Even though the doors will stay closed, the Linwood Boulevard Seventh-day Adventist Church in Kansas City, Missouri remains open, active, and alive, in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic. Pastor Ikner recounts:
It seems the Lord was prophetically preparing our church for COVID-19 through a six-part sermon series entitled “We are the church.”
The messages emphasized the need to understand that the church is not a building, but instead the church is the people. It
challenged members to love each other and focus on people over policy and unity over personal preferences. The series ended February 9
and the doors of the church building were closed March 14—exactly two weeks later.
Undaunted by this relentless global invisible enemy, the church embraced its mission “We are the
Church” and quickly adopted the slogan “We are built for this.” Under the leadership of Pastor Joseph T Ikner, with his wife Nordia, and its very united and committed leadership team, Linwood continues to “Strive for Greater,” our 2020 mission statement. Even though COVID-19 has been destructive, causing nationwide sickness, death, isolation, and loss, Linwood has experienced greater church togetherness with a creative ministry that spans across all its age groups. Thank God for technology!
In July Linwood began worshiping outdoors, via a drive-through service. Services are held every 3 weeks.
Over the past several months there has been a large increase in attendance. The atmosphere is usually alive and exciting; a live band with praise and worship singers can be heard along with soul-stirring and thought-provoking sermons. Members are usually happy to see each other, everyone is really compliant with wearing their mask and socially distancing, and most members remain in their cars honking their horns to say amen. Linwood Live has resulted in four baptisms thus far. Also, the Kansas City mayor joined us for worship in August where the church honored him and prayed for him.
In addition to our engaging live stream Sabbath services and our Wednesday prayer services, Linwood has been active in
providing supportive and relevant ministry for its seniors, young adults, children, men and women, and its surrounding community at large from March to the present.
Senior Citizens Ministry
Our senior citizens, an especially vulnerable population to COVID-19, were not forgotten. They often live alone and have been largely sheltered in place and many times lonely. Senior CHAT with the Pastor was created just for seniors. Every Wednesday seniors have called in and had a chance to connect with each other and communicate any of their personal needs. Practical health and wellness tips are presented during the weekly calls. Seniors expressed great appreciation for the time carved out just for them.
Young Adults Ministry
Our young adults have also been active during the sheltering in place period. They hosted early morning devotional time designed for young adults and led by them. There is also a Sunday evening book club that brings young adults together.
Children’s Ministry has remained active with two programs weekly via zoom. “Can You Hear Me Now?” is a Sabbath afternoon worship program designed for the kids to understand God’s message to them during this pandemic and in every season of their lives. The “What’s Up Wednesdays” program teaches kids how to build a practical, abiding relationship with Jesus Christ. These programs also allow our children time to connect with each other.
So far several children have given their hearts to Jesus Christ; some are currently in baptismal classes; and three were baptized during the pandemic.
Children’s ministry has also hosted two virtual parent brunches addressing the mental health of kids during this pandemic, including the increased rate of depression and suicide among kids while they shelter in place amidst the racial unrest and injustice toward African Americans.
Our Women’s Ministry has continued its biweekly vespers and Bible studies which are geared toward bringing women together for fellowship, connection, and spiritual uplifting and empowerment.
In September Linwood hosted a four-day virtual women’s conference from September 9- 12 themed “Metamorphosis—Experiencing Victory from Defeat, Peace from Pain and Beauty from Brokenness.” It was viewed all across the world and many women experienced healing and transformation in their lives.
Women’s Ministry and Men’s Ministry also collaborated for Father’s Day and Mother’s Day. On Mother’s Day, the men of Linwood personally delivered fresh roses to all the women of Linwood. On Father Day weekend, ladies delivered gift bags to the men; some were even serenaded at their doors during the special delivery. Gift bags included fresh home-baked cookies, with mugs designed just for dads. Both men and women expressed great appreciation for the kind gesture and the chance to see each other even though socially distanced.
Community Service Ministry
A crucial component of the church, the food pantry has not missed a beat. The pantry continues to serve families in need of food two Sundays a month and even provides food on an as-needed basis. Members continue to volunteer using PPE and social distance guidelines.
While we do not know when this pandemic will end, we are prepared to continue to adopt new methods to share the same old gospel. We are committed to staying active and alive in spite of COVID-19.
– As told by Nordia Ikner, wife of Pastor Joseph Ikner, children’ s ministry director, and assistant praise and worship leader.
- Pastor Joseph T. Ikner II will host “Answers in Prophecy,” an exciting, new virtual evangelism event starting October 9, 2020 with Pastor John Bradshaw, president of It Is Written ministries. Visit https://answersinprophecy.com for more information.