over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers,
to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”
Paul summoned the elders of the church of Ephesus, and he commanded them to be very watchful regarding themselves and the church. The Holy Ghost appointed these elders to be overseers having the responsibility of feeding God’s church which was purchased by the blood of Jesus. Acts 20:28 helps me to stay focused in regards to my role as a pastor. Not only must I take heed unto myself, but I must also take heed unto all of God’s flock. I underlined the word “all” because most of us as pastors have no problem leading some or most of the flock, but leading “all” of the flock is often challenging.
As the pastor of St. John, I am concerned about all of the parishioners of our congregation. The current pandemic that we are still experiencing not only affected the world, but also the church. Who would have thought that the doors of many churches would be closed for 15 months? Even though we reopened our doors to a certain extent, we are still faced with the challenge of feeding and leading all of the flock of St. John.
I need to positively address parishioners of St. John who returned to corporate worship last Sunday and those who are uncomfortable about corporate worship. First, I rejoice because last Sunday’s reopening was a tremendous success. God blessed us spiritually at the North Campus (9 am) and South Campus (11 am). The Worship Celebrations felt like Revival Services even though neither Worship Celebration exceeded 1 hour and fifteen minutes. I must commend our Ushers and Hospitality Ministries for doing an outstanding job managing both crowds, and I am so proud of how cooperative everyone was with them. I must also commend our Music Ministry for a great job serving in both Worship Celebrations with such anointed singing.
Because we have a limited seating capacity at both campuses, I ask that you will not be angry when we cannot allow anyone else to enter. Unfortunately, we had to turn away people at the North Campus, and the South Campus almost reached seating capacity. I encourage everyone to arrive at least 10 minutes before the scheduled time of worship, and if the 9 am Worship Celebration exceeds capacity in case you arrive too late, please go to the South Campus for early seating. If the growth continues, we will consider having once again three Worship Celebrations and perhaps online signing up beforehand (something I prefer not to do).
Secondly, I want to encourage parishioners of St. John who are uncomfortable at this time with corporate worship. As we did last Sunday, we will try to provide you an opportunity to listen to the Worship Celebration each Sunday by 2 pm or thereafter via our website (sjmbc.org). We are also in the process of upgrading our A/V equipment at the South Campus so that we can provide quality live streaming each Sunday or thereafter of one of our Worship Celebrations.
Being the pastor of all of St. John, I am laboring to serve those of you who want to experience corporate worship and those of you who are uncomfortable with corporate worship. On one hand, I really understand and empathize with many of our members who are uncomfortable worshipping publicly. However, for some of you, remember the Lord is a Jealous God. If you can be in public places (gymnasiums, airplanes, restaurants, etc.), you may have to answer to God with your decision not to worship publicly.
Jesus said in Luke 14:26: “If any man come to me, and hate (hate means “love less”) not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” Basically, Jesus is saying that we must love our own life and even family members less than him in order to be his disciples. Before any of you are tempted to get upset with me, these are the words of Jesus, not mine. You do not need to debate this with me, but it is imperative for you to understand that your decision may be violating the precepts of Christ. Now, at the end of the day, whatever decision each of you make is fine with me. I am not God, so I am not the One that each of us must answer to. I am your pastor who loves you enough to share the truth, but also who loves you enough to accommodate you with online opportunities.
Don’t forget to spread the word about our online Church School each Wednesday at 7 pm. This is a weekly experience that we don’t want to miss. I encourage everyone to begin at 12 pm and/or 6:30 pm with prayer. After the 6:30 pm Prayer Service and my brief words of encouragement or direction, we will reconnect at 7 pm with the class of our choice.
We congratulate our 2021 graduates! If you are a St. John member and interested in receiving recognition from our church, you should contact Min. Peggy Alexander (Minister of Christian Education) at firstname.lastname@example.org by June 30th. If you are graduating from High School and you will be attending college or vocational school, you may qualify for a scholarship. Applications are available via our church website at sjmbc.org. Moreover, if you desire to give towards scholarships, you can do so in person at either of our campuses, via mail, or online at sjmbc.org.
Last but not least, we thank so many of you who have been supporting St. John financially, especially in the last 15 months. With everything that we are doing and trying to do, your financial contributions are needed. We currently give in-person during Sunday Morning Worship Celebrations, by mailing or dropping off our Tithes and Offerings at our Administration Building or South Campus or by giving online through our website (sjmbc.org). If you are a member of St. John who is financially able but not supporting our church financially, allow God to bless you with more by giving today your Tithes and Offerings.
May God bless and sustain each of us.
Your Servant In Christ,
Dr. Kevin B. Hall, Pastor