From the Desk of the Pastor

A New Kind of Different

May 25, 2020

Spring of 2020 is our very first Phillips County. It has been different in a lot of ways. For some time, I was unsure if the rain was going to stop, and after some substantial rainfalls, there was no place for the rain to go except every low part of our backyard. For a time, I considered starting my catfish farm. It has been exciting to watch the flurry of activity by the Agricultural community.

Today I had the epiphany that we have all had an atypical spring. From mid-March until now, we have all been experiencing a very different version of life as we know it. For ten weeks, we have stayed home, limited our contact with others, and observed some very stringent procedures on how to modify our behavior to slow the spread of the coronavirus. In the process, we have found out a few things about ourselves as individuals, families, and a community.

Who among us would have ever known that our mother’s consistent direction to wash our hands would take on such vital importance? How could necessary skills like personal hygiene and spacial awareness take on such entirely new meaning? Expect these and similar emphases to become normative, at least in the short term.

Human beings are social beings. We need each other to talk to, collaborate with, and enjoy. Our individual lives are the threads of a beautiful, intricate tapestry that requires each thread to form the warp and woof, which becomes the textile that makes up families, neighborhoods, and communities.

Technology is taking on a new role in our lives. In conjunction with social media, technology created a tectonic shift in human existence.  Social scientists warned us that we were allowing tech to insulate and isolate ourselves from more vibrant human relationships. Now that we find it to be a primary means of connecting with people, we feel diminished by the lack of human interaction. It is a widely publicized fact that too many virtual meetings can make us feel even more drained and alone.

Tracking and analyzing data is essential because knowledge is power. But watching metrics climb daily and hearing about “hotspots” can also become a source of stress if we are not careful. The daily update is a crucial piece of communication that I am pleased to be able to provide. It allows me to use my gift of communication to help other people stay informed. One of my biggest motivations is to provide an economical means of presenting the facts: no politicizing, no spin, and no-frills. But when those numbers relate to people, in places where I used to live and serve, it disquiets my soul.

This global pandemic has also highlighted some glaring disparities in our world. People with lower socioeconomic status are more likely to be affected adversely by the illness. Shutting down the economy created a dynamic where people had to choose between the risk of contracting the virus or providing for their family. Our state and the national government offered relief, but for many, it was too little and too late.

Our economy has changed wildly over this time. Retail establishments experienced the monumental shift from in-person shopping to online shopping. J.C. Penney filed for bankruptcy, so has the parent company of Helena Regional Hospital. Grocery stores, and beyond them, the food supply chain struggles to keep up with demand. People are cooking and eating at home more than ever. When we are finally able to return to restaurants and feel safe in doing so, I think we will appreciate the experience much more.

Worship may never be the same again, and that may be a good thing. Virtual worship allows us to access services from a wide array of churches and pastors. We learned to value the energy that comes when we gather together as a community of faith. There is a social component of going to church that is vital to our lives and our spiritual formation. There is a divine interconnectedness that we crave that often is missing from online worship. When we discover the new normal, it may include online worship, informal worship (think parking lot or fellowship hall), and in-person worship will assume very different forms. Still, it will remain one of the primary ways for us to connect with God and neighbor. In uncertain times, we can lean into the sure knowledge that God is with us.

…for he has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5b                                                  

Pastor Kenny


 

Take Heart

May 19, 2020

This afternoon I went to Walmart, and along with some assorted items, I bought some galvanized hardware cloth. We’ve been getting by with some hastily engineered stopgap measures to keep my puppies in the fence. I’ve been telling myself that I was going to do this for some time and finally found the material I needed to make the repair. It took all of 30 minutes to complete the work. There is nothing like assessing a problem, planning the repair and executing the plan.

Deep in my heart ...


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Priority One

May 12, 2020

Priority One

May 4 was the beginning of Phase One Reopening for the state of Arkansas. As of May 11, restaurants are allowed to open their doors to patrons at 30% of the rated capacity. Yesterday, since it was Mother's Day, Penny requested vegetable fried rice, her favorite entrée from August Moon. At our house, mom is the Queen on Mother's Day.

The kids wanted no part of a trip to Helena and opted for fried chicken from the Double Quick. I donned a cloth mask and went inside and left Penn...


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Wait and See

May 5, 2020

The weather has finally cooperated enough for farmers to get into the fields and begin to get the crop into the ground. That means that many folks in Marvell are busily scurrying around, providing all of the logistic support farmers need during this busy time. I have also noticed a sense of relief in the community that the vital work of growing food and providing cotton for the world’s textile mills is ramping up. The waiting is over, and it’s go time for the agricultural community.

At ...


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Next Order of Business

April 28, 2020

On January 21, 2020, the United States had its first confirmed case of COVID -19 in Washington State. On March 11, Arkansas announced that we had our first confirmed case of the virus in Pine Bluff. The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 continues to run amok in the United States. As of April 27, Phillips County has mercifully been spared the worst of the pandemic, with only four confirmed cases and one fatality.

Currently, the hotspot for the entire state is Lincoln County. Lincoln County has teste...


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Fresh Perspective

April 21, 2020

We can all agree that the past five weeks have been some of the most challenging times in our lifetimes. There have been social, economic, educational, and relational fallout associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The good news is that Arkansas has been spared the worst, particularly when compared to other adjacent states like Louisiana, Texas, and Tennessee. Up until April 20, Shelby County Tennessee had more cases than all of Arkansas.

COVID-19 is a real global pandemic. The entire globe ...


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Something Different

April 16, 2020

So right now, you are thinking, after reading the title of this article, the question in your mind is, "What do you mean something is different preacher? Everything is different!" You know what? I think you are right about that. In a matter of four short weeks, nearly everything has changed.

Schools are closed, many for the rest of the year. Parents are assuming new roles as teachers of their children. Lessons provided virtually, AMI packets are handed out, completed, and exchanged for the ...


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We Need Some Good News

April 7, 2020

The past several weeks have been times of unprecedented change. Since the novel, Corona Virus COVID-19 made its appearance on the world stage and began to wreak havoc with our global healthcare systems and the intricately interwoven global economy. While watching the evening news last week (something I do less of these days), my little girl lamented, “Is there anything on this show that’s not about the Corona Virus?” Honestly, she has a point.

The pandemic interrupted our spring break ...


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A New Normal

March 31, 2020

Over the last two weeks, we have all begun to make some significant adjustments to the way we live. Students are working on AMI packages or in a virtual classroom. College students are at home and completing the semester online. Teachers are working from home, and many people are working on adjusted schedules. With unemployment heading up, some are not working at all.

With the indigenous poverty that is a part of Phillips County, there are a lot of people who are finding it very difficult to...


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Pastor Kenny Lee


Minister of the Gospel Loving God, and loving people

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