Pastoral Letter #9 In This Present Distress

Pastoral Letter on Interim Worship/Ministry Plan F

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Over a year ago the Covid19 pandemic necessitated our response as a church to address the challenges of the pandemic and the directives from the Federal and State Governmental agencies, while maintaining our prioritized commitment to fulfill our Christ-given, Great Commission defined ministry. It began with a Pastoral Letter introducing “Interim Worship/Ministry Plan A” and now, over a year later “Interim Worship/Ministry Plan F.”

I am sure that almost all of you have heard of Gov Ivey’s new directive issued last week. In response to the current status of Covid19 she has replaced the previous directive for our State – “Safer at Home” with this new directive – “Safer Apart.” Basically, “Safer Apart” calls for the exercise of personal responsibility, respectful thoughtfulness and genuine concern for our fellow citizens. Mandates for medical and safety protocols are now by and large strong encouragements to be embraced with special considerations for those who are especially vulnerable to the Coronavirus.

In response to this new “Safer Apart” directive, the Briarwood Session has now approved for implementation “Interim Worship/Ministry Plan F.” The development of Plan F was guided (as the previous worship/ministry plans) by three governing principles.

  1. Motivated by our love to Christ, the lost and one another our Leadership will develop plans that allow Briarwood to thoughtfully and respectfully stay On Mission, On Message and In Ministry.
  2. In obedience to Christ we will appropriately respond to our Governor’s directives and with thoughtful engagement the “Interim Worship/Ministry Plans” will incorporate the encouraged medical and safety protocols out of our respect and love for one another, our visitors and our immediate as well as extended families.
  3. We will intentionally provide a 360-degree proactive/reactive Shepherding Ministry for the Briarwood membership family throughout this pandemic. This Shepherding Ministry will also allow us to focus upon those who are acutely vulnerable to Covid19 along with extending our Ministries whenever possible by social media including the streaming of the AM and PM worship services. Knowing that such efforts cannot substitute for “gathered worship” and Bible Study, they can at least supplement and encourage those who are in categories of vulnerability or who are shut-in.

May I encourage you to look closely at the guidelines of Plan F as they have been sent to you beginning with the introductory remarks by our Executive Pastor, Bruce Stallings. You will note that most of the changes are focused upon the Lord’s Day Worship services and the implementation of a transitional re-engagement of Sunday School for our Congregational Communities.  The Children’s Worship Hour during the 9:30 and 11:00AM worship services will no longer do double duty as Worship and Sunday School but will now focus upon Worship since Plan F allows two provisions for Children’s Sunday School on Sunday morning.

In addition, we have been able to significantly increase attendance opportunities in the Lord’s Day Worship services and still maintain the “Safer Apart” guidelines enhanced by staggering the pews that are being occupied in worship. Lord’s Day evening worship will continue. For those who are shut-in or in vulnerable categories we will maintain streaming for both AM and PM worship services. Congregational Communities will address how to best extend their Sunday School class contents technologically for those yet unable to attend in person. Cindy and I, for the sake of people flow are still unable to greet in the Lobby after the 8:00 and 9:30 Worship services but we are looking forward with great joy to being available to appropriately greet one another in the Lobby after the 11:00AM worship service.

I cannot conclude this Pastoral Letter without Pastoral appreciation for the gracious demonstration of the Love of Christ by so many during “this present distress.”  I am deeply grateful for the wisdom and demonstrated love for the Flock by our Elders and Deacons as well as the sacrificial and servant heart leadership of our Pastoral and Support Staff who have sought to implement these “Plans” out of love to Christ, His people and the desire to fulfill our Christ- given Mission at Briarwood. Most of all, I want to thank you for a Christ-honoring, Fruit of the Spirit-revealing “Love” and “Patience” undergirded by your commitment to persistent intercessory prayer.

Not only is our Savior worthy but this world is in desperate need of Christ’s Church to embrace the Great Commission Make disciples of all the nations – and to display a Great Commandment culture within Christ’s Church – a people who were not a people have become the people of God. Together we not only do the Great Commission but we live the Great Commandment – to love the Lord with all your heart, soul and your mind and your neighbor as yourself.”

To the Glory of God – On Mission – On Message – In Ministry,

Harry L. Reeder III

Pastor Teacher

Matt 6:33

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