For the June 2020 Navigator I interviewed Pastor Tolan Morgan. Fellowship Bible Baptist Church had been shuttered due to the COVID-19 pandemic since March 15 of that year, and there was no end in sight. I quoted Pastor Morgan explaining the secret for survival for FBBC and other ministries. “Your church will survive this season — depending on what your church does — during this season. About two or three weeks into this season, I resolved that we were just going to take a hit. And during taking the hit, the focus shifted to what can we do for people while taking the hit. Don’t worry about the money, as long as we are still reaching out to people, doing what we can, within this context, to help people, that’s where my head has been.”
Pastor Morgan went on to say, “God has put people in Fellowship who have been able to marry skill and ministry. All of our staff — these people are otherworldly. They never missed a beat, and God has kept us to the point where we could keep them and work them, and still be able to do what we need to do. It has been an expression of God’s favor.”
During the pandemic the FBBC deacons delivered food to people’s homes and ministered to bereaved families and served food to the third shift at Houston Healthcare. “If you’ve been concerned about people,” Pastor Morgan said, “God will take care of you, he’ll take care of them, just feed my sheep. Make them the focus.”
God has taken care of FBBC. While many churches faced financial insolvency because of COVID, FBBC did not. Tithing was up dramatically. Why? Because FBBC continued to meet the needs of God’s people. If anything, our outreach grew. FBBC gave members and visitors an opportunity to see one another by having drive-up services. Ship TV was born and featured the women, men’s and youth ministries, a segment featured the FBBC board of directors, numerous pastors talked about how to get through the pandemic, “Ask the Doctor” featuring FBBC’s own Dr. Samuel Palmer answering COVID related questions and another segment with members of FBBC who had survived COVID-19. All of this, though electronically, kept FBBC members — and plenty of guests (Sunday services during April averaged 2,298 viewers in 50 states and 10 foreign countries) connected.
As the old man of 2022 takes his exit, and the baby of 2023 takes over, we must take a moment to remember those members, friends, and family, who did not make it through the pandemic. And while we would all like to put COVID in our rearview mirror, we can’t let that desire keep us from memorializing those who are no longer with us but are now being comforted by our heavenly father.
There is, in the Jewish tradition, “Yom HaShoah,” or Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day. The memorial takes place April 17-18. It’s recognized worldwide as a day to remember when the Nazi regime systematically murdered 6 million Jews and millions of other innocents. Like Yom HaShoah we should take time to remember the 34,145 confirmed deaths due to COVID in Georgia; the 718 deaths in Macon-Bibb County and 354 deaths in Houston County and the 1,077,303 deaths in the United States and the 6.6 million who died worldwide.
We should also pray for the survivors, many with long-term COVID impacts — the brain fog and fatigue — and other symptoms they still live with. And we must continue to comfort the grieving families of those we have lost.
How did we make it? Marvin Sapp, explains:
“Never would have made it
Never could have made it, without You
I would have lost it all
But now I see how You were there for me
And I can say
Never would have made it
Never could have made it without You
I would have lost it all
But now I see how You were there for me and I can say
I’m stronger, I’m wiser
I’m better, much better
When I look back over all You brought me through
I can see that You were the one I held on to.”
Written by: Charles Richardson