Pastors’ Blog

This page will contain blogs from our pastoral staff.  They might be articles, devotions, reflections, current events, or even something humorous or silly.  We pray that this page and the things that we share here are useful and encouraging to you!

Our latest blog:

EHBC COVID Response: Part 3

This article was initially published in EHBC’s custom back page of The Baptist New Mexican on about January 29, 2021.  Section headings have been added here for ease of reading and reference.

It’s Wednesday (January 20, 2021) night as I write, and my second article in this series of (I think) three has yet to be published, but I’ve received a lot of good feedback on my first article, all of it positive (I welcome criticisms as well).  In this article, which I hope will be the last one regarding our COVID response, is to address some of the questions that have come up during our response.  I have already addressed the two biggest questions: 1) What has been our motivation in our particular response to the novel coronavirus pandemic? Simply: the Gospel of Jesus Christ (see my first article, which I plan to have posted to our website by the time you read this). And 2) Have we been overly submissive to government overreach and restrictiveness by our response to COVID? Answer: No. We have complied in good faith and conscience for the sake of the Gospel and the glory of God, because we haven’t been excessively hindered by the restrictions to this point (see my second article, also on our website).
I’ll try to address several questions here, giving one paragraph of response to each question:
Question: “If we have submitted to these minor government inconveniences (masks, meeting limits, etc.), then won’t we just submit all the more when it’s really serious?”
The assumption that this question makes has it backwards. I see it with this comparative: if someone were to cut in front of me in traffic, it’s a minor inconvenience.  I’ll let that go without much, if any, fuss.  If someone tries to carjack my car while I’m in it, I’m going to resist.  It’s just more serious.  For the sake of the Gospel, the name of Jesus Christ, and the reputation of the church, we can comply with the relatively minor, inconvenient restrictions in order to promote unity, to communicate our care to the community, and to protect one another’s health.  However, as soon as compliance will actively hinder or hamper our ability to preach or share the Gospel, to proclaim or glorify the name of Jesus Christ, and damage or tarnish the Bride and body of Christ, then we must act. I pray that the situation never reaches this point.  But we can voluntarily comply with minor restrictions for the very reason that they are relatively minor.  If they were ever to reach the point of truly interfering with the Gospel, then they would no longer be minor.
Question: “Why are in-person Bible studies still suspended?”
I have a couple of responses to this question.  First, the in-person studies are suspended at the building, but not because of a government limitation on the church.  Instead, we have maintained the separation of the educational part of our building throughout this time because of the substantially increased cleaning requirements for the school in order to shield it from any possibility of infection, and to prevent it from being affected if there is a COVID outbreak in the church family.  It is, after all, a school.  As I mentioned in my first article, the ministry of Eastern Hills Christian Academy is a vital ministry to over 150 families. Our Academy students are able to be in class 5 days a week, and it has meant a great deal to them to be able to do so.  Nearly every grade level is at COVID-safe capacity for their classrooms.  EHCA parents are not having to scramble for childcare or having to worry about their children not engaging in their online classes while parents work. Our teachers and other staff rely upon the income from the school to feed their families. Our school’s current ability to minister in the most practical of ways is perhaps unprecedented. And many of those families are unchurched or at least unaffiliated with a church, so it’s also a great Gospel outreach. It would be extremely impractical and expensive, given the rules that the school must operate under, to get the educational section of the building ready for Bible study classes in person, not to mention the removal of that physical shield for the school were EHBC to have an outbreak. But this doesn’t mean that we aren’t studying the Bible! Several classes are meeting in homes at this point, and several more are meeting over Zoom. If you’re looking for a class, please contact the office and we’ll get you connected with a class you can participate in.
Question: “When will we be able to start other programs again, such as weekly prayer meeting?”
Again, great question.  At the moment, we really can only fully utilize three meeting spaces that can easily accommodate a decent-sized group of people: the choir room, the sanctuary, and the parlor.  And the parlor and the choir room just opened up over the Christmas break, as the Academy was able to move some classes around given some changes to their space-per-person requirements.  We have already started allowing the Russian congregation to meet on Sunday nights in the sanctuary, as well as Hope Ahead ministry, a women’s ministry initiative, on Tuesday nights.  The Student Ministry uses the sanctuary for Prime Time on Wednesdays, and that has been such a blessing for them to be able to continue meeting since things relaxed a bit in the summer.  For some of those students, Prime Time is the only time they see other students during the week.  But we are now able to consider holding Bible studies in the parlor and choir room, and we are looking at starting prayer meeting back up within the next few weeks.  I’m prayerfully considering something of a revamp to that meeting to focus more on corporate prayer, and I have some reading and planning to do in that regard.  All of this to say that we are moving toward a greater utilization of the building for church activities, and are praying for a quick resolution to the pandemic so that we can forge a new “normal” in church fellowship and life.

I hope that I’ve addressed the majority of concerns about our COVID response over the last few articles.  If I didn’t address your particular concerns, please shoot me an email or give me a call to talk about it.  I leave you with Paul’s words from Philippians 2: “If, then, there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, make my joy complete by thinking the same way, having the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.  Everyone should look not to his own interests, but rather to the interests of others.” (verse 1-4, CSB).  I love you all!

Blessings,  Bill