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We Are All in This Together from Bishop James L. Davis
DATE: October 14, 2020

TO: Second Episcopal District Pastors and Congregation

FROM: James Levert Davis, Servant Bishop

photo"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2 (NIV)

During these challenging times, I prayerfully considered what to say to our SED congregations regarding financial responsibilities. God placed in my spirit Galatians 6:2. It says: "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ."

Our churches need more than ever for our members to continue to provide financial support. Thus, I appeal to each member in assisting your church to meet its financial obligations by utilizing the various giving mediums provided by your church. In addition to the multitude of responsibilities of our pastors and lay church leadership, they face tremendous pressure and undue stress in the struggle to work through financial challenges on a daily basis. Although buildings may be closed, the church's financial obligations loom large, and financial obligations do not cease because of COVID-19. Banks and other lending agencies are still holding churches accountable for the debt. As reflected in the Annual Conferences' Pre and Post Pandemic Statistical Reports, some churches are doing well, while others are not faring as well financially.

Only God knows how long the global Coronavirus pandemic, the struggle against racial injustice, natural disasters, and other unprecedented occurrences will last. But what we do know is WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER! And we have hope and the faith to believe, that with God's help, we will come out on the other side victoriously.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic which has disproportionately affected people who identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, or People of Color), many people (including some of our church members) have been laid off, furloughed, or otherwise find themselves unemployed.

On the other side of the coin (and we are thankful to God in all circumstances), some have done better than others during these challenging times. If you are among those who have the means to do so, we ask you to add more to your giving to compensate for those who have been loyal givers.

Think of the good you can do when you have been blessed to not have a mortgage or to pay your mortgage on time; or when you contribute toward helping someone else stay in their home; or contribute toward paying their rent or even putting food on their tables. There is a good feeling to both the giver and the receiver as we carry each other's burdens.

We know these times are difficult for everyone; and the Church is being called upon to step up and do so much more from those within and beyond the church building. This places the church in an untenable position of determining how to effectively do both: Minister to its members and minister to those who call out to the church beyond the walls. How do we best take care of Christ's plan as illuminated in Galatians 6:2 and Malachi 3:10?

If God has blessed you in the pandemic, let's remember that the pandemic does not stop God's promise. Malachi 3:10 exclaims,

"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it."

Yes, we must admit that the year 2020 has been difficult. People all over the world are in pain. Pastors are in pain. Church members are in pain. Scores of people are suffering through the grief of having lost loved ones, church members, and friends; and in the midst of their grief have not been able to celebrate the lives to help manage the grieving process. I understand your pain. As my heart aches, I empathize with you and I pray for every pastor and our congregations daily. We are faced with race-based-violence and a void of national leadership to help us navigate toward the society that we envision as God's will for His world.

It's possible that we might have a long road ahead of us. But I can say with uncompromising conviction, I believe that Christ still reigns, and God will meet all of our needs according to His riches in glory. The Apostle Paul's letter to the church started in Philippi is just as relevant to our circumstances today as when he wrote it. He said to the Philippians; and I say to each of you, "I [WE] can do everything through Christ, who gives me [US] strength" (Phil. 4:13). Yes, WE CAN!

We celebrate you on the great work you've done as congregations in utilizing various media formats. We've had the opportunity to view many of your ministries in worship, Bible study, prayer meetings, missional disciplining, evangelism efforts, and community outreach ministries, to name a few.

Let's carry one another's financial, spiritual, and psychological burdens; continue bringing our whole tithe into the storehouse; and even more, if God has blessed you to do so, for those who have been negatively impacted by present-day circumstances. Pray Unceasingly. Believe God. Trust God! ACT!

Again I say to you, the Coronavirus pandemic does not stop God's Promise. God speaks clearly and assures each of us through the Holy Spirit: Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it." (Malachi 3:10).

Let's apply Christ's foolproof plan for Christian living as a daily way of life. Commit to carrying one another's burdens. Your sacrifices of love will not go unrewarded. And an even greater reward is that Christ, our Lord, and Savior will be glorified.

WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER! And there is a brighter day coming!

In the Spirit of The #REAL Church – Rising to the Challenge.

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