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Letter from the Shepherds

Sunday, May 17, 2020

May 17, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters –

Warm greetings and Christian love to each of you, and our hopes that this finds you healthy and safe. While we remain thankful that we have been able to fellowship and, perhaps, socialize virtually during the past couple months, it certainly is not the same as physically being together and we miss all of you.

We know you share our thanks that our nation, state and Central Florida community have moved into recovery phases of reopening. Many are asking – and we elders have been actively discussing – plans and timing to begin worship services together at our building. As always, we are being guided by prayerful consideration, guidelines and direction from government and healthcare leaders, and with physical and spiritual well-being in mind for our entire South Bumby family. Admittedly, we are pursuing a very conservative course as we make these decisions.

We fully understand that some are ready to assemble, while others may be anxious about their health and are not ready to do so. Please be assured that, whatever your decision, it will be respected without question. Each of us must safeguard our health and do whatever is necessary.

With these thoughts in mind, we tentatively plan to assemble for an 11:00 a.m. worship service on Sunday, May 31. Please note that this is tentative, as we will monitor and assess government phasing and related guidelines this week and next before we make a final decision to proceed with the May 31 service. Of course, there will be some adjustments in how we gather together, including an advance determination of how many of you likely will plan to attend. Expect follow-up communications during the week of May 24 to confirm our planned worship assembly, provide guidelines for meeting together, and a formal request re: your plan to attend or not.

In the meantime, our online offerings for worship, study and edification will continue: live streaming of the worship services (even after we begin assembling at our building), Bible studies in the book of Ezekiel, the Bible Knowledge Workshops and children’s Bible videos on the Bumby News Facebook page, and weekly bulletins on the website. Our deep appreciation to everyone involved in producing and delivering these resources for all of us!

Special thanks also to every member for your generous and regular giving. Our contributions now are back to budgeted levels and many of you are providing additional support for benevolence needs. Because of your generosity, all benevolence needs are being met, even as we anticipate more requests for assistance in the near future.

Please continue to reach out to members of our spiritual family - including the homebound and those unable to connect with us virtually - who may be in need of physical help, emotional support and/or just encouragement and reassurance that they are loved and appreciated. Looking out for one another is as important as ever right now.

We close with our usual request for you to pray diligently for our national, state and local leaders: each other; and us, your elders. We appreciate and love you and look forward to when we all can be together again!

Wishing you God’s blessings,

Jim, Ralph and Walcot

Letter from the Shepherds

Sunday, May 03, 2020

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 (, 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






Letter from the Shepherds

Sunday, April 19, 2020

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

April Letter from the Shepherds

Sunday, April 05, 2020

April 5, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As our society continues to grapple with the difficult realities of the Coronavirus and the resulting lifestyle, we pray and solicit your prayers for all in our South Bumby spiritual family. We want you to know that the three of us are carefully monitoring related news and updates, and are communicating with one another almost daily to discuss the physical and spiritual well-being of everyone.

Much has happened since our last letter a couple of weeks ago. And so, we want to share with you some of our current thoughts and important updates.

First, special thanks to Josh Duke, Mike Minear, Tony Thigpen and others who have been working tirelessly to support and refine the technologies required to live stream our worship services and Bible studies through Facebook, Zoom and other platforms. They are continuing to research and improve the processes that make these tools even more beneficial for our worship and studies. Special thanks also to Ken for his ongoing sermons, online Bible classes in Matthew, and daily devotional studies from the book of James. And above all, thanks to everyone who is participating in these services and studies.

Even though we are not gathering together physically in our building for worship and Bible classes, we believe we all need to strengthen and encourage ourselves and one another through online and streaming worship and studies using the wonders of technology. Please don’t let our inability to meet at our building be an excuse to call “time out” on your faith. Even though we can’t physically meet in one place, we CAN still assemble and share our faith together. Indeed, Brother Doy Moyer noted in a recent Facebook post that, “The only one who can cancel worship in your life is YOU.”

Given the still-growing distress of the Coronavirus, our government and civil authorities have asked all citizens to continue being isolated for a time to help stem the threat of this disease. We as individuals and a spiritual body of believers, as well as citizens in society and our local community, have responsibility to do our part to protect one another and our neighbors. Accordingly, we have prayerfully made the sad, but appropriate, decision to not host worship services and Bible classes at our building through the month of April. We will continue to monitor recommendations and directives from civil authorities and update as appropriate.

But we still have ways to be together! Here is a summary of current services, studies and ways for us to stay connected:

  • Worship – live stream every Sunday at 11:00 a.m.
  • Bible Classes – studies in Matthew Sundays at 6:00 p.m. and Wednesdays at 7:00 p.m.
  • Studies and Bible Exercises for children– online videos by Dedra Chapman and Vikki Kline for small children accessible on demand
  • Devotions from book of James – daily online videos by Ken accessible on demand
  • Weekly Bulletin – Marian and Tony continue to prepare and post the weekly bulletin to our Bumby web site.

In addition, and partially in response to member suggestions, other activities and resources are being planned to keep us connected and strong in our faith. Be sure to check and monitor daily our web site (, Facebook Member News, and your email for information and links to the above and new resources.

A couple of final thoughts:

Please check on one another, especially our homebound members who may not be able to participate in our online services and studies, and those who have ongoing health and other challenges. Many of our homebound and elderly members really appreciate phone calls at this time. Also, let us know if you or anyone you know has health or other physical or emotional needs.

Secondly, please remember your weekly contributions. Even though we’re not assembling at the building on Sundays, we have continuing financial obligations to the evangelists we support, utilities and other bills to pay, and member benevolence needs. Contributions are down in recent weeks, so please consider your personal giving. You can mail them to our South Bumby P.O. box or use the new, electronic tool that John Willman set up for us to use during this time.

As always, we remain open to and welcome any thoughts or recommendations you might have to strengthen our South Bumby family.

These are trying and unprecedented times. But let us hold fast to the faith, knowing that this difficult time WILL pass. In the meantime, let’s stay committed to practicing and sharing our faith. And, of course, pray! Pray for our nation, and state and local communities. Pray for our civil leaders and authorities. Pray for our congregation and us as your shepherds. And pray without ceasing for one another.

May God bless you!

Jim, Ralph and Walcott

March Letter from the Shepherds

Monday, March 16, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We all are aware and being impacted by the Corona virus. Let us remember and pray for all individuals globally who have contracted and been exposed to the virus, as well as the continued health and wellbeing of everyone in our South Bumby spiritual family.

We have been in constant communication with one another since last week as we monitor developments and Corona virus updates. As shepherds, we care deeply about each member of our spiritual family, both spiritually and physically. Please pray for us to have the wisdom we need to lead during these unprecedented times.

Yesterday we made several changes in our South Bumby services schedule, seating, etc. Following guidance and cautionary recommendations by federal, state and local government and health industry leaders, and with prayerful consideration, we are making the following adjustments in our next worship and Bible class schedules:

  1. This week’s (March 18) Wednesday evening Bible Classes are cancelled.
  2. On Sunday, March 22, we will assemble for worship at 11:00 a.m. only. The 9:00 a.m. worship and Bible classes are cancelled.

It appears that our normalcy will be slow in returning, as the lifestyle effects of the corona virus are changing almost daily. We understand that this creates a lot of uncertainty and concern, but we will continue to discuss and communicate necessary steps for our congregation and worship. Generally, we likely won’t be able to meet and worship and study together in our building at regularly scheduled times. And certainly our most vulnerable members (aged, those with lowered immune systems, diabetes, respiratory problems, etc.) and everyone with any kind of health issues (colds, flu, sniffles etc.) should not be joining our assembly or other gatherings.

With all of the above in mind and since we cannot be together as much as we would like, let us remember that we still need to practice our faith and all of the regular responsibilities therein. Here are some things we encourage all in our spiritual family to do with renewed vigor during these times:

Pray – Praise and thank God for all blessings, for continued health, for strength and perseverance during these uncertain times, for our government and health care leaders and providers, and for one another.

Study and mediate upon the Word – At minimum, use the time that we normally would assemble together to study. And draw strength and encouragement from those studies!

Serve one another – Several of members and all of our homebound members still are in need of prayers and, sometimes physical assistance. Call and check on your fellow members and continue to serve as you have ability and opportunity. And let’s all inform one another of individual needs.

Maintain your regular Contributions – Even though you may not be able to attend worship services for one reason or another, your ongoing, weekly contributions remain a responsibility. Even in these times, our own and other evangelists we support, and members who need benevolence help depend upon our contributions. And we still have our regular bills to pay.

In sum, please don’t let our limited services schedules become an excuse not to practice our faith and fulfill our responsibilities to one another and our South Bumby spiritual family. If you are comfortable in doing so, gather in small groups of family and friends to pray and study together.

So, what’s next? We will be working diligently to provide regular communication in the coming days and weeks. We are in the process of connecting with your group leaders to assist in communication and service to those in need. We also are exploring video communication, studies and the possibility of online Bible studies. It will be very important for you to watch your email, the South Bumby facebook page and our South Bumby web page for updates and new information. And we are creating phone trees to connect with those who don’t use computer-based communications tools.

If you have thoughts or recommendations to assist during this time, please let us know. And please know that our thoughts and prayers are with all of you.

The Elders,
Jim, Ralph, and Walcott

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