By: Gary L. Hutchens
I usually devote a bulletin article near the beginning of most every year to review the year past and look forward to the year ahead. I’ve described it as Looking Through The Rearview Mirror And The Windshield. I typically review attendance figures, outreach ministries and baptisms, comparing the hard statistics from the year gone by with those of the year or two before that. Needless to say, the COVID pandemic eliminated the possibility of doing such an analysis.
The year 2020 was almost certainly the most unique year any of us has ever lived through. March 15th was the last time we met in the building for regular Bible classes and Sunday morning and evening worship until June 7th. Between those two dates we live streamed Sunday morning worship via Facebook Live. The first Sunday in June we began meeting in the building again for Sunday morning worship only while continuing to live stream, and we added Utube to our streaming.
It was not until September 27th that we began meeting in the building again for Sunday morning Bible classes, and we only began meeting for Wednesday evening Bible classes this past Wednesday, the first Wednesday of 2021. We have not yet renewed Sunday evening worship in the building.
Attendance figures were only a fraction of what they would normally be until mid-September, when they began to gradually increase. But infections and deaths in the area began to spike in mid-November, the number attending dropped back to previous levels.
So, What About 2020? Was it a total “bust” for the Lord’s church? Not at all! Did anything good happen? Were there any real positives? Were there any blessings from God? Absolutely, and abundantly!
If my count is correct, fewer than ten members of the congregation have tested positive for the virus throughout this pandemic, and those were spread over many months and none of them had to be hospitalized. Thankfully, there have been no deaths among our members due to the COVID virus.
Our outreach has actually increased during the pandemic. That might sound amazing, but it’s true. Thankfully (perhaps providentially?), we were already pretty heavily involved in pod casting Bible studies of various types before the pandemic hit. After it hit we increased our focus on teaching God’s word through that medium. We post fourteen pod cast lessons every week, and through the internet they reach all around the world. The total number of downloads last year was just under twenty thousand. That does not include those who listened to lessons that were shared with them by others.
The live streaming of our worship services also reaches around the globe through the internet. Our Bible Correspondence Course ministry is huge. Around thirty inmates in various jails have indicated they want to be baptized. Pray that God will make the way for us to soon be able to get into those facilities to baptize these precious souls into Christ. Our radio ministry continues to be broadcast seven times daily over four local stations.
What do you think? Is there anything from 2020 for which to be thankful? Our God is still there, still in control and still all powerful. Even during the strangest year we’ve seen, God’s blessings have continued to flow abundantly. Praise, glory and Honor be to Him!…
Gary L. Hutchens