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COVID-19 Response Updates

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In the midst of the current COVID-19 pandemic, churches around the world are having to step back and rethink how “church” can be done. Whether your church is tech-savvy or doesn’t even have an email address, there are resources to help you and your congregation navigate this unprecedented time as a family of faith. There are many, many more available than what you see here, and you can find them yourself using online search engines. We are simply wanting to provide you with a place to start—an abbreviated, categorized list of helpful articles and videos that you may find helpful—all on one web page.

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Donate to Our COVID-19 Response!

Give to help BGAV volunteers and churches responding to COVID-19 with grants to support local church ministries and with other response-related ministry opportunities as they arise.

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BGAV Email Communications Related to COVID-19

As we have temporarily transitioned our twice-monthly BGAV news and resources enewsletter, Advance Notice, into a twice-weekly enewsletter of COVID-19 response resources for our churches, here is an archive of these communications throughout our reponse:

COVID-19 Response Grants Update

Posted: 4/8/20 at 12:00pm.

Our BGAV COVID-19 Church grants have been a tremendous success, and we are encouraged to see so many of our BGAV family reaching out to their communities. As of today we have had 96 churches approved for grants, and several more are awaiting approval. We anticipate that our initial $100,000 will be exhausted before the end of this week.  However, we encourage churches to continue to apply for this grant.  As more funds become available, we will approve and distribute on a first-come, first-served basis. We look forward to hearing and sharing the stories of how lives were impacted and churches moved to respond during this period of crisis.

April 1 Message to BGAV Pastors and Leaders

Posted: 4/1/20 at 4:00pm.

A Special Message to BGAV Pastors and Leaders
from John Upton, Executive Director and David Washburn, Treasurer

  • There have been a number of inquiries regarding Governor Ralph Northam’s Executive Order 55, particularly in regard to drive-in worship services. For many, these services have been a wonderful way for churches to gather during this time of social distancing. The recent Executive Order 55, issued this week, has raised questions about whether churches should continue to hold those services. We are grateful that Governor Northam clarified during today’s press conference that drive-in worship services are permissible.
  • We do want to share concerns expressed by the Attorney General’s office earlier this morning about the way some churches are not appropriately managing drive-in worship. There have been occasions when people are getting out of their cars, which is a clear violation of the order. In addition, some have been arriving after picking up people who are not members of their family that have been sheltering in place with them in their homes—another violation of the order. This is why some local authorities have told pastors they would be violating the executive order by hosting drive-in church. We encourage you to inform your congregation of the proper way to safely participate in drive-in worship, as the way in which we gather for worship in the midst of this pandemic bears witness to the Gospel we are proclaiming.
  • David Washburn will be keeping you informed about the CARES Act and its implications for your local church through our CARES Act webpage, dedicated to resources for your information. Of course, each local church will need to make their own decision regarding these funds. We will also keep you updated on what others are saying theologically about churches utilizing these funds.
  • As we have all experienced, details change throughout the day, which is why we are hosting a webinar at 10:00 a.m. Friday, April 3, with H. Robert Showers, Principal, Simms Showers LLP to provide the most current details about Executive Order 55 and the CARES Act. Register for the webinar.
  • This is a difficult time and there are many unknowns. Yet I have been amazed at the resiliency of BGAV churches as you have responded to this moment of need. It is inspiring to hear the number of people churches are reaching beyond their normal Sunday gatherings through online ministries just initiated. One church shared their outreach has grown their attendance 10 times their typical Sunday morning worship. The growing concern for many now is how to keep a connection with all the new attendees after the crisis subsides. Thank you for your faithfulness, determination, and creativity. God has you where you are for such a time as this, and the gospel is being proclaimed in new ways to new people seeing renewed lives.
  • Your BGAV staff is available to you at all times. Please let us know how we can be of assistance. We will have a virtual Town Hall meeting Monday, April 6, at 11:00 a.m., where we will have the opportunity to speak with you in person and share helpful resources. You can register for the Town Hall and submit your questions ahead of time.

Thank you for your stories of how your church is responding to the fears and anxieties the coronavirus pandemic has generated. As pastors and leaders, we have known how to lead church gathered on location, now we are mastering how to be church gathered on mission. Good news! You are making a Kingdom difference! Also, thank you for your continued support of Cooperative Missions, it is what helps us do more than any of us could do alone.

In the name of the One who can heal the nations,
John Upton and David Washburn

View the web version of this message that was emailed to pastors and church leaders on Wednesday, April 1, 2020.

COVID-19 Response Grants Update

Posted: 3/24/20 at 12:00pm.

In less than one week, 20 BGAV churches have been approved to receive grants that will assist their response to community needs regarding the COVID-19 outbreak. These churches intend to use the funds in a variety of ways including the increased stocking of established food pantries, purchase of food bags and distribution to senior citizens and vulnerable children, emergency assistance utilizing gift cards in partnership with a grocery store, and working with local school districts to continue distribution of weekend backpack ministries. Your church can apply for one of these grants by completing this brief application.

“We anticipate that more churches will begin thinking about the long-term needs of their communities and the requests will become more diverse in the coming days and weeks,” commented Dean Miller, Mission Development Staff Coordinator. “As bad as this crisis is and will become, what a great opportunity for the Church to rediscover itself and insert itself as a community leader once again.”

BGAV: Walking with You

Posted: 3/17/20 at 2:15pm. Written by John Upton.

John Upton, Executive Director, and Dean Miller, Mission Development Staff Coordinator

BGAV Family,

It goes without saying that we are in the one of the most surreal moments we could ever have imagined. Yet here we are, and now we turn our attention toward how to be the church and God’s people during a time of national and global crisis.

First, I encourage you to follow the directives provided by government and health officials. Those directives are for the welfare of everyone.

Second, while we continue to monitor reports from the U.S. government, Virginia Department of Health, and CDC, we also have tried to think of ways the BGAV can be of practical assistance to you and your church. This is an initial list of ways we would like to walk alongside you during this challenging time. There will be updates to this list as we learn more about how to respond to the crisis. This is going to be a lengthy ordeal that will require patience, stamina, and a deep faith in God and one another. 

Church Grants for COVID-19 Response

The BGAV is setting aside $100,000 for assistance for families affected by COVID-19. A church may apply for a grant up to $1,000 to help feed children who no longer have access to school meals or care for families quarantined because of the virus. We know many churches will struggle financially in the coming weeks and may not have the funds to support those in their community who are in need. These funds will be available to churches to help meet those needs. Here is a link to the grant form for your church to apply.

BGAV-facilitated Online Giving to Churches

Many BGAV churches do not have online giving capabilities. It appears churches will not be able to meet for eight weeks or more, which will have a dire effect on the life of the church. The BGAV has developed an online giving link for you and your church members to use. Your church members can give to your church using the BGAV donor link by clearly designating it for your church*, and the BGAV will send that contribution directly to the church. Typically, online giving service charges must be paid by either the donor or the church, but the BGAV will provide this online giving service at no cost. Use this donation link to access the giving form and follow the instructions to Give to My BGAV Church. Copy, paste, and send the link to anyone who’d like to give to your church in this way.  *IMPORTANT NOTE: Please be aware that while BGAV is not charging anything for this service, the giving platform does charge a 3% fee per transaction. When you give, you may choose to pay that 3% yourself or allow the giving site to deduct the 3% from your total gift (that option means your church will receive 97% of what you give). Your church will be notified of your gift and will recognize your tax-deductible donation. Funds will be mailed directly to your church via check around the 10th of each month for funds collected in the preceding month. If you have special designations, such as a building fund, etc., you will need to mail those directly to your church.

Online Worship Resources

If you would like help learning how to offer a free online worship venue, this article offers excellent tutorials and helps for different ways to accomplish that.

Free Webinar

Fresh Expressions will host a free webinar titled “How Your Church Can Be Faithful During Coronavirus” on March 18 (tomorrow) at 1:30 pm. You can register for the webinar here.

European Partner Dialogue

We are currently in dialogue with Baptist friends in Europe setting up a Zoom conversation on how they have coped with the coronavirus crisis and what they would offer as insight for our churches as we prepare to respond. This will provide opportunity for us to offer support to our friends in Europe, and around the world, as they share with us. We intend to livestream this conversation. We will share more details as we finalize our plans.

 

Finally, in light of the escalating cases of the COVID-19, the BGAV Resource Center has been restricted to staff and officers only of the organizations located at the Resource Center. While staff continues to serve churches and do Kingdom work, we hope this measure will limit staff exposure to the virus.   

As many have noted during this time of “social distancing,” we may need to connect more than ever. If you have suggestions or ideas of ways we can help one another and our communities, please share them. We will make sure those are communicated in our twice-a-week communication plan. 

In God’s love and grace,

John Upton

A Message from John Upton, BGAV Executive Director

Posted: 3/13/20 at 12:45pm. Written by John Upton.

I have been receiving a large volume of inquiries from church leaders concerning COVID-19, asking for suggestions. The BGAV is not a professional health organization, so we are not qualified to give advice regarding the disease. What we can do is share links to professional health resources and share how other churches have chosen to respond. We want to assure you that we are closely monitoring this rapdly changing situation and are in communication with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), both of which have issued specific interim guidance for faith-based organizations that can be accessed here.  Please, at a minimum, follow their recommendations. Also, I encourage you to have your leadership meet and make a decision regarding church activities based on the welfare of the most vulnerable in your church and community such as older members, children, those with health issues, and neighbors. Watch closely the decisions of your local school systems and follow the recommendations of the Governor’s declaration of emergency. The BGAV is doing the same regarding all its events for the next couple of months. 

Finally, let’s be sure as we gather for worship, whether online or at church, to take time to pray for our communities, our country, and the world as this virus spreads to every corner of the globe. We are discovering that as a global community we are more connected than we ever realized. Someone becomes ill in China, and soon the world becomes infected.  In an event such as this we are all brother and sisters. Let’s pray and offer God’s care and love to all God’s children.

Photo Credit: Centers for Disease Control

BGAV leaders are closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19 and following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), and the federal government related to our operations at home and abroad. Our primary goal is to inform you of what we are learning from VDH in your preparations for addressing this crisis. BGAV receives regular briefings from the VDH and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

Access the latest information provided by the Virginia Department of Health, Interim Guidance: Considerations for Community- and Faith-Based Organizations, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Access the latest general information about COVID-19 from the Centers for Disease Control.

At this time, BGAV Disaster Response has not been asked to respond and is not accepting any in-kind donations specific to the response to COVID-19. Any funds received for this event will be utilized to assist our churches through grants specifically for their local responses and also to help our global partners who have been asked to respond. If we are activated, donations will go to support related needs.


The following BGAV events have been cancelled or rescheduled:

* NOTE: For these events, your paid registration fees will be applied to the event on the new date. If you can no longer attend or send another attendee in your place, contact angela.house@bgav.org for a refund.

Disclaimer: This communication is designed to provide accurate information from authoritative sources regarding this subject matter. It is provided with the understanding that Baptist General Association of Virginia and its employees are not engaged (employed) to render health, medical, epidemiological, or other specific services. If such advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought.