Dear MBIC Church Family,
I hope this finds you well in these unprecedented times. I know many are wondering how we as a church are currently responding during this season and when we may return to “normal”. I hope this letter helps answer some of your questions, as well as give you a glimpse into my role as Lead Pastor so far.
First, I would like to say what an amazing job Pastor Dustin has done during this transition between Lead Pastors. He has had more on his plate than usual and has been able to keep things running smoothly and with a consistent purpose. It has made this time an enjoyable and smooth experience for me personally (all things considered). Also, to follow in the footsteps of Pastor Brian and then Pastor Vern, who are both such incredible and seasoned leaders, I am thankful to be able to reap the benefits of their different leadership strengths throughout this season. The MBIC team, board members, and staff have made me feel so welcomed, and our incredible volunteer teams have handled the changes in stride. Thank you all for being so flexible and gracious throughout this season.
March 12, my first day, was filled with loads of information about what had happened in the last few weeks at MBIC, getting acquainted with the office (and coffee machine) – very important information to know. Our day was turned to learning all about pandemics, germs and different ways to do online communications. Dustin and I discussed a few things including the potential for this virus we were learning about could change our plans for the coming weeks. While talking with Dustin about what we would do if that would happen, an update was sent by the superintendent that the Manheim Central School District was closed for two weeks and the Governor urged all groups over 50 people not to meet. This news and update caused us to pray and ask how we should move forward in response. Having agreement from leadership that we should adhere to the given authority and support our community by doing our part to distance ourselves socially, we did just that. With great concern and prayer, we sent an update to our church family. We knew at that time it had the potential to change how we were going to be gathering as a church for this season but not sure to what extent. As you can imagine, this turned my first week on the job into a very memorable one (to say the least).
The team rallied to put together a pre-recorded Sunday service that would introduce the new Pastor (me) and share a simple message of hope. I was so thankful to see everyone pulling together to make it happen, and I believe it was a great success. All the ministry areas assessed new ways to connect and offer care and support.
Now here we are 11 weeks in and the question in front of us is: how do we move ministry forward and be the church God has called us to be? I keep leaning into the Lord, evaluating continually through “what is God saying to me in this season? Is there something specific for me to hear?” I don’t want to miss it! Winston Churchill said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste”. My desire is to be attentive to hear and respond to Him. That has personally led my family to actively get involved in loving our neighbors and community. Simple things such as delivering vegetables from local farmers to our street and actively engaging in how we can better connect, care, and share hope, as we make those connections. It has been a blessing and reminded us how important the basics of being the Church is. I say this not to say that I think this is where we will stay with MBIC services, but it has been refreshing to get outside the bubble of routine and recognize that change is not always a bad thing.
I recognize that this season was not easy for most, and I do not want to minimize the impact it had on anyone. I have spoken to many that have been going through a grieving process as much of our normalcy has vanished. But with my heart tuned into what God is saying in this season, I want to exit this season without bitterness. I find myself asking this question: “what continues after this season? What change sticks?”
Speaking of change and “what sticks”, MBIC obviously has “stuck” in this community, because 110 years ago on May 22, our MBIC church family met for the first time to worship together, to honor the Lord, and open the word together. We would love to celebrate this milestone by serving donuts, coffee, and other light kids snacks in a drive-thru style under the carport on May 31 from 10am-12pm. Our staff will serve you, say hi, and you can wave to other church family members as we simply thank God for His faithfulness. On June 3, we will host another drive-thru for the whole Manheim community as we serve Milkshakes. There will be more details given soon as we invite the community.
As we near a time of potential re-entry into some type of Sunday Church experience, we don’t do it lightly or without a great level of prayer and caution. A big reason for writing to you today, as many of you, like me have a sense of urgency to be together to worship again. With that being said, Leadership Board and I do not have an answer as to the exact date we will have that first service as a church family. However, we have begun the process and the preparations to do so. With the counsel from MBIC Staff, BIC Atlantic Conference, our Safety Teams and other local Lead Pastors, we are wrestling with this decision, and further, we are taking this time to clarify why we are here and what our role is as the Church, and evaluate the shift God has us part of. I believe that shift could potentially include things like: the time of service, length of service, how we welcome, how we connect after service, which room we meet in, how we do the offering and communion, and so forth, as we adhere to the recommendations from our leadership. One thing will not shift: our mission to Honor God and open the Word together as we have done for the last 110 years. Look for our next update to include a target date.
As we pray over what is the next best step for our church family, I invite you all to pray for our Leadership team, specifically this week that we look ahead and get a reopening date that is right for MBIC. Your prayer support gives our church leaders boldness.
Thank you again for being an awesome church family and for your continued support and prayers during this season.
REFUSE GOOD ADVICE AND WATCH YOUR PLANS FAIL;
TAKE GOOD COUNSEL AND WATCH THEM SUCCEED.