Update June 2, 2020

Dear Church Family,

Amid the tumult of these troubling times, I want to remind you that God is with us, Jesus is Lord, and the Spirit is our Helper. We continue to love God and neighbor. We continue to worship in Spirit and in truth. We continue to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.

Worship

If you missed last Sunday’s services, you can view the Well here and the Sanctuary service here. You can find last Sunday’s sermon, “The Spirit of Pentecost,” here.

Bible Study

You can check out today’s Wednesday Night Bible Study on Philippians 4:5-7 here.

Mission

You can view a video about the “Loaves and Fishes Food Challenge” here and help us collect 200 bags of groceries for our busy food distribution ministry by Wednesday, June 10. For the full grocery list, please click here.

Survey

If you have not yet filled out the congregational survey on re-gathering, I encourage you to do so here. Please complete one survey per household. Your input will help us as we make decisions moving forward.

Prayer

Since God is a God of justice (Isaiah 30:18), a God of peace (Romans 15:33), and a God of healing (Exodus 15:26), I invite you to join me in praying for justice, peace, and healing in our nation, in our community, and in our hearts.

The Lord be with you.

In Christ,

Pastor Noel Schoonmaker

Update May 27, 2020 – We Never Stopped

 

Dear Church Family,

We never stopped. I hope this will be our testimony in years to come: when the pandemic struck, Second Baptist Church never stopped. We have taken safety precautions. We have changed the way we do church. We have loved our neighbors by practicing social distancing and suspending in-person gatherings for a time to limit the spread of the virus. But our church has never stopped. As you read the updates below pertaining to various areas of church life, I think you’ll see what I mean.

Worship

We never stopped worshipping. From the first Sunday we went into quarantine on March 15, we have worshipped as a church through online video services. Nelson Taylor and Hilliary Larsen have planned meaningful services and the online participation has been tremendous. Our views have averaged 1,050 per Sunday, and that’s just our English-speaking services. Our language ministries have continued to worship online as well. Please share the links to our worship services with friends, family members, and neighbors to enhance our outreach during quarantine. Video archives of past services are available on our church Youtube page. You can find last Sunday’s Well Service here, last Sunday’s Sanctuary Service here, and last Sunday’s sermon here.

Bible Study

We never stopped studying the Bible. We have continued to hold Sunday School online, Bible Studies online, and many have utilized the 5-day devotionals that Dayna Schoonmaker has written and published each week since quarantine began. My Wednesday Night Bible Study is available by video each week on our church Facebook page. You can view today’s Wednesday Night Bible Study on Philippians 4:2-4 here. The Women’s Fruit of the Spirit Bible Study continues this Thursday night at 8:00 p.m. here. We also recently launched a new program called “Breaking It Down with Pastor Noel,” a weekly video zoom conversation in which Tom Mitchell and I discuss the Sunday sermon, the sermon text, and what it means to be a Christian today. You can view the most recent episode here.

Missions

We never stopped doing mission work. We have continued serving the local community in a time of crisis. We have helped numerous individuals and families in need of shelter, food, and other resources. Tom Mitchell has led a team that has been distributing food bags to approximately 90 people each Friday through our drive-thru Loaves and Fishes Ministry. We have provided snacks and cards of encouragement for local “front-liners” including first responders, medical personnel, and professionals working at assisted living centers. Our members have been volunteering and serving in different capacities throughout metro Richmond, answering Jesus’ call to be “salt and light.” For more information on our church’s ongoing mission work and how you can be involved, click here.

Finances

We never stopped giving. The members of Second Baptist Church have proven faithful and generous despite the pandemic and the economic crisis it has caused. Thanks be to God for your continued financial support of the church’s ministries and missions! Here is the financial summary as of April 30, 2020.

MTD Actual            YTD Actual             YTD Budget                 Annual Budget

Revenues                 $161,824                   $661,094                   $670,380                    $2,011,140

Expenses                 $134,988                   $590,266                     $670,380                  $2,011,140

Net Total                   $26,836                    $70,828                         -0-                                  -0-

 

Children

We never stopped our children’s ministry. Each week, parents are offered ideas for spiritual practices at home and children have online “Wee Praise” on Wednesday, “Cooking with Adam” on Friday via Facebook live, and online Sunday School on Sunday. Zoom activities offered have included Coloring with Katie, Game Time, Scavenger Hunt, Storytime, and Show and Tell. There is also a virtual version of Katie’s Lunch Tour in which children sign up to have lunch with Katie Vance Lucas via Zoom. Every three weeks, a mass mailing goes out to children and families with ministry resources. Easter seeds were the last mailing and prayer journals will be next. Katie is working to send an individual note to each child and has been trying to connect with each child having a birthday during this time. Since traditional VBS and camps have had to be canceled this summer, Katie is working on virtual summer offerings including an online Advocacy Camp that will be offered in July focusing each day on a different way to advocate for and love God’s creation and vulnerable people.

Students

We never stopped our student ministry. Each week, our students have “Virtual Sunday School” through Zoom and share a time of prayer, Bible study, and fellowship. While students cannot meet in person, Ben Brown has encouraged them to write letters to one another and to other church members, and he has been sending handwritten letters to each student. Soon, students will be reading the book Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren and discussing its themes in an online book club through Zoom. The prior work of students continues to bless our community as Grace Garden yields lettuce, broccoli, and carrots which go to recipients of the Loaves and Fishes food distribution ministry. Upcoming events for students will include game nights, hangouts, and crafting nights. There will be a special video honoring our awesome Class of 2020 graduates in both livestream services this Sunday. While Passport and Impact Virginia are canceled for this summer, there will still be a missions focus for students during summer months.

Senior Adults

We never stopped our senior adult ministry. Kathi Traficanti continues to expand contact with our seniors through calls, cards, and sending Sunday School curricula and devotionals. Our congregation has been encouraged to send well wishes and thoughts to our senior adults by making cards through the Heartfulness Studio creativity bags, which are available outside the front entrance of the church to those who would like to participate. Similarly, those who would like to knit prayer squares for our senior adults can pick up a kit created by our Prayer Shawl Ministry and return finished squares to the bin at the front of the church to be delivered or mailed out. Care packages of notes, prayer squares, and homemade cookies have been sent to our nursing home residents. Recently, a program called “Souper Thankful Thursday” has been initiated, in which quarts of homemade soup are dropped off for our senior adults living at home. This ministry has been a big hit! As we move into the summer months, we will continue ministering to our seniors.

CLC

We never stopped caring for our CLC (Creative Learning Center) students or their families. Ever since the CLC closed due to the pandemic on March 16, it has continued supporting its employees and reaching out to the families involved. CLC families were invited to our church’s 200th Birthday Parade and some participated. One car displayed a sign saying, “We Love CLC.” The CLC currently plans to re-open for its summer program from July 6 through August 21. CLC leaders have been diligently studying and preparing the safest health measures and best practices to ensure the best possible experience for children. The CLC will re-open at a limited capacity of 64 students for full-day care Monday through Friday. The students who will be attending represent families of church members, essential workers, and other working parents in need of childcare. As Virginia begins to re-open, people need childcare so they can work, which is why childcare is considered an “essential business.” We are thankful for the opportunity to re-open this ministry to continue providing the essential service of childcare in Christ’s name.

Final Word

We never stopped. That is the testimony I hope we will have two or three years down the road. Since we haven’t stopped yet, all that remains is to keep going. As we continue to navigate these strange and unsettling times, “let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2). When faced with adversity, suffering, and even death, Christ never stopped. The body of Christ is called to do likewise.

Grace and Peace,
Pastor Noel Schoonmaker

 

Update May 20, 2020

Dear Church Family,

We have ample opportunities to stay connected to God and church. Here are a few.

You can find last Sunday’s Well service here.

You can find last Sunday’s Sanctuary service here.

You can hear last Sunday’s sermon here.

You can view today’s Wednesday night Bible study on Philippians 3:20-21 here.

You can join the Women’s Fruit of the Spirit Bible Study this Thursday at 8:00 p.m. here.

Be on the lookout for a missions update tomorrow which will outline several ways you can participate in our ongoing local mission work, even while staying home.

Finally, “be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Cor 15:58).

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Noel Schoonmaker

 

Update May 15, 2020

“When Will We Re-gather at Church?”

 

Dear Church Family,

 

When we first went into quarantine back in March, many of us began to envision a bright day in the future when we would all be able to return to church as normal. However, more recent developments have indicated that re-gathering at church will not look normal but instead will involve special precautions, changes, safety measures, and probably a protracted process unfolding in various phases as circumstances allow.

 

Our church staff and lay leaders have been prayerfully discussing what re-gathering might look like at Second Baptist Church. The governor’s plan to allow churches to re-gather at 50% of their minimum occupancy beginning this Sunday, May 17 has prompted us to have more in-depth conversations over the past week. I want you to know that we are praying, studying, and discerning with all diligence what it would take to move toward re-gathering as a congregation. I also want you to know our guiding principles as we plan for re-gathering.

 

Principles for Planning to Re-gather

 

  • In Christian love, we seek to maintain the physical health of our congregation, especially those who are most vulnerable to the virus.
  • In Christian wisdom, we seek to re-gather safely and soundly rather than quickly.
  • In Christian stewardship, we seek to obtain all the necessary supplies for, and to conduct all the necessary preparation and cleaning of, our facilities before re-gathering.
  • In Christian discernment, we seek to incorporate medical and scientific knowledge as well as spiritual and theological insight in our decision-making process.
  • In Christian fellowship, we seek to re-gather in person as soon as we are able to do so responsibly.
  • In Christian unity, we seek to re-gather in a way that honors our entire church membership.
  • In the Baptist tradition of local church autonomy, we seek to re-gather in a way that best suits Second Baptist Church in all of our uniqueness as a family of faith.

 

In view of these guiding principles and our conversations to date, we will not re-gather for worship this Sunday, May 17. Nor will we re-gather any time before June 10, when the governor’s Stay at Home Order is scheduled to expire. We are not sure when we will be able to re-gather, but we will continue working to determine the safest and best way to do so, especially since we so dearly miss being together.

 

In the meantime, we will increase our livestream offerings. Beginning this Sunday, May 17, we plan to livestream two worship services. You can view the Well at 9:00 a.m. here and the Sanctuary Service at 11:00 a.m. here. We hope you will continue to worship with us online.

 

Finally, I wish to convey how inspiring it has been to me, as your pastor, to watch our church continue to worship God, follow Christ, and serve the community in the power of the Holy Spirit amid the present pandemic. The level of engagement with online worship services and Bible studies and the level of participation in ongoing local mission work have been nothing short of outstanding. Not to mention the amazing turnout and enthusiasm displayed at the 200th Birthday Parade! We are embodying Paul’s injunction in 1 Corinthians 16:13: “Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong.”

 

I am honored, so very honored, to be your pastor. And I am excited about what God is doing in us and through us, even amid this precarious time.

 

In Christian Love,
Pastor Noel Schoonmaker

 

Update May 13

Dear Church Family,

I am writing to keep you updated on internet content from Second Baptist.

For today’s Wednesday Night Bible Study on Philippians 3:16-19, click here.

For the Women’s Fruit of the Spirit Bible Study this Thursday at 8:00 p.m., click here.

For last Sunday’s service, click here.

For last Sunday’s sermon, here.

Each day this week, a different staff member is offering a video devotional in celebration of our church’s 200th anniversary. You can find them each afternoon on our church Facebook page.

To catch up on Ben Brown’s video devotional from yesterday, click here.

Or Nelson Taylor’s video devotional from Monday, click here.

We had two other special events last weekend.

For the children’s choir video from Sunday, click here.

For news coverage of our 200th Birthday Parade last Saturday, click here.

We are happy to invite you to our second Monday Ministry Meet-up on May 18 at 7:00 p.m. via Zoom. We will hear from Jennifer Luzzatto, Chair of Deacons, and Wayne LaPlante, Chair of Finance Committee, as well as hearing about all the local mission work our church has done and continues to do. I will offer a song, and we will all enjoy the fellowship of seeing each other’s faces during this time when we miss being together.

Join Zoom Meeting here – Meeting ID: 929 2418 7357 – Password: 692236

We will be in touch with more news very soon. The Lord be with you!

Peace,

Pastor Noel Schoonmaker

Update May 6, 2020

Dear Church Family,

We continue to worship God, follow Christ, and serve the community in the power of the Spirit. Here are some resources to help you stay connected to God and the church as we move through this time of social distancing.

Worship

The video of last Sunday’s online worship service is available here.

The audio of last Sunday’s sermon is available here.

Bible Study

Today’s Wednesday Night Bible study on Philippians 3:13-15 is available here.

To participate in the Women’s Thursday Night Bible Study on May 7, click here at 8:00 p.m.

Mission Outreach

For opportunities to participate in our ongoing outreach to the community, click here.

We hope to see you Saturday morning at 11:00 a.m. for our 200th Birthday Parade!

In Christ,

Pastor Noel Schoonmaker

Bible Study

For Wednesday Night Bible Study, we continue to explore Philippians verse by verse. This week’s Wednesday Bible Study video on Philippians 3:4-6 is now available on our church Facebook page here.

The Ladies’ Thursday Night Bible Study led by Dayna Schoonmaker will reconvene this Thursday, April 16 at 8:00 p.m. at the link here. The theme this week is “Peace” and the key verses are Psalm 120:6-7, James 3:17-18, and John 14:25-27. Please feel free to participate even if you have not participated before. The Zoom ID is: 852-096-433. Zoom is also now requiring passwords, check your email for the “2BC Update April 15” for the password or contact a staff member.

Mission Outreach

In order to meet increasing needs for food in our community, our church’s Loaves and Fishes ministry is now open each Friday instead of the usual twice per month. Last Friday, over 30 vehicles drove through to receive a bag of food, a grocery store gift card, and a fresh pasta meal. Additionally, we continue to provide weekly meals to our friends at the Fire Station across Gaskins Road from the church building. We are currently exploring ways to reach out to medical professionals at local hospitals, senior home workers, and social workers in the city of Richmond.

New Sermon Series

Last Sunday, we began a new sermon series entitled “Resurrection Faith” with a sermon entitled “While It was Still Dark” based on John 20:1-10. Over the next four Sundays, we will continue to examine John’s powerful post-resurrection accounts. For example, on April 19, we will study Mary Magdalene’s response to the risen Christ. On April 26, we will study Thomas’s response. My prayer is that as we explore the ways Christ appeared to his disciples after his glorious resurrection from the dead, our own faith in the risen Christ will flourish.

Monday Ministry Meet-up

All are invited to check-in with the church ministerial staff via Zoom on Monday, April 20 at 7:00 p.m. Staff members will share what’s happening in their areas of ministry and in their personal lives. I will share a song and lead a discussion about it. And we will enjoy the fellowship of seeing each other’s faces on the screen during this time when we miss being together. Click here for the Zoom meeting and use Meeting ID: 975 5025 1963 (check your 2BC Update April 15 email for password or contact staff member) – we look forward to seeing you!

As we continue to celebrate our risen Lord, let us “seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” (Col 3:1).

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Noel Schoonmaker