MIAMI—Florida Baptist pastors in the southeast region of the state came together virtually March 23 to pray and encourage one another amid the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Using the videoconferencing web-based platform Zoom, the nearly 60 South Florida pastors connected and prayed in English, Spanish and French Creole during an online call led by Erik Cummings, pastor of New Life Church in Carol City and president of the Florida Baptist State Convention.
“It was inspirational and encouraging,” said Cummings. “We’re all in this together and everyone can relate to each other’s problems on some level or another.”
During the virtual prayer service, the pastors expressed anxiety about the uncharted times they are facing and requested prayer for the health of their church members and family. “Even in the midst of pastoral work, pastors are concerned about the health of their family members,” said Cummings.
The call took place on the day after most churches went completely online in compliance with the US government’s social distancing guidelines. “We were just coming out of our worship services and lots of emotions surfaced upon seeing the analytics,” that showed a dip in giving, said Cummings.
“It was therapeutic and my heart for it was that as pastors and leaders, it’s important to have avenues like this, a safe place; and unite our hearts and minds as we look to God for purpose.”
The Florida Baptist Convention staff has hosted Zoom calls throughout the state as regional catalysts connected pastors together for encouragement during these troubled days.
Al Fernandez, catalyst for the Southeast region, said the videoconferencing capability “has opened up a safe and creative way to continue to meet and relate with pastors.
“This technology gives us the opportunity to not just practice social distancing but engage one another. Pastors are praying for and encouraging each other through this technology,” he said.
“One of the immediate outcomes from these meetings is when pastors hear of a need, they try to find ways to assist,” said Fernandez. “As an example, upon hearing an older pastor share about his lack of knowledge in video streaming, a church planter with a background in video production offered to train pastors on how to shepherd their churches online.”
Tommy Green, Florida Baptist executive director-treasurer, joined the video conference from Jacksonville and encouraged pastors to continue the work of the Kingdom.
Noel Lozano, pastor of Turning Point Church, led prayer in Spanish and John Voltaire, Haitian church catalyst, led prayer in Creole.
Fernandez believes that Florida Baptist pastors and churches “are more than ever seeing the value of coming together in non-traditional ways to collectively advance the Gospel within their local communities.”