Who would have ever dreamed that 2020 would turn out this way? We have all experienced so much disruption and change over the past months, including in church.
We had to quit meeting together in March. Many of our congregations are still not physically meeting. Members lost their jobs. Many Adventists across our conference were infected by COVID-19. One of our local church elders lost his life to the virus in July. We canceled camp meeting, summer camp and many other events. But the good news is God has seen us through.
Adventists across Kansas and Nebraska have been resilient and faithful! Here are just a few ways that has been shown.
Virgil Covel, Kansas-Nebraska Conference ministerial and evangelism director, shares that “Over 40 congregations across our conference became part of It Is Written’s virtual outreach. Hundreds of guests across our territory learned from John Bradshaw online. They responded using texting and email. Many are still working with pastors and members.”
Even though churches weren’t meeting, more than 12 people were baptized during March, April and May. “That number is low for a normal quarter,” explains Covel, “but 12 baptisms shows me that our churches and pastors were still working.”
“We can be so proud of our teachers,” says Jeff Bovee, Kansas-Nebraska Conference education director. “We had to close our classrooms and meet online for nearly two months to finish up last school year. This has never happened before, but our teachers rose to the task and did what they had to, and our students finished the school year well.
Bovee continues, “Our teachers are prepared for anything this year as we figure out how to begin and serve our students. I am confident that no matter what the future may hold this school year, our teachers’ dedication to excellence will provide quality Adventist education.”
Tithes and offerings
“Giving has been better than I projected and has shown that our members believe God has a clear path forward,” says Darin Gottfried, Kansas-Nebraska Conference VP for finance.
“I’m grateful our conference was already on a good financial footing before COVID-19 hit,” Gottfried continues. “This makes it possible to weather some tough times. We have only seen a slight drop in tithe compared to last year. That is miraculous when you consider how this pandemic has hurt our economy.
Gottfried explains that the church treasurers have done an amazing job of signing up for online giving and continuing their work without their churches meeting. “Because of their hard work, we are forging forward with the goal of doing as much as we can to share the love of Jesus with the tithes and offerings that are given. Thank you for your faithfulness,” says Gottfried.
Forward in faith
We are not out of the woods yet. We long to get back to normal. Having a facemask with us whenever we go out is becoming the norm. Yet, as followers of Jesus we have been taught that the future is uncertain and will get more fragile and disrupted as this world wears out.
Jesus was clear that He would not leave us alone. We have His Spirit to encourage us and provide strength and grace. We also have the wonderful promise that Jesus will return someday. May we not allow the fear, anger and panic of this world to enter our lives. May we be found faithful no matter what the future holds.
“I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken,” Psalm 16:8.
Ron Carlson is president of the Kansas-Nebraska Conference.