By Nia Spencer
Special to Niagara Frontier Publications
What our pastors really feel about the pandemic.
During this difficult time, many people have turned to the church in need of spiritual guidance and to be back one with God. People have been really struggling with coping during this pandemic and facing the many different challenges that they have been facing. Under all those feelings of doubt, worry and anger no one really asked or cared to think about how this may be affecting the people that help us get that much closer with him.
Rev. James L. Spencer Jr., who has been a member of his church Jordan Grove Baptist Church since he was a child, spoke about his transition from preaching the word to people that he would see every day in person to now having to preach the word of God to a computer screen.
“It feels strange; it feels out of the norm to look into a camera instead of looking and engaging in the eyes of people who you are encouraging,” he said.
He further explained why, in his words, his experience is so “strange.” This stemmed from his cultural background stating that “It’s strange because your used to, what we call in the Black church, the call and response. In the aisle, we can see their response either verbal response or their physically response.” There isn’t a lot you can do with the empty space around you and it’s even worse to be in a room alone with just you and your thoughts especially during the time were in now.
This is a photo of Jordan Grove Baptist Church in the present day.
Fortunately, Spencer adjusted better than most would have during this pandemic, but not entirely by choose. “It was a mandatory; it’s what I had to do, so you had to adjust with the media. You didn’t have time not to adjust because either you were going to die on the bind, so to speak, meaning if you were not going to implement certain technological advances then your ministry was going to crash and burn.”
It’s always better to adapt than to have everything stay the same because your either going to be stay with the times or get left behind. “You had to use any social platform, social media aspect in order for people would be encouraged during the worst time in our history,” Spencer said.
Here is a link to one of Rev. James Spencer Jr.’s church service on YouTube:
In times like these, you can’t help but wonder is this it? Has God left me behind to endure this pain on my own? You never know what how truly faithful you are until you’re in a crisis such as this. Pastor James Robinson Jr. of Purpose Driven Ministry was asked the question of how the pandemic has affected him and his oneness with God? He said it “The pandemic has affected my relationship with God in a positive way. I’ve noticed that I am more focused with my studies. Even the teaching has shifted to another level in God.”
“I believe it got better. It showed you the God at his best at the time that we were going through our worst.”
Mental health has always been an unspoken concept. Something that therapists or someone trying to get out of going to class or work used as a ploy for their own personal gain. However ever since the pandemic people all over the world have been asking the question “Is my mental health really that important?”
“I wouldn’t say it affected my mental health, my walk, my faith, my relationship with God, that was affected.” James said. “My faith had to increase. You had to be more dependent on your relationship with God or dependent on the Holy Ghost more in tune with your relationship, with God. It actually exposed both preacher and pew to find out who was really close with God and was basically borderline, who was serious about the work and who had one foot in and one foot out.”
“My mental health has gotten a lot better now than before the pandemic.” Robinson said. “It has taken me over a year adjust to not being face to face with people.”
According to the article below the “pastors show optimism about their own well- being amid the crisis.” It also gives you a clear explanation on why the mental health of pastors are important and the accurate statistics on how pastors truly feel during this pandemic.
When looking back again on the data presented in The State of Pastors, analysts see significant change in comparing pastors’ well-being then and now, especially in regard to the decrease of those who rate their spiritual well-being (21% currently vs. 37% in 2016) and mental and emotional health (17% currently vs. 39% in 2016) as “excellent.”
Even though there were many challenges and many time that it was needed to persevere people began to do what they always do and that is survive as well as grow and adapt. Pastor George William DuBois, of Evangelistic Temple and Community Church center of Buffalo New York Inc., or as know by his congregation ETCCC, spoke about his transitional period during the pandemic.
“I would describe my preaching before the pandemic as being excited and rewarding. I believe one of the more exciting things about our tradition is that people respond when you preach so it’s like having a conversation with the congregation,” he said DuBois also explain this statement as a call and response as previously explained by Spencer.
There were many changes that were difficult regarding technology “I was challenged with the computer technology; it helped me learn how to use the devices a lot better, to use the computer and my phone.” DuBois said. He further explained the changes in having to take temperatures, enforcing masks, proper sanitation of the church service. “We did everything that we could do to make the church safe for people to visit.”
With everything being online, lots of people can agree there is more of an increase in attendance to church services. “With the virtual worship, we are actually reaching more people than we were before the pandemic. People from different places in the country that were former members that relocated they’re able to join in with us now, that was actually a positive thing.”
The link below takes you to an article about the power and importance of every person behind a screen. Also demonstrating how virtual church attendance soar.
According to the article above since the pandemic the number of virtually viewers has sky rocked. “But when COVID closed church doors for several months last spring, the number of weekly viewers soared to 7,000.
Church leaders sat up and took notice. They also were also keenly aware of Ferguson’s fascination with data, and one thing led to another.”
It is endearing to know that the people that we always seek constant counsel and advice be on the same level as the people their preaching to. They have shown that it’s fine to be scared and it even better to doubt, if you make your way back to God, you’ll be just fine. This just shows that everyone has been affected by this pandemic, all we have to do is choose. Adapt or get left behind.
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