“Letter from the Shepherds”

April 19, 2020

Dear Brethren,

Once again, we express our sincere love and prayers that this finds you and all of your loved ones healthy and safe. Many have expressed – and we shepherds echo – how much we miss being physically together and just the opportunity to see and visit with one another face-to-face. This almost certainly is something that none of us has experienced before, so we’re all learning to cope together.

Each day brings more news and information about our nation’s and community’s status and recovery. As federal, state and local leaders now are trying to find the right ways and times to reopen, be assured that we are monitoring these updates daily and giving careful consideration to when we might resume worship services and Bible studies at our building. Your spiritual and physical well-being both remain at the forefront of our discussions.

We know that many of you are starting to wonder about our Bible classes when we return to meeting on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights, especially since the new class quarter is scheduled to start on May 3. Our hope is to restart all of the classes at a date to be determined in May. Here is the tentative plan:

  • Given that we don’t know when exactly we’ll resume the classes and that we only completed the first six weeks of the current quarter, all classes from Nursery through High School will continue in the same subjects through the summer. The classrooms already are prepared, teachers may have to resume on short notice, and the students will benefit from the continuation.
  • Our hope is that most, if not all, current teachers will be able to continue in those classes. Tony Thigpen is reaching out to those teachers to confirm one way or the other, so please let him know ASAP. In classes where current teachers cannot continue through the summer, we will look to teachers scheduled in Quarter 4 (May – July) to step in.
  • The adult classes will be a little different. We expect that the online study of Matthew will wrap up at the end of this month. Depending on when we return, Ken and John Willman will resume the study of Biblical marriages and a study in the books of Ezekiel, Daniel or I and II Timothy/Titus will begin. If our restart is later in May, we likely will begin an online study of one of those books and continue that study when we resume meeting.

We know this is not ideal and requires a lot of flexibility on the part of all teachers. But your support during this transitionary time will be very much appreciated. We’ll start planning the 2020-21 curriculum and teacher assignments, beginning with the annual teacher survey, as soon as it is feasible to do so.

At this time, we just don’t know when we’ll be able to resume meeting. You undoubtedly are aware that our president, Florida governor and Central Florida leaders and authorities are working on plans to “reopen” our communities. And as we have been doing, we will continue to follow their direction and guidance, and act in the best interest of the spiritual and physical well-being of our entire South Bumby family.

In the meantime, please stay connected through the many online and streaming services, Bible classes, Bible exercises, devotions, etc. that so many of our members continue to develop and deliver to encourage and strengthen us. We implore you to take advantage of these opportunities. And we extend special thanks to those individuals involved in these edifying efforts.

Thankfully, we are not aware of any members who have contracted the Corona Virus and we are so thankful for that. But we know many of our flock have other health, emotional, spiritual and economic needs, especially with confinement, job losses and furloughs throughout our region. Please take a few minutes this week to reach out and touch base with a fellow “Bumbyite” who you haven’t talked to or seen as part of our multiple virtual offerings. Let us know if someone has a need or issue we may not be aware of.

In closing, we offer heartfelt thanks to all who have sent us expressions of appreciation and encouragement – they are uplifting to us. Also remember the power of prayer. Pray for one another and continue to pray for us. God will help us through this challenging time and beyond.

In Him,

Jim, Ralph and Walcot