The latest news from many resources for American Baptist Churches.
As the Coronavirus has become a reality in Ohio, a number of pastors and church leaders have begun seeking our guidance to help congregations take steps to keep their church families safe. The following recommendations or ideas may help you as you plan for the next few weeks.
• Protect senior adults and people with other health issues. They are probably the group that is most at-risk at this time. As much as they love being with the church family, it is important to give them your blessing to stay home and be safe during the danger period. If they are not among you in person, please organize a process to check on them regularly (that doesn’t involve in-person visits) to offer encouragement, to be sure they have the supplies they need, to check on their health, and to make certain they are eating each day. The church is a good safety net in times of trouble.
• Protect everyone by limiting personal/physical contact. Most obviously, avoid shaking hands, holding hands during prayer, hugging, etc. Waving may be a better means of greeting each other or passing the peace in worship. Avoid home visits, nursing home visits, and hospital visits except for urgent situations. A number of congregations that have decided to continue worship have cancelled activities such as Sunday School, youth and children’s ministry activities, church dinners, conferences, etc. so that people actually have less physical contact. Ask people who don’t feel well to stay home for their own protection and for the protection of others.
• Make changes in the way you serve the Lord’s Supper. Many churches have decided to wait until after the most threatening period has passed to serve Communion again. This is a disappointment to the family, but it is better than being exposed to the virus as the plates and trays are prepared or passed. Some have chosen to use the sealed communion cups that contain both the juice and bread in a single sealed unit. These are challenging to use, but they are safer than open cups and bread trays. Of course, this is not a time for using a common cup, a single loaf of bread, or homemade communion bread, as is the custom in many congregations.
• Keep facilities clean. Use disinfectants that specify they will kill the Coronavirus. Provide cleaning supplies in easily accessible places at the church so that they may be used on tables, light switches, door handles, restrooms, and other places in the church building that people touch with their hands. Of course, all cleaning supplies should be kept out of the reach of children. Make hand sanitizer available in public areas and encourage its use. Disable or put up signs on drinking fountains so they will not be used.
• Be aware of the information and directives coming from our state’s Governor. He is being recognized nationally and commended across political party lines for seeking good counsel from medical personnel and taking a proactive approach to address the Coronavirus concerns in Ohio. The available information is changing quickly, so keeping abreast of the public information is helpful. While the Governor is issuing orders for nursing homes, hospitals, schools, universities, etc., he has been careful only to make recommendations to churches, honoring the separation of church and state. He has ordered that groups of more that 100 should not assemble. This order isn’t binding on churches, which have the right to make their own decisions about meeting. But you may want to consider the concern that the assembly of large groups increases the possibility that the virus could be shared more readily and widely, even when their purpose is worship. Some larger (and smaller) congregations across denominations in Ohio have cancelled worship and other church activities for two to three weeks. Others have decided to continue to meet for worship, but have cancelled other activities and meetings. Still others are utilizing electronic means to bring people together in spirit but not in person.
You and your church leaders are the ones who best know your congregation’s needs. We encourage you to prayerfully consider the best answers for your church’s care, safety, and assembly during the next few weeks. The two of us would be happy to help you if you have more specific questions you’d like to discuss. We are in prayer for the people of ABC/Ohio as you go through this challenging and uneven time in life and ministry.
Rev. Mark Click, Executive Minister for Administration and Denominational Relations
Rev. Jane Gibbons, Executive Minister for Program and Ministry Development
American Baptist Churches of Ohio
Janet M. Burget Holtzapple, 88, went home to be with Jesus on Thursday, January 30, in her home.
Janet was born on July 20, 1931 to Walter A. and Ilo Staver Burget in Lima, OH. She graduated in 1949 from Lima Shawnee High School. After high school, Janet went to nursing school and graduated in 1952 with an RN degree from Lima Memorial School of Nursing.
In 1951 she married her high school sweetheart Rev. Donald Holtzapple who she was married to for 62 1/2 years until his homegoing in 2014.
Rev. Holtzapple served as an ABC Ohio evangelist in the 1960's. He also served as pastor and interim pastor of several ABC Ohio churches.
Janet is survived by a son, Philip (Barb) Holtzapple, daughter Laura (Jack) Martin, and daughter Carol (Jim) Underwood, 9 grandchildren, 17 great grandchildren and extended family. Please keep the Holtzapple family in your prayers.
International Ministries is sad to announce the passing of Rev. Orville R. Chapman on January 2, 2020. Rev. Chapman and his wife, Virginia (Becker) Chapman, were IM missionaries for almost four decades in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire).
Commissioned in 1955, the Chapmans began their ministry in Sona Bata, training pastors in rural villages and teaching science and theology at the local secondary school. In 1960, due to political turmoil, the Chapmans were evacuated. They returned to Sona Bata in 1961. In 1963, they spent three months by the Angolan border working with refugees. In subsequent terms of service, they lived in Moanza, Kinshasa, and Kikongo where they did administrative work and taught theology at the ISTK (Institute of Theology in Kinshasa) and also at the Kikongo Pastors’ School (now the Baptist University of Kikongo/UNIBAC).
Rev. Chapman received his B.A. from Ottawa University (Ottawa, Kansas), his B.D. from the Berkeley Baptist Divinity School (Berkeley, CA.), and his D. Min from the American Baptist Seminary of the West. He once described his passion for life-long ministry with the Congolese as “an opportunity to help bring about a more abundant life” to people in rural village areas.
Glen Chapman, the oldest of Rev. Orville and Virginia’s four children, carries on the legacy of his parents’ missionary service. He and his wife, Rita (Brown) Chapman, are also long-term missionaries with International Ministries and have served in the DR Congo since 1987.
Please keep the Chapman family in your prayers.
In response to the 6.4-magnitude earthquake that shook Puerto Rico January 7, 2020 American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS), on behalf of American Baptist Churches USA, has released $15,000 in One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) funds to partners in Puerto Rico, including $10,000 for Iglesias Bautistas de Puerto Rico. However, additional help is needed.
What You and Your Church Can Do
Pray, pray, pray! Pray for our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico daily at 20:20 hours. Part of the concern is that the lack of electricity, water and gasoline will trigger widespread panic in addition to symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder initiated by Hurricane Maria.
Donations can be made online designated to “OGHS-Puerto Rico Earthquake” or via your church or check with the same designation and mailed to the attention of Leda Carter at American Baptist Home Mission Societies, 1075 First Ave., King of Prussia, PA 19406.
One hundred percent of donations go to relief efforts; no dollars are retained for administrative costs. To ensure that your church receives credit for your gift, write the church name on your check.
National personnel have been in touch with key partners in Puerto Rico, including the Rev. Edgardo Caraballo, executive minister of Iglesias Bautistas de Puerto Rico. The island found itself without electricity immediately following the earthquake. The southwestern area continues without electricity and water. Long lines have formed at gasoline stations, which are running out of gasoline.
Primera Iglesia Bautista de Yauco received significant damage, according to Caraballo. Two pastors had to evacuate their homes, which were deemed unsafe. Damage assessment will continue on the island. Primera Iglesia Bautista de Guayanilla, according to its pastor, Carlos A. Padilla, has become a shelter for the community; more than 60 individuals are eating and living at the church’s facilities.
In Guánica, 28 homes were destroyed, 99 received damage and 21 are near collapse, according to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, which happened to be on the island at the time of the earthquake. In addition, two schools have been destroyed and one received damage. Two public buildings in Guánica have been decimated and another is close to collapse, while one bridge and one road received damage. Thirteen shelters, according to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, are housing 746 individuals and are in great need of supplies. More details and updates can be found at abc-usa.org.