On the first weekend of April members of Clarkston International Bible Church directed those taking part in its drive-through COVID-19 testing clinic. In the weeks to come, the Georgia Baptist Mission Board will pivot its Mission Georgia emphasis to assist churches in ministering in such ways during the coronavirus crisis. CIBC/Special
DULUTH — A plan put into motion, no matter how well thought out, can still require a change when the time calls for it. One of those times is a worldwide pandemic.
Lorna Bius, mobilizer for Mission Georgia, stresses that the initiative will not leave the original five areas of focus – foster care and adoption, human trafficking, childhood literacy, pre/post-natal care, and refugees and internationals. She says a new direction for the effort, though, is best described through a basketball analogy.
“When you pick up your dribble, your pivot foot remains set, but you can change direction,” she explains. “With Mission Georgia, we’re keeping our pivot foot ‘set’ on developing ministry pathways through those five areas. But, we’re also going to work at equipping community partners and churches to effectively minister during the coronavirus crisis.”
“When you pick up your dribble, your pivot foot remains set, but you can change direction.”Lorna Bius, Mission Georgia mobilizer
Those discussions on how to develop new measures began in mid-March, shortly after it became apparent that COVID-19 would lead to a significant disruption in churches. Out of it came a sixth, somewhat unofficial, emphasis for Mission Georgia. That would be helping churches and pastors lead in showing the love of Christ through a broad community response to the crisis.
“Our current context highlights the core value of collaboration in Mission Georgia,” adds Bius. “This includes churches working with local groups such as hospitals, schools, and food banks as well as local and state officials. We want to identify the greatest needs and create a movement where we meet those needs together. Mission Georgia can help accomplish this in a bigger way than an individual or single church.”
Working to help communities
Beth Ann Williams, lead strategist for Georgia Baptist Women, echoed Bius’ comments.
“The attention and focus of Georgia Baptists are on the present-day reality of figuring out ways we can love and share hope with our communities,” she said.
“Families and communities are facing many hardships. Mission Georgia will undergird and support the ministry of local churches and associations across the state. Together, we can provide much needed help to our fellow Georgians that is rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Georgia Baptist Executive Director Thomas Hammond agreed on Mission Georgia’s purpose for helping churches meet the needs of their communities, whatever the context.
“I think it’s critical for Mission Georgia to have some element of adaptability for us to respond to crises and serve,” he said. “The Administration Committee discussed this issue and all agreed it will ensure that those resources are targeted toward the most critical needs in our state.”