April 6, 2020
It’s been exciting for me to hear about some of the new wilderness wandering experiences Central Region folks are having. Zooming has become a familiar word in our vocabulary and we aren’t just saying the word in frustration. We’ve been using the word in hopeful tones as churches are discovering new ways to be the Church! Families are reconnecting in healthy ways because of increased time at home. The pace of life has slowed for many. Churches are rediscovering a new sense of mission that isn’t solely dependent on being in a shared space. As an example of stepping into this new wilderness, last Friday after we sent out our updated list of online worship links, I received this note:
“Just a word of encouragement to all the small congregations. Our Facebook service had over 200 views last Sunday. We average somewhere between 30-35 on any given Sunday. Make certain to give your physical church address as you give your message this week. Have a blessed day in the Lord.”
– Ron Jones, pastor of Bethany Baptist Church, Bentley, KS
Pastor Ron’s experience is not unique. I’ve heard this same story from a good number of you. It sounds like God is doing something good in the midst of something hard. I will admit while these days are challenging, I’m also convinced there are going to be some positive impacts from this hardship that are going be transformative for the Church going forward. God will deepen us through this but it will be important that we don’t abandon some of these new approaches to ministry once this crisis passes.
Remember we don’t always get lost in the wilderness.
Sometimes we find ourselves in the wilderness.
CARES / Paycheck Protection Program
In recent days, the application period for the CARES/Paycheck Protection Program has been initiated. I am encouraging all ABCCR churches and our ABCCR institutions to consult with your local bank to see if this program is right for you. Each church or institution would need to apply directly through your local lender as the Region cannot do this for you. As long as you meet the criteria and follow the guidelines, this loan converts into a grant and you would not have to pay it back. Here are two key documents we’re sharing with people: (a) an application and (b) a document from the chamber of commerce that provides straightforward information on filling out the application. Please note the application has changed a number of times already so consult your local lender before applying. We’re also posting information we’re learning about this program in the COVID-19 Basecamp and if you’d like to be part of this group, click here. Jeff Woods, our Acting ABC-USA General Secretary, wrote a letter last week describing different denominational resources available for American Baptists during this crisis. Rita Adams, our ABCCR financial administrator, has gone through the application process for the Region and we are hosting two zoom meetings this week to answer your questions and give you tips in the application process. If you’d like to attend either one of these zoom meetings, they will be Wednesday, April 8, 3:00 pm CST and Thursday, April 9, 5:30 pm CST. Click on either date for the zoom link.
Various Opportunities and Reminders
- COVID-19 Scams – Please be aware that there are COVID-19 scams out there where culprits are promising vaccination kits or home test kits but are really trying to acquire personal information that they would use in dishonest ways. Please remind people in your congregations to be very cautious about disclosing any personal information when you’re not initiating the inquiry. There are also reports of scammers trying to gain access to the stimulus payments coming to taxpayers.
- Ministrelife Training – If you find yourself with extra time in coming weeks, the Ministrelife platform will be doing some training to help you use this new tool. Here are the dates and topics: April 13, 12 pm – Basic Profile; April 20, 12 pm – ABPS Profile; April 27, 12 pm – Communities. You can go to https://ministrelife.org/ for more information
- Holy Week – This will be a very unique Holy Week for all of us. Pray that God gives you a fresh experience of the death and resurrection of Jesus in these unique circumstances. Ivan Greuter, from West Side Baptist, Topeka, KS, has created a Maundy Thursday Foot-Washing Experience you can do with your family and also a Communion Service for Home. Thanks Ivan! Last week, I was sent a set of meditations on Holy Week from The Christian Century. I’ll be reflecting on the biblical text and ideas in these readings this week. If you’d like to join me, you can download this free set of meditations.
- ABCCR Zoom Forum – We’ll have two open forums this week to pray together, share ideas, and ask questions. Click on each date to get a zoom link for the meeting: Tuesday, April 7, 12 pm CST and Thursday, April 9, 7 pm CST. These are open for anyone in the Region. Many have shared with me these sessions are helpful on multiple levels.
Links and info from earlier emails
- ABCCR Disaster Relief application for COVID 19 ministries (click here). Email application back to me (email@example.com) when completed.
- American Baptist Leaders Issue Call to Prayer – Click here
- Center for Disease Control (click here)
- Central Region Mailchimp List – If you’d like to be on our email list, email me, and I’ll help get you signed up.
- Central Seminary free webinar series “Emerging Church Practices” arising out of the coronavirus pandemic; Every Tuesday at 10 am CDT. Click here for more details.
- Central Seminary Announces Resignation of Molly Marshall – Please keep Central Seminary in your prayers during this time of transition. If you’d like to read the statement from Central Seminary, click here.
- COVID 19 Basecamp Resource group – to join click here
- HomeTouch Ministry Click here for more information about homebound resources.
- Loss of Income Insurance – Some insurance policies have “loss of income coverage – contact your insurance agent to see if you do.
- MMBB Assistance – You could possibly qualify for a one-time MMBB assistance grant. Call MMBB directly to apply (800-986-6222). Click here for more info.
- Online Giving – Jessica Henks, an ABCCR pastor, has experience in working with online giving. To chat with her, click here. Ivan Greuter is also experienced with online giving and is willing to help. Click here and we’ll put you in touch with Ivan.
- Online Worship – Joel Schroeder is offering his experience and knowledge to get you started with online worship. Feel free to email him for tips and advice. If you’re online for worship and we don’t have your information, click here.
- State Departments of Health info can be found by clicking on each state’s name: Arkansas, Kansas, and Oklahoma.
- Statistics on COVID 19, click here.
- Zoom Meetings – Click here for assistance with Zoom video meetings.
Thank you for the privilege of serving among you,
Gregg L.J. Hemmen
ABC of the Central Region