Sunday Service - South Shore Baptist Church
By Kristen Arute, May 17, 2020
Pastor Busby (left) and South Shore Baptist Church in Hingham's 4th of July parade, 2019. Courtesy of Pastor Cody Busby
Pastor Cody Busby has been pastor at South Shore Baptist Church (SSBC) for the past three years. He and his wife Melissa and four daughters hail from Wichita, KS. They are a long way from home (insert "Wizard of Oz" joke here); however, apart from having to learn some new words - like bubbler, Dunks and Statey - the transition to living in a new part of the country has gone very smoothly. “Our experience has been that New Englanders are kind and wonderful people,” said Pastor Busby.
SSBC was started a little over 70 years ago when a group of people split from First Baptist Church of Hingham which is still located Downtown. Initially they called themselves Second Baptist Church of Hingham. However, they soon came to realize that they were attracting people from all over the South Shore, so they changed the name to South Shore Baptist Church in order to align with the regional nature of the congregation.
Over the past year, SSBC has had some notable, Hingham-specific moments. The church won “Best of” in the 4th of July parade and set up a “do-it-yourself” ornament decorating station at Christmas in the Square. They accomplished an important milestone too. The church began offering a live translation of their worship services in Portugese in order to make them more accessible to their Brazilian friends.
Although sermons have been available online for a while now, SSBC has been using an online platform exclusively during the pandemic. “Each week we prerecord our worship pieces and the sermon, then make those available on Sundays,” said Pastor Busby. “We put the videos together in a playlist for YouTube and share the link through email, our webpage and social media.” A “Worship Guide,” similar to a Sunday morning bulletin, is offered to parishioners to walk them through the service. “We have tried to maintain the same elements and order that people experience on a regular Sunday at SSBC,” explained Pastor Busby. “This provides a sense of familiarity that gives added comfort.” One of these elements is the weekly “greeting time.” On an average Sunday, this is the time during the service when people stand and say hello to those around them. However now, instead of shaking hands, members of the congregation are encouraged to call or text friends. “With each week of quarantine that greeting time has become more and more important,” said Pastor Busby.
It's a part of the church experience that long-time member Kent Forkner misses. "I deeply miss seeing people in person," he said, "others’ smiles, conversing with them." Kent's wife Lisa grew up attending SSBC with her family. Although Kent and Lisa have been living in Hingham since 1996, they didn't start attending the church until 2002. "We came to SSBC (after attending Park Street Church in Boston for about a decade) wanting a more local church for our family," said Kent, "to know others in our community with shared faith in Christ." The online services have allowed their family to worship together in a unique way. "The COVID-19 pandemic has brought two of our three kids back home," he said, "so we’ve enjoyed the services often as a family." They are also encouraged by the weekly Zoom prayer meetings led by Associate Pastor Steve Grissom. "Those times have strengthened my faith," said Kent, "by hearing stories of God’s faithfulness to real people in present day."
Kent and his family see the opportunity to continue to worship through prayer, singing and studying the Bible as "a gift" in these unprecedented times. “Our people are facing many struggles that are complicated by quarantine,” Pastor Busby said, pointing out that finances are difficult; grief is incomplete; mental health struggles are intense; relational strife is ever present; and homeschooling is a challenge. “The days are difficult, and we can’t pretend otherwise by saying, ‘We’re fine,’” he said. To combat these challenges, people are “intentionally seizing joy.” This includes celebrating milestones, taking up new hobbies and eating dinner together as a family.
Financial struggles can make it difficult for some to continue to contribute to their chosen place of worship. "I know many are hurting financially, emotionally, and even spiritually," said Kent. Pastor Busby is grateful that the people of SSBC have been able to give generously and that they see tithing as a form of worship. He points out that the church has worked hard to maintain a balance when tithing is discussed. “While we want people to know the ways in which they can give," he said, "we also want them to know the ways in which they can ask for help.”
SSBC takes joy in providing financial support to members in need. “We are broken trees that are bearing fruit,” said Pastor Busby, adding that as Christians, members of SSBC find inspiration for the hard days in the Bible. He pointed specifically to Jesus’ words, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” which are found in Matthew 11:28. “Jesus promises rest now even in the midst of chaos,” he explained. “We don’t have to wait for things to return to normal to find some version of rest.” Christians believe that Jesus is more than able to keep this promise because of their faith in His death on the cross for the sins of the World. “If He would do that," asked Pastor Busby, "won’t He also care for us in all our other lesser hardships?”