Many of you have become aware of the Guidepost report documenting patterns of ignoring, denying and deflecting on issues of abuse brought to the floor of the Executive Committee at the Southern Baptist Convention. We are mourning over the pain these egregious sins have caused. In that mourning, we are also thankful this report is out and sin is being brought into the light. We did not respond right away due to the length of the report, desiring to read it in its entirety to best convey our thoughts. Here is what your Elders want you to know, Amelia Baptist:
- We are grieving. There is no doubt that many victims went to the EC for help only to be cast aside or hushed in order to save face and finance. The church should be the safest place for the hurting and the vulnerable. We mourn with those abused by people they trusted. God has determined as he said in Luke 12:2-3, that the secrets will be uncovered, the truth will come forth, and God’s thought about every behavior and action will be vindicated. What’s done in the dark will come to light, and thank God he has created it to operate so!
- Unlike other denominations, churches within the Southern Baptist Convention are autonomous. In the convention, churches choose to cooperate together for God’s glory and His mission to save. We are thankful for congregational polity, but we know it has been used as an excuse to abuse power and cover up sins by this small group in powerful positions. The men mentioned in the report are no longer serving on the Executive Committee, so we hope and pray at our annual convention in Anaheim this June, our committees will adhere to the will of the messengers, representatives of local churches, as many have publicly vowed to bring restitution and restoration to those affected by these injustices.
- We want to be transparent about the procedures and protocol our local church puts into place to keep those in our church family safe from predatorial acts. We issue background checks for all staff and volunteers who work with minors, and it remains our policy that no adult is to be left alone with a child who is not a family member. These will continue to be and have already been the policies of Amelia Baptist. If any abuse allegation reaches the desk of our leadership, the first call we make is to our local police or the dept. of child services. We believe this is how all churches should operate.
- Brothers and sisters, do not let the devil get a foothold. Do not forget the need for the Gospel to reach the ends of the earth. Our flesh and our adversary will use times like this to create distance and doubt among believers, throwing away the call to gather, serve and walk through this life together. Now is the time for prayer, action, restoration, healing, transparency and reason. God is still God and He is Good. We do not serve an executive committee or any other man, we serve the King of Kings and He remains close to His Church.
The Elders of Amelia Baptist Church
How can we prepare for this Advent Season? We want to make much of Christ Jesus in all seasons, but how can we stay focused on Christ Jesus in the here and now?! Pastor Neil has some wise words. Give 8 minutes of your time and let’s talk Advent! Click here to listen!
We want you to know that your church leadership is aware of the outbreak in Nassau County and we are taking the proper precautions to protect those of us still gathering together. The good news? As of right now our church is not dealing with an outbreak, just a couple isolated cases. We want to do our best to keep it that way! Over the last month, our church has added 4 families in membership and every Sunday brings new visitors! We cannot wait to have everyone together again, but before that happens may we walk in wisdom and obedience together in the Spirit.
We have two services every Sunday morning, 9:00am and (new time) 10:35am! We go LIVE no later than 10:45am every Sunday for those participating from home! We are thankful for the technological capabilities that allow those at home to continue worshipping alongside their church family! With 200 seats on the floor, less attend the first service than the second if you are desiring more physical distancing.
Precautions we are taking: Our Building Manager Stephen Henslee is using Purtabs to sanitize and disinfect the buildings weekly. Purtabs is an electronic and chemical spray capable of killing viruses on hard and soft services.
In addition, we have asked each Sunday School teacher and Small Group leader to communicate with their classes. They will garner health conditions and comfort levels moving forward into the Fall.
Our fellowship dinners will not start August 18th, the date is TBA based on an evaluation every two weeks.
All singing in the worship service will continue to be conducted at the end of the worship services!
Masks are available at our Welcome Center for anyone who wants to wear one, specifically in Sunday School or Small Group.
Our Fall Wednesday Night Student and Children’s Ministries will begin on August 18th but, as is everything, this is subject to change. Everything else on our calendar (communicated via website, social networks, mass email, welcome desk and church bulletin) is tentative.
We thank each of you for your mercy, grace and patience with your staff, Elders and fellow church members. It is vital we be a people of grace now more than ever!
We are asking you to commit to the following out of a love for your brothers and sisters:
Individuals who are ill, with cold symptoms, or have been exposed to someone who is ill in the past week are respectfully asked to avoid enclosed gatherings at this time.
Approach each and every person with the consideration they are practicing safe social distancing during the rise of the Delta Variant in the state of Florida.
Pray for one another fervently! Check in on one another until you can come to weekly corporate worship face to face! Now is the time to be the church! If you can come Sunday, we cannot wait to see you as we celebrate the love of our Savior Jesus Christ! God bless!
In Christ Alone,
The Elders of Amelia Baptist Church
To our Brothers and Sisters at Amelia Baptist Church,
COVID is here to stay. We cannot predict the future, only comment on our present reality. We want to remain helpful, transparent and prayerful as we continue to gather together for corporate worship.
In the last 4 weeks, our church family has experienced an increased number of positive cases. For this reason, worship choir is on hiatus and all singing will take place at the end of the worship services, until we are able to reevaluate our situation in two weeks. As we continue to meet for Sunday morning worship and our Sunday classes, we hope our Amelia Baptist Church family will consider the following in the Spirit of Christ Jesus our Lord:
1) If you are exhibiting COVID symptoms, we hope you will continue worshipping with us LIVE at 1045am, available on our YouTube and Facebook pages.
2) If anyone in your household is exhibiting these symptoms, we hope you will continue worshipping with us LIVE at 1045am, available on our YouTube and Facebook pages.
3) The first service is less attended than our second service. There is more room for distancing for those more concerned.
This will help us stay connected in discipleship and mission! God has carried us so far and we are grateful for His mercy and grace! God bless!
In Christ Alone,
Amelia Baptist Church Elders and Staff
Friends, you are invited to Amelia on Good Friday, April 2nd, at 5pm or 7pm for a special service. These events have become an annual Holy Week tradition and have been well attended since their inception in 2005.
We have selected inspiring music for quartets, duets, soloists, and small chorale. We are looking forward to sharing these classical anthems, spirituals, traditional hymns, and contemporary hymns with our community this year. These songs clearly convey God’s love revealed on the Cross, and the musical settings speak to the heart.
This special Good Friday service will feature scripture narrations from the Gospels that portray the hours prior to the crucifixion of Christ. The talented, professional instrumentalists are Gail McCamy (piano) and Carol Whitman (violin). This special Tenebrae service is a gift to our community. For more info, message me or call Amelia Baptist Church at 904-261-9527.
We are encouraging our congregation to take a stand for religious freedoms.
As Andrew T. Walker, professor and historian, recently stated, “The bill represents the most invasive threat to religious liberty ever proposed in America. Given that it touches areas of education, public accommodation, employment, and federal funding, were it to pass, its sweeping effects on religious liberty, free speech, and freedom of conscience would be both historic and also chilling.” “Virtually no area of American life would emerge unscathed from the Equality Act’s reach,” Walker added. “No less significant would be the long-term effects of how the law would shape the moral imagination of future generations.”
Follow the link below to write to our Senators in opposition to the proposed “Equality Act 2021.”
A PASTORAL LETTER TO MY DEAR FRIENDS:
“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Ps. 121:1-2).
Six months ago the pandemic intruded on the peace of our lives. And we are all aware that it has hit close to home. However, we know that our Lord remains unchanged in His power and grace. While we remain vigilant we are reminded to respond to fear and distress with the confidence of Psalm 46:7, “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”
I saw a video about what we know about the virus. It was a segment on a desert with a tumbleweed rolling along. The point was, “the populous knows very little.” We have a tendency to listen to what the ‘experts’ say, and (guess what!) they don’t agree. We don’t know what to believe! Having said the obvious, let us mention what we do know.
- “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” That’s a great start.
- We should take this health situation very seriously, for yourself and others.
- We should look for opportunities to love and serve others when possible. While being consistent with health requirements, remember the call of Philippians 2:4 “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
- We should continue to pray. Pray for our civil leaders, first responders, the vulnerable, medical personnel, school admins and teachers, parent who are making agonizing decisions about school, business owners whose livelihood is being threatened, and the employees who are without work. Let us pray for God to awaken this nation to its need to embrace Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord so that many will be saved. Thank you for your continued prayers for your church leaders as we seek to make wise and godly decisions and to be able to respond to ministry needs that will arise.
- We should be prepared for gospel conversations with our unsaved friends.
Last Sunday there were 57 at 9 a.m. and just under 70 at 10:45 a.m. and 60 families viewed online during the service. If you are still tuning in online, thank you for your continued faithfulness.
Just a reminder: a smaller room on campus is available to you during the sermon for your convenience. We continue to enjoy our singing in the courtyard. The kids love playing together on the playground.
A PASTORAL LETTER TO MY DEAR FRIENDS:
I just finished reading an article entitled, “Physical Presence is a Spiritual Gift” by David Kakish on the “Gospel Coalition website.
His text was taken from Paul’s introduction to the church in Rome.
For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you- that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. (Rom 1:11-12)
Perhaps the reason Paul doesn’t specify the gift that he wants to bring them is because he himself is the gift. He longs to be with them in the flesh. He may not know exactly what they need; but he wants to be there for them. As always, he’s willing to become all things to all people (1 Cor. 9:22), but he needs to be present first to determine how best to serve them. What’s the difference between a letter and a face-to-face conversation?” You see, one of our greatest needs may not be more information; that can be communicated a number of ways.
Christ has made us a gift to one another. I want you to remain safe at all times. And, while we miss each other at worship due to COVID-19, “Can we safely physically be present with a few brothers or sisters in Christ in other venues that we can control?” We all need mutual encouragement. So, pray with me about finding ways to be around a few Christian friends safely.
Last week I mentioned that I was invited to come to visit a family outdoors in the shade to help me with some of my sadness. Is that a possibility for you as well? BTW: I am much better now! Outdoors in the shade at a distance can be a spiritually and an emotionally healthy experience. I would never encourage you to compromise your physical health. So pray and ask God how you might be a spiritual gift to another believer who is experiencing sadness.
If you were unable to be present in body on Sundays, I know you were being careful while missing your friends and extended family. We continue to miss you. Last Sunday there were 62 at 9 a.m. and 40 at 10:45 a.m. and 61 families viewed online during the service. If you are still tuning in online, thank you for your continued faithfulness.
A smaller room on campus is available to you during the sermon for your convenience. Then join us in the courtyard after the sermon to sing with the others. You know you are welcome. The kids love playing together on the playground. It is a great time for families with young children at home to catch up.
People continue to place safety of others by keeping the doorways free from crowds and wearing face coverings. Thank you for fulfilling Romans 13:8 which reads, “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”
Keep encouraging one another, keep praying for each other and continue calling one another, continue being the church.
A PASTORAL LETTER TO MY DEAR FRIENDS
To help you make the important decision as to when you may worship with us in person, we continue to let you know about the attendance on Sunday mornings. Last Sunday there were 80 at 9 a.m. and 110 at 10:45 a.m. The increase was due, in part, to the presence of Allegiance. We continue to see new faces in the worship services on campus. If you are still tuning in online, thank you for your continued faithfulness. You are missed!
We had several families to join us in Building B for live streaming at 10:45 a.m. You may feel more comfortable in a smaller room with less people. We continue to enjoy singing in the open air in the courtyard after the sermon. Some of our dear friends are wearing masks or face coverings, while others are not. Thank you for respecting the distance and safety of others.
As you know, a few Sunday School classes have started meeting on campus. Below you will find information about when and where they meet.
Something new will be coming your way in the coming weeks. Covid-19 and the shutdown have changed that way our nation temporarily does things. We have had to make some temporary changes here at Amelia Baptist as well. We are a congregationalist system of government. We value your wisdom and input. Yet, out of necessity, we have not been able to meet to make important decisions. We, elders, have been meeting each week via zoom to seek God and discuss, “What’s next?” We desire to understand what will glorify Christ and benefit his people here at Amelia Baptist. So, throughout these last several months we have sought God’s leadership and made decisions that, under normal circumstances, we would have brought before the congregation for discussion and approval. We know that some of our most faithful members are also some of our most vulnerable members. Until we can meet to vote on important decisions, we will be asking you, in a survey, to tentatively confirm some of the decisions we needed to make during these strange times. Your voice is important to us and we look forward to hearing from you.