Dear Church Family,
I hope this letter finds you well. With summer waning and the school year upon us, I want to apprise you of our plans for the fall. Although the situation with the pandemic is fluid and renders all of our plans subject to change, I hope you will read the information below as it outlines our plans for multiple aspects of our church life. We are making these plans in order to continue worshiping God and serving others while also keeping everyone as safe as we can.
We plan to continue livestreaming The Well at 9:00 a.m. and The Sanctuary Service at 11:30 a.m. each Sunday. We plan to continue having in-person attendance at The Sanctuary Service. As a reminder, all who plan to attend in-person worship on any Sunday must register here by the preceding Friday. We are presently in a sermon series called “God’s Personality.” On October 11, we plan to begin a new series on “Elements of Worship,” which will be followed by an Advent series at the end of the year. Since we are not able to celebrate The Lord’s Supper as usual, we are providing a 15-minute video Communion Service called “At the Table” which you can use to have a Lord’s Supper service at your home any time. You can access the video here.
We plan to continue Zoom Sunday School in the fall. If you are not connected with a Zoom Sunday School class and would like to be, please contact Tom Mitchell or Kathi Traficanti. We are grateful for all of our Sunday School Classes, who are staying in touch and continuing to fellowship in new and creative ways.
Wednesday Night Dinner
On Wednesdays, beginning September 16, we plan to have take-and-heat dinners from Chef Adam available for drive-thru pick-up from 4:30 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Anyone who wants to pick up a tasty dinner will need to register and pre-pay here by the preceding Monday Night. Registration closes at Midnight. This way, when you drive-thru, someone can simply hand you a bag with your order inside. Information on menu options is available here. Pick up at the main entrance facing Gaskins Road. Please enter the parking lot from Gaskins Road and drive through the circle under the porte-cochere to receive your tasty take-and-heat meal.
Wednesday Night Bible Study
On Wednesday nights, beginning September 16, I and the ministerial staff will lead a virtual Bible Study at 7:00 p.m. live from “2BC Studios.” The timing is arranged so that, if you choose, you can pick up dinner, drive home and eat it, and then enjoy Bible study. For your convenience, the Bible Study video will be posted after the live study concludes so that you can watch it later if you wish. The two studies currently planned for the fall are “Spiritual Practices: Everyday Disciplines for Christians” and “Back to the Beginning: Studies in Genesis.” We hope you will join us for these video studies as we grow deeper in faith.
As our Children’s Ministry moves forward, Katie Vance Lucas plans to have a Google Classroom so that parents and children can participate in multiple online opportunities during the week, including mission education and children’s choir. We will have supply pick-ups every two months at the church so you can obtain everything you need to participate interactively in Music and Missions. Each week, the Google Classroom will be sent out on Mondays so you can participate any day you are able as suits your family schedule.
For Second Students, Ben Brown is planning to offer a midweek video each week for spiritual encouragement, missional education, and edification. Zoom Sunday School will continue with classes offered for middle schoolers, 9th/10th grade, 11th/12th grade, and college students. We are planning to host a few outdoor, physically distanced events for students on Sunday evenings called “Park and Praise.” Students will meet in the parking lot between River Road and Spence Hall for worship, games, fellowship, fun, and a lesson. We’ll be studying Visionaries: stories about women and men that saw a vision or had a dream and adjusted their routine to something new. We too are called to be visionaries, ones that see God’s mission and hope for the world and act in love, justice, and kindness for the benefit of all humankind.
For adults, Tom Mitchell is offering learning modules related to racial reconciliation from a locally based Christian organization called Arrabon. The study series, Race, Class, and the Kingdom of God, is designed to provide the tools to understand, discuss, and do something about the divisions we experience. The “101” module is six weeks long, and the “201” module is seven weeks in duration. The modules consist of videos, a downloadable workbook, and other resources. To sign up to participate, click here. To find out more about Arrabon and the Race, Class, and the Kingdom of God study series, visit here. If you are interested, please sign up by the end of September. We will launch the series in October, and Tom will host monthly “catch up” Zoom calls where we can gather online to process the content, ask questions, discuss, and pray.
Outdoor Small Groups
In this unusual time, it is important to stay connected with the Spirit, your church family, and your neighbors. To help build or maintain that connection this fall, consider hosting an outdoor small group, Bible Study, or community group. If you are interested, please contact Tom Mitchell at 740-7101. Tom will be glad to talk with you about how to organize a small group or study, how to structure meetings, as well as identifying resources for engagement. God is already at work in our neighborhoods; let’s figure out how we can participate!
This fall, Kathi Traficanti and our Senior Adult Ministry will focus on the word “Devotion” from Acts 11:23: “When he came and saw the grace of God he rejoiced, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast devotion.” In light of this scripture, we are planning to send out different devotional guides to encourage Bible reading. Driveway Devotionals, which began in August, will continue through September and October. Souper Thankful Thursdays, which have brought smiles to many, will begin again in September when our wonderful delivery “angels” will drop off soup to bring warmth and nourishment to our friends from Second Baptist. We are also mobilizing several groups to send letters and cards to our homebound and health care residents. It is our prayer that the grace of God will be bestowed to bring rejoicing and hope to all of our wonderful community.
We will continue this fall to support our thriving Loaves & Fishes ministry which provides food for those in need on the second and fourth Fridays of the month. Our West Virginia shoe mission will also provide new pairs of shoes to numerous children in our neighboring state. Additionally, we will explore missional opportunities to actively participate in racial reconciliation and renewal in the Richmond community. Be on the lookout for further information from Tom Mitchell as these opportunities develop.
While we have postponed our grand 200th Anniversary celebration until May 1-2 of 2021, we are thrilled to have a new history book entitled Our Time in History which covers the past 25 years at Second Baptist Church. Written by the noted Virginia Baptist historian Fred Anderson, this volume is a vital companion to the previous history books about Second Baptist Church. Our 200th Anniversary Committee has worked diligently to prepare the books, and our deacons have kindly agreed to deliver one to each household the week of September 13-20. We hope you find the book to be an informative resource and a fitting marker of our 200th year. Additionally, this Sunday, September 13, we plan to show a special video pertaining to our 200th Anniversary during both livestream worship services.
Emerge Women’s Ministry
This year’s theme for Emerge is “A Year to Take Courage.” It is based on Isaiah 41:6: “Each one helps the other saying to one another, take courage.” Our first event, set for October 4, will be an Enneagram workshop led by Katie Vance Lucas. For more details and to sign up, visit here. November will bring a new Taste and See Adventure Bible Study with Kathi Traficanti, Susan Hill, and Chef Adam. Courageous Cooking with Chef Adam will follow in January of 2021, and our annual Emerge Retreat will take place February 13 from 8:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Our focus at the retreat will be on Hebrews 4:16: “So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” For further details and information about the Emerge Women’s Ministry, click here.
Our current plan for the annual church business meeting, which is conducted each fall, is to hold it via Zoom. Not only will this approach ensure safety, it will also allow maximum participation since many church members are not yet comfortable coming to church campus for in-person events. Our plan is to hold the meeting on Sunday, October 25 at 4:00 p.m. More information about this meeting, as well as the annual Book of Reports, will be forthcoming.
Our deacon process will be different this year due to the pandemic. Instead of meeting in person at church to hear the testimonies of deacon nominees and vote on them, the entire process will take place remotely as follows. The deacon nominees’ testimonies will be compiled in a booklet which will be mailed to church members. After you read the testimonies, you will be able to vote on the nominees by simply clicking “yes” or “no” on an online form. An alternative method of voting will be available for church members who do not have internet access or capabilities. Deacon voting is scheduled to take place September 27-30. It will be a blessing for us all to read the testimonies of our deacon nominees.
Music Minister Search
From Your Music Minister Search Committee: We would first like to thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement as we have been working diligently to complete the search for Second Baptist’s new Minister of Music. We are grateful for your support and are feeling God’s presence. Based on the candidate profile, finalized back in May, we have read through over sixty resumes and have narrowed the list to eight candidates, which we have engaged with over the past eight weeks. We have compiled detailed information on each candidate, and although current restrictions prohibit us from seeing them work in person, we have been working through online materials for each of them. To date, we have conducted two rounds of Zoom interviews with each candidate. We are meeting this week to discuss the candidates and narrow down the list even further. We ask for your continued prayers as we strive to do God’s will through this process.
Small Gatherings on Campus
As we continue to find ways to be and do church safely amid the ongoing pandemic, beginning September 14, we plan to allow small groups of church members to meet outdoors on the church campus for the purpose of Bible study or prayer. Small groups in this case encompass 10 people or less. Groups desiring to meet on campus will need to contact our Administrative Secretary, Patty Dimowski, to request a date. If you call her at 740-7101, ext. 1145, you can leave a message in her voicemail and she will call you back promptly. Each request is subject to approval. Please click here to see the policies that will pertain to these small group meetings.
The pandemic makes it challenging for churches and other organizations to keep moving forward while keeping everyone as safe as possible. Our hope in all of the foregoing plans is to keep loving God through worship, discipleship, and mission work, and to keep loving our neighbor by taking reasonable precautions to avoid transmission of COVID-19. Thank you, truly, for your support, patience, and understanding as we continue to discern the best path forward for our congregation. May our prayer be Hannah’s prayer from 1 Samuel 2:1-2: “My heart exults in the Lord; my strength is exalted in my God. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in my victory. There is no Holy One like the Lord, no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.” Amen.
Pastor Noel Schoonmaker and the Ministerial Staff