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“Letter from the Shepherds”

May 3, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ –

Once again, we write this letter wishing that we could share our thoughts and updates in a congregational setting rather than in this form. Nonetheless, we continue to be appreciative of the fellowship that we all have been able to share through Facebook, Zoom and YouTube during the past month or so, and through the dedicated work and service of the many individuals who have made these technological connections possible.

I’m sure you join us in thanksgiving for the news that Central Florida will begin a phased approach to “reopening” this week. As you know, President Trump, Governor DeSantis and Central Florida leaders have outlined plans and guidelines. We will continue to closely monitor these announcements through each phase, and we remain committed to following all direction. In addition, we feel a special responsibility to make decisions about resuming our in-building worship services and Bible classes in with the spiritual and physical health and well-being of all South Bumby members at the forefront.

So, we know many of you have obvious questions along the lines of “What’s next?” and “When will we reopen?”. We want you to know our current thinking and plans.

First and given Phase I reopening guidelines, we will not resume our regular worship services and Bible classes at the building for at least the next two weeks. We are optimistic that we can begin meeting again later this month and will stay tuned to all related government and health industry updates to help guide us. But we’re not ready to commit to a specific date yet.

In our last letter, we outlined plans for the new quarter of Bible classes beginning today, May 3. When we resume meeting, all classes will continue in the same studies that were underway when we had to suspend meeting together. Special thanks to all of the teachers who have agreed to continue in this new quarter, and to those will fill in for teachers who could not continue. The adults began an online study today in the book of Ezekiel, taught by Ken Chapman. That study will continue when we begin meeting again, with Jim Duke and Tony Thigpen taking over as teachers. Ken and John Willman will resume teaching the study of Biblical marriages from last quarter.

How about some good news? We are happy to report that our congregational finances are good. John Willman has been diligently managing our contributions and financial responsibilities, and reports that our contributions are down by about $800 per week. In addition, several individuals have given donations to assist with our benevolence needs, some a result of the current economy. Thus far we are meeting all benevolence requests, but anticipate more requests in the coming weeks and months. We will arrange for John to provide a detailed budget update in the near future. Please know how grateful we are to each of you for catching up and maintaining your weekly giving, and to those who have made special donations. And we thank John for staying on top of this for us.

As always, we ask that you continue to check on, encourage and help our spiritual family members who have various challenges and needs. We are especially mindful of Sister Bernice Davis whose brother succumbed to the Coronavirus last week, and Gene Shoaf and his family following the passing of his father, Gordon, on Thursday. Reach out to and remember these individuals, our homebound brethren and those who have ongoing struggles in their lives. Please advise us or any of our deacons if you know anyone with physical, emotional or spiritual needs.

Until we can resume meeting together, remember and take advantage of the many online offerings – worship services, Bible classes, children’s’ studies, etc. – that so many of members have developed and are delivering to encourage and help us all stay strong in our faith and fellowship with one another. Check our web site (Bumby.org), your email the Bumby Facebook site regularly for congregational information and updates.

Finally, continue to pray diligently – for our nation and community, civic and government leaders, one another and us, your elders. We appreciate and love all of you!

Wishing you God’s blessings,

Jim, Ralph and Walcott