Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you. Acts 17:22-23 NIV
This is an excellent time to be the Church: to exhibit faith, to serve, to worship and proclaim of love Christ. Before COVID-19, many folk were not only unchurched but we have a generation to whom God is largely unknown. We have adults that have never been to Sunday school, opened a Bible or inside a church. People need and are more willing to hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our pastors and our African Descent congregations are still witnessing to God’s love and demonstrating their faith by love in action. It of course has not been easy during this pandemic, with meager finances and human resources; the restrictions of social distance and yet the proclaiming goes on.
I admire and I am encouraged by these pastors that go safely out to meet the needs of their membership and their particular communities at large. Pastor Keadle of St. Mark, Pastor John Miller at First in Carson, Pastor Jonathan Hemphill of Another Level and Ascension, Pastor Tracy Williams at Holy Redeemer, Pastor Rod Hines at Messiah, Pastor Ruth Siefert at Community, Johnel Barron at Olivet, and myself at Holy Trinity creatively offer their own individual worship on Sunday from Facebook live, YouTube and zoom. Pastor Charlene Limenih is retired but is still give pastoral care and bi-monthly worship virtually.
Don’t get it twisted, these types of worship are not preferred. We wish to be together in our sanctuaries to lift up praise to God. However we are hearing from people close by and some far across the country that are watching our services on their home devices. We are reaching those who little attend or would never come into our churches.
Our food distribution stations at My friends’ house Holy Trinity, Holy Redeemer, and Chapel of Peace continue to serve an even more community since the pandemic. Pastor Keadle generates virtual stuff to keep all of our youth to feel connected. We have been blessed to be one of the few preschools in L.A. to remain open but only for the children of the beloved essential workers, following the strict guidelines of state licensing.
We are not able to perform our traditional funerals and there have been long delays in burying the dead. But still our pastors are providing a sacred time and place for grief, comfort and hope. Most of our congregations are very vulnerable during this time of Covid-19. But our spiritual bandwidth is strong as God provides the will, the energy, and then faithfully blesses our efforts.
Yes-We are still here to reveal to the residents of L.A. Metro, the God in whom we worship. He Is Risen! He is Risen indeed!
Pastor James Phillips
African Descent Coordinator