Local ministers: Y2K — WWJD

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 30, 1999

Area ministers are telling their congregations to trust in God this New Year’s Eve. While dire messages that Y2K will at its worst signal the end of the world or at best cause significant inconvenience, local clergy are not concerned.

&uot;Our trust is in the Lord, God is still in control,&uot; said Brother Spruce Derden, pastor of Riverside Baptist Church in Natchez. &uot;He’s going to see us through.&uot;

Derden said he hasn’t been &uot;propagating doomsday or nonchalance&uot; in his sermons leading up to the new millennium.

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&uot;I preached a while back on the fact that no one knows the time or date of the end of the world,&uot; said the Rev. John O. Brock of Assumption Catholic Church in Natchez.

&uot;Only the Father knows,&uot; he said. &uot;Not even the Christ Himself knows. If He doesn’t know it, how can all these people run around pronouncing the end of the world?&uot;

Brock said he personally has no anxiety at all over the coming millennium. &uot;It doesn’t matter if my life ends tomorrow with a heart attack or Jan. 1 with the end of the world, I’m ready,&uot; he said.

Y2K has not been an issue at Jefferson Street United Methodist Church in downtown Natchez, said Rev. Curtis Moffat, pastor of the church. &uot;I’ve played it down a lot,&uot; he said. &uot;Some religious charlatans on the fringe have been using the new millennium as a scare tactic.&uot;

Such scare tactics are not part of Moffat’s personal theology or the church’s theology, he said.

These frightening prophecies have had an influence on some members of his congregation. &uot;The only questions I’ve had raised are from older people who have gotten frightened about the hype about Y2K,&uot; Moffat said.

Fear of the &uot;end days&uot; has been going on for centuries, Moffat said.

&uot;Can you imagine what it looked like going from 999 to 1,000? Going from that long Roman numeral to such a short one?&uot; he said.

The Rev. Ron Stoker, pastor of the Westminster Presbyterian Church, said he strives to reach a balance in his teaching between secular and religious understanding of time.

&uot;In the church, we have seasons that communicate different things,&uot; Stoker said. &uot;I’ll be preaching this Sunday on the Epiphany scene.&uot;

After seeing the Christ child, the Magi were commanded by God to return home by a different route, Stoker said. &uot;Changes occurred when the Magi experienced Jesus,&uot; he said. &uot;Just as they didn’t go home the same way, we should allow the experience of Jesus to change the way we live – and not go home the same way.&uot;

Stoker said he would not push aside the message of the Epiphany and Baptism of Jesus to emphasize the new millennium.

&uot;Epiphany and the Baptism of Jesus reinforce the Christmas message,&uot; he said. &uot;To jump into Y2K, we would miss the liturgical links of what Christmas means.&uot;

On the subject of end times, Stoker said Christians must balance the knowledge of Jesus’ return with the requirement to &uot;live as witnesses in the world till that happens.&uot;