An Opportunity to Thrive
ALVARADO, TEX. – “It was a hard decision to make,” Carlos J. Craig, Texas Conference president, said March 17, 2020, about having to close its church buildings for at least 30 days.
“But we want to do our part to eliminate the spread of this disease.” He emphasized that only the building is temporarily closed. “Church will continue in a variety of ways through online platforms, chat groups, phone calls and texts.”
True to their Texas Strong mentality, pastors, elders and church members alike stepped up to keep church going.
In addition to streaming services, some offered drive-thru options for water, food and necessities along with drive-thru times for returning tithes and giving offerings for those who did not want to utilize the AdventistGiving.org online and app options. Others mailed Sabbath school quarterlies, so members had them to read and refer to during online Sabbath schools.
Some changes members witnessed included church announcements shared live via online platforms; daily devotions given by text or other social platforms; online Bible studies; online prayer meetings; more online sermon options and a return of church pastoral “visits” by phone or text.
Knowing his church members missed coming to church and wanting a way to let them know he was praying for them, Manolo Damasio, pastor of the Dallas Brazilian Seventh-day Adventist Church, taped the first name of each member along the pews, making sure to keep them in the area where they usually sat on Sabbath.
He created a video showing his members the names and concluded it with 1 Corinthians 12:27, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” Each week, Damasio sits by the names and prays for each member.
“Every crisis offers opportunities; opportunities to thrive or opportunities to fail,” Kenn L. Dixon, Texas Conference vice president for Communication and Public Relations, said. “COVID-19 gives us opportunities to reinvent ourselves for the future.”
Texas Conference schools transferred to virtual learning shortly after the church buildings closed. It was an easier transition for those churches and schools already utilizing technology, but others needed a little assistance.
The Texas Conference Communication and Public Relations department created and continually updated the innovation webpage: TexasAdventist.org/innovation, with suggestions and resources along with regular video communiques.
“You don’t need a lot of resources,” Dixon added. “What you need is commitment and time.” And, having a youth or young adult to assist you in this area regularly wouldn’t hurt. For many, technology is second nature. They can share a variety of ways to connect online and are usually informed of the most recent trends.
Thankfully, as challenging as these times may be, God is still in control. He sees the bigger picture. We simply need to put our faith and trust in Him, claiming His promises, and then share that hope with others, practicing social distance, of course.
By Tamara Michalenko Terry
Texas Conference Communication and
Public Relations Associate Director