Fellow Slaves of Christ,
The last few weeks we have been reminded through the Scriptures of how to respond rightly in a world gone wrong. One of the blessings we have seen in our study is how God has graciously given under shepherds to lead, guide, and guard His people especially during times of suffering, chaos, and peril (1 Pet 5:1-4). I want you to know how thankful I am for our elders and for the faithfulness they have displayed in leading us through this most difficult time in church history (1 Thess 5:12-13). These men have been proactively leading us by meeting every week, multiple times a week for hours, since our public gatherings were shut down over three and half months ago. Despite all the individual difficulties each elder has had to deal with in both their personal lives and ministry jobs because of Coronavirus, they have not stopped praying for, caring for, and shepherding you on many levels (Heb 13:7). These men are far from perfect, and no doubt you could highlight many things they could have done better, but as their pastor and yours, I want you to know I could not be prouder of them. They are growing deeply in humility and stronger in their dependence on Christ because of these hardships which, by God’s grace, are making them better men, husbands, fathers, and elders! I could not be more thankful for God’s perfect design in leadership over His local church through a plurality of godly men (1 Tim 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9).
While Covid-19 has diverted all of us in many ways, it has not slowed down our endeavor to see that the gospel is proclaimed at and through BBC both locally and globally. Here are a few encouraging reports that the elders have been working on through this pandemic. We have been searching the Scriptures diligently while praying passionately for divine wisdom for leading Christ’s church faithfully through these days of unprecedented crisis. We have been studying certain serious topics like the Lord’s Supper, the role of government, and the worldly ideologies that undergird and spawn much of the national racial tension we are witnessing. We have investigated, evaluated, and interviewed another prospective missionary for BBC, and we are very excited about this potential partnership as this missionary leaves in a few weeks to begin the work of planting a biblically sound church in Rome. We have sought to remain faithful as stewards of our fine facility as we continue the serious preparations for upgrading our upstairs bathrooms. Do not miss the members meeting this Sunday, June 21st at 6:30 through Zoom where we will be voting on a proposal for this very exciting project. Furthermore, in our preparations for regathering in our building, we have already installed commercial air purifiers in all of our A/C/Heating duct systems. These industrial grade ultraviolet light air cleaners kill bacteria and viruses which will prove to be another step forward in making our space safe and welcoming for everyone. We have continued to work on our new website which will be going live very soon, and we have installed the 50th anniversary plaque in the garden next to our front walkway. Despite the shutdown, we have not slowed down, and we give God praise for all He has done during these interesting days!
Preparing for Phase Two in Regathering Publicly at BBC
We continue to ask you to pray for us as we evaluate all things Covid-19 as it relates to our safe, legal, methodical, and slow regathering of BBC within our facility. Prince George’s County has lifted its stay at home order and has begun allowing churches to meet indoors at 25% capacity. While we are grateful for our local officials in leading us in this way, we believe it is wise for us to wait at least a few more weeks before returning to our building for Sunday worship. There are multiple reasons why we believe waiting is the wisest course of action at this time, but one major explanation is that we can continue to meet outdoors at Camp Wabanna. Since this meeting place is outdoors, it means fewer restrictions and a safer gathering at this time. Basically, meeting at Wabanna provides us unlimited social distancing availability, provides the opportunity for our larger body to gather together, and also allows us to safely test our regathering in regards to any potential spread of the virus. So far, we have had three weeks of people gathering at the camp with attendance increasing each week. Last week, we had well over 125 people, and we are not aware of anyone getting sick or showing symptoms of Covid-19. The elders desire to continue moving forward clearly and safely for a few more weeks before we begin transitioning to Phase Two, which involves us meeting indoors under greater restrictions within our own facility. We are working on all the specific plans for making this happen effectively and safely, and I look forward to informing you about the specifics of Phase Two in the next few weeks, Lord willing!
However, as was announced on Wednesday in the Weekly-E, we no longer see the need for people to sign-up for attending the Sunday worship service at Camp Wabanna. These last three weeks have helped us learn, and it is clear that we have plenty of space for those attending to safely social distance. Therefore, at this time, if you desire to attend a Sunday service at Wabanna, please know you are welcome to attend, and you no longer have to sign-up, which means you no longer have to wait for an elder invite, as everyone is invited. If the situation changes from the direction of our governing officials or if the elders feel like we need to reinstate a sign-up to help control the numbers for safety, we will let you know, but right now, that is not the case—praise the Lord!
Also, despite the meetings at camp over the last few weeks, I have continued to preach from church so that the sermon could be live-streamed to all who desired to hear the Word no matter from what location they were watching. I am excited to announce that I will be preaching from Wabanna this Sunday as we believe we can live-stream the service from camp. We have been working on making this happen over the last few weeks, and last Sunday, Steve Waskiewicz did a test run from camp as he live streamed for over 30 minutes without any problems. So, while we know with technology anything can happen, we believe we are ready to try to live-stream from camp this week. However, if something were to happen with the technology prohibiting us from live-streaming the service, I want you to know that our technology team has assured me that they will be recording the service at the same time and will be able to upload the video to YouTube shortly following the service as we have normally done. This means everyone will be able to watch the service, though it might be a little delayed. No matter what, even if we have technology problems, we are praying that we can continue to be able to provide a high quality live-stream video of our service in real time to all.
Let me remind you of a few helpful details. First, for all those who remain in a high risk category regarding Covid-19, please know that it is right for you to remain home as the CDC has suggested. We support you in that and do not want you to feel any pressure in coming to a public service until you are ready, and that is why we have been working very hard to provide the live- stream service so that you can continue to be fed no matter where you are. We love you and do not want you to feel like you are forgotten, have any sense of false guilt, or feel wrongfully stigmatized in anyway. Secondly, while masks are not required for outdoor gatherings with social distancing, you are always welcome to wear a mask should you feel more comfortable in doing so. Please know we only desire to encourage and support one another through these interesting days and have no desire to judge you one way or another. As I have said in the past, everyone should bring their own mask with them just in case something unexpected were to happen like a rain storm. Something like that might demand that we gather a little closer under the pavilion for a short time, or as we have already planned, some people might be needed to move to the gym entrance as overflow. During these days, I keep learning the hard way that I should never leave home without my mask. Let’s keep that in mind even as we gather outdoors, so that we are ready for anything that might unexpectedly come up. Thirdly, if possible, you are encouraged to bring your own lawn chair with you so that you can have the flexibility of sitting, socially distanced, wherever you like. While the camp has chairs that we can use, by all means come if you don’t have a chair; however, bringing your own chair is safer for you and others as it cuts down on any potential spread of the virus as well as cuts down on cleaning, set-up, and tear down. Lastly, remember that the service begins at 10:00 am, so that I can begin preaching at 10:30 just like I have been throughout this whole Covid-19 shutdown.
How thankful I am for Camp Wabanna in allowing us to meet at their beautiful property during this time. By God’s grace, we have been able to meet in this very special way which is something that most, if not all, of the churches in PG county have not had the opportunity to enjoy. A big thank you to Neal and his faithful team of selfless servants!
I have heard many positive reports from those who have attended the outdoor services at Wabanna over the last few weeks. I am very excited to finally have the opportunity to have my family there this Sunday and to finally sing to the Lord with great gratitude from the heart with my brothers and sisters who will be there as well. We will be in 1 Peter once again as we continue wrestling with how the Church responds rightly in a world gone wrong. There are so many lies that inundate us every day, and so much of what we are witnessing around our nation is being driven by deep seated emotions that have led to actions that are contrary to and devoid of divine truth. One of the most important responses at all times, especially during these days, is to think rightly about what is happening around you and to you, or you will become captive to your own thoughts or even worse you will be unwittingly captured by the thoughts and desires of others! Sadly, many Christians are not thinking clearly and rightly about these social issues before us, and God’s Word is so helpful as it both confronts and conforms our minds to God’s perfect and pleasing will. I look forward to growing together as we allow the Scriptures to further shape our understanding, so that we might respond rightly to all the wrong we see happening in our world!
Yours for the Master,
Fellow Slaves of Christ,