The year 2020 brought with it a number of challenges with which we are all familiar, but throughout them all, the Lord guided, preserved, and prospered our congregation.
We moved into our current location in October 2019, renting it from a church which, as a result of its aging population, was in the process of disbanding. The ministry had begun nearly ten years earlier, and all through the intervening years, we maintained and pursued a vision of our owning our own building and planting the flag of King Jesus in the heart of this great city of Atlanta in which we minister.
In June 2020 the purchase was made, but that wasn’t the first milestone that we hit in 2020. Having been established the previous year as a mission church rather than a preaching station, we were able to celebrate our first communion service on February 16th!
Not long after that, of course, COVID hit, and we decided that, given the unusual number of members in our congregation with pre-existing health conditions, some of whom were significantly immunocompromised, we stopped meeting in person in late March. We figured out ways to get together using video conferencing with those who had access to the internet and phone conferencing with those who did not. Thankfully, everyone in our group has a phone even though few have a computer.
We resumed meeting in person on May 10th, and less than a month later the papers were signed giving us ownership of our church building!
Even though we began meeting again in person a lot earlier than many congregations (most African-American churches in Atlanta are still meeting virtually), we had only one case of COVID in the congregation, and that was not discovered until after this man, who has significant underlying health issues, had recovered from it. The Lord has been very gracious to us.
In order to create as little physical contact as possible at our gatherings, we met only for worship to begin with and didn’t start Sabbath school again until the first Lord’s Day in October.
In the summer, Atlanta RPC started a bi-weekly men’s meeting on Wednesday evenings led by Elder TJ Pattillo. The men read and discussed a Matthew Henry book, Building a God Centered Family: A Father’s Manual. The number of men attending has grown since that time.
In spite of the pandemic last year, we averaged an attendance of 25 people per week. This year we are averaging 27 so far.
Please continue to pray for us as we move forward into the new year:
- We are in serious need of a deacon and are hopeful that one of the local men already attending the church will be able and willing to assume this role.
- One of our issues is our inability to start the worship service on time because of the number of people who need to be picked up, and it would help enormously to have a church van (our old van has died) and driver so that the pastor and elder do not have to do the driving and can perform their duties at the church building.
- That we can take care of the needed repairs and improvements to the building.
- That the Lord would send a quiet spirit to the children in the congregation as we encourage them to show respect and reverence during the worship service.
- That more men, women, and children in this needy area would come seeking help, and that their hearts and minds would be open to receiving the Gospel.
Thank you all for your continuing interest in this ministry.
Penny Smith, wife of Pastor Frank Smith, Atlanta RPC. You can keep up with Penny’s writing at Penny’s Pen.