How are we shining our light during these challenging times?
“You are people of the light because you belong to the Lord. So act like people of the light 9 and make your light shine. Be good and honest and truthful, 10 as you try to please the Lord.” Ephesians 5:8-9 CEV
Hey Canada! These are strange and challenging times. And YET we can all agree that we have an incredible opportunity to show and share the love of Christ in a variety of unique and creative ways!
We have been hearing great stories about what churches are up to during this Covid-19 global pandemic. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be compiling them right here in this blog post, so check back regularly for some inspiration and motivation!
How is YOUR church shining its light? Share your stories with us (and send a picture if you have one)! Email Erin at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us: 1-800-730-3490 x4304.
Maranatha CRC (Lethbridge, AB)
How can a church show and share Christ’s love during a global pandemic, when communities are mandated to social distance and sometimes quarantine?! This was the central question Maranatha’s Community Relations Committee struggled with. They wanted to find a safe and fun way to reach out to their community to show them that the church was still active and cared about them. Something they noticed was that as schools and daycares were closed, kids were home more and didn’t have their regular activities to keep them occupied and engaged. One member of the committee saw an idea on Facebook of making up care packages/activity kits for kids and families and she shared it with the group. After 30 minutes of brainstorming, the team came up with the idea of weekly kits that would include all the material for a craft, colouring sheets, a small treat (like microwave popcorn, sucker, candy), and a word of encouragement (a bible verse, prayer).
Read the full story here!
Bethel CRC (Saskatoon, SK)
One of the ministries Bethel Church supports has put together a Food Pick-Up & Delivery Service! This is a fundraiser for the Thrive Discipleship Program of Bethany College. Locals can place an online order and food is shipped directly from a supplier to a staging area at the college. Orders are available for pick up the same day so there’s minimal touch points and everything is sealed and handled by just a few helpers. Their strict safety measures are printed and included with each order.
This idea came from Thrive’s desire to help meet a practical need in the community while everyone does their best to prevent the spread of Covid 19. It also helps raise much-needed funds for the discipleship program so it’s a Win-Win!
You can find out more on Thrive’s Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/BethanyCollegeSK/
The Bridge Church (Ft. Saskatchewan, AB)
Drive-In Easter Service
Members of the Bridge Church attended their Easter Sunday Service – Drive-In style! Over 240 vehicles gathered in the parking lot outside the Fort Saskatchewan Dow Centennial Centre on Easter morning. Peace Officers attended as well to ensure COVID-19 social distancing precautions were enforced. With approximately 3 people per vehicle, the church estimates around 900 people were in attendance! While the weather felt more like a Christmas Service, the brave volunteers didn’t let that stop them! People tuned their car radios in order hear the service. They were encouraged to honk as their way of saying “Amen” or “Yes”.
The Bridge Church did a great job of connecting with people via their cell phones and they’re hoping this translates into a good size “First Steps” class for them in the coming weeks.
In case any of you are worried or think this idea was wrong, Pastor Pedde said the event was approved by the province, Alberta Health Services and the City of Fort Saskatchewan, with some strict rules attached to it. Cars had to be two metres apart with their windows shut. They were also told that no more than 15 people would be allowed to “run” the event at a time.
Gateway CRC (British Columbia)
Combined Good Friday Service
Gateway CRC has initiated a combined virtual Good Friday service with 10 area CRCs. Gateway staff is helping each church to video record a portion of the service and it will be live-streamed on Good Friday. Each church membership will see their own church/pastor for a section of the service, and then be able to watch all the others. It is streaming at 7 pm (PDT) so that all the churches will be worshipping together at the same time. While there have been combined CRC services in the past in this area, most of the 10 churches could not remember this happening in recent years. “In light of the new realities regarding COVID-19 in which so many of us feel distanced from one another, we found ourselves longing for a greater sense of connection and solidarity.” Justin Carruthers, Lead Pastor of Gateway shared. “We are all feeling isolated and this is just one small way in which we can come together as one capital-C church!” What has kept us separated to this point has motivated us to find ways stand together in unity. Check out their promotional video on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/GatewayCRC/videos/241896326947347/ . (Submitted by Monica deRegt)
Covid-19 Response Task Force
Gateway CRC has created a COVID-19 Response Task Force. A group of people have volunteered to do service when needed. Gateway has partnered with the local food bank to deliver food boxes to food bank users who can’t get out due to quarantine or mobility issues. This Task force also helps members in our own congregation who have similar concerns.
“The pandemic is not a good thing, and it is scary. But God is using it to help people be a lot more intentional about their connections, and to draw people to Him in amazing ways.” – Monica deRegt
Facebook Live Daily Devotions
The pastoral staff have started a live daily devotional and prayer time. They do it on Facebook every morning at 8:30am (PDT). The interesting thing is that they have so many people tuning in every day. When they have tried to have physical prayer times in the past, or email prayer chains, there has been very low attendance or response (maybe 2-3 people). Now, due to the pandemic and social isolation, people are craving these things even more. People can send in live prayer requests and praise items and everyone is reading scripture together every morning. It’s quite remarkable! (Submitted by Monica deRegt)
Faith CRC (Burlington, ON)
Drive Thru Food Drive*
The Deacons of Faith CRC hosted a drive-thru style food drive on Saturday, April 11th, from 9am to noon. This is part of their church continuing to look for ways to be a beacon of light in our community. During this difficult time, the food banks have been greatly affected, the shelves are bare, and the need to help is real. Jesus reminds us in Matt. 25:40 that “whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me.” We are grateful for this tangible way to help those around us who desperately need it.
Drivers were asked to come into the church parking lot in single file to the back-right corner of the lot where someone will unload the donated food items for them. No need to worry about social distancing: drivers will stay in their car and let the volunteers at the church do the unloading.
A list of needed items was shared with the church members. (Submitted by Pastor Cara)
*This story was updated on April 14, 2020
New Life CRC (Guelph, ON)
Help with Learning @ Home
One church member at New Life Guelph CRC has put out a call for unused computers for households with children trying to keep up with school work. He will clear and clean them inside and out before they are sent to their ‘new owner’. Pretty time-consuming but necessary to ensure they’re in good working order! WHAT A GREAT IDEA!!!
[Your Story Here]
Why not share what YOUR church has been up to? Email Erin, our Communications Coordinator, at email@example.com or call our office at 1-800-730-3490 x4304.
Christ Community Church (Nanaimo, BC)
Call Care Team
At Christ Community Church in Nanaimo, BC, they have identified people and families who are not connected through social media/internet and have set up formal relationships that partner those people with someone(s) from the church who have access to online communication and resources. The ‘call care team’ passes on key information to those in their care, whether it be the bible passage for the upcoming service, or updates on anything relevant in the church or community, so that everyone has a way of staying connected.
Christ Community has revamped most of their website in light of the new times we are living in – since most programs are on pause and in order to meet people where they are at. What a great idea!
A “Daily Encouragement” page has been added to their website where they invite people to post stories and/or notes of encouragement (ie. bible verses, words of hope, etc.). They have found that there are many people who are posting beautiful things, particularly those they wouldn’t normally see on a Sunday morning or who aren’t actively involved in the life of the church (for a variety of reasons). (Submitted by Stefani Unger, Diaconal Coach for BCSE and member of CCC Nanaimo.)
Heritage Fellowship CRC (Brampton, ON)
Making Face Masks*
There has been lots of news about facemasks. Homemade masks DO NOT fully protect us from the COVID-19 virus. They do offer some protection for others if we ourselves have the virus. A Holland Christian Homes (HCH) resident and daughter with the help of a HCH employee have put together a step-by-step video on how to produce these homemade masks, that are currently being used by HCH staff and will be made for all 1100 residents.
We are offering all this information for other churches who wish to organize something similar in their own communities; to bless fellow church goers, seniors, those who are vulnerable, workers in long term care facilities, and others whom you believe may need these masks. I need to remind you that these masks DO NOT PROTECT YOU FROM THE VIRUS but offer some care and protection and moral encouragement as you have conversations from a distance of 2m.
Please also pray and offer notes/emails of encouragement to front line workers who are serving in long term care facilities. This crisis is creating a lot of disruption in the lives of loved ones who are vulnerable and whose emotional state is fragile to begin with. (Submitted by Rev. Richard Bodini, Chaplain of Holland Christian Homes, Brampton, Ontario)
*Diaconal Ministries has heard about several churches taking part in making and distributing homemade masks.
Blyth CRC (Blyth, ON)
Grocery Shopping for Seniors
The deacons at Blyth CRC are grocery shopping for their seniors. These are some of the most vulnerable people in our communities and this allows them to #StayHome as much as possible!
Got a great idea but need help?
Some churches desire to bring hope and healing to their communities but they are lacking some of the resources needed. World Renew Canada and Diaconal Ministries Canada have teamed up to offer grants of up to $5,000 to churches who wish to do some mission, diaconal work in their communities. FIND OUT MORE HERE.