Flexibility is Key for Texas Church Adjusting to COVID-19 World
By Carl Stagner
Church isn’t canceled, it’s just different. For the Church of God congregation in Pasadena, Texas, ministry hasn’t come to a halt, but only a pivot. Ministry continues at Parkgate Community Church, and a variety of creative methods have been implemented to make this possible. These Jesus people were living out the love of Christ in their community before the coronavirus outbreak, they’re doing the same during the crisis, and their legacy of transformation ministry will no doubt continue long after social distancing restrictions are lifted. Flexibility is key, of course, but Parkgate is doing their best to adjust to a COVID-19 world.
Consider their food pantry. It doesn’t stop now that their community is facing a crisis. Without question, it’s needed now more than ever, a fact of which Pastor Jim Feirtag is acutely aware. “We have an ongoing food pantry, and our latest distributions are just an extension of that,” he explains. “Now with the new restrictions, we are distributing during a specific window of time while maintaining social distancing.”
Consider their outreach to nursing homes. It, too, doesn’t stop now that their community is facing this crisis. Again, it’s needed now more than ever, especially when you consider the lockdowns that prevent visitation and fuel loneliness. “Our live visits to nursing home will become cards sent to the residents. We already minister directly to the nursing homes and this is a new way to stay connected while they are totally isolated. We are also working to be able to connect with patients at the local hospital, too, for the same reason.”
In dialogue and conversation with local government, schools, nursing homes, hospitals, and businesses, Jim and the congregation are learning what they can best do to bring help where it is most needed, all the while honoring social distancing requirements and stay-at-home orders. Thus, ministry doesn’t have to cease, but it must adjust. Their motto, “Love God, love people, love now,” couldn’t be more relevant.
“We have told our people over and over again during this time to prayerfully do whatever is in their power to be the light in this dark time,” Jim explains. “We also challenged them to filter that thinking into every conversation they are having and every social media post they are making.”
Are aspects of ministry more difficult during this crisis? Sure. But there are opportunities that have never been available to the church. Jim wants to encourage fellow pastors to keep trusting and serving the Lord. You never know how the Spirit might work.
“It is a discouraging and stressful time,” Pastor Jim concludes. “We have had to learn a million new things in just a few days. Our staff is working harder and differently than usual. That said, we are connecting with people that we would have never connected with before. People have joined us online and contacted us independently for prayer and questions. In one case, one of our children’s lessons even spurred a conversation within a family we didn’t even know, which actually led that child to receive Christ! In other words, the opportunities to extend the gospel have been huge. We hope to make the most of them.”
Learn more about the response of Church of God Ministries to the coronavirus (COVID-19), including resources for you and your church, at www.jesusisthesubject.org/theway.