Covid-19 Response

Amidst concerns surrounding the Coronavirus (COVID-19), we want to let you know how Old Fort Baptist Church is responding. Our leadership team (i.e., Pastor Eric, the Elders, and Staff) is carefully and continually monitoring this situation. As new information becomes available, this page is the primary place for you to receive answers to commonly asked questions and update you on our response. We are committed to doing everything we can to provide a safe environment for our church family and surrounding community as an expression of our love for God and for others (Matt 22:37-40).

Re-Opening Schedule: phase 1

PHASE I: “SOFT OPENING” JUNE 7, 2020

OBJECTIVE:  

To provide opportunities for people to gather for worship, Bible study, prayer and fellowship under carefully monitored circumstances that mitigate the risks of COVID 19 exposure and spread.

STRATEGIES: 

  1. Continue live streaming of Sunday worship for all those who prefer to continue to join us from the safety of their homes.
  2. Begin two separate worship experiences on campus.  The first will gather at 9:00am in the Worship Center main sanctuary.  We will live stream this service. The second service begins at 11:00am and will meet in the Annex (Gymnasium).  This change in venue will ensure that both buildings are completely cleaned and sanitized before each service.  Families with children are encouraged to attend the 11:00am service where a more child friendly environment and service will be offered.
  3. Require all children (5th grade and below) to stay with parents while on campus. (No children’s classes or childcare during this phase.)
  4. Continue all current on-line support.
  5. Offer several Family Ministry events allowing parents and children to participate together in ministry activities while practicing appropriate precautions.
  6. Encourage small groups(10-20 people) to restart “in person” gatherings.  These small groups can be organized through our current Sunday School classes and/or ministry teams and can be held via online media, in-home groups, or on campus as arranged. These small groups should not take place on campus Sunday mornings during our Phase I schedule.         

SCHEDULE:

  • Sundays 9:00am – Worship in Worship Center (Live Streaming)
  • Sundays 11:00am – Worship in Annex (gymnasium)
  • Wednesdays 6:30pm – Facebook Live Prayer Service
  • Wednesdays 7:30pm – Facebook Live Rooted Student Service
  • Other small groups to meet throughout the week as determined.

COVID 19 SAFETY PRECAUTIONS FOR PHASE 1

  • All children 5th grade and under must stay with parents while on campus. No nursery or children’s programs during Phase I.
  • Families sit together while in services
  • Practice spatial distancing (6 ft.) when at all possible (Every other pew will be blocked in the Worship Center and chairs spaced accordingly in Annex.)
  • Masks are optional
  • No food or drinks will be served on campus.
  • No unnecessary contact (hand shaking, hugging, etc.) (smiles are encouraged)
  • Hand sanitizers available
  • Doors will be propped open
  • Restrooms will be monitored and frequently sanitized
  • No materials will be distributed
  • Offering will be collected at doors
  • “High Risk” persons are requested to join in from home
  • If you are sick, please join in from home
  • Fever over 100
             Cough or sore throat
             Shortness of breath
             Contact with COVID-19 patient in past 14 days
Elders:
  • Eric Lethco:  , 843-873-2283
  • Charles McCallum:  , 843-873-2283
  • Jason Taylor:  , 843-873-2283
  • Bobby Bailey:  , 843-870-4558
  • Randy Burns:  , 843-364-9612
  • Guy LaCoss:  , 843-813-8758
  • Rod Tyler:  , 843-259-7044
  • Jonathan Watson:  , 682-309-1018
  • John Williams:  , 843-509-7098

Cancellations - April 9, 2020
Unfortunately, as we all know, this Coronavirus Pandemic doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon. It is with heavy hearts that we have made some difficult decisions on our upcoming events. It is with great hope that in the not so distant future, we will be united back together on our campus serving our Lord together.
  • Good Friday Resurrection Egg Hunt
  • Senior Adult Bible Study will no longer be meeting.
  • Kids Spring Musical
  • Vacation Bible School
  • Student Summer Camp
  • Student Baltimore Mission Trip

Quarantine Assistance - April 9, 2020

What can we do for you, our staff along with a team of volunteers is available to help you.

  • Run Errands like picking up food or medicine
  • Provide you with school supplies or make copies for homeschooling your kids
  • Checking on shut-ins and widows
  • Praying for your prayer requests
  • Counseling you through your circumstances
  • Providing resources and materials to keep your kids busy at home

HELP AND volunteer REQUEST FORMS
WHAT ARE WE DOING?
  • The church’s leadership is assembling a health response team with strategic members of the congregation and leadership team to prepare a comprehensive plan. We will communicate the relevant details of this plan as they come into focus.
  • Currently, all Sunday on-campus activities and services will be postponed until it is deemed fitting to resume them by the church leadership. A video service will be added each week to our webpage. If that changes, we will update this page, send notifications through e-mail, and post on social media. Please make sure you have subscribed to our church newsletter. If you haven’t done this yet, you can do so by CLICKING HERE.
  • As always, we are prioritizing the safety and cleanliness in all of our ministry areas. In addition to hand washing locations in every restroom, several hand sanitizing stations are located throughout campus including the worship center, ministry center, annex, education centers 1 and 2. We are hopeful to add more stations for convenience, but that is contingent on availability.
  • Our custodial staff will continue its normal practice of cleaning common touchpoints and surfaces with disinfectant. We also regularly deep clean and sanitize classroom surfaces.
  • We will continue to promote healthy habits in our kid’s ministry (hand washing, etc.) and our volunteers will be reminded to sanitize their hands before serving snacks.
  • During morning services, we will move away from shaking hands during the greeting time, and we encourage all attendees to avoid this during their times on campus.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP
  • If you are sick, stay home unless it is to seek medical help, and alert us so we can come alongside you in prayer and other forms of care. While we place a high priority on gathering together as the church for worship and other activities, if you or your children are feeling sick or running a fever, the best way that you can love your neighbor is by self-quarantining.
  • As always, if you have any medical condition, please consult with your healthcare provider before attending church. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has provided helpful information about COVID-19 and how to respond if feel you may have contracted it (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/steps-when-sick.html).
  • Practice good preventative measures. The CDC recommend the following:
    • Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
    • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily.
  • If you have disinfecting supplies such as hand sanitizer or wipes, we encourage you to bring those with you on campus and help us disinfect hard surfaces and touchpoints as you see fit.
  • If you need to stay home instead of coming to a worship gathering, we encourage you to check out our sermon resources online. Simply visit https://oldfortbaptist.org/connect/messages/. We do not currently have live sermon broadcasting, but you could watch a previous sermon.
  • We ask that you continue your regular giving via our online portal. May God’s words through the apostle Paul guide us here: “For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, . . .” (2 Cor. 8:13 ESV) We know that many will be or are already feeling the economic impacts of this situation. Give only as you can and as the Lord guides you. You can access this via the following link: https://oldfortbaptist.org/give/.
  • Are you in need of help?  Submit your help request HERE.
  • Are you able to help those in need?  Sign up to help HERE.   
GOSPEL RESPONSE

As we walk through this time, let’s join together in praying for those around the globe (near and far) who are affected by this illness. May we hold fast to our trust in God and look for opportunities to love and care for others. Also, may we look for opportunities to share the gospel. While the coronavirus is one more reminder that we live in a broken and fallen world, the gospel is good news that gives joy, peace, and hope in every circumstance (Rom 15:13). At the time of this posting we are in a season of preparation for resurrection Sunday. This is a hope-filled season. The gospel of Jesus Christ announces that the eternal Son of God left his heavenly glory to take up our humanity (Phil 2:5-11), live a sinless life (2 Cor 5:21), and pay the penalty for our sin (Rom 3:9-18, 23), the penalty of death (Rom 6:23; 5:8). Though sin, death, and their friends sickness, pestilence, corruption, and woe inhabit this world in which we live, King Jesus has victoriously defeated them all in his resurrection. He has redeemed us from the curse of sin by becoming cursed for us on the tree (Gal 3:13). And because of all of this, we have joy, peace, and hope that are unshakable because they are grounded in the God who has saved us. In the midst of difficult days, we pray that our church makes the gospel and its hope tangible to an ailing and onlooking world. The church’s leadership covets your prayers as we seek to exercise wisdom in the implementation of precautionary measures and any future adjustments that may need to be made to our ministry and meeting schedules.

UPDATE - MARCH 17, 2020

What Has Changed?

As we noted in our communications this weekend, the Coronavirus pandemic is a dynamic situation that will require monitoring and revisions to our plans. Sunday afternoon, March 16, 2020, the Governor of South Carolina called for limiting of large group events to 100 or less. By evening, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued new guidelines for mass gatherings, which requested that mass gatherings be limited to 50 or less. Less than 24 hours later President Donald Trump requested that gatherings be limited to 10 or less for 15 days in order to help stem the tide of infections.

Should We Comply?

While some may debate the wisdom of these measures, the Scriptures are clear that the government has a God-given role to preserve, protect, and promote its citizens’ health as well as the systems and infrastructure that supports it. In Romans 13 Paul exhorted believers how to respond to their leaders. He writes, “Let everyone submit to the governing authorities, since there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are instituted by God” (Rom 13:1 CSB). As leaders of Old Fort Baptist Church it is our desire to comply with the spirit of the measures being taken and to encourage you to do so as well as an act of allegiance, not merely to our government but to King Jesus.

We believe that compliance with our officials at this time is an appropriate application of Paul’s mandate in Romans 13. Our officials have not applied this stricture to Christians only. They are doing what they think is best for the public’s well-being. As with submission to authority within the local church, we want to allow them to fulfill their God-given role “with joy and not with grief” (Heb 13:17). If the gospel of Jesus Christ were being treated as a virus to be eradicated our response would most certainly have been that of Peter and the apostles when they were forbidden from preaching Christ: “We must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29).

While we are working to structure our life together in ways that comply with the guidance of our public officials, we have no intention of slowing down in being the body and bride of Jesus Christ at OFBC. In fact, leaning into our covenant life together is more urgent now than ever. The guidelines and parameters we have been given are strict, but they will not keep us from pursuing the core ministries that God has called us to as a church, namely, worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and evangelism. Temporary changes need to be made, but our mandate to Love God, Love Others, and Make Disciples remains unchanged.

What Does this Mean Practically?

This is all hitting us very fast, so some of the following measures will hopefully change and grow for the better. Nonetheless, we believe the following format will help us get started.

  • Sunday Schedule:
    • Sunday School Lesson video link
    • Sermon (Pastor Eric will pre-record)
    • Worship Resources
    • All on-campus activities and services will be postponed until it is deemed fitting to resume them by the church leadership.
    • A video service will be added each week to our webpage complete with . . .
    • Family and Children’s resources (messages and activities) will be linked on the webpage as well.
  • Weekly Schedule:
    • All in person small group studies or activities on campus must comply with safety regulations defined by the CDC until further notice.
    • We strongly encourage small groups to connect in ways that are responsible and compliant with the requests made by public officials.
    • Sunday School teachers are being asked to reach out to their classes via their normal means of communication.
    • All members are asked to intentionally communicate with at least two to three members a week. Phone calls are better than e-mails. Be intentional. An agenda for the conversation might be as follows: How are you? Do you have any physical/health needs? How is your time in the word and in prayer? How can I pray with you? Can we pray together over the phone now?
    • Families are encouraged to take up the challenge to have family worship with their spouses and/or children. A simple structure for family worship is simply (1) Read, (2) Pray, and (3) Sing. That is, (1) Read the Scriptures together (you could use a narrative passage or use a children's storybook bible and read an accompanying passage with it), (2) Pray over our prayer requests (esp. as it relates to the pandemic), and (3) Sing a hymn or song (see YouTube for words and accompaniment if need be). For a helpful book on this topic see Donald Whitney’s Family Worship (this is a review of it).

We do not take the above measures lightly. These changes are weighty and have major implications for our church body. Know that the church leadership has agonized over what God would have us do in light of the present circumstances. We believe that the above approach is right for the time being. Perhaps there is some solace in recognizing that we are not alone. Many sister churches in our area (e.g., Summerville Baptist and East Cooper Baptist) have also taken similar measures. Nonetheless, this plan was not developed by looking to the left and to the right. We plan to continue monitoring the situation, praying for God’s wisdom and mercy as this epidemic plays out. May he help us to love him, love others, and make disciples together no matter the circumstances.

Grace & Peace,

The OFBC Elders, Bobby Bailey, Randy Burns, Guy LaCoss, Eric Lethco, Charles McCallum, Jason Taylor, Rod Tyler, Jonathan Watson, John Williams

Stewardship Committee update - March 25, 2020

Greetings from the OFBC Stewardship Committee.

We the body of believers at OFBC are now facing new challenges as we move forward during this COVID-19 Pandemic.  We know that our God is in control, but as human beings, we remain concerned with the impact the pandemic will have on our world and moving closer to home; our nation, our state, our community, our church and families. The committee met on March 18 to address church finances given the impact of the COVID-19 virus on everyone’s finances. The Pastor attended the opening portion of the meeting and shared his excitement about the opportunity the Lord provides us as a “body of believers” during this time, financial and otherwise. The committee agreed it was important to report back to the congregation regarding our findings and intentions.

  • Year-to-date our finances are “in the black.” Giving has exceeded expenses.
  • From an historical perspective, and referring to churches in general, when a major crisis occurs, particularly such that they cannot assemble together, giving decreases. Accordingly, a decrease in giving to OFBC is anticipated.
  • To deal with this financial uncertainty the committee is exploring options for reducing expenses and to facilitate giving.

Expenses:

  • Payroll is our single largest expense category. Our people make OFBC what it is and barring cataclysmic economic impact to the nation we will maintain currently budgeted amounts.  Any changes impacting our staff will be based on recommendations/actions from our Staff leadership, Elders and Personnel Committee.
  • Bond payments for the outstanding debt on the sanctuary is our greatest single expense behind payroll. With a proactive mindset, we will explore financing alternatives with the bond company should reduction in tithes and offerings result in a significant drop in cashflow.
  • With the cancellation of all on-campus OFBC activities, there are a number of areas where we should be able to reduce expenses. Some opportunities may be contractually limited but still worthy of exploration. Examples include financial support to CIFC, expenses related to OFBC support of Kids Fort and Child’s Day Out programs, trash pickup services, return of next quarter’s Sunday School literature, water and sewer usage, planned expenses for ongoing and upcoming activities, raising unoccupied building thermostat temperature settings, childcare and security operations, and activity related copier usage.

Giving:

  • We know that many of you will be or are already feeling the economic impacts of the virus.  There is a sense of urgency, but not panic, that we continue faithful giving to the mission and ministries of Old Fort and to the Great Commission.  History has proven that God honors individuals and churches who give faithfully in the midst of a national and international crisis.  We encourage you to give only as you can and as the Lord guides you.
  • Prior to government intervention, most giving to OFBC occurred on Sunday mornings via a collection plate, a method not currently available. Payment envelopes may be mailed or delivered to OFBC.
  • Because regular mail adds a delay to giving, we ask that you consider altering your routine and start giving your tithes and offering to the church online. The OFBC website facilitates this process. Just click on the https://oldfortbaptist.org/give/ link, click on “GIVE ONLINE” and complete the brief form.
  • Whether you do this or use the text method you will need to establish a MinistryID. This is not the same as the login you may have to access the membership portions of the web site. Once you have done this it will work for both.
  • Instructions for both methods are attached.
  • To make online giving your permanent method of contribution be sure to select “MAKE THIS GIFT RECURRING.”
  • An alternate approach is to set up a Bill Pay account at your bank.
  • If you would like assistance with either of these methods don’t hesitate to phone Heidi Benjamin, OFBC’s Financial Administrative Assistant.

Your Stewardship Committee,

Charlie Young, Jim Farrish, Mason Van Tassel, Rob Masten and Robin Brittain

Stewardship Committee update - April 22, 2020

Greetings from the OFBC Stewardship Committee.

Four weeks ago we wrote to you to let you know what actions were being taken to meet the financial obligations of our church during this ongoing Corona virus pandemic in view of the fact that we were no longer able to assemble together on campus.  We discussed in that letter the likelihood that tithes and offerings would be negatively impacted as many amongst us were likely to be personally impacted economically. We also addressed the ability to give online and our efforts to reduce expenses. We would like to share with you a snapshot of how we are doing:

  • In the first four weeks since our last on campus meeting, our giving has averaged about 91% of the required weekly amount to meet our planned 2020 budget.
  • Due to curtailment of on-campus programs and other actions taken by the staff, we have been able to reduce our ongoing expenses such that we continue to operate “in the black”  year-to-date and have not had to dip into our savings or emergency funds.
  • We continue to fund our “On Mission” giving to the Cooperative Program and Screven Association. Many others are suffering, the need is great, and it is important that we continue to support God’s work faithfully through these organizations.
  • We continue to meet our bond payments on our sanctuary. We had inquired about alternatives, but the bonding company advised that temporary deferral or reduction in payments was not an option as they did not hold the bonds internally.
  • OFBC applied for and received a Small Business Administration Payroll Protection Program loan from our bank under the CARES Act. The proceeds of this loan will allow us to continue to fund our payroll expenses even as we experience a dip in tithes and offerings. Additionally, this loan will have a substantial portion “forgiven” such that it will result in a significant grant to help see us through the quarantine period.
  • Our online giving has increased 400% from a year ago as many of you have taken steps to use this method. For those who wish to continue to mail in offerings or drop them by the office, a drop box is located just outside the office door for your convenience.

OFBC is truly blessed to have such a faithful body of believers, but we need to be mindful that many of our brothers and sisters have lost jobs, have had work hours curtailed, and are experiencing the economic impact of this virus in their personal lives.  As this quarantine continues, many more will likely be impacted. We need to keep them in our prayers as well as the many others around the world that are also impacted both physically and economically. Our staff has done a fantastic job of converting to an online-only worship format and they have opened the door for deepening of our faith, keeping us engaged and uniting us during this time of isolation. As time moves forward, there will be many opportunities for us as individuals and corporately as the OFBC to assist others in their time of need. Let us continue to be faithful and prepare to do the work God calls us to do in these days ahead.

Your Stewardship Committee,

Charlie Young, Jim Farrish, Mason Van Tassel, Rob Masten and Robin Brittain

feeling sick?

  • Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily.

CDC Website