Maryland/Delaware Roundup, March 19, 2020

Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,  bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive.  Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of Christ, to which you were also called in one body, rule your hearts. And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.  And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:12-17

As the world reacts to the coronavirus pandemic with shutdowns and social distancing in an effort to protect the public, church leaders in Maryland and Delaware are working prayerfully and collectively to meet the needs of their congregations.

For most, that means continuing to meet as the body of Christ — online.

BBA sets up sites to help churches record sermons

The Baltimore Baptist Association (BBA) has set up host sites around the Baltimore area to help pastors record and upload their sermons in time for Sunday services.

“Most of our churches do not have full-time paid pastors, let alone paid associate or support staff and they operate with very thin budget margins,” said Tally Wilgis, BBA executive director. “If you’re doing ministry in the Baltimore area, you are called by God to be here.

“Because of this, I began to think about the many congregations who may not be on the cutting edge of technology. I began to think about the older members of these congregations who are most susceptible to the COVID-19 virus.  I began to think about the loneliness, the food insecurity, the relational loss that will come for many of these churches if they do not quickly have ways to move their ministry forward,” he added.

BBA pastors and leaders plan for ways to help other leaders record sermons for Sunday morning services.

Wilgis called a meeting with the BBA leadership team and them to support an effort to provide locations for pastors in the association to record their sermons. The group eagerly embraced the idea.

BBA Director of Missions Tally Wilgis said, “In a matter of minutes from idea to implementation, we came together and set up sites across Baltimore to help pastors get their message out,”

Wilgis explained the procedure, “We will upload the messages to a YouTube account. If the church does not have an account, we will make one. With his sermon uploaded, the pastor now has a new tool he can use to edify his congregation to rally around the Word of God.

“One of the things I’m most thankful for in the midst of this crisis is the hearts of my brothers and sisters in the BBA,” he expressed. “When I began looking for host sites, they all agreed instantly.”

The host sites are: Freedom Church Windsor Mill with Pastor Jay Jones; Haven City Church with Pastor Josh Turansky; Village Church Hampden with Pastor Dan Hyun; and Church Of The Harbor with Pastor Jeff Belcher.

“Pastor Belcher actually didn’t let me finish my pitch,” said Wilgis. “He cut me off and said ‘I hear where you’re going, I agree, we’re in.’  It’s that type of servant’s heart that I’ve seen over and over again from our guys.  At each of these churches, there are associate staff or volunteers who are coming in to record the sermons of pastors who they may have never met before. They agreed to do this blindly, simply to get the Gospel out and help other churches.

“We hope that, with this technology and hand-of-friendship, every church in our association can continue sharing the Good News through preaching on Sundays until we’re on the other side of this social distancing measure,” Wilgis added.

In addition to sermon distribution, the BBA is helping with food distribution. “Many of our churches are helping to organize food for their neighborhoods and for the elderly or poor among their church membership,” said Wilgis.

“We are also faced with the reality that many of our older congregations are not equipped with online giving as an option,” he added. “We’ve recently, through the BBA, established an online giving portal for every one of our churches. Now, a church member can be given a link, select their church from a list, and give one time or establish a recurring gift throughout the duration of this crisis.”

Wilgis said, “The residual benefits are easy to see just days into this ordeal. We are going to come to the other side of this crisis with more unity among our pastors, greater technical knowledge and a faith that is deeper and more alive than ever before.

“The Baltimore Baptist Association has been working over the last five years to become a family, a real and genuine spiritual family. We have seen the fruits of our labor in the midst of this crisis. I’ve seen the work of Jesus in our hearts as we have boldly declared that it’s time to show the world that the church is not a building, a program, an order of service, or a budgeted line-item. The church of the living God is a people saved by grace through faith who care enough about a lost and dying world that they will do anything to spread the message of Jesus’ redeeming grace. We are seeing that today,” he concluded.

Facebook, Zoom, Streaming

Many churches are streaming their weekend services using either Facebook live or similar venues, or meeting through Zoom, a popular online site, or they’re gathering small groups to record services in advance so members can view the videos from homes on Sunday.

Mark Dooley, the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware state director of evangelism, said Leonardtown Baptist Church, where Dooley also serves on staff, uses Zoom for Bible studies and is planning to explore using it for worship services.

He explains that with Zoom, a moderator handles muting participants and allowing speakers to share. For example, a moderator will allow the pastor to welcome online guests, and when it comes time for someone designated to pray or share announcements, or for the pastor to deliver the sermon, un-mute each person at the appropriate time.

Facebook Live is a popular possibility for many. Friendship Community Baptist Church in Dunkirk, Maryland, has been streaming through Facebook for some time, but Pastor Robert Kendall says they’re making adjustments. “We have some young millennial guys tweaking it,” he says, adding that they’ll be adding multi-view cameras.

Dooley cautions churches to check their CCLI licenses to avoid copyright infringement when streaming.

“This is all new and I’m sure we’re going to hear of different and creative things churches are and will be doing,” he says.

At North Glen Community Church, in Glen Burnie, Maryland, the leaders met in a three-way call to make plans for recording a video of Sunday’s sermon. The consensus was that a few praise band members, the pastor, and a technician would record the service at the church and then make it available on Sunday morning. There are still logistical situations to be worked through, as many churches are dealing with.

In addition, some of the small group leaders and the children and youth leaders plan to offer online meetings for their groups.

Help for streaming sermons

There are several free opportunities to help churches stream. Here are a few:

NAMB SendNetwork
Church Answers

We will keep you updated with the various means churches are using. Please share with us how your church is handling worship, Bible studies, etc., during this challenging season. Send your information for consideration to Sharon Mager.

History Highlight 

Some call her “indefatigable.” John Roberts calls her “indomitable.” Roberts is the pastor emeritus of Woodbrook Church, formerly known as Eutaw Place Church, where Annie Walker Armstrong spent three-fourths of her life in ministry.

Annie Armstrong, affectionately known as “Miss Annie.”

Beginning his ministry at Eutaw Place in 1959, Roberts followed Armstrong’s pastor, W. Clyde Atkins, in the pastorate. Though he never met the woman who is the namesake of the annual Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American missions, her legacy has left an astounding impact on his church, in Baltimore, and beyond.

Who is this indomitable Annie Armstrong?

Born in 1850 in the industrial port city of Baltimore, Maryland, Armstrong, or “Miss Annie” as she was affectionately known, attended Seventh Church, which at the time met at Paca and Saratoga Streets (the current site of the Shrine of Saint Jude).

At Seventh, Armstrong was baptized at the age of 19, and shortly thereafter, joined over 100 members from Seventh to pioneer a new work at Eutaw Place Church at Eutaw Place and Dolphin Street. There, Armstrong remained an active member for nearly 70 years, until her death in 1938.

Describing Armstrong as “a tall, stately, outspoken, strong-willed leader,” author Bobbie Sorrell credits Armstrong’s Harvard-educated pastor, Richard Fuller, for building her deep convictions about missions.

With his preaching described as “logic on fire,” Fuller’s passionate Southern lawyer roots paved way for his influence in framing the Southern Baptist Convention, of which he preached its first annual sermon, giving Armstrong and others an insider’s view into the birth of the denomination.

At the local church level, Armstrong taught in the Infant class (also called the Primary Department, for children up to age 12) for 50 years. All the while, she maintained an interest in ministering to mothers, immigrants, the underprivileged, the sick, African Americans, Indians, and later in her life, her Jewish neighbors.

Accordingly, she worked at the Home of the Friendless, where she served on the board of managers for over 20 years.

She started the Ladies’ Bay View Mission, in the same site as today’s Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, which was formerly known as Baltimore City Hospital.

Armstrong’s ties to Baltimore were even more numerous. Her great-great-great-grandfather was Henry Sater, who built the first known Baptist church in Maryland. A childless widower at 50, Sater later married Dorcas Towson, of the family whose name lives on in the community Towson, who became Armstrong’s great-great-great-grandmother. (Read more here).

The material used in this biography was taken from:
BaptistLife, March 2006, article by Shannon Baker

Missions Mosaic, June 2009, In The Spotlight, Annie Armstrong