forward to breaking bread with you soon. 

The safety of everyone in our community and church are of utmost importance to us; we love our neighbors. If the situation with the COVID-19* virus worsens in Lansdowne, we will reconsider this meal. If we have to suspend the dinner, we will be sure to let everyone know. We will keep actively monitoring the situation and following offical recommendations for actions, should the need arise. Stay safe, everyone.

*For more information on COVID-19 and your defense against the virus, see: https://lansdownebaptistchurch.blogspot.com/2020/03/timely-information-on-covid-19.html

Friday, February 28, 2020

Upcoming Events in Our Region, March to May 2020

Saturday, March 14, 2020: Philadelphia Baptist Association Domestic Violence Learning Community sponsors a mini conference "Repair, Build and Maintain Healthy Relationships" from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Mount Carmel Baptist Church, 5732 Race Street, Philadelphia, PA 19139, Pastor Rev. Dr. Donald D. Moore. RSVP by March 6, 2020 to: contact@philadelphiabaptist.org (Cancelled 3/13/2020 due to coronavirus)

Saturday, March 21, 2020: Philadelphia Baptist Association's Fifth Annual Passion for Mission Cafe event is titled "Trauma--Informed Helping Skills." This is an event for clergy, lay leaders, young adults & outreach ministry volunteers and those involved in care giving. The event runs from 8:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. and includes a Continental Breakfast, Meaningful Conversation, Fellowship, and Lunch. The cost per person is $25.00. Individuals can register at the door. The presenter of the day will be Rev. Dr. Patricia Murphy. (Postponed due to coronavirus, 3/13/2020)

Sunday, May 17, 2020: The ADL will be holding their 10th annual Philadelphia Walk Against Hate. Registering early locks in a $10 registration fee for adults and $5 for children until March 15th. To register, go to WalkAgainstHate.org/Philly This is an opportunity to celebrate diversity and challenge bigotry. The walk begins at 9 a.m. at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. (As of 3/12/2020, the ADL has suspended this walk due to coronavirus.)

You can see the fluid situation we are all in together with the COVID-19 coronavirus. We need to remain flexible.


Thursday, January 30, 2020

Politics and Church

Will Thompson has sent us another thoughtful article to consider. Now more than ever, it seems, the everyday problems in our society are directly effected by our National politics. We seek comfort, direction, and understanding from our Church community, but should there be a discussion of politics in our pews and pulpit? What is the difference between discussions of politics and social justice as well? 

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Monday, January 15, 2020, LBC Will Hold Practical Fitness Class at Church

MLK Day Facebook - click to view on Facebook.

On Monday, January 20, 2020, Lansdowne Baptist Church will have a day on in the office wing by the parking lot at 1:30 p.m. We will hold a workshop on physical fitness for everyone on a budget. We will discuss and try methods of maintaining health through physical fitness with simple exercises and practical equipment close at hand. The goal is not to look like a top model, but to be able to carry your grandchild up the stairs with the same ease you carried your own children. It's about staying independent and at home. Come and see. Take away some skill sets that become the practices of a lifetime. All are welcome. Bring a friend! 

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Beyond Loaves and Fishes: Mark Week 5



We are returning from Christmas and New Year's Day renewed and refreshed. We are picking up where we left off, with friends of the paralytic having raised to roof to reach Jesus. What would YOU do to help a friend get to the doctor today? This is momentous as this is the beginning of chapter 2, a new chapter for a new year and a new decade. Who knows how far we'll get? Of course, this will all depend on whether or not I get home in a timely manner as they are predicting snow at 5 p.m., just in time for me to hit the roads. Let that add some excitement to the evening's wait! Join us! All are welcome! ~Rev. Jeff Snyder

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

No One Knows



Here is the sermon for Sunday, December 1, 2019, the first Sunday of Advent. Based on Matthew 24:36-44, we take a look forward to Jesus' Second Advent, Jesus' return to this world. When should we expect this? How should we prepare? What should we do? So many questions. Come and watch. See what Jesus has to tell us in answer to our questions.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Mutual Love



This is the sermon for Sunday, September 1, 2019, based on Hebrews 13:1-7, in which Christian congregations are called to have mutual brotherly & sisterly love continue to grow between members. That love is intended to overflow the congregation and extend out into the community, attracting others. Mutual love is expressed through hospitality. An adversary of love and hospitality is arrogance. There is a lot to learn here. Come and watch. Join us Sundays at Lansdowne Baptist Church in Lansdowne, PA. You will be welcomed with hospitality!


I have no idea why the last 5 minutes of the sermon are cut off, but am working to correct this problem.

Beyond Loaves and Fishes: Judges: Week 9



Beyond Loaves and Fishes is back from summer vacation. We're picking up with Judges again, picking up with Jephthah's ill-advised vow in chapter 11, starting up at verse 32. Hope to see you there. All are welcome. ~Rev. Jeff Snyder

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Being Mindful of What We Say: Fat Shaming Wounds Others and Defiles Us

In Matthew 15:11-20, Jesus instructs: "it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” Then the disciples approached and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?” He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.” But Peter said to him, “Explain this parable to us.” Then he said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”

To love God and neighbor, fulfilling the two great commandments, we need to be mindful what we say to others. In society today, people are feeling far freer to say what is on their minds, regardless of how their words will impact those who receive them. Fat shaming is all the rage and society encourages this harmful behavior in a lot of different ways. To understand what fat shaming is and how it impacts others, take a look at the following article through this link: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/fat-shaming-makes-things-worse

Even with the best of intentions, telling someone something they already know full well will not encourage them to diet and live a healthier life. We need to ask ourselves why we feel compelled to tell someone they are fat in the hopes they will take a better life path. There's an assumption behind that "you're fat" shaming. That assumption, whether conscious or not, is that the person is lazy and if they just had a little more gumption, they'd lose weight. That's a dangerous assumption and an insulting one. None of us knows a stranger's story. We don't know the circumstances of their lives. We have no idea whether they are trying or have tried many times to lose weight. In following through with that impulse, we defile ourselves and harm the other person. Once the message has been delivered, the deliverer goes on with their day and probably forgets the encounter. The recipient of the message has been harmed, burdened with more unwanted emotional baggage, and perhaps heading down the road to depression or worse. It's more infuriating when that message is delivered by a skinny person who has never once in their lives struggled with weight issues. That person simply has no clue what the overweight person is struggling with. 

Much better to reign in our tongues, mind our words, and instead try to truly help our neighbors, taking the real time and effort to help those who truly need help and to be kind to everyone, making kindess a habit that improves lives (the other person's and our own), a habit that will never defile us.