A Word from Pastor Thomas
Dear Ben Hill Family Member:

I wanted to take a few minutes and share with you some good news even in the face of this current adversity. I have had the opportunity to speak with many of you and it is certainly encouraging to know that the health and wellness of the Ben Hill Congregation continues . Our time apart has not been without activity and the reality of the church being the church continues to show itself. Listed below are a few of those ways by which this is happening.

  • Our first Sunday (March 15) of no physical worship service (other than live streaming) was followed by the largest online contributions in recent history. This affirms that people want to support their church so that its ministries and message may continue uninterrupted. It is more than this though. It suggests that people really do understand that our giving is worship and is a response to God’s proven faithfulness to us. To paraphrase Paul in Romans 8, neither challenge, nor disruption to the norm, or even a yet to be fully understood pandemic can foil who our God is and our eternal connection to Him!

  • Leadership from throughout the church is meeting in regular prayer. I thank the Prayer Ministry for taking leadership in this area. I encourage you to join in prayer for our church, our nation, our world and our expressed needs and challenges, recognizing that “Some” things are indeed in the hands of government, but “All” things are in the hands of God! As such, we seek God and not government as our “refuge and strength” for we are confident that God is a “very present help in the time of trouble.” Please be on the lookout in the coming week to sign on for around the clock prayer opportunity.

  • Technology will enable our weekly Bible Study and Sunday school classes to continue in order that we might remain connected. Special thanks to those who are leading us in the employment of conference calling, zoom, video chats and other mediums that are being employed.

  • Coordinated efforts are being made to reach out to our home bound sick and shut in and seniors as a means of wellness/welfare checking. This includes running necessary errands, dropping off prescriptions for refill, trips to the grocery store and other incidental needs on behalf of their welfare. Please call the Clergy on Call line at 404-626-9957 to make known needs.

  • The United Methodist Men held their annual Richard D. Winn Spiritual Retreat on March 14. Nearly sixty (60) men were registered for the retreat. Wide ranging topics called the men into a re-examination of their walk of discipleship and their fellowship with one another. The men left the retreat recharged and energized and committed to be all that God has called them to be by “Keeping It 100!”

  • We are attempting to determine how we might join with other agencies in the distribution of food to those in need during these turbulent times. We will be working with the Food Bank Leadership as to how we might “safely and protectively” meet some of these needs. Throughout this past week there were several appeals that came before us. Where possible we did our best to meet those needs.

  • Finally, you should know that the entire church, including the Academy and the Annex, has undergone a complete germicidal cleaning. This means that all walls, floors, surfaces, bathrooms, common implements such as handrails and door knobs, counter tops, toilets, sinks, trash cans, copier machines, pews and carpets have been cleaned and disinfected. While we have no capacity to make guarantees we have taken the recommended precautions to keep the virus at bay. We must continue to exercise our individual precautions in every way we can.

While we highlight these activities, this is in no way exhaustive. There are many things that people are doing without seeking fanfare or applause and we are grateful for those of you who are doing this. I have been inspired as you have reminded me anew of what the “priesthood of all believers” looks like when faced with crisis. I also want to let you know how grateful I am to the clergy and lay staff of Ben Hill for how they have responded during these times. While some may say, “it’s their job,” I want you to know that what I have witnessed has more so been evidence of their love for God and God’s people than anything outlined in their job descriptions. The ongoing commitment being demonstrated by all of you is a living testimony that the building may be closed but the Church of Jesus Christ remains open for business .

I John 5:14 reminds us through these words, “And this is the confidence (boldness) we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us!” This is the time for us to exercise boldness and confidence. It is the time for us to expect that God will indeed do something about our plight. While we pray, we also act in accordance with the science. Science is not apart from God. It is born of God and moved through the creativity and ingenuity of humans. It is out of the realm of the divine creator and ruler of all the earth that science both proceeds and informs. Therefore, continue to exercise all the precautions, check on neighbors and especially those who are elderly and alone. Remembering, that God is still God and we remain God’s people. God will take care of us.

Be Blessed, Be Safe and Be Careful.

Pastor Byron E. Thomas
Ben Hill United Methodist Church | www.BenHillUMC.org