Included in the Weekly Church-wide email newsletter for today, May 1, 2020 is a description of FBC Rockport’s Phase One of a phased-in regathering plan. Essentially, we will continue to meet online for worship, Life Groups, ministry groups, and so on for at least the next two weeks in May. We are not planning any in-person gatherings at the church. However, your Life Group, ministry, or committee may want to gather at the church. If so, our plan describes how that would look for you with all Governor Abbott’s guidelines and restrictions. Please contact Jeff Lanningham if you are interested in scheduling a meeting at the church.
Let me share with you some of my personal feelings. Thursday morning I was part of a meeting with pastors and ministers from our sister churches in the Blanco Baptist Association. Very few of them are planning on gathering before mid to late May. While spirits were up, these folks were concerned, weary, and wary. Thursday afternoon I was part of a meeting with leaders from twelve different Aransas County churches. All are waiting until mid to late May before regathering their churches, with two exceptions. Coastal Oaks Church is giving outdoor worship a try this Sunday. The Catholic Diocese of Corpus Christi said that their churches can begin having Mass on Mother’s Day, so on May 10, Sacred Heart will have 8:00 and 10:30 a.m. services. Both churches have plans to implement the strict guidelines for churches given by the White House and Governor Abbott.
After having discussions with our staff members, ministry leaders, Life Group leaders, and childcare workers, and after listening to the plans of these other churches, I began to feel like gathering people together would be for the purpose of keeping people safe and following all the guidelines. Worship was becoming an afterthought. One church had plans for men to patrol their worship gatherings for the purpose of removing anyone who starts coughing. I can’t imagine what that would look like or feel like. I became convinced that our ministers, volunteers, and I would be so focused on implementing and policing the guidelines that we wouldn’t be focused on why were gathering in the first place. Our intentions would be good, but we’re human. It seemed best to continue as we have been until we are able to gather with fewer restrictions and distractions. We will reassess in couple of weeks and report back.
Here’s some good news:
- All our different online meetings seem to be going well, with all the expected glitches and gremlins. I am thankful to be able to gather in this way for now. We will continue Live Streaming our worship services and posting them on YouTube even after we begin meeting in person again.
- Our church has not needed to be physically present together in order to be the church or to be the hands and feet of Jesus in our community. Many of our members are involved with cooking and delivering meals. Some have made masks for people. Some are shopping for people. Many are making phone calls and other contacts to keep people connected. There are many online meetings, Bible Studies, and prayer groups.
- We have helped dozens of households in Aransas County that are experiencing financial hardships due to the pandemic.
- We continue to give financial assistance to our sister churches in the Blanco Baptist Association who need it because of the quarantine.
- We did not apply for the financial help from the Federal Government, and our giving has remained very good in March and April.
- Plans are being put in motion to shift some events away from this spring and summer into the fall.
- I hear from people who are watching us online and the Lord is touching their lives through the online ministry of FBC Rockport.
I am convinced that God is at work in mighty ways during this time. I am thankful to be your pastor, and I love you. Remember that the Lord is with you! ~ Scott