Pastor Rick Patrick of First Baptist Sylacauga (Coosa River Association) reports the blessing of nine new members joining the church by “walking the virtual aisle” on Facebook during the COVID-19 crisis. On March 29, a single adult joined. On April 5, both a retired couple and a young couple joined. On April 12, another young couple joined, along with their two teenagers, who are candidates for baptism. Church members voted them into the fellowship by using the comment stream to share their amens, words of welcome and hand raising emojis.
Before the pandemic, Valley Grande Baptist Church (Selma Association) was already broadcasting worship services on a local radio station. Now many in the church family gather faithfully around radios each Sunday morning to hear a pre-recorded broadcast. Clarke Skelton, senior pastor; Randy deBrabant, minister of music and senior adults; and other church leaders are using Facebook Live as a new way of staying connected with the church and community. “We have posted sermons, music, Bible studies and discipleship opportunities,” Clarke explains. “One of God’s blessings is receiving comments, likes and shares of our videos from people in the community, across our state and nation, and even around the world.” Valley Grande’s drive-in worship has reached a few families in the community who don’t have a church home. Remarkably, Clarke shares, “Our people have mailed in their tithes and offerings, brought them by the church office and given online so faithfully that our giving in March and April exceeded January and February. God is at work in new and wonderful ways even during these difficult days.”
Pat Powell, full-time pastor since 2017 of Gordo First Baptist Church (Pickens Association), is serving in the fight against COVID-19 as a chaplain in the Alabama National Guard. He was activated to duty in mid-April. According to Pat: “I am serving in Montgomery, providing moral support and religious services to members of my unit and others as they serve the citizens of our state.” His wife, Suzanne, reports: “Pat has always had a heart to serve our country and entered the National Guard just last year at age 44. We decided that if we wanted to add something new and different to the days God has given us, why not now? We weren’t getting any younger.” Pat is pictured with their dog, Cooper, on the day of leaving home for Montgomery.