When a virus invades, the Church innovates. And the Church has literally left the building. Churches across the Atlantic District found their own contextual answers yesterday for worship. Some offered their usual live stream service. Others began their own – many for the first time using Facebook Live. Others are providing alternative approaches to connect through the week and encouraging their church family to find an online Sunday service of their preference. Cornerstone (Denn Guptill) was just one of many who made the strategic shift to transform living rooms (pictured above) into places of worship of the Living Word – complete with full service instructions for the whole family.
This was our family church yesterday morning. Joel Gorveatte (Moncton) provided passionate and practical wisdom for this unprecedented predicament – from his living room to ours, as he and Tracy are still in quarantine following their return from Israel.
When ministers complained about the ban on religious gatherings to combat the Spanish flu in 1918, Seattle Mayor Ole Hanson remarked, “Religion which won’t keep for two weeks is not worth having.” This weekend I called every one of our Lead Pastors (and was able to speak directly with more than 80%). Many of our calls concluded with a time of prayer together. These women and men are to be commended for leading with strength, optimism, courage, and innovation.
- The District Board of Administration is calling on us all to join today (March 23rd) in prayer and fasting across the Atlantic District. Prayers of faith offered by lives of faithfulness are key to unlocking and unleashing God’s plan and power for His Church in this season. Christianity Today has provided an excellent article outlining 20 ways to pray during the Coronavirus pandemic. Let’s wield this weapon to storm the gates!
- In partnership with the General Board, the DBA has approved USF relief for all churches in the month of April (a 1/12 reduction) to alleviate some of the financial impact of this crisis on local church front line ministry. This will provide nearly $90K of immediate relief for Atlantic District churches.
- In addition to a Zoom Prayer invitation already distributed to Pastors for Noon today, I would welcome any pastor to join me for an optional Zoom meeting on Friday @ 2:00 p.m. Atlantic Time. This will include Q&A regarding our mutual response to COVID-19 and collaborative problem solving for your church challenges. (Just email me for the link if you are interested.)
Aaron Reimer (Island) provided a clever visual connection for members of their family church by posting names on their usual seats for them to see while watching his first Facebook Live service (using Zoom).
- Churches are stepping up and stepping out (in ways that partner with the combat of COVID-19) to meet unique needs. Woodstock (Dale MacDonald) received a call from a local restaurant that was giving away turkey dinners and a team of volunteers was able to safely deliver these to those in the vulnerable sector in need of food.
- Tim Long (Live Well) offered their very first Facebook Live worship experience yesterday. A former connection from when he lived in Dartmouth “happened” to join in and following the service reached out with a Facebook message. Tim offered to call him which resulted in this seeker crossing the line of faith and accepting Christ – PTL!
- Corbett (Jason Vienneau) launched an online video devotional last week called “3/SEVEN” (here is the first video). The concept is to meet people where they are, in their homes, with teachings and lessons that minister during this global pandemic. Jason admits, “We are also going old school and reaching out to our Church through phone calls (boom), not new but so far, has been largely effective.”
On Friday, Psychologist Dr. David Clark and Sociologist Dr. Nancy Nason-Clark invested their expertise and experience with about 25 Atlantic Ministers who joined by Zoom for a session entitled, “Leading in Anxious Times.” David & Nancy graciously agreed to re-record a 45 minute version of this session which is available HERE for your leadership team.
- A couple of critical resources worthy of note include www.anxietycanada.com and the offer by Dr. Clark to add any pastor to his distribution list (just email email@example.com) for new resources in development to address “continuous traumatic stress” factors.
In these exigent times of leadership, we are blessed by those God has raised up for denominational service. On Monday, the Wesleyan Educational Council convened for 3+ hours to address the impact of the COVID crisis on our five institutions of higher education. This group includes all College Presidents and Board of Trustees Chairpersons.
On Tuesday just prior to our emergency DBA meeting, I joined 14 other District Superintendents as we received/offered counsel and direction with General Superintendent Wayne Schmidt in how to navigate the unusual challenges of this day. We are blessed with denominational leaders who model courage, innovation, sacrifice, and humility in the spirit of mutual voluntary submission.
- True humility is shown by our ability to cast our anxiety on God. (Angel Maldonado)
- When it feels like things are falling apart, they are simply falling in place for God. (Kevin Myers)
- Jesus is under no stress. Nor is His ecclesia. The very gates of hell don’t cause heaven to fret. (Ralph Moore)
Join hundreds of men from all across the region at Valley location of Kings on May 1-2 as we seek to find, define, and empower the Y God has placed in each of us. In doing so, may we know life to the full and may those around us reap the benefits of knowing men who truly embrace our Y. Register HERE – Cost: $85.
This exciting event is now rescheduled to Friday, June 19th 2020 at Wesley Hall (Kingswood University). Please mark your calendars for this date!
The national office of The Wesleyan Church of Canada is pleased to provide access to some helpful documents for the pastors in our Canadian churches. Included in those documents are:
- Overview of the Retirement Plan Life insurance and Long-term disability benefits
- Information for the Wesleyan Retirement Plan
- New form for allocating contributions to a Tax Free Savings Account
- Prayer Poster for our Canadian Missionaries (current as of Dec. 31, 2019). Full size posters are available from: Stephen@wesleyan.ca
- Poster promoting the need/opportunities for Church Planting in Canada. Full size poster are available from: Stephen@wesleyan.ca
- Direct Deposit form for the financial support of our Canadian Global Partners missionaries (accelerates donor process by at least 50%)
- 2020 options/contact info for the National Cell Phone Plan (Bell Aliant)
Click here for the 45-minute video 2025 presentation