VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 3/27/20)—On March 27, 2020, Acting General Secretary Dr. C. Jeff Woods published a letter to American Baptists with a message centered around supporting churches, pastors and regions in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Read the letter below.
Dear American Baptist Family:
Thank you for sharing your prayers, litanies, and resources during the 21 Day Call to Prayer issued by the members of our National Executive Council and Regional Executive Ministers Council for the healing and recovery of COVID-19 victims. While this special emphasis runs from March 21 thru April 11, we will continue to post your submissions in the coming weeks at www.abc-usa.org/21daysofprayer. I’ve never known of a great act of the church that was not undergirded with prayer.
As Christians, we know that prayer and action go hand in hand. We pray fervently and we act diligently by maintaining social distances, washing our hands, safely volunteering, and following the mandates of our local, state, and national governments. As American Baptists, we have an exemplary record of exceeding expectations in doing the right thing.
Today, I am encouraging all of us to take another action and continue to support our churches, pastors, and regions during this critical time of ministry.
I have spoken to many pastors during this time of chaos and bewilderment and I believe that our ABC pastors are working harder now than prior to the onset of COVID-19. They are working differently, and with even more effort as they check on their congregants through electronic means, meet the emotional needs of families, youth, and the elderly, help staff community resources, research and post best practices related to the pandemic, figure out how to stream worship services and Bible studies, and the list goes on and on.
In the same way that a missionary must learn an entirely new set of practices in order to minister in a new culture, our pastors are learning how to be a pastor in the midst of social distancing restrictions and other disruptive conditions. Some of these learnings will have positive implications for the future of ministry and require deeper thinking, more collaboration, and increased creativity. Such adaptive work is extremely difficult and can take its toll on the leaders of our congregations and regions. Ministry has become even more difficult in recent days and we must not ignore the emotional, financial, and physical health of our pastors.
Our local churches, pastors, and regions are worthy of our support. Thank you to all who are continuing to support your local church and pastor through the mailing of your tithes and offerings and online giving. For those who are able, consider giving a special donation to your region as well. Some have told me that they plan to donate all or a portion of their government reimbursement check to their church or their region’s pastoral emergency fund. Just as many churches have discretionary funds to be able to support members and neighbors in need, many regions have special funds dedicated to supporting pastors in need.
Our national offices are also searching for ways to support our pastors and churches and we are monitoring potential benefits from the government stimulus package and other sources of assistance. News of benefits will be distributed through multiple channels including our ABC regional offices.
We have always been a bold and compassionate people. This is an opportunity to shine once again as we pray, act, and support our churches, pastors, and regions.
Dr. C. Jeff Woods
Acting General Secretary
American Baptist Churches USA
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.