“Physical distancing does not mean spiritual distancing” is the central focus of the message from Pastor Peter Kerr, president of the Atlantic Caribbean Union of Seventh-day Adventists (ATCU) during the Covid-19 pandemic. Pastor Kerr explains that this is the time for persons in communities around ATCU to see Adventists’ commitment to family, community, and, most importantly, to God.
During a video conference with the leaders of the Cayman Islands Conference (CIC), the North Bahamas Conference (NBC), the South Bahamas Conference (SBC), and the Turks and Caicos Islands Conference (TCIC), Kerr admonished the leaders to mobilize all available resources, equipment, and expertise to make sure that every member and even non-members are still able to connect with the church.
Remaining connected being the mandate, the administration of ATCU facilitated the availability of video conferencing accounts so that conferences and local churches can connect with members for the usual Wednesday night Prayer and Praise service; the Saturday services of Sabbath School, Divine Hour, and Adventist Youth; Bible Studies; and any other service that they might want to have.
On March 28, 2020, there were over ten online Sabbath services cross ATCU with hundreds of attendees. Each online service reported an increase in attendees from the previous service as members adjust to the new way of staying in contact with their leaders and fellow members. Families are gathering in their homes and connecting to participate in Bible study discussions and sermon presentations. “It is truly a blessing to still be in touch with my brothers and sisters while being in quarantine,” said a member during the testimony period of a local church service in SBC.
Pastor Kerr presented a special prayer for the officers, directors, and members of SBC during a special called online meeting hosted by the administrators of SBC on the evening of March 28. With over 320 connected devices, SBC officers were able to reassure the members that God is in control and that prayer, Bible study, calm, and adherence to local government laws and guidelines are essential to stopping the spread of Covid-19.
Pastor Steve Cornwall, president of TCIC, reported that pastors have been leaving care packages on their members’ doorsteps, carefully observing physical distancing. Cornwall further indicated that TCIC is planning to begin an online revival series in early April.
ATCU field leaders have been focused on reaching their members using all forms of connection available. In CIC, services are being aired on local radio and television. In NBC, use is being made of Facebook and other online platforms. According to Pastor Kenny Deveaux, president of SBC, Pastor Wilson Isnord has been reaching persons who may not have access to home broadband internet by sending daily audio devotionals and messages directly to his members’ personal cellular phones.
Although headquarters and churches across ATCU are closed, Pastor Kerr holds regular meetings with his fellow officers, Dr. Cheryl Rolle, executive secretary, and Elder Roderick Sands, treasurer, to devise strategies in the ever-changing environment during the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
Elder Sands has strongly advised financial prudence during this time. “It is important that you use your finances to purchase the bare essentials at this time. We do not know how long this will last and we have to try our best to be prepared for some financially challenging times. We trust in God to take us through this, but God also expects us to play our part in being financially responsible.”
Pastor Kerr also cautions about trusting and sharing unconfirmed information and urged compliance with government mandates. “We are a people who do not rely on rumors or conspiracy theories. We rely on the word of God, and we also consider it our duty to adhere to proper hygienic practices and to respect and follow the admonition of government especially the one to simply stay at home,” said Kerr.
The administration of ATCU continues to daily monitor the dynamics around the union territory and to adjust in consultation with the Inter-American Division and with local conference leaders.
“Lean on the promises of the Bible,” admonishes Pastor Kerr. “God has a way of bringing good out of difficult circumstances. We already know who is the Victor. Our responsibility is to each remain faithful to Jesus Christ, our Sustainer and soon coming King.