April 3, 2020
As we move through our second week of limited activity due to COVID-19 and enter into Holy Week, I am grateful for the many stories of generosity I am hearing from across our region. Many have begun, continued, or stepped up food distribution in their communities. A teenager placed a sign in his family’s yard, volunteering to cut lawns for free. Cloth face masks are being assembled and delivered to local hospitals. People are finding creative ways to be in contact with those who are most frail within their churches and community. A pastor celebrated a birthday this week and was overjoyed to find chalked greetings on their sidewalk along with a bag of treats.
God’s people were created to be generous!
In the many Zoom conversations our staff has hosted with region pastors over the last several weeks, we have talked about ways to continue to encourage our churches to be generous, both in acts of kindness and also by remaining faithful in their financial support of God’s mission through their local church and our region. At the same time, we are acutely aware that many among us, pastors included, may experience unexpected difficulties due to the rapid deceleration of the economy, having major impact on every county and community, church and most families, within our region.
Here is an article that might be helpful:
Dr. Jeff Woods’ (Acting General Secretary ABCUSA) “COVID-19 Related Assistance Update” This includes basic information about the comprehensive stimulus package passed by Congress earlier this week. Two things to note:
First, the Paycheck Protection Program includes churches however, congregations must take the initiative to apply. Jeff’s article contains relevant links and I would encourage you to work through your local bank.
Secondly, many citizens will be receiving Recovery Rebate checks from the U.S. government in the coming weeks. I want to encourage folks to tithe what they receive – if they are able – to their local church. Not everyone who receives such checks will actually need that money to cover basic necessities. If that is true for you, my suggestion is to gift that amount – or a portion of it – to your church, to one of our camping ministries, or to MEF (Ministerial Excellence Fund). As a reminder, MEF is available to assist pastors who experience financial hardship and we are expecting more need in the coming months. I have already committed to give whatever I receive to MEF in order to help our pastors. Giving links for these areas and others are available on our website.
Your IN/KY staff is providing written reflections as we move through this season. In addition to the most recent article by Dan Chadwick, Bruce Cochran and Soozi Whitten Ford have shared their thoughts in the past few weeks. You can find them here:
We invite you to follow IN/KY on Facebook by “liking” our page, “American Baptist Churches of Indiana and Kentucky.” I also invite you to “visit” many of our churches over the next few weeks who are providing worship experiences in some form via the internet. For those I am aware of, I have provided links on my own Facebook page, as well as the region’s page.
Finally, thank you for what you are doing to inhibit the spread of COVID-19 by staying home and washing your hands. Pay attention to the suggestions of local, state and national authorities – and heed them – they are trying to help us help one another to stay well.
Did you know that almost one-third of the four Gospels contains the accounts of the last week of Jesus’ life, his crucifixion, and his resurrection? As we journey towards the cross and the empty tomb over the next week, take time to read the Gospel stories of the last week of Jesus’ life and of the Resurrection. As you do, remember that we worship the One who has conquered death – our Risen Savior. In this we rejoice and in him, we have hope as we are Together on God’s Abundant Journey. Hallelujah!
Soozi Whitten Ford
American Baptist Churches of Indiana and Kentucky