Pastoral Letter #7 in this Present Distress

By: Dr. Harry L. Reeder III
January 7, 2021 3:31 PM

Originally Posted August 19, 2020 -

Dear Church Family,

Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I feel certain that you are aware of our next Interim Worship/Ministry Plan D, but as with the other plans I wanted to take a moment to write a Pastoral Letter for three reasons.

My first reason is to express my deep appreciation for your patience, your perseverance and your active support of Briarwood’s Leadership as they/we have attempted to shepherd us through this “present distress” in a way that would honor Christ, bear a clear witness for Christ, and further our commitment to the Briarwood Mission – Message – Ministry.

“For God’s Glory, Briarwood is Committed to equipping Christians to worship God to reach Birmingham to reach the world for Christ…”

Your encouragement has been expressed in multiple ways…notes, emails, even your countenance, and most of all your intercessory prayers not only for Briarwood but also for our Nation, which now in this “present distress” is experiencing multiple and even tumultuous physical, spiritual and social fractures. For me, the phrase “stress-fracture” has taken on new meaning. If there was ever a time this Nation was in need of Christ’s Church being unified and engaged with a Christ-exalting, Spirit-filled, Bible-saturated testimony of God-centered Worship and Gospel-permeated Witness, it is in this day.

My second reason is also one of gratitude. While we have attempted to honor the supremacy of Christ as Head of His Church and we simultaneously embrace His command to “honor those in authority over us” when they thoughtfully and faithfully pursue their responsibility for the general welfare of the citizens in our Nation/State—you have thoughtfully avoided unnecessarily politicizing or spiritualizing valid medical directives when universally applied to the citizenry—so I wholeheartedly praise the Lord for this discipline of grace and thank you as well.

My third reason is to encourage you to take a close look at Plan D and familiarize yourself with its content. Realize as you read that you will be receiving even greater detailed information from the various ministries (i.e., Congregational Communities, Nursery, Youth Ministry, Men’s and Women’s ministries, etc.). Plan D affects accessibility for worship while maintaining the guidelines established by our State/Local Medical Directors for public gatherings in general and church worship services in particular. Those guidelines will be intentionally implemented with graciousness by the individual ministries as the new opportunities for assembly and ministry safely evolve. Please also remember we are going to continue to make available our various worship services and ministry opportunities through various technology for those who are in vulnerable categories and not yet able to safely participate.

In addition to the Interim Worship/Ministry Plan D, we are also initiating this month a focused and intensive follow-up to the Shepherding Ministry which has been implemented these past six months in the life of our Congregation. As the Senior Pastor of Briarwood, I am overjoyed by the efforts throughout these months of our Pastors, Elders, Deacons and Shepherding Teams of the Congregational Communities, but we realize that this “present distress” can create and bring to the surface issues which need to be addressed in your life, so as you are contacted, please communicate to us any issues which we need to know and/or what you want us to know—so that we can intelligently respond as needed whether it be providing counseling, mentoring, or most importantly, praying for you according to your needs. It is our joy not only to serve Christ with you, but to be faithful shepherds in your life.

Finally, I would like to thank the Briarwood Elders and Deacons and the Pastoral Staff for not only the work of establishing this plan while maintaining and even going beyond the medical protocols, but also for implementing it with intentionality and integrity.

This past week, we had the opportunity to see our Student Ministry enjoy worship, teaching and fellowship with all of the protocols in place. The socially distanced and protected students were not only properly supervised, but also responsive to the leadership directives and requests in a way that honored the Lord. I have seen the same thing this week in the opening of Briarwood Christian School. So, please pray as other ministries move forward with the same Christ-honoring efforts.

Praising the Lord as by His grace we live “sensibly, righteously and Godly
in this present age” for Christ our King.

Pastor Harry L. Reeder III
Matt 6:33