2020: The Year in Pictures
It is with great joy that I write this blog as a testimony of God's faithfulness. Even in the darkest times we can see Him at work. While the COVID environment created limitations and hardships, God created streams of mercy that enabled us to continue to be a channel of blessing to our community.
Towards the end of March, we shut down hard. All of our campus churches went online. Jubilee Academy went to remote learning. Our Early Learning Center closed and all campus activities were suspended. We did not know how long this would last.
I soon received an email that put us back into play. A lack of open childcare centers created a crisis for medical workers who were unable to return to work. Our newly hired daycare director, Kathleen, quickly went to work and, in two weeks, we had the equipment, protocols and training to reopen.
In order to stay close to our members in this age of social distancing, we commissioned our deacons and Stephen Ministers to be Phone Angels and make weekly check in calls to all our members. Robert Newman, our Archangel, and Minister to Adults, kept it running smoothly. He, also, created paths for online ministry so our worship and Bible study would continue.
Thanks to Jonathan, our Executive Pastor, we continued to improve our infrastructure to save money and enhance ministry delivery. Jonathan's most visible accomplishment was the completion of our inclusive playground. Work days continued in January as the equipment began to arrive. Construction is essential work, so it continued through the Spring and Summer. We dedicated the first inclusive playground in the Southside to God's glory in October, as a testimony of God's love for all His children. We received nearly $250,000 in cash, material and labor to make this happen.
In 2020, we collected and distributed over 55,000 pounds of food. During the shutdown Daniel, our Minister of Outreach, delivered food directly to our clients who were in greatest need and lacked transportation. David and Bertha led the way in determining ways to provide ministry through our thrift store and pantry in a safe manner.
Uncertainty caused many churches to cancel summer travel plans but we still had a 40 member team from Lee's Summit FBC stay at BT this summer. We also had five summer interns who assisted in worship and a variety of other tasks.
A partnership with No Place Left expanded our disciple-making efforts. No Place Left is a network that seeks to preach the gospel to the ends of earth until there is no place left that has not heard. A group joins us on Thursday mornings to prayer walk in our neighborhood and has provided training for our leaders. In the Fall we hosted a No Place Left residency for seven people (six are ministry students). The residency provides advanced training for evangelism.
We returned to worship in our sanctuary in May, with the new protocols in place. We maintained space between family groups, wore masks and avoided hand shakes and hugs. The 30 minute service reduced the amount of singing and the offering plate was not passed.
Soon Family Deaf Church, Sunny Slope and Rise Above returned. Another church, New Direction, started meeting on our Campus. (The Message and Life Change still have not returned.) Other groups began to return, including Jubilee and youth basketball clubs, all with new safety procedures.
Although it seemed to be a quieter year, much was accomplished. A group from the community has started working on the community garden, ensuring its beauty and utility. Under Kathleen's leadership the Early Learning Center not only survived but revitalized the after school program and helped us acquire a van to pick up kids from other schools.
All this was made possible through your prayers and financial support. Thank you for your faithful partnership that sustained us through a difficult year.