Dear Mid-America Church Family,

The last time I wrote, the pandemic was just getting started and we were all wondering what was going to happen next. The one thing we knew for sure was that life would change during this strange and stressful time.

Where are we now as a union family and what are our plans moving forward? We realize we may have to make future adjustments,  but the good news is that the Lord knows the future and He will be with us. Here is a brief update on what I know is happening around our union.

How are our members doing?

A number have contracted the coronavirus. Most have recovered, others have been scarred deeply by this unrelenting organism, while a few others have passed away. What a huge loss to our churches this has been! What has been even tougher is we have literally not been able put our arms around those who have lost loved ones to comfort them. Let’s continue to pray for those who are hurting.

I want to give a huge shoutout here to our AdventHealth hospitals, both in the Kansas City area and the Denver metro area. They are on the front lines of this battle every day, giving incredible care to the communities they serve.

Are churches meeting?

Many of our 453 churches have reopened with safety measures in place. I just had the privilege of preaching in Alamosa, Colorado, and enjoyed my time there very much. We couldn’t greet each other the way we normally would or enjoy a great fellowship meal together, and everyone’s smile was covered with a mask. Yet this did not negate the pure joy it was to worship together. Thank you, Pastor McAlpine, for the invitation.

A number of camp meetings were canceled, but some of our six conferences offered virtual camp meetings, and Central States Conference offered both their camp meeting and VBS program virtually at the same time. The Dakota Conference was able to have their camp meeting later in the summer, which was a blessing.

What about ACS?

The North American Division has provided extra funding so our local community service volunteers can cover the shortages in our food distribution programs. Our New Haven Church in Kansas City was featured in the local press as a group who were making a tangible impact during this pandemic through their food bank. All our community service leaders have done so much to not only help those currently in need but also prepare for what will come next as we continue to fight this virus together.

What’s happening with our young people?

Most of our nine summer camps were unable to bring in campers this year. However, many conferences still connected with our young people through virtual camp fires and other activities. Some camps still hired a few staff to work on special projects that are getting our camping facilities in great shape for next year.

The NAD also worked with local youth leaders and turned the VBS program into a virtual edition for our kids. It is amazing the response received from this outreach.

What about Adventist schools?

At this point, all of our 78 schools are planning on opening in-person on time. Some of our boarding schools are actually going to start early and finish their first semester by Thanksgiving to avoid extra back-and-forth travel for students.This is the schedule Union College is adopting. All our schools have put excellent safety measures in place and are prepared if there is an outbreak of the virus.

How’s the budget looking?

As you might expect, our finances have been affected by this pandemic as well. As of the end of June, our tithe was down 4.28 percent compared with the same time period last year. Even though it is down, this number speaks volumes to the heart and graciousness of our members, who although they were unable to attend church, supported the church through their tithes and offerings.

From where I sit, all I can do is say “Thank you!” for your love and faithfulness for your Savior, your church and its mission. I pray soon we will be able to fellowship freely together without restrictions. Until then, please stay safe and do all you can to protect others as well.