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August 30th Letter from the Shepherds

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Elder Message to Members – 8/30/20

Dear Brothers and Sisters –

Warm greetings and blessings to each of you!

Since our last communication, it seems that the pandemic in Florida and Central Florida has abated somewhat. While we are thankful for that downturn, we remain a long way from returning to “normal.” In accordance with government and health industry direction, let us remain vigilant in following their guidelines.

Many of you know that the South Bumby congregation traditionally hosts a Gospel Meeting each fall and guest evangelists are scheduled up to five years in advance. The pandemic has challenged us to consider if and how to proceed with our Fall 2020 Gospel Meeting with Brother Doy Moyer from Birmingham. After much deliberation and discussion with Brother Moyer, we recently announced plans to proceed, albeit in a modified structure.

We are committing to a one-day “meeting” on Sunday, September 13. Our 11:00 a.m. worship service (at the building and online) and the 6:00 p.m. online Bible study both will be led by Brother Moyer. Also, we determined that the meeting lessons will be focused on how we – as Christians – should deal with divisive topics in these times of political upheaval with a national election looming, social unrest, the COVID pandemic and other sensitive and potentially divisive subjects.

When we scheduled Brother Moyer for this meeting long ago, we had no idea that 2020 would bring the kinds of challenges and issues we now face. Coincidentally (or not!), he is the right evangelist for this meeting and our chosen subject, as he has been writing about and discussing these things from Christian perspectives for many months.

Our plan is for Brother Moyer to present a sermon during the morning worship hour to challenge us. The 6:00 p.m. Bible study hour will be a little different – it will be devoted to a discussion of thoughts and questions from you, our South Bumby members. You will be able to submit questions throughout Sunday afternoon and/or live during the 6:00 p.m. hour. We also will be prepared to extend the discussion beyond the normal 60 minutes if questions and discussion so demand. More details about both services and how to submit questions will be communicated prior to Sept. 13.

Yes, this is two weeks away. But we have an immediate request of you… Please mark both meeting times on your calendar for Sept. 13 and make plans to fully participate in both, whether in person or online.

Every one of us needs to hear and consider the things that Brother Moyer will discuss with us. Clearly, we all are impacted directly or indirectly by these societal issues, and they can and do affect our Christian lives and relationships one with another. We all know that there are differing points of view, even within our South Bumby family, on every one of the above topics. And the scriptures are clear – when Christians have concerns or problems within the body, we are to deal with them. So, this special Gospel Meeting is being devoted to helping us through these times and issues.

So, again, we ask you to make a special effort to set aside Sunday, Sept. 13, and make a self-commitment to be part of these special and timely studies. And watch the weekly South Bumby bulletin for related articles authored by Brother Moyer.

As always, we want you to know that we appreciate, respect and love each of you!

Jim, Ralph and Walcot

August 9th Letter from the Shepherds

Sunday, August 09, 2020

Elder Message to Members – 8/09/20

Dear Brothers and Sisters –

Warm greetings and blessings!

During one of our (elders) weekly Zoom meetings last week, we were considering this next communication to all of you. When we realized we don’t really have any significant new updates to share, we turned our focus to individuals and things that are good and right at South Bumby and, in no time, had a very long list. We want you to know how truly thankful we are for the many in our flock who work and labor tirelessly – and usually without asking – to keep our evangelism, benevolence and spiritual edification alive and well during these extraordinary times. Even though you may not see many of these special efforts of time, talent and abilities, we hope you know they are there and join us in being grateful.

Well, that discussion evolved into a conversation about Philippians 4:8 that reads, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything is worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.”

There are some strong words and phrases in that verse – true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, good repute, excellence, worthy of praise. Do you ever consider what these words and phrases all have in common? They all are positives in both worldly and spiritual senses!

It’s easy and perhaps natural to get caught up in all of the negativity and stresses of these times. You know the language that dominates the news – pandemic, social unrest, political squabbling, social distancing, etc. What do all of these things have in common? Yes, they’re inherently negative!

Contrast these negatives with the positives in Phil. 4:8; then look at the end of that scripture. There’s a command for God’s children to let our minds “dwell on these things.” What does it mean to “dwell on these things?” One commentary suggests the meaning is to consider them; meditate on them; give them serious attention. That requires focused thinking. All of us need to make special efforts to take time and set aside the drama in our individual lives and think about the good people and things going on, including those in your South Bumby spiritual family. You’ll feel better if you do this on a regular basis.

But let us suggest one more related opportunity. Channel some of your positive thinking to someone else, especially those you know are struggling right now in some way. Make a phone call, send a card, run an errand, whatever you personally can do. You’ll feel better, but something else might happen… they likely will be uplifted and thankful, too.

Ours is a loving and giving body of believers, and we, as elders, see so much of that on a continuing basis and whenever a special need arises. We thank you and are thankful for every South Bumby member. Please take care of yourselves physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually during these challenging times. We love you all!

Jim, Ralph and Walcot

July 26th Letter from the Shepherds

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Elder Message to Members – 7/26/20

Dear Brothers and Sisters –

Once again, we extend our warmest greetings and blessings to you!

As you know, our state and local coronavirus pandemic numbers remain high and that means that our plans to resume assembling together physically for worship and Bible classes remain on hold. We join you in praying for and looking forward to the day when we can be together again. In the meantime, let us continue to be diligent and take advantage of the numerous online opportunities we have to worship God and study His Word together in spirit.  If you’re not sure when or how to be with us online, just let someone know and the direction will be provided.

In our last communication, we shared our growing concern about declining online numbers in our Sunday morning worship services and low participation in the Sunday and Wednesday evening Bible studies, and we continue to be concerned. Gathering together in this manner certainly is not the same as doing so in person; but the real goals are to honor God and study in the best way possible. Please don’t let these challenging times dissuade you from these important aspects of your Christian life. If you’re not participating regularly, make a special effort this week to start with renewed spirit and enthusiasm.

We also previously outlined our concerns about in-home discussions and focus on God, Jesus and the Bible for our children of all ages. It’s not easy, we know; but Christian parents have important responsibilities to provide that structure and be living, Godly examples in the home. Our South Bumby congregation is blessed with many teachers and other members who are equally concerned about our children right now, and we are pleased to share that several individuals have come forward just in the past week with new ideas to assist parents and encourage the children of our congregation. And they not only have provided ideas, they also have committed to acting on them!

Collectively, work on at least three new children-focused initiatives began during the past seven days. Some will be delivered online; some will be mailed to children at their homes; and one of these new projects needs a lot of help and support from our members. Stay tuned for updates about all of these works and please jump in and assist as you can. Of course, these new efforts are in addition to existing resources available to parents and their children, including online Bible study videos by Dedra, Vikki, Dawn and Lauren.

The three of us are fully committed to and supportive of works that provide tools and resources to parents, children and all of us to help us stay spiritually strong and encouraged during these times. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – these tools and opportunities are beneficial only if they are being used. Please use them!

THANK YOU to everyone involved in developing and preparing these resources to help parents and our South Bumby children. We truly are blessed to have so many caring, talented and dedicated brethren who go to work when they see a need. Whether it’s ideas, writing material, preparing artwork and activities, video production, online delivery, etc., our collective talents make us all stronger.

One more thing… Zero Hebner recently had needs for groceries, sundries and gas. Within 48 hours of the request, our church family provided every item requested, and then some. We weren’t surprised, as you always respond when a need is shared. But we’d be remiss if we didn’t say thanks to all who heeded the call.

We are blessed to serve as shepherds of this loving and committed flock at South Bumby. We love and are thankful for every one of you. Please continue to pray for one another and us. And let’s make sure we all stay strong and faithful as individuals and together.

May God to continue to bless us all!

Jim, Ralph and Walcot

July 12th Letter from the Shepherds

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Elder Message to Members – 7/12/20

Dear Brothers and Sisters –

Greetings and blessings to each of you! We miss all of you and continue to pray for a time when we all can assemble and be together again.

We’re sure you share our regrets that local and state coronavirus pandemic trends are very slow to improve. Be assured that each of us shares with you all of the emotions and challenges that go with these times. Please know and join us in praying fervently about this and for all in our South Bumby spiritual family. Let us all be strong in our faith that God will lead us to better days ahead.

As we stated in our last communication, the current pandemic status precludes us from any kind of a timetable for us to advance into our next phase for South Bumby. This, of course, means that returning to Bible classes and our normal worship service schedule will continue to be delayed. Accordingly, those who can meet at the building for the Sunday 11:00 service can continue to do so, while others can join virtually via the live stream. The Sunday and Wednesday evening online Bible classes (now in the book of Daniel) also continue, and Dedra Chapman, Vikki Kline and Dawn Willman are providing excellent online lessons for our children.

These are excellent tools and we are blessed with the technology that allows all of us to stay engaged in worship and Bible study, and people who give of their talents and time to make such technologies available for our use. But they only benefit us IF we use them:

We are deeply concerned about declining online numbers in our worship services and low participation in the Sunday and Wednesday evening Bible studies. Without the structure of services and classes at the building, it is easy to get lazy and distracted from worshipping and studying God’s word. This is a time when all of us need to “double down” on our discipline and commitment to practicing our faith in worship and study. Ken made a strong scriptural case in last week’s sermon for us to examine our faith during these times.

When you finish reading this message, please open your Bible and read Deut. 6: 4-9. We are exhorted to love God with all of our heart, soul and might.

A second key lesson in that scripture is about teaching and being examples to our children at all times. We also are concerned that many of our children (all ages) are missing in-home studies and lessons about God. They need some form of Bible study and discussions about God and His Word from and inside the home. We all agree that Christian parents have responsibilities to teach and train their children in God’s Word; but it’s not easy right now. Now more than ever, that responsibility rests with parents in every Christian home. Children need to see parental commitment to worship and Bible classes, even if it’s online. And the structure of participating in Bible classes and study needs to be established or re-established. This requires a proactive effort and commitment from every parent.

Please read and think about the above scripture. Then examine your own faith in this pandemic environment, as well as the spiritual learning and status of your home and family. Let’s be diligent to stay strong and faithful during these challenging times. Use the online tools being provided and/or create your own structure.

If you have ideas or suggestions about how to help our children, let us know, as we’re open to any and all ideas. Also, don’t hesitate to ask for help, if needed.

We love you and hope to see you soon.

Jim, Ralph and Walcott

June 28th Letter from the Shepherds

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Elder Message to Members – 6/28/20

Dear Brothers and Sisters –

Once again, we extend our love and reach out to you with sincere hopes that you and your loved ones remain healthy and safe.

We don’t need to tell you how challenging, frustrating and unsettling these times are. Just two weeks ago when we prepared our last letter to our South Bumby church family, it looked like Florida and Central Florida had stemmed the rapid growth of COVID-19. Then the past couple of weeks brought record and increasing numbers of positive test results.

This current situation directly impacts our congregation. We realize that some members may need to continue or resume “sheltering in” for worship services. Our hopes to move into our next phase at South Bumby, notably resumption of Bible classes at the building, are likely delayed. We’re sure you understand that we just can’t commit to a timetable for moving forward at this time; but we’ll continue to monitor and assess the overall situation.

Also and as expected, we are hearing from more members who have physical, emotional and financial needs directly and indirectly related to the coronavirus pandemic. Thanks to the continuing generosity of so many of you, we are able to meet all benevolence needs at this time. But some aren’t physically able to get out and are in need of food and groceries, and this likely will continue. In addition, there are emotional, social and spiritual needs that can’t be met with financial support or the delivery of groceries. We don’t always know what those needs are unless someone says something.

So, we’re asking a few things of every South Bumby member: First, please let us or someone know if you have any needs. If anyone asks how you’re doing or if you need anything, be honest and share. We are blessed to be part of a loving and supportive church family who wants to and will help everyone.

Secondly, reach out and check on our homebound members and others who we haven’t seen or heard from recently. If you discover a need in doing so, please advise one of our deacons, Brother Chapman or us and we’ll attempt to provide the appropriate support. And remember those who are battling health problems and have lost loved ones in the midst of everything else going on right now.

Dr. Anthony Fauci recently stated that we all have societal and community responsibilities in these pandemic times. True and, as Christians, we also have a higher calling to protect, look out and care for one another. Brother Chapman has been delivering sermons affirming our responsibilities to be lights in our community and with each other. Let’s all do some self-examination and meet that special calling.

Above all, continue to pray for one another and our congregation, Central Florida community, state and nation.

May God continue to bless all of us.

Jim, Ralph and Walcott

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