2020 Sunnyside First Baptist Church Annual Pastoral Letter
Review of 2020… A Year like no other!!
We entered 2020 very hopeful as a people, as a nation, and in our world. That hopefulness soon became sickness, despair, fear as the CoVid-19 virus impacted all of us to the very core of who we are.
None of us could have anticipated the year that we have had.
Close to home here in Sunnyside held our collective breath, hoping and praying that the virus would pass us, and it did for quite some time. That was not ultimately to be the case. Yakima county and Sunnyside and its residents were hit particularly hard with the CoVid-19 virus. Claiming lives and frightening many more.
Sunnyside First Baptist responded in ways that I did not expect. I expected giving to drop to unprecedented levels. Giving if anything increased! I expected to resume services and have just a few people in attendance; instead, we have been blessed with growing numbers each week. Thankfully, our Elder Board saw the need for investment in a new sound and video equipment that allowed us to have an online presence from the second week of the shutdown. This has allowed us to maintain contact with many of our members, attenders, and others in the community. Still, some did not have access to computers or the internet. We are now recording our services, burning them to CDs, and mailing them to about 15 people each week. All these things and many more gave me, your Pastor, confidence that there was a great spirit here at SFBC. That CoVid-19 was NOT going to change that, and we should continue down the path that God has laid out for us here in Sunnyside and around the world.
We are not going to have an annual meeting in the form that you might be expecting. I am going to be giving you, in some broad term’s information about our ministries, our worship, and our finances. When the CoVid-19 pandemic is over, we will have a BIG ‘OL CELEBRATION, A BIG potluck, and time to catch-up on everything.
Ministries – The ministry that happens in our building has changed. Men’s and women’s Bible study is not meeting. Men’s monthly breakfast is not meeting. But new opportunities have come up. Lower Valley Young Life (Eduardo Gallo) has been using our building, meeting in groups of 5-10 for discipleship. Alcoholics Anonymous continues to use our facility on Fridays for meetings. Ingelsia Miel, the Hispanic congregation, is now meeting in our sanctuary. Our supported missionaries, here at home and half-way around the world in England, the Bentley’s have all battened down the hatch and drove on doing ministry. The foreign exchange rate dramatically affected the amount of support that Bentley’s receive even when we give the same amount due to fluctuating exchange rates. Young Life, Eduardo Gallo, has seen his yearly giving amounts drop 80% in some instances. Those numbers have improved slightly in the past several months but still the numbers are bleak. Our other international missionary is Jim Slinker, who is working locally with immigrants to affect their home countries with the love of Christ. We continue to support Mission Northwest, a group of committed, like-minded churches throughout the Northwest United States.
As a church, the ministry that has the most individual involvement is with the Sunnyside Food Bank. Each week, 4-6 individual representing 2-4 families are represented at the Food Bank on nearly every day of the week. The food bank is regularly serving 300 families weekly with the basics of food for their families. SFBC along with The Christian Reformed Church and Sunrise Outreach in Yakima were able to pool resource and do a turkey give away at Christmas. Three hundred turkeys were distributed in Sunnyside and Mabton.
Worship – Many thanks to the various people who have participated in worship during these challenging times. I’d like to especially thank our worship leaders, who worked through many obstacles and difficulties, giving people online a quality worship to our God. There were more than a few glitches and stumbles. We implemented new hardware, new software, a new internet hosting company. A special thanks to Joe Transoco for walking through each crisis as then came up. I believe the online church has been and will continue to be a success. In late December 2020, our Elder Board opted to allow in-person worship to occur in our sanctuary. We are asking people to social distance and wear a mask. Our attenders have been as many as 63 during worship and as few as 1, me as I preached to a camera. Our averages are in the mid to high 40’s each week.
Finances – At the beginning of the pandemic shutdown’s things were very unsure. Many questions were being thrown around, and honestly, we had no answers for them, after much prayer and consideration. Your Elder Board determined the best course of action for us to be applied for and ultimately receive a Payroll Protection Act loan/grant of $14,644.19. The purpose of this was to bridge the gap between and not terminate anyone on the payroll for up to 3 months. We complied with the elements of the loan forgiveness, and that is being processed at this time. Of course, we have saved money on heat and lights wear ever possible. This has been mostly successful. We have been following a spending plan that was adopted and approved by the body in January 2020. We will continue to follow that basic plan into 2021, awaiting that time to meet, greet, and connect again. A detailed spending plan is attached to this letter.
Our plan for the beginning of 2021 is to continue with 2020 expenses, support, and financial plans. When we have a date for our celebration of ministry and reopening, we will have all the details about ministry, worship, and financial plans. STAY TUNED!
To God Be The Glory!