This is my third letter in response to the Corona Virus pandemic. It’s simply an update put together in this format to share my thoughts, some notes, and the way ahead for our church. Although this pandemic continues to adversely impact our city, nation, and the world, it’s important that we continue to do our best living through this unprecedented crisis. Despite all the negative consequence of the Corona virus, which still keeps us from assembling and worshipping as a corporate body, the Lord has blessed us with other ways of fulfilling ministry needs. For this reason, I praise God for His faithfulness towards us, and I want you to know that my wife and I love you greatly, miss you desperately, and we pray for you fervently—that the Lord will continue to watch over you, while we are absent from one another.
If you are keeping up with the latest news, you know that Governor Kemp signed his executive orders extending the Public Health State of Emergency and existing Covid-19 safety measures, which continues to require social distancing, and bans gatherings of more than 50 people unless there is six feet between each person. This order runs through September 10, 2020. While we may be able to accommodate for some safety, I am still not comfortable with reopening church at this time. There is a lot that could be said here, but I will keep it short and simple—I do not believe we are ready to return at this time. The continued rise in numbers for the state proves this, and until those numbers start to go down, or at best level off, we will continue to hold it steady as we have been.
I know this is something we may not want to hear, but it needs to be said: You are delusional, if you think the government is the only one to defeat this virus. While government plays an important role in fighting this pandemic, you and I are ultimately the ones who defeat this virus. So, continue to wear a mask when you are out in public around other people, continue to practice social distancing, and continue to wash your hands regularly, and most of all, continue to follow public health guidance, whether you like it or not. This isn’t about you, so, even if you don’t like wearing a mask, think about the other person’s health. Let’s do the right thing saints of God. This is perhaps my greatest fear in reopening. That is, that some would take too much for granted and risk compromising all of us…just because. Remember: There is a way that seems right, but the end thereof is destruction. Please don’t misunderstand what I am saying here. My fear is not for me, although, like so many others I took have a pre-existing condition. My fear is for our members who want the church to reopen and will do all the right things to keep themselves and others safe, but may have to deal with that one person who doesn’t care enough about anyone else to stay home if they have a temperature of 100 or more, they’re sick or don’t feel well, have a persistent cough, etc. I think you get the point that they have some symptoms, but still choose to compromise the rest of the body. That brothers and Sisters is my greatest fear as Pastor. But, God is able!
That’s why I have put together some mitigating measures for our church. These are simply some considerations for how we will continue operating during Covid-19, whenever we reopen the church. We are doing some of these things now with the staff during the week, and Sunday’s with just the few people that assist with going live on YouTube, but that is not enough when you are talking about bringing in more people. These mitigating measures have been forwarded to the church administrator who will upload them along with this letter to the church website. Please read them and familiarize yourself with its content. It is for the safety of all that they have been put together.
I am instructing our Diaconate ministry to communicate with you weekly. We need to stay connected in every way, and it is important that you know we are here for you. if an emergency should arise, if you have a need, or if there is any way, we as a ministry can serve you, please call your deacon, or call or email the church and we will get back with you immediately.
I know you know these other things I am about to share with you, so let them serve as constant reminders—
We have bible study fellowship Wednesday of each week from 6-7:15pm. The link is sent out each week as a reminder to everyone who is signed up. That is the key, you need to be signed up. If you are not, then I need you to let someone know, so we can assist you with signing up. This is our Bible Study Fellowship time. If you are not receiving this informational link for our Zoom time bible study, you need to get with our Church Administrator, Sis. Ebony Hicks. I am certain she will be more than happy to assist you with this. It is probably as simple as updating your contact information. In addition, I will start providing relevant updates and prayer/praise reports during bible study. We incorporated a poll for questions about the lesson this past Wednesday and will continue to do so each Wednesday.
The same goes for our worship service, which is livestreamed each Sunday. We are no longer on the church Facebook page, we are now on YouTube, and we want you to join us each Sunday for our live stream on YouTube. This live stream of our worship service will be posted online for you to view 24/7. However, I strongly encourage you to make every effort to join us each Sunday morning for our live stream at 10:55am. We start promptly at 11am. This is a way for us to stay connected during this pandemic.
Do not forget that the women of our Diaconate meet at the church to prepare the communion packets the last Friday/Saturday of every month. We have been doing this since the start of June. Continue to get with your deacon to let them know of your desire to participate and partake in communion. This will ensure that your packet is prepared and ready for pickup prior to first Sunday. In the event that you are not able to join our live stream on first Sunday’s, you may administer the ordinance to yourself or to your family following the guidance we’ve already put out. These are different times, but together we will get through it.
We are still grinding when it comes to the purchase of the property we spoke to you about in our previous letter (5031 High Meadows Dr., Grovetown, Ga. 30813). Keep in mind this is an on-going process, and because it is a process, we are not excluding other property or land options. However, this one seems to meet all our future needs. In addition, there has been interest in our present building; however, it is doubtful that we will follow through with this effort since it will require a temporary move we aren’t prepared nor are we willing to make at this time during this pandemic. We have made this clear to potential buyers. So, while there is interest, we are not in a position to go through with any sale of our current church at this time. We have moved forward with the request for loan. Want to see what the bank has to say. This is no guarantee on our part to follow through. We are simply testing the waters, for this reason: We are also checking with an outside lender in North Carolina that specializes in financing churches. More to follow on this.
Not sure if you know or not, but I have been leading a Livestream Pastor’s live Prayer Meeting via Zoom since August 1. The link goes out the Friday before Saturday’s prayer meeting. It is every other Saturday, which means that my next Pastor’s livestream prayer meeting will be this coming Saturday, August 29th. I will be praying for our members, Servant Leaders, the sick, healthcare workers, the vulnerable, such as those who have an underlying condition, the unemployed, students and families, churches, and our government and city leaders. Please join us for 30 minutes of corporate and intercessory prayer. Again, this prayer meeting will take place every other Saturday and our time is from 9am until 9:30am.
Although we cancelled our Diaconate celebration August 8th, we were able to recognize our ministry servant leaders. This event was recorded and is available on our church website, to include some photos of the event. Masks were worn and social distancing was maintained.
By now you should know that our 3-night revival, which was on the calendar to take place 18-20 August with Young Macedonia Baptist Church, Edgefield, SC., was in fact cancelled due to the pandemic. Pastor Al Transou requested that we continue with the revival for august 2021. We have agreed. Church administrator will make sure that this change is reflected on our church calendar.
Our Family and Friends day is in September (13th). The Governor’s new update for the state runs out on September 10th. I’m certain that the next update will be coming out by the 11th, at which time we will be able to see if there is any change for the better. I suspect that we will decide prior to then, especially since family and friend’s day is on the 13th.
Next is our Choir celebration. It will be treated in the same way as the Diaconate celebration. It’s unfortunate, but it too must be cancelled; however, we will be recognizing and acknowledging our choir members this coming Sunday, August 30, 2020. Unlike the Diaconate celebration, we will not have choir members to come inside the church. Instead, choir members will pull up outside in front of the church and someone will present the gift bags. We apologize for the inconvenience, but we feel this is the best measure that will ensure no one takes for granted the health of another. First Lady Darden will be providing the timeline to the choir, and we will post photos in the same way as we did with the Diaconates.
Besides these two events in September, the other remaining events on the calendar this year (2020) are as follows: Pastor’s Anniversary, FALL Revival, Church Anniversary, and Christmas Program. We are talking about October, November and December respectively. I cannot in good faith tell you whether or not we will be back in place at the church for these events. It seems likely that we may in November, but even that is still a presumption on our part. Like all other events, they will be addressed as we get closer to the date for each event.
I realize these are challenging times for all of us, but we know our monetary obligation regarding Church Anniversary. If you have not been putting aside your contribution, please start to do so now. Despite the pandemic, we must praise God for 105 years of our church history. Join me in changing the narrative regarding our history. Let it be said that we gave above and beyond despite the pandemic. More than likely, our servant leaders have or will be reaching out to other leaders of the various ministries regarding Pastor’s Anniversary. Here again, this is nothing new, so please be supportive of our Servant Leaders who have taken the initiative to see to it that what we do each year is not forgotten. Although, it is likely that we will not be together to celebrate 19 years of service to the body of Liberty, First Lady and I thank you for your support of these 19 years God has blessed us to work together in ministry.
Special thanks to our staff and those who help each week to make things happen for the rest of the body. The staff of a secretary and a Church Administrator is a small group, but they prove that less is best. I am thankful for Sis. Brooks and Sis. Hicks, without them I wouldn’t be able to function as effectively as I have been blessed to do during this pandemic. I want to also thank my brother, Deacon Darden and Brother Thrower for being there each Sunday to record the services on CD. Their help is invaluable to say the least. Thank you also to the Joshua Men for continuing to take care of the lawn at the church, and thanks to our Trustees, Deacon Scott and Deacon J. Williams for meeting when they do to do the work of counting, record keeping and deposits to the bank. A very special thanks to First Lady Darden for putting together all the gift bags for the Diaconate ministry on August 8. I want all of you to know that your support during this pandemic is worthy of emulation.
It gives me great joy to report that Bro. Andre Conner is back on his feet again since his positive test of the corona virus. There were quite a few names that were added to our prayer list, and thankfully, all of them are clear of the virus. I make mention of Bro. Conner because he is one of our members. I know some of you have family members who were and perhaps are still dealing with this virus; nevertheless, our prayers are with you. Use this as a testament that what the Lord has done for others, He can do the same for you. Join us for prayer as well on Saturday, so we can touch and agree on their healing.
May God continue to bring comfort to those of you who have suffered the loss of loved ones and close friends. Although we know it is a part of life, it is never easy when it happens. Our hearts go out to you during this time of grieving. Remember: He will keep you in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Him.
I know I have said this before, and the truth is I will continue to do so because it is worth mentioning each time I send out one of these updates. But, I can’t tell you enough how much I appreciate those of you who continue to support the on-going work of ministry monetarily. Whether you give online or through the mail drop off at the church, your contributions of tithes and offerings helps to keep Liberty afloat during this pandemic. I said it earlier, I know these are difficult and challenging times for all of us, so I personally thank you for being steadfast, unmovable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord. For those who typically give during our worship services, meaning when the church was open, but haven’t been able to do so because you aren’t sure how to do it, please join us in giving through our various online platforms that we have put in place, such as Givelify and PayPal, or mailing it directly to the church address: Liberty Baptist Church, 1232 Anderson Avenue, Augusta, Georgia 30901. We have a responsibility and an obligation to support the work of ministry. For assistance, get with our Church Administrator, Sis. Ebony Hicks @ 706-589-0683, or you can also get with your Deacon who is more than happy to assist. Remember: It will take longer to achieve our goal for our “Achieving Greater Things” campaign without your on-time and continued contribution. I know you want to continue to be a part of this effort in the life of the church and we are here to help with any problems you may be having.
Election day is coming. November is just around the corner. It may seem like we have a lot of time, but we really don’t. If you have never been diligent in voting, this is the time to do so, especially if you are looking for change in our current leadership in the White House. It is time out for simply talking or being frustrated without taking the right kind of action. That action is to go out and vote. There are too many options for this not to happen, so let us not make any more excuses when it comes to doing what is our god given right to do—vote! Here also, if you need assistance in any way, say so and we as a body of Christ will be sure to assist you. These are unprecedented times at every level. Racial inequality and racial injustice in this country is nothing new. It has been around for quite some time, but America and the world learned new ways to cover it up. We need look no further than Donald Trump to see why it is out in the open again. Those who are in support of President Trump are in support of someone like him because in their hearts that’s exactly how they feel, and he knows this. That’s why he promotes hatred and injustice. If you are tired of this, and tired of having someone at the highest position in our country promoting this hatred, then, get up, get out and vote.
Finally, I have taken great comfort this month in David’s Psalm of Degrees, particularly, those psalms of ascents wedged between Psalm 120 and Psalm 134. In them we see Israel’s ascent, which is their physical reality as they journey upward back to their home in Jerusalem. Our spiritual truth is in many ways very similar, for we too are on an ascent, an upward move towards God. At times, whether physical or spiritual, the journey is filled with hills and mountains which at times present us with many challenges, but knowing that God is with us no matter what we may face is reassuring, and meditating on the whole of these Psalms gives me fresh assurance that God’s got us as we move to higher heights in Him. Psalm 27:6 is my conclusion to this matter: “And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore, will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord.” May this blessed assurance, comfort, strengthen, keep you, and encourage you in the weeks and months to come.
Because of Him,
D. Alvin Darden, Jr., Pastor, MSM., MTh., MDiv.
Liberty Baptist Church, Inc.