Seventh Day Baptists,
Greetings to you all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. We pray that as you read this, you are safe both physically and spiritually from the many perils of these times.
Last evening, President Trump extended the order on social distancing until the end of April saying, “it’s very important that everyone strongly follow the guidelines over the next two weeks,” and that “the better we do…the faster the nightmare will end.”
As we have done throughout the pandemic, (here, here, and here) we encourage all SDB churches to obey all rules and adhere to all advice given by federal, state and local officials. These officials have all the data before them and are making decisions in their God-given roles to protect and serve us all. Honoring the leaders God appoints us is part of being faithful to Christ (Rom. 13:1-7).
With the length of time many of us will not be meeting together in our local congregations increasing, there are a variety of issues which must now be addressed. Some of these issues relate to the covenants which hold us together as Kingdom family in our local churches. Nearly all covenants in SDB churches have some common elements, including commitment to sharing our time, talent and abilities with the church for Kingdom service. Many of you have dutifully kept these covenants for long periods of time, and have given selflessly of yourselves to your local church.
That level of commitment is especially important during times of crisis, as when we lean into one another for support, we are all stronger. Though we are separated from one another by distance for the next few weeks, it is more important that we continue to share our time, talents and abilities with one another and with the communities where we find ourselves. Your church family needs you to bring what you have now more than ever: there are more prayer requests to be prayed for, more people to be reached out to, more opportunities to share the Gospel, more families with needs, especially financially.
It is perhaps this last need, the financial one, which needs special attention in these difficult times. The current crisis has wreaked havoc on the world financial system and is still yielding bad consequences for many. The temptation may be strong to hoard our various resources, but our financial resources most of all. We need to resist this temptation. Fear is not compatible with a life in the Holy Spirit (1 Jn 4:13-18). If your local church is going to weather this storm and do and be what God has called her to be, she needs you now to honor your covenant commitments and bring your best. It is a time for us to be faithful in many ways: in our proclamation of the hope of the Gospel, in our demonstrations of our faith in courage, and in fearless stewardship of what God has given to us.
Other world crises in recent years have proved that churches and other non-profit organizations see their giving decrease significantly during situations precisely when giving to the church would demonstrate the Gospel the most. We pray that SDBs will lean into their covenant responsibilities to their Kingdom families and trust that God will provision and keep them as they give of their financial resources to their local churches, even in these difficult times. Faithfulness in giving now as we are able is a way to glorify God and magnify the work of our local churches and show that we care for one another and our communities.
We will continue to pray for God’s blessing and protection for you as you proclaim, demonstrate, and steward His resources in this time. If you need assistance, our Conference staff stand ready to aid you.
In His Service,
The Directors of the SDB General Conference