A Message from ABC of the Central Region Executive Minister

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A Message from ABC of the Central Region Executive Minister

This post is shared as a COVID-19 resource on our resource page at www.abc-usa.org/coronavirus. Visit this page to find helpful resources and information, and see regular updates from American Baptist regions and national partners.

Some thoughts from the wilderness…

April 13, 2020 – Easter Monday!

The Emmaus story from Luke 24 comes right on the heels of the resurrection.  Two are walking and are consumed with the events of their recent days, and when Jesus walks among them, they don’t even know it.  They are understandably in a wilderness of disorientation.  Some translations say that it was a God-thing that they didn’t recognize Jesus.  Other translations imply these two companions don’t see Jesus because they’re preoccupied with all the circumstances of their days.  You’ll have to decide if one of these makes more sense to you.  What if both perspectives are true?  Perhaps it was partially God’s timing that they didn’t initially recognize Jesus and partially that these travelers missed Jesus right under their noses because they didn’t have a paradigm for God working through something as atrocious as a crucifixion.

We’ve all been challenged by this pandemic and struggle to see how this could be good for the Church.  Perhaps God has not yet revealed to us how the Kingdom is expanding in the midst of these challenges.  Perhaps there are also moments we’ve been so preoccupied with our own concerns that Jesus has been right under our noses, and we haven’t even noticed.

I believe there is still a resurrected Jesus running around loose in our world. God has not lost control of our world, and there can be some good that can come out of this very challenging time.  I read in an article this past week where Palestinian Christian leader Nora Carmi was asked, “How can we celebrate an embodied resurrection when we can’t go to church?”  She replied, “Let me tell you something from the land where the whole thing actually happened.  In Easter 2020, we get to celebrate as the first disciples did. There wasn’t ‘church’ or ‘priests’ or fancy worship services – there was only the good news that Jesus had risen from the dead!  Now go and tell it as fast as you can!”  That’s a good word from the wilderness I will carry with me from Easter 2020.  Don’t forget…

We don’t always get lost in the wilderness.  
Sometimes we find ourselves in the wilderness.

Gregg Hemmen
Executive Minister
American Baptist Churches of the Central Region

New Opportunities in the Wilderness

  • ABCCR Open Forums – We’ll have two open forums this week to pray, share ideas, and ask questions.  David Elsbury, a mental health professional in the Region, is going to be with us to talk about taking care of ourselves and others during this time.  Click on each date to acquire a link for the meeting: Tuesday, April 14, 12 pm CST and Thursday, April 16, 7 pm CST. These are open to anyone in the Region.
  •  Aha! Moments – What are you learning about God, ministry, and yourself during this unique time we’re in?  I’ve love to hear any responses you’re willing to share.
  • Festival of Homiletics Continuing Education Opportunity – The Festival of Homiletics is held each May in the Atlanta or Minneapolis area.  It’s a chance to hear several preachers of note as well as guests who speak to the year’s keynote theme.  Ordinarily, it’s a plane trip, hotel stays, expenses, etc., etc.  Given the COVID 19 situation, they have reorganized the 2020 Conference as a virtual event.  You can sign up to participate online.  (Fees apply if you wish to have the content later “on demand.”)  This year has a Creation and Preaching emphasis.  If you are looking for continuing education, May 18-22, 2020, this may be a great opportunity while we’re still cooped up or wary of traveling in the coming weeks.
  • Kansas ABCCR Churches – Many of you have likely read about Kansas Governor Laura Kelly’s executive order to limit the size of groups (she set the size at 10 people) being overturned by the Kansas Legislative Coordinating Council.  Then, the Kansas Supreme Court upheld Governor Kelly’s executive order.  I have been on several conference calls with city officials where this has resulted in confusion.  If asked, my recommendation is that congregations not meet face-to-face at all until this crisis abates.
  • Prayer Focus – Pray that the ways we shared the story of the resurrection will impact the lives of those who experienced it.  Please also continue to remember those who are working in essential services: healthcare workers, grocery store workers, pharmacy workers, convenience store workers, public safety workers, government workers, etc.
  • Video Message from Jeff Woods – Our Acting General Secretary, Jeff Woods, shared a video message with all American Baptists.