Dear Partners in Ministry:
A unique, and dare I say, unprecedented Easter day has come and gone. We are living in the reality of COVID-19 and the variety of social and physical restrictions that places upon us. Many congregations are finding new ways to adapt and change the way they connect with the faithful. I have been consistently amazed at the adaptive solutions that have been found to our technical challenges. Stewardship is deeply on our mind as we recognize that traditional bumps in financial giving have happened at Easter. Without that, many are concerned about maintaining ministry and paying staff. These anxieties are real for our communities as we see seemingly strong financial corporations like Disney furlough tens of thousands of staff members and 16 million file for unemployment. This crisis is revealing evermore the cracks in our financial systems and the lack of preparedness we have for significant disruption to the status quo.
In previous emails, we have shared information about how congregations and churches with schools can connect with programs like the Payroll Protection Program to try to sustain staff and livelihoods. I encourage our communities to take advantage of those programs as they can. In coming days and weeks, resources for leadership development, stewardship programming, and other ways to respond to this crisis will be shared through our NT-NL communications. Our congregations and schools have multiple options and opportunities to learn and grow with their ministry partners in this time.
That said, a key ministry of NT-NL is the Church of the Damascus Road (CoDR). This ministry to those incarcerated in our state jails and those coming out of our prison system relies entirely on the donations of NT-NL members and congregations. Below is a statement about the ministry from Board Member and SAWL Eric Saed (Trinity, Clovis, New Mexico) about the current needs of the CoDR. I have been impressed, and frankly not surprised, by the way SAWL Dan Lund, who leads this ministry, has responded to the challenges of restrictions on access to his parishioners.
God provides for us all we need. We are called to be stewards of God’s abundance. On this Easter Monday, may we be reminded of that again and again. God’s peace be with you all, and may we ever rejoice that we are Easter people for Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen, Indeed!! Alleluia!!!
As measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have dramatically impacted and changed the way traditional congregations worship and minister, it also has added to the unique challenges The Church of the Damascus Road has in fulfilling our mission to “carry the message and love of Jesus Christ to those incarcerated in the Prison System in the State of Texas who are coping with the affliction of addiction, as well as those in recovery from addiction in our communities.”
While we are currently unable to facilitate our Bible Based Recovery and Worship Meetings in the 4 correctional institutions and the Dallas County Court System which we currently serve, we have adapted and are “Zooming In” by holding online recovery meetings three times a day (!) on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays in cooperation with our prison chaplain partners.
The current situation also means the 12 Step BBR Groups we shepherd at congregations in Longview, Dallas, Richardson, Keller, Weatherford, and Lubbock are suspended for the duration of the crisis. We are excited to announce that we have brought the meeting format online and are conducting a Bible Based Recovery meeting at 7:00 PM via Zoom on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of each week. This is an open meeting for anyone anywhere to attend, and all churches are encouraged to share the link and let those interested know this resource will be available: https://us04web.zoom.us/j/8176291757 Meeting ID: 817 629 1757
As you may know, The Church of the Damascus Road is unable to take offerings inside the prisons, and our mission is reliant upon donations and support from congregations and individuals across the entire NT-NL geography. As Dan Lund exuberantly says, “the joy of living comes from the happiness of giving!” We ask that if any support can be considered during this time when things are already becoming stretched, please remember The Church of the Damascus Road. Donations can be sent to The Church of the Damascus Road, PO Box 399, Weatherford TX 76086; or via PayPal on our website https://www.churchofthedamascusroad.com/; or via Preston Meadow Lutheran Church’s giving page at https://pmlc.org/give.
Our hope is that we will be able to have our annual Golf Tournament on September 14, so mark your calendars!
May God continue to help, protect, and guide us all through this challenging time. May Christ’s blessings be with you at all times!