Posted on : Thursday April 16, 2020

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead …” 1 Peter 1:3

Online Maundy Thursday “Tenebrae” observance
Cresthill Baptist Church in Bowie, Maryland, held an online Maundy Thursday Tenebrae observance. At the beginning of the program, Senior Pastor Jimmy Painter explained that “tenebrae” means darkness in Latin. “The service commemorates the suffering and death of Jesus Christ for your sins, my sins, and the sins of the whole world,” Painter said.

Senior Pastor Jimmy Painter, of Cresthill Baptist Church (photo by Sharon Mager).

After the service, Painter shared that many folks tell him this annual service is one of their favorites of the year. He had encouraged leaders to help him develop a version of the service that would allow viewers to experience the unique observance online and they complied.

The observance began with a single flickering candle. With lighting effects, including a strategically placed spotlight, Painter, in front of wooden cross draped in purple, welcomed online guests and explained the service. A variety of speakers and singers followed and shared readings, prayer, and traditional and contemporary songs, sung a capella or with soft music. Painter’s message followed the theme of “Not Alone” and the service ended with the single flickering candle.

Painter was pleased at the team’s ability to translate the nature of the service to an online audience. “I am blessed to have a great creative technical team,” he said.

Painter discovered the ancient service while reading works by the early church fathers during his doctrinal studies.

“I have a bedrock conviction that unless you go through the suffering and death of Christ — the passion of Jesus — it is difficult to celebrate Easter and the absolute transformational joy of the empty tomb. We’ve always made that a staple of what we do here.  It was a joy to do this online and to see the huge response,” he said.

Painter said the church averages 150 on a given Sunday, maybe 200 for a high. The Tenebrae service drew at least 550 viewers. “From the responses we’ve gotten, it touched a lot of lives.”

Online youth meeting
Like many Maryland/Delaware leaders, Alicia Arlen, a youth teacher at Emmanuel Baptist Church of Gambrills (EBC), in Maryland, has begun using Zoom for student meetings. Arlen started the online studies after a young person approached Margaret Shifflett, the wife of EBC Pastor Robin Shifflett and a youth assistant, and asked, referring to Bible studies, “What can I do while I’m home?” Pleased by this question, Margaret relayed the information to Arlen.

“That was cool,” Arlen said. “Kids these days like all the new technology. I thought, ‘we should be able to do a virtual Bible study online.'” The knowledge that there was interest provided motivation. Arlen considered how to make sure the lessons were interesting and looked for animation and Bible passages online.

She was excited to see that her usual kids signed on, in addition to both younger and older youth. Arlen thought it was interesting that some children who weren’t quite ready to step into the middle school group found the online classes comfortable and safe. “They can hold their animals, get comfortable, and get used to a study where they don’t have crafts,” Arlen said. “It’s a nice transition.”

She was also excited to see some of the kids from her Taekwondo classes. As a second dan black belt, she, her husband Dave, who is a Taekwondo coach, and their daughter Sara, who holds a third dan black belt, have been very involved in the sport. Alicia, growing close to her students, their families and the dojo staff, invited many to Vacation Bible School and was happy when they attended. She was especially pleased to see them also participate in the Zoom meetings.

Severna Park Baptist Church, in Maryland, celebrated the tenth anniversary of their worship leader, Kera Day, with an appreciation video. Unable to celebrate in person, members shared their appreciation for Day’s ministry, prayer, and leadership.

Bill and Brooke Voelp of Severna Park Baptist Church congratulate Music Director Kera Day on her tenth anniversary serving the church (photo by Sharon Mager).

On May 6, Christ Creative Baptist Church will celebrate their 30th anniversary. George St. A. Ferguson is the senior pastor and founder of the church. The church began meeting at Phyllis E. Williams Elementary School in Largo, Maryland, but they have since relocated to their permanent campus at 5201 S. Barnaby Road, in Temple Hills, Maryland.

“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”
Augustine of Hippo, Confessions by Augustine of Hippo

History Highlights
On April 28, 1996, the “Advancing Christ’s Kingdom” (ACK) capital campaign officially began. The money raised through this campaign was expressly used for starting new churches and strengthening existing ones. Nine new churches began through this campaign.

In 1997, 25 new churches started. BCM/D encompassed two states, 12 associations, 430 churches and more than 96,000 members. Looking toward the new millennium, the General Mission Board approved a “futuring process and reorganization structure,” and created the Center for Innovative Leadership (CIL).