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First Baptist Church Of Lincoln Gardens To Stay Virtual Until 2022

The Rev. DeForest “Buster” Soaries told more than 400 people on an October 30 conference call that First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens would remain closed throughout 2021. (File photo.)

First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens will remain virtual throughout 2021, the church’s senior pastor said during an October 30 telephone conference.

Citing the recent surge in positive coronavirus tests around the country, FBCLG Senior Pastor DeForest “Buster” Soaries told more than 400 people in on the call that “unless something unusual happens, or there is some Divine or miraculously scientific intervention, our plan is to remain virtual and to continue having the building closed throughout 2021.”

The decision was made, he said, “(i)n light of the recent surge in covid-19 around the country, to date 41 states have increasing numbers of people who are testing positive; in light of the fact that there are no vaccines in view, we have clinical trials going on, but no actual vaccine, the only person who seems to have been cured quickly is the president, and none of us is the president; in light of the fact that we have so many unknowns and the thinking people have described Covid 19 a threat, not only this year, but next year …”

“We take this virus very seriously,” Soaries said. He said the church’s protocol for people entering the building – including temperature checks and answering a series of questions – has been vetted by lawyers and doctors.

“So we’ve made a corporate leadership decision to inform the church and the community that our facility, the building, will be closed throughout 2021 and we don’t envision coming back to what we would consider normal until 2022,” Soaries said.

Soaries said the only people in the building, located on Route 27, when he records the Sunday services will be him, the musicians, technicians and media people, as has been done since the church went virtual.

He said the church will continue to do only one Baptism per Sunday.

Soaries said the decision to remain virtual into 2022 did not come easy for him.

“That’s not good news for me, I miss the hand-clapping, I miss the chicken-eating, I miss the hugging, I miss all of that,” he said. “I’ve told people close to me preaching one time to cameras is more exhausting and more stressful than preaching three times to a live audience. I thought I was tired when we were doing three services every Sunday.”

“So this is not fun for me, it’s not fun for the staff, but we’re doing our best to serve the congregation despite all of the challenges,” he said.

Soaries said that even when activities return to normal, and the building is reopened for services and other functions, things will probably be different.

“I would argue that even in 2022, when we’re able to resume participating in activities inside the building, it probably will not look like it did in 2019,” he said. “I think it’s going to be years before people can pile up and sit next to each other and take off masks and hug and kiss, if it ever occurs.”

“If Israel could worship God, serve God and follow the commands of God for 40 years, without a church, without houses, living in tents outside, eating bread that came from heaven, I think with our technology, with our finances, with all of our intelligence, I think God has properly equipped us with all of the resources we need to make it for another 15 months without being able to sit in our favorite pew and eat grits with cheese and butter and bacon,” Soaries said.

Soaries also said his planned retirement on the third Sunday in November has been postponed for at least six months to give the church administration time for a presentation of and vote on a candidate for his replacement.

All of that was to have been done by now, but plans were altered by the pandemic.

A vote is scheduled to be taken during the church’s December meeting on whether to proceed with teh transition procedure virtually.

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