Report from Pastor Scott
To the members of FBC Rockport:
In the fortieth chapter of Isaiah, Yahweh reminds His people of His presence, His power, and His plans. It is an invitation to trust in the Lord and be comforted. You should read it today. Here is probably the most familiar part of the chapter:
Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God”? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:27-30
I am praying the Lord will reveal Himself to you today and renew your strength with each new day. I miss seeing all of you and being with you. I love you and pray for you daily.
Once again, I want to share with you what I know and then what I think.
Here is what I know:
1. Per the guidelines from the President of the United States and the Governor of the Great State of Texas, our office will remain closed and all in-person meetings are cancelled until further notice. The staff are working at home and can be reached by email, text, and cell phones. Someone is checking the mail and answering the church phone.
2. We will have a live broadcast of our Good Friday Worship Service, 6 p.m. on April 10. During that service we will observe the Lord’s Supper. Please arrange to have the elements that represent the body and blood of Christ for your family.
3. We will celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday morning, April 12, at 10 a.m. Please join us and send a picture of your family in your Easter outfits this year. Pictures can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. Last night, April 2, the Finance Committee held an online meeting at my request with Jeff Lanningham, Pam Balentine (Financial Secretary), Phyllis Smith (Church Treasurer), and me. I asked them to discuss and come to a recommendation as to whether FBC Rockport would apply for funds from the CARES Act. The application process for federal relief funds for nonprofit organizations began on Friday morning, April 3. The Finance committee will make their own report to the church, but I was asked to let you know that after much research, prayer, agonizing, and discussion, they voted NOT to apply for the funds. I agree with their decision. Essentially, we would have been eligible to receive about $95,000 at a low interest rate. It may have been forgiven in total or in part at some point. It was agreed that this was not for us. My personal reasons for this decision are as follows: our church has a healthier financial situation than other churches and I think federal funds should go to those with a greater need; we have been faithful to save money for occasions such as this; and, personally, I do not want to rely on American Taxpayers or the Federal Government to provide financial hope to my church during this time. Instead, I choose to rely on the Lord and the members of this church. I know the Lord will do His part, and I am trusting you to do yours. I am thankful for Bob Dupnik and the members of the Finance Committee for their faithful, wise, service. Feel free to contact Bob if you have questions.
5. Last year we received a large financial gift that was designated to help with local benevolence needs. The Church Council and the Finance Committee both approved a plan to move $150,000 from that financial gift into our designated local benevolence fund. I am asking all of you who feel led to do so to also make contributions to that fund. Perhaps you could donate your government relief check whenever that arrives. The plan for using these funds is still being worked out so that we are good stewards and follow all IRS guidelines, but here is what I am thinking:
$50,000 is set aside to give financial assistance to our sister churches in the Blanco Baptist Association who are struggling financially as a result of the quarantine.$100,000 is set aside to give benevolent help to those in our church and community who can demonstrate a genuine benevolent need due to the quarantine.We will give financial help first to our members, secondly to nonmembers recommended to me by our church members, and then to other nonmembers in the community. The reason for this is because of the biblical teaching in 1 Timothy 5:3-8 that Christians should meet the needs of their own family, so they do not become an unnecessary burden on the church. We will look to care for our church family and turn our eyes to others in the community who need help as well. I believe the Lord will provide us with the resources to meet the needs of as many people in the church and community as we can.If you are a member of our church, and you have a benevolent need at this time due to the quarantine, please email me and I will let you know how to begin the application process.We are not accepting applications from nonmembers at this time but will do so soon.
6. Just so you know, Monty Brecheen, Hands of Hope, and some members of our church have been preparing and delivering meals to some shut-ins in our church and community twice a week. For more information about this ministry please contact Monty Brecheen.
7. First Methodist in Rockport is planning to open an emergency drive up food pantry on Thursday April 9, and 23, 3-6 p.m. at 801 E. Main. They are taking donations of food: Dry cereal, Dried beans, Rice, Canned veggies, Canned tuna fish, Peanut butter, Jelly, Crackers, Pasta Sauces (Jar or Canned), Pasta. These donations can be dropped off in the box in the covered breezeway near the entrance to the nursery (back side of the church) and will be brought into the church by the staff daily. If you are unable to bring items, and would still like to participate, please notify their church office and they will arrange for someone to pick up these items off your porch. Checks can be mailed to PO Box 1045, Rockport, TX 78381. Please note “Food Pantry” in the memo section. Thank you so much for your help!
Now…here is what I think:
1. Whatever is going to happen with the pandemic locally, it is possible that a peak in illnesses will happen in three to four weeks, followed by a peak in deaths in Texas due to the virus during first two weeks of May. That could mean that there will be another several weeks of decline in cases while we remain quarantined. You and I should prepare for the possibility that it might not be until sometime in June before we are able to resume anything like a regular schedule. All of this is a guess because no one knows for sure except God. I hope I am wrong, but this is what I think.
2. The church staff is prayerfully discussing how to reopen the church once the time comes. Some will want to dive right in while others will be apprehensive to be in our building and especially to be in crowded classrooms. Please have compassion and be patient with one another while we wait for God to do whatever He is going to do.
3. There could be months of cancellations to come. Wes has already rescheduled Impact Weekend for this fall. We should prepare now for the possibility that our beloved summer activities, like VBS and camps, will not happen or at least will not happen the way in which we want.
4. Finally, I think whether a church like ours can endure the coming months will depend on God and how the members of the church respond to God in three specific areas: Will we continue to support the church financially? Will we continue to connect with one another using the means available to us? Will we continue to seek out new ways to serve our community during this crisis and beyond?
I believe in and trust God will all my heart. I believe in and trust in God’s presence in all of you, the members of First Baptist Church Rockport. I am proud to be your pastor. It is an honor to serve alongside you in Aransas County and beyond.
Serving you,Pastor Scott