Bringing out the Best: Cullman FBC helping people find ‘daily calm’ during anxious time

Pastor Tom Richter’s encouraging videos appear each weekday on Cullman FBC’s Facebook and YouTube pages.

CULLMAN, Ala. – Widespread anxiety over COVID-19 is evident throughout the nation: people have hoarded toilet paper and meat, and gun shops have seen increased business and have had trouble keeping ammunition on the shelves. In a time of emotional turmoil for many, Cullman First Baptist Church (FBC) Pastor Tom Richter decided that a regular dose of encouraging calm might be just what folks need, so he and the FBC tech crew created “Daily Calm,” a social media video series that runs each weekday on the church’s Facebook and YouTube pages.

Richter told The Tribune, “I produce just a short video every weekday, and we put it out on social media, on Facebook and we also upload it to YouTube. It just kind of happened. We did the first one right as the coronavirus news was really breaking wide open, and so the first one- I went back and looked- was on March 19. The idea was simple: I mean, I thought a lot of people are accessing news on their social media feeds. They’re scrolling, and my goodness, you scroll endlessly through social media posts, it’s pretty easy to get overwhelmed. You start to get overwhelmed with anxiety, potentially.”

He continued, “I thought if we could insert some daily calm right in the midst of hearing all this news, if we could get some calm inserted, based on the truth of God’s Word, that’d be a good thing to help our folks. My initial goal was to bless the people. And, knowing too that we couldn’t meet physically, try to keep folks connected and encouraged each day. I said, ‘Well alright, I’ll just do it.’ I did some and folks seemed to appreciate it, and I did some more. Then one thing led to another, and I’ve done them every weekday since then- March 19. You know, it’s nice: folks are kind of sharing it, and obviously, social media allows you to have a broader reach. That’s nice; folks are chiming in, ‘Hey, I saw this!’”

What do you hope people get from the videos?

Richter responded, “In one word, I hope they’re encouraged. One thing people keep saying is, ‘I want things to return to normal.’ There’s just so much change and things happen so rapidly, and you don’t know what to think one minute to the next. The Bible is something that is never going to change. God’s love is faithful and steadfast. I thought in a world where there’s so much that’s unreliable, if I could help encourage people with the truth that never changes, that’s what I hope they get.”

Richter has no plans to cancel or continue the program long-term. He said that he is simply taking it one week at a time, reevaluating the need periodically as he goes.

“For now,” said Richter, “I’ll do it for the next week!”

It takes a team

Ironically, Richter is not personally active on social media, so he relies on the FBC tech crew to get his messages out.

Richter shared, “I am so glad and grateful and honored to have- you know, I’m part of a ministry staff here at First Baptist, and they work so, so hard. They really make this stuff happen. I just produce the content and sort of assume that it magically gets online, but I know there’s a lot of work to produce it and to get it going.”

State of faith at FBC

Asked how his congregation is “weathering the storm,” Richter told The Tribune, “I’ve been really encouraged. We have so many great folks at First Baptist, and they do so much that goes on behind the scenes unnoticed, like the food pantry and the food ministry and those kinds of things. In times like this, it really illuminates some of those ministries and how important they are. They’re always important, but they’re especially important here.

“We’re realizing, some things that we can take for granted, we’re realizing how precious they are. A simple example is the ability, on Sunday morning, to gather with God’s people corporally and sing, or to hear God’s Word, or to see one another, fellowship and so forth. If one good thing is coming out of this, (it) is we’re realizing just how spiritually nourishing and important that is. The small groups, the Sunday School classes, Christians caring for one another and checking on each other, phone calls, text messages, ‘Hey, how are you doing?,’ Zoom Sunday School classes and all this. 

“It’s not that people like technology; it’s that they love fellowship. They love one another, and they’re going to do whatever it takes to check on one another, care for one another. That’s been, honestly, it’s been really encouraging, because we say we love one another through thick and thin, and now that’s being tested. It’s really encouraging to see that that love is not just in word, but it’s in deed.”

FBC has a food pantry that distributes groceries the third Saturday of each month, but it can respond to emergency needs at other times, as well. To contribute or to seek assistance, visit, email or call 256-734-5632.

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W.C. Mann