Dear Church Family,
Truly, these are curious days with unique challenges and opportunities that call for difficult and measured decisions. As your pastor, knowing the right path is not always easy. Often, all one can do is pray for wisdom and make responsible choices that nurture and protect the Lord’s sheep (John 10). I believe that our church demographics along with our current situation, living amid a global pandemic, require us to make temporary changes to how we do church. Simply put,
Harmony Baptist Church (HBC) will respect our President’s declaration of a National State of Emergency. In accordance with the guidelines issued by the Center for Disease Control (CDC): we will not assemble as one body, open our doors to the public, or meet in groups of larger than ten people.
This decision was made with counsel from church leaders, health experts, respected pastors, and denominational leadership. My conscience is clear that this is the right decision. We will never know if this is an overreaction, but we will most certainly know if we did not do enough. Below is an outline of our plan for moving forward with worship and ministry in the days ahead.
Deacon Ministry to Families
Our Christian witness and ministry to people and families is a priority. The six active deacons have been given a plan for contacting HBC members and families twice a month. The deacon who contacts you will make sure you have his contact information so you can reach him with any needs or concerns you have, including needs in your community. He will pass these on to the church office. Do not hesitate to contact him if you have, or know of, a need.
Bi-monthly Letter from Bro. Keith and Giving Envelope
Twice a month, I will send a letter to our HBC family to encourage you and inform you of any important information. The letters will come with a self-addressed stamped envelope for your tithes, offerings, and other designated giving. During this season, we will be tempted to grow lax in our giving. The plain truth is that our attitude and generosity in this area, good or bad, will directly impact our church’s future.
Our Sunday School lessons will continue to follow the curriculum we use now: “The Gospel Project” for children, and “Explore the Bible” for adults. However, the teaching time will shift to a digital format. A Sunday School lesson for children, as well as a lesson for adults, will be recorded by one of our dedicated teachers and posted to the church Facebook page by 9:00am each Sunday morning. Children like receiving mail, each week we will send them their class activity sheet. The youth will be taught by Brother Scott and Terri utilizing technology and social media they are familiar with. We hope that this plan provides some semblance of familiarity.
Worship Services Live Streamed on Facebook
Our Lord’s Day and Mid-week worship services will be live streamed from the sanctuary: 10:30am each Sunday morning, and 6:30pm each Wednesday evening. Although nothing we can do will replace the dynamics of worshipping together, we will make every effort to make this an engaging experience through prayer, live music, and preaching. Every effort will be made to involve a variety of members to sing specials, but the CDC’s suggested guidelines prohibit the use of a choir. We hope this helps you worship under these less than ideal circumstances.
DVD copies of the previous Sunday and Wednesday worship times, and Sunday School lessons will be made available to those unable to connect online. The DVD’s will be mailed on Monday mornings. Notify the church office if you would like a DVD mailed to you.
(Included with this letter is a GUIDE FOR WORSHIP VIA LIVE STREAM designed to help you engage with the Facebook and DVD content.)
The Role of HBC Members
Finally, I want to emphasize the critical role each of you will play in how well we navigate these days. I encourage you to read your Bible and start the habit of daily Family Worship at home (a GUIDE FOR DOING FAMILY WORSHIP AT HOME is included with this letter). Pray for each other, your neighbors, and our local, state, and national leaders. Slow down and enjoy God’s blessings. God has provided the technology for us to worship and learn together in these days. Take advantage of it. Consistent contact with one another is crucial—call, text, email, social media, and cards or letters. Your pastor, staff, and church leaders love you all and covet your prayers.
If you need to visit another member, or make a delivery, practice proper social distancing—place the item(s) by their door, knock, and walk at least six feet away. Be wise. Do not confuse being responsibly cautious with panic or fear, or being irresponsible with faith and courage. Be more concerned with you possibly sharing a sickness with another than with you catching it from them. Consider others more highly than yourself.
The hard truth is these days of trouble will result in some churches closing their doors to never again reopen for worship and ministry. Some churches will maintain and/or resume their normal activities seemingly unaffected. Some will error on the side of caution, and not take unnecessary risks. As your pastor, I take my accountability before God very seriously. One day I will answer for how I lead you through these days, and I tremble to think I would have to answer for being reckless with your spiritual and physical well-being.
Father, grant that these days refocus and reenergize us for future gospel ministry as a church with a heart for You and a love people. In Christ’s name and for his kingdom, Amen.
Yours in Christ,
(Isaiah 26:3; John 17:4)