The CBWC Mountain Standard Region Under Covid Restrictions
It has been my privilege to meet on Zoom over the past month with all five of our ministry clusters across the Mountain Standard Region – South, Calgary, Central, Edmonton and Peace Country. To be truthful, I expected more panic and anxiety than I have seen. Here are some of my summary observations:
– ONLINE SERVICES – The first couple weeks threw most church leaders into some unfamiliar territory. Most had to work on skills relating to Facebook Live, Facetime, Zoom, or Youtube. Most have found that the numbers watching their services online has exceeded what would have been their regular attendance. With many watching as couples or families, the exact numbers are impossible to get, but past members, members’ relatives, and neighbours have logged on to watch. This is a time of challenge, but it is a time of opportunity as well. The online presence of the Church is likely to be enhanced after this period of isolation. I am personally pleased with the advances we have made in the use of technology at this time.
– GIVING – Budgets have been concerning for most of our churches. Many are unfamiliar with new ways to share their giving to their church. Direct deposits, mailing checks, and dropping off monies at the church directly are foreign ways for most of us, who are used to the traditional passing-of-the-plate. In spite of the inconvenience, I can relate that a few of our churches are being blessed and are actually ahead of their monthly giving compared to last year. Giving is hardest to maintain in our new Canadian churches. Our Filipino church in Calgary has seen more than 40% of their congregation laid off over the past months and giving, therefore, has dropped off significantly.
– CONNECTING WITH OUR COMMUNITY – Pastors and board members take seriously the challenge of connecting with the church family while they cannot meet corporately. Several of these have made intentional, personal contact through phoning everyone in their church directory on a consistent basis. The personal ‘feel’ is appreciated, and intimate prayer concerns have been shared that may have been missed before. The number of Zoom meetings for Bible studies, committee meetings, and for other teaching purposes have risen dramatically in almost every setting.
– AN UNFAMILIAR FUTURE – Regular events and annual schedules have taken space in the new unknown. Planning ahead is a luxury we may not have for a while. Governments are sharing news on a daily or weekly basis on new restrictions or new benefits. This new future seems to carry the stain of uncertainty. Some CBWC or church events have been cancelled or postponed (like SERVE, anniversary services, Ordination Examination Council, sabbaticals) and serious planning for most Fall events is still up in the air.
– GOD AT WORK – God is touching people’s lives and bringing people in contact with Himself through technology. One pastor shared about a neighbour across the street from the church who had lived there for years and never came to church. But now, after accessing online services, the person sends encouraging emails and notes, expressing a positive connection to the church in the future. Gull Lake Camp has ventured into virtual camping and has seen people come to Christ in that way. Compassion for the poor and inconvenienced has increased as some churches have used up their benevolent funds and now seek a way forward to minister to their communities.
April 2020 CBWC Board Meeting
May 2020 Edmonton Ministerial
o The CBWC Board is working on a CBWC core values statement that is likely to come to the 2021 CBWC Gathering for our broader church family to discuss. Most of our pastors have seen the current version, but it is still a work in progress. More details on this will come in the future.
o Duane Guthrie arrived as the new pastor at Fort Saskatchewan Community Baptist Church in March. He preached to a small crowd his first Sunday, which was just prior to full blown COVID-19 restrictions, when some were already staying away from crowds. He has been online every Sunday since, but this is truly an unusual and challenging way to start a church ministry.
o Dayle and Dawn Medgett have announced that they will retire from Westview Baptist in Calgary around Easter of 2021.
o Ashley Winkel is the new Pastor of Children and Family Ministries at Trinity Baptist in Sherwood Park.
o High River Baptist has hired a new staff member that will be announced at a later date.
o Peace River Baptist is looking at a candidate for lead pastor.
o Zion Baptist Church has Allen McPhedran as their interim pastor. The job description for their Lead Pastor position is now online.
– ITEMS FOR PRAYER:
o Our ability to disciple, to share Christ and to serve our communities in the midst of this season of isolation
o Our churches that are struggling over finances at this time
o Our MSR representatives on the CBWC Board: Sam Breakey (Board President), Herb Ziegler (Vice President of Finance – Sherwood Park) Randy Loewen (Yellowknife – Regional Moderator), Sandra Goetz (Regional rep – Charlie Lake), Brad Penner (Regional rep – Red Deer)
o Our CBWC online assembly decisions on May 21st
o Our church plants comprised of new Canadians
o Our ability to plan ahead appropriately, for the denomination and our churches
o Our government representatives while they wrestle with difficult decisions
o Our chaplains, especially those serving in this challenging season with the elderly and those under medical care
“Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.” Eph 4:3 NLT
Your co-worker, Dennis
Note from Paul Hebert
Paul Hebert attends First Baptist Church in Peace River and is one of the first credentialed in the CBWC as ‘Mandated Lay Chaplain’. Here, he shares his report on the exciting things that God has recently led him into.
Good day, my name is Paul Hebert and I am blessed by serving our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. These last six months have been so awesome. There are so many things I can write about, but I will try to keep this short.
For the last five years I have been part of the Bikers for Christ Motorcycle Ministry, and also the Gideons Ministry for six years. Four years ago, we started another outreach ministry called Picnic in the Park. All these ministries tie together our acts of serving our Lord.
Bikers for Christ allows us to safely navigate and learn the biker culture.
Gideons support our ministry in how to evangelize in our world and have Bibles for us to distribute throughout our ministry.
Picnic in the Park is a ministry where, every Thursday from April until mid-October, we have a free community picnic. Everyone is welcome to share in food, testimonies, relationships and scripture.
For all of these ministries, we have never asked for donations or support, yet God has always taken care of our them by providing finances, protection and volunteers.
This last year, God put it on my heart to expand our ministry and to seek out a charitable status. I was reluctant and stubborn but God, in His wisdom, knew to keep at me until I listened to Him. When the time was right in my heart, He introduced the Great Commission Foundation (GCF) to me.
I applied through the GCF for charitable status and was approved. Our ministry name is called Servant’s Heart Initiative. (Go to the GFC website and our ministry is on the programs list for further information)
Servant’s Heart Initiative is now the main ministry in serving in our community and the communities around us. It is growing daily, with Picnic in the Park as a leg of the ministry. We now have a Life Skill ministry to teach young adults how to cook, clean, shop and financially budget.
We also have a work ministry called Chisel and Hammer. This ministry is to help our elderly, widowers, those with disabilities and single parents with yard work, vehicle maintenance, cleaning homes, house repairs and more.
Another ministry we have is a food program ministry. This ministry is to help feed those in need, prepare meals for those that cannot do so themselves, and support lunches for children that are no longer being fed in the school lunch programs.
Lastly, we have our evangelical ministry which incorporates sharing the word, Bible studies, supporting churches, bringing churches together as one body, and youth activities and engagements.
This is a summary of what Servant’s Heart Initiative is and what all our volunteers and community support. It’s only been active since March 15, 2020 and God has led our communities to donate more than $28,000 so far—without us trying to seek funds. God is so, so good!
On top of all this, being a lay minister has allowed me to marry couples, share the Word and so much more. We build relationships every single day and there are daily testimonies happening in our community.
This is why I say that I have been blessed. God has picked me to serve Him and has blown my mind every day with how good He is.
Our goal is to spread this ministry to over 100 communities in the next five years. It’s been a vision that’s on my heart.
Thank you all for your support and prayers. God bless you all.
This regional newsletter is published quarterly within the CBWC’s monthly newsletter, Making Connections. Have a story idea? Want to tell us how great we’re doing? Or how terribly? Email our senior writer, Jenna Hanger: firstname.lastname@example.org