‘KEEP GOING’: After ‘stops and starts,’ Wednesday services resume at First Baptist Vicksburg

Published 4:00 am Sunday, January 30, 2022

In the basement of First Baptist Church on Cherry Street, the dishes from Wednesday night’s supper have been cleared away and the chairs replaced at the tables.

In an adjoining room, Doug Spires, associate pastor of music, worship and communications, prepares to direct choir practice for Sunday’s service, while upstairs, pastor Dr. Matt Buckles holds Bible study in the church’s chapel and various church groups meet in one of the church’s class and meeting rooms.

After a five-week layoff, Wednesday services have returned to First Baptist.

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“Our last Wednesday service was Dec. 15,” Buckles said. “Annually, we take off two Wednesdays — the Wednesday before Christmas and the one after. We always take those off; no mid-week activities.”

But the return to services on Jan. 5, he said, was postponed.

“This year, COVID hit pretty good that Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, so we canceled mid-week activities for Jan. 5, 12 and 19,” he said, adding the church leadership decided that it was time to return to Wednesday services the week after Jan. 19.

“Our leadership said we’ve got to start back,” Buckles said. “We just set Jan. 26 to start back with supper and all of the age group meetings. We had better attendance than I thought.

“Normally we’re double that and we just have people who are uncomfortable getting out, have COVID or are quarantined and we hope COVID falls off,” he added. “Our Wednesday activities will resume; we’re confident of that.”

In 2020, when the COVID pandemic was hitting Warren County, Buckles said, “we started and stopped so many times. We stopped when COVID hit that second week of March in 2020. We canceled everything, then down through May — for about two months we canceled everything; Sunday morning, Wednesday nights.”

The church started back in the summer of 2020 with Wednesday nights, he said. “We went through November 2020 and then we canceled everything; November 2020, December and into February 2021 we had canceled.”

The church then started back with Wednesday service and for most of 2021 had supper and mid-week activities until August and early September, when the Delta variant of COVID-19 surged in the area.

“For two months we had canceled Wednesday nights and then we started back in October and for three months, we had Wednesday nights,” Buckles said.

“It’s just been starts and stops for two years. It was just the restlessness in our congregation to gather Wednesday nights and we’ll have our full Sunday schedule. We pegged Jan. 30 to have full-fledged Sunday school at 9:30 (a.m.) for all ages.”

During the two years the church has dealt with COVID, Buckles said, “We’ve had worship in-house, in-person and live-streamed; it’s kind of mirrored the starts and stops of the last two years.”

Returning to Wednesday night service, he said, “Puts a joy in your heart. At the same time, you’re praying that the Lord keeps us away from this stuff and we respect those who have stayed home and are uncomfortable attending.

“We have respected people who may not wear masks or have not been vaccinated; we’ve tried to love both sides,” he said. “We’re glad to be meeting in person. The honest question is how long (will they be able to continue service)?

“We don’t know. Until some next variant comes along and really hits us hard, we’ll keep going in person.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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