Church Council Covid Update #1
March 19, 2020
1John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love casts out all fears.” Despite the rational and understandable fear of COVID–19 which leads us to protect ourselves, we are still a community of love; the love of God and for one another. For that reason, here is what our Church Staff and Church Council have decided on how to minister to each other and at the same time protect our church membership from contamination:
- The deacons will reach out to you to see if you are OK and if you need anything.
- Prayer needs will continue to go out via email. (If you would like to receive the prayer request emails, please let Rubye know and she will get you on the list.)
- Dr. Massar will send out daily devotions via email, posted on our website, and on Facebook.
- Live-streaming of our Sunday service will continue during church closure. There were a few problems this last Sunday, but it seems that those problems have been fixed. We are grateful to John Myers, Ted Borcherding, Marc Levesque, and John Bell for their work. We are also using Facebook Live on Sunday morning.
- Wednesday Bible Study will be available through Facebook and YouTube. This will be a recording that you can access each Wednesday night (and following).
- Committees and Sunday School classes that want to meet can do so through Google Meeting and Zoom. If you need help with that contact Lance and he will help you with getting connected.
- All church activities have been cancelled through March and will be evaluated for April. At this point, judging from City government, we anticipate that we may remain closed, if not all, at least part of April.
- Our church offices are closed and staff is video conferencing on Mondays and Wednesdays. Our Church phones work offsite. So if you need to call the church office Rubye will be able to answer even at her home during work hours.
- Ramiro is working on a landscaping project and Jesus is doing a deep cleaning of the church. Church mailbox will be checked daily.
- Debarah Wilson, our interim bookkeeper, and Rubye will count offerings mailed in once a week.
- Part time student minister hiring has moved to May 15.
- Our part time nursery workers will continue to be paid as they have financial obligations as all of us do and they have been faithful in the past.
Garrett and I will be your contact points for any questions or concerns about church policies during these trying times. We may not be meeting together but we are still Woodland Baptist Church. Please stay safe and may God bless you especially during this time.
Church Council Covid Update #2
March 31, 2020
Genesis 18:16-33 tells us the story of Abraham negotiating with God on behalf of Sodom. Putting aside the different scholarly interpretations of this passage and of the nature of God, at face value, we see that God is willing to go and see for Himself what is going on in Sodom and willing to change his plans as Abraham pleads for Sodom. I can see that. After all, I pray for healing, protection, comfort, assistance, etc., for others hoping, sometimes even against all hope, that the person’s circumstances will change. I too am negotiating with God on behalf of others. It gives me comfort to believe that God may be and can be a God who is flexible.
The current COVID-19 pandemic has forced our nation, state, city, and church to be flexible in ways we never imagined. These are Sunday School classes are meeting via social media, others are sending out lessons via email, church and Bible study online, SARM ministry putting together sandwich bags for homeless locked out of shelters, giving online and mailing checks, email daily devotionals, deacons checking-up on members, individual church members meeting online for fellowship, the weekly emails from Lance continue to keep us updated on activities that will happen when we come together again, and others I may not be aware of. In the Air Force we have a saying, “Flexibility is the key to AirPower.” If that is true, and it is, then we are a very successful church in times that call for flexibility.
In light of that forced continued flexibility:
- The church will now remain closed to all ministry meetings through the end of April. At the earliest, May 3rd will be our first Sunday together for worship. This date will be evaluated again according to conditions and government guidance.
- Continue to let Rubye know of your prayer concerns so she can mail them out on our prayer request mailings.
- Lance has fixed many of the streaming issues and more cameras add to the online worship experience as we continue to sit in our home “pews” next to each other in spirit.
- Church office will remain closed but phones are monitored from staff homes.
- Mail is continued to be picked up daily so mailing your checks is not a problem. Giving via check or online is even more important now than ever. New mailbox is being installed with lock for extra security.
The Church Council is still active via email and will take up any issue that may concern you on the administration of the church during this time of social distancing. You may send your questions or concerns to either Garrett or me. In the meantime, stay healthy and be safe.
Church Council Chair
Church Council Covid Update #2
April 20, 2020
Matthew 18:20 is a familiar verse we have quoted many times during this COVID–19isolation, “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” At face value, this verse tells us that Jesus is with us wherever a few of us meet in His name. We have been “meeting” in His name virtually on Sundays, Wednesdays, and other times through small groups gatherings. We have “come together” in His name in one accord praying for the victims of COVID–19 and for this pandemic to subside sooner rather than later. And, we will continue to “meet together” in the coming weeks…virtually.
In the spirit of virtual “coming together” here is the latest update from your Council:
- Considering the continued rise in COVID–19 cases, we will continue not meeting as a churchbody through May. Conditions will continue to be monitored for any changes in this decision.
a. 1,179 cases, as of 19 April, in greater San Antonio area
b. 420 of these cases are through close contact
c. 23.6% of cases in age groups 60-109
d. 74.3% of deaths are in this age group
- We will continue Sunday worship, Bible studies, some Sunday School classes on-line, daily devotions, prayer requests, and some Sunday School classes via email. Deacons continue to check on members.
- We did not get the CARE loan the church approved but our application remains “in line” for future distributions.
- Sanctuary Design Committee has postponed its work until further notice and a way forward.
- Volunteers continue to meet every Wednesday morning to prepare lunch sacks for Christians Assistance Ministries for the homeless.
- Passport Camp and Southwest Baptist Youth Camp have been cancelled. We are reevaluating VBS and the Churchwide Retreat in September. The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s General Assembly in Atlanta, GA has also been moved to an online only event.
- Ramiro has been working on our grounds to improve drainage, the grass areas, walking paths, and planting new trees. Attached is a PowerPoint presentation by Lee Weems, Chair of Buildings and Grounds Committee.
Flexibility is the key to success as we build this plane on the flight. I thank God for a pastoral staff and Council that cares enough for us to keep us apart during these trying times. In the meantime continue to stay safe and let’s “come together” next Sunday at 11:00am online. If you have any comments, suggestions, or questions please don’t hesitate to contact me at 210-467-7076 or email@example.com.
Church Council Covid Update #4
May 6, 2020
In Acts 20:35 Paul quotes Jesus saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” We don’t have Jesus saying these words in the Gospels but that doesn’t mean He didn’t say them. If Paul quotes him as saying it then Jesus said it. John ends his Gospel by saying, “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.” (20:30) The context of Paul’s quote is of his work in helping the needy. Our church truly knows the joy of giving and helping the needy. One evidence of your faithfulness comes from Lee Richardson, Chair of the Finance Committee:
- Although offerings were down $8K in the month of April, Jan-Mar giving was up $28K from last year. So, we are $20K ahead through April from last year.
- Our expenses through April are down $33K from last year.
- Our Legacy Fund has taken a bit of a hit with the downturn in stocks and bonds, but we have time to recover the loss as the market always bounces back.
In other words, we are financially healthy thanks to your continued giving in these financially trying times and of separation. The building may be closed but the church is not.
For this reason, even though our government PPE loan application was approved in the second phase of relief funding, the Council has decided not to accept the loan. The rules, although still somewhat ambiguous, make it clear that approval is based on “immediate” help in staying in business. The operative word is “immediate.” With the financial report above, we feel that we are not in immediate need. Not knowing what the future would hold six weeks ago, applying for the loan, “just in case,” was the right thing to do. However, there are more needy businesses in our community that need the money more than we do. Declining the loan is yet another way that our church can help the more “needy” in our community. Thank you for your overwhelming vote of confidence and trust in the Council when we proposed applying for the loan.
We hope you will continue to give what you can during this time. Though, we all understand that this is a time of great uncertainty we believe in the power and joy of our combined generosity. We have seen it in our giving to the general budget this year and in the effort to create masks and pack lunches for the needy. Thank you for your continued stewardship.
We are still making plans for reopening the buildings in June and when we have a concrete plan, we will send another update.
Peace and health,
Conrad Navarro Garrett Vickrey
Council Chair Pastor
Church Council Covid Update #5
20 May 2020
Leviticus 11:1-2 says, “Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying to them, “Say to
the Israelites, ‘Of all the animals that live on land, these are the ones you may eat:” The list that
follows is extensive as is the list of prohibited animals. Some of the cleanliness laws given to
Israel, like the one above, were for physical health. Some, like the prohibition of touching
corpses (Num 9:11), were mainly for ritual cleanliness, although it may also have been for the
avoidance of possible physical contaminants. Putting aside the different interpretations by
scholars of why these laws were given, they were healthy, prudent in the desert, and avoided
Today because of COVID-19 we have a pandemic that has stopped the world. As our
government officials slowly start to reopen our city and state, one of the dangers is a resurgence
of the virus as people come in more contact with each other. For this reason, the Church Council,
meeting via Zoom, has decided to keep our campus closed through June. We want to wait and
see what happens as people get back to work, shop, and entertainment. If an increase of new
cases emerges from the opening we do not want to be contributors to that increase. This decision
was taken to protect our membership and our pastoral staff. Safety and prudence in this situation
can lead to health and life.
Your Church Council along with the Safety Committee and staff have been preparing a
phased plan for opening the campus. The plan is not complete. When it is we will send it to you
so you know the how’s and whys of the plan. The survey which was sent out will greatly inform
us of your desires and your personal plans for attendance in worship and other activities. This
survey will remain open until 1 June. We encourage you to take it. After that date, we will
tabulate the results to give us a better picture where our congregation stands on reopening.
In the meantime, let’s continue to meet together every Sunday for streaming services,
Sunday School, and fellowship. I’ve attached the 2020 Church Committee roster for your
information in case you do not have one. Finally, thank you for your continued support through
your tithes and offerings via mail and the church website. Again, mail is picked up every day at
the office mail box which has a lock attached. Mail is secure. Lee Richardson, Finance
Committee Chair, will soon send out an abbreviated financial report so we can see where we
currently stand financially.
Thank you for your commitment and loyalty to our church. If you have any questions or
suggestions, as always, don’t hesitate to contact me at 210-467-7076 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In Christ’s peace,
Conrad Navarro Garrett Vickrey
Council Chair Pastor
Church Council Covid Update #6
25 June 2020
In Hebrews 10:24-25 the writer says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” New Testament churches were small house churches. Christians gathered for worship, celebrate meals (usually to feed the hungry) and observed the Lord’s Supper. Their gatherings were important for teaching, worship, discipleship, and just as important, encouragement. Those early Christians were persecuted from many fronts. The writer of Hebrews entreats them to continue to gather together as they are in the habit of doing. Going to church is a good habit. For many of us growing up getting up in the morning to go to church was something we just did. We are still doing it. We are still getting up every Sunday morning in time to have breakfast, slip into our best church pajamas, and prepare for church-online at 11:00am. At the same time we long for the day that we will get up, have breakfast, slip into our Sunday finest, get into our cars, drive to churchand worship with our spiritual family up close and personal.
Although not like the persecution those early Christians faced, we too, however, are facing a deadly threat. It is called COVID–19. This threat keeps us away from each other for our safety and literal physical survival. Because the cases of infection have dramatically risen in our city over the past week the Church Council met yesterday and decided to keep the buildings closed for the month of July. Again, this is a month-by-month consideration. We will continue to monitor the situation and consider August in July. We must protect each other and our ministerial staff. I heard of one local church which opened for worship and by the next Sunday the pastor was infected. The buildings had to be closed again.
Part of our contribution to the greater good (part of our missions giving to put it in Baptist terms) is not meeting in order to contain the spread of disease within our community. In the meantime, we are still encouraging and looking out for one another and others. As you have seen in the weekly updates how ministry is still going on. We are still feeding the hungry, calling each other to see if we need anything and for a word of encouragement (you are not forgotten), meeting virtually in Sunday School, spirituality groups, and just as important, virtual “Happy Hours” among friends.
At the same time, our church staff is preparing for when we can safely have our family reunion. Noncontact thermometers are being purchased, hand sanitizer stations are being installed throughout the buildings, ways of safely celebrating Communion are being considered, and strategies for safe worship are being developed. Your loving and faithful financial giving is praise worthy. We are ahead in giving from this time last year by $8K. Our expenditures are down by $55K from last year. All that is encouraging as we “meet together” as we are in the habit of doing longing for that day when we will meet again up close and personal. If you have any questions or suggestions don’t hesitate to contact me at 210-467-7076 or email@example.com.
In Christ,Conrad Navarro
Church Council Covid Update #7
Mark 6:56 says, “And wherever he went–into villages, towns or countryside–they placed the
sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all
who touched it were healed.”
And John 4:50 says, "Go," Jesus replied, "your son will live." The man took Jesus at his word
The first verse ends the account of Jesus walking on water. If Jesus could walk on water what
could He not do? The narrative tells us that afterwards wherever He went sick people followed
him to simply touch his garment for healing. The second verse comes from Jesus’ healing of the
Centurion’s son without ever seeing the boy. It seems to me that Jesus healed according to what
the circumstances dictated.
Still, the virtual healing of the Centurion’s son by Jesus reminds us that even in this new
“no-touch” world we live in, there is healing still going on. Our prayer ministry emails are
full of prayer requests and healing updates. For reasons I will never understand this side of
heaven, some are not healed, but many are. Chaplain Jeni Cook-Furr reminded us with her prayer
during last Sunday’s service that we do continue to pray for healing of all illnesses. Faith is
supernatural and sometimes the healing comes in the form of the miracle of medicine and
sometimes it comes virtually through prayer. Let’s continue to pray.
As we continue to hear of those in our congregation with COVID we continue to pray for them
and others for complete healing and recovery. We make sacrifices for the greater good in
order to follow the example of Jesus. We also continue to protect ourselves so that we do not
contribute to the infection of any. For that reason, after discussion, the Church Council
unanimously voted to delay opening through August. We pray for healing. We yearn for healing.
We crave our reunion. In the meantime join this Sunday for the virtual Coffee Time and let’s see
each other virtually. Although a poor substitute, it’s another way for a virtual “healing touch”
which circumstances dictate…for now.
If you have any questions or suggestions do not hesitate to contact any of your Council members
and Chair of our Safety and Security Committee:
Conrad Navarro, Council Chair
At-Large Council Members:
Elizabeth Pruitt, Linda Mason, Norm Dugas
Lee Richardson, Finance Chair
Lee Weems, Buildings & Grounds Chair
Jean Rodman, Personnel Chair
Garrett Vickrey, Senior Pastor, staff liaison to Council
David Sharp, Safety and Security Chair (not officially a member of council but David has
been a part of our meetings during the pandemic)
Church Council Covid Update #8
To the Beloved Community at Woodland,
The Lord made my mouth like a sharp sword;
in the shadow of his hand he hid me.
And he made me as a polished arrow;
in his quiver he concealed me.
In the Shadow of God’s Hand
The COVID-19 pandemic has asked a lot of us. We’ve been asked to sacrifice social gatherings for the sake of public health. We have suspended in-person gatherings since March. Our last Sunday of worship was March 8. Since then we have practiced obscurity.
These words from Isaiah 49 speak to the power of transformation that can happen in obscurity. Sometimes we are obscured because we are in the shadow of God’s hand.
Ellen Davis says, “This is where power for ministry is generated: in the hidden place.”
Today is August 26. We thought we would be through this by now. But, this coronavirus does not appear to be going away soon. We might have to remain concealed under the shadow of the divine a little longer.
The good news is that for the moment our city is out of the worst of it. Our City’s public health experts have lowered our risk live to ‘Moderate’.
The Church Council believes it is still not safe to resume public gatherings in our buildings. But, we do believe we can begin alternative gatherings if we follow appropriate safety protocol.
So here’s the plan:
We will continue worshiping online Sundays at 11 a.m. through Nov. 1.
But, we will meet in new ways this fall.
Drive-In Worship Services
We will do Drive-In Communion Services at Sunset on Oct. 4 and Nov. 1.
Oct. 4 at 6 p.m. — We will celebrate our Church Anniversary with a Drive-In communion service in the church parking lot in front of the Atrium. Park your car and roll down the window. Or keep your windows rolled up— we will be broadcasting on your FM dial.
Nov. 1 at 6 p.m. — Drive-In Memorial Sunday Communion Service. Let’s celebrate and remember our church members who have died over the past year. We will also spend some time at this service lamenting the many losses of 2020— this pandemic has killed friends and family and this should be lamented. But, this pandemic has also come with smaller losses that effect us in legitimate ways. We have all lost something this year. It is healthy spiritually to mark this loss and grief with true lament. Lament is like fertilizer for hope. Recognize the messiness, but realize that our ultimate hope is much larger than that which we lament.
Sunday School Gatherings in the Courtyard
Sunday School classes are invited to meet in the courtyard starting this September. Classes will choose a time and get on the church calendar allowing plenty of time between uses.
- RSVP through Eventbrite (staff are ready to assist with this)
- wear masks
- practice appropriate social distancing
- bring your own chair if you are able
These meetings will be 45 minutes in length.
Wednesday Church at Woodland
Wednesday church will be online starting September 9 at noon. For now, we are going to start with noon lunch gatherings on Zoom. Take a break from work or school and gather with your friends from church online.
September 9 – Dr. Meredith Stone will leading a lecture and discussion of The Empire & the New Testament. Dr. Stone was a professor at Hardin Simmons who recently became the Executive Director of the Baptist Women in Ministry.
September 16 – October 25 – Series “On Being a Baptist Christian at Woodland”
Led by Woodland Lay leaders and Garrett Vickrey.
Michael Massar has written a play about the friendship of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. We are going to do a reading of the play on ZOOM with an all Woodland cast.
We are living through a transformative moment and this church is responding with grace and vigor. We are praying, giving, and working together. We are being made into a polished arrow— an instrument of God’s holy work— until the day we can gather in the sanctuary and let the AMEN sound from the people again.
Grace & Peace,
The Church Council:
Garrett Vickrey, ex-officio