Without a doubt, 2020 will go down in the annals of history as “the year of the covid-19 pandemic.” No one saw it coming and it impacted every person on every continent. Families experienced losses of untold proportions, economies were decimated, and fear gripped the public as face masks and sanitizer became the new norm (not to mention the empty shelves of toilet paper, Lysol wipes, and facial tissue).

            I don’t mind sharing with you that from a pastor’s perspective this has been one of the hardest years in my ministry. Talking with other pastors the one word that kept coming to the forefront was “frustrating.” Frustrated that services were interrupted, mission trips were put on hold, and ministry in general suddenly became something that was done at a distance rather than up front and personal – unable to hug a grieving family over the loss of a loved one, unable to go to the hospital and pray with those that were sick and facing surgeries, and unable to make plans with any certainty. There was no “Pandemic 101” class offered in seminary to prepare anyone for what they were facing as the pandemic took hold.

            And yet I look upon this past year with thanksgiving. Though we were already live streaming, many pastors learned quickly to use technology to communicate the Word of God in ways they had never dreamed before. And His Word didn’t return void – souls were saved, lives were changed, and the Kingdom increased.

            As I write this newsletter I am recovering from COVID. I am grateful to God that he chose to spare my life and keep my family safe while I quarantined. I am grateful that the symptoms were not so severe that I needed hospitalization or life-saving procedures. I am grateful for those in our fellowship that have and are currently battling this virus and overcoming. I am grateful that our fellowship is “weathering the storm.”

            Even with vaccines on the way, this year will continue to be challenging. Plans will be made and adjusted, and adjusted again, until it is once again safe to gather. I believe that on the other side of this pandemic, the best is yet to come for Belmont. As God spoke through Jeremiah to the Israelite exiles that felt nothing good could come out of their circumstance, He speaks just as pointedly to his children today: For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future.

            One of the phrases the 20/20 Vision team adopted was “keeping our eyes on the future.” Not only are we looking to the future of a new worship center, we are looking to greater opportunities of ministry and greater numbers of people coming to know Jesus as Lord and Savior. 2020 is gone and 2021 is before us. May we give our very best for His glory!

With excited anticipation,

Pastor Bill