April 3, 2020 First, we want to encourage you to reach out and touch someone—make a phone call or connect online with your fellow church members. We know this may sound odd, but we believe God wants us to emerge from this crisis more connected to one another. There are some similarities with our situation and the persecuted church. Persecuted Christians over the centuries have been kicked out of their church buildings. When this has happened they have had to find creative ways to connect with one another. As a result, they grow stronger. That is us now. We can push back against circumstances. One way to do that is by being intentional in our care for one another.
We are still recruiting people for the “Bethel Crisis Response Team.” We are thankful that, as of today, we have not heard of any Bethel members who have contracted the COVID-19 virus. Of course, that can change at any time. If you have family, or a small group, then you have a first line of defense, however, some people don’t have either of those things, or they may face a situation that is too overwhelming for family or their group. We want to be able to step in. Many people have already volunteered for the Crisis Response Team. If you are willing to help by running errands, offering emotional support, or doing other practical things, please contact our church Admin Assistant: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now, we want to tell you about our upcoming worship services and worship resources we have created for you. This Sunday we will live stream at 10:00 am. Then we have two special services coming up: Good Friday (April 10) and Easter on Sunday (April 12). We will live steam both of those services at 10:00 am. On Good Friday we will be celebrating the Lord’s Supper. I encourage you to get some grape juice or wine, and bread so you can partake of the Lord’s Supper in your home as you watch the live-streamed service.
In response to the change in our normal rhythm of worship, we are launching a collaborative project to meet you in your home. We will be sending and posting daily devotionals through Holy week, starting with April 5, 2020. You can find these on our website and request to be sent them directly on our new Holy week page. We encourage you to read these together (ex. with a spouse, your kids, with a friend via zoom, etc.). Let's read, reflect and respond to God's word together during this challenging season.
- Pastor Tom and Pastor Cris
March 26, 2020
Bethel Crisis Response Team: Join the frontlines team being formed to serve Bethel members who become affected by COVID-19 in the weeks ahead. The goal of the team will be to ensure that everyone who needs help gets help. The people served may be quarantined or self-isolated, or they may be vulnerable people who do not feel safe leaving their homes. Team members will work together to offer assistance such as:
Running errands (shopping, picking up medications, walking the dog)
Lending emotional support (like talking on the phone or online)
Offering prayer support
Small groups will be the first line of defense for those who belong to a small groups, but for those not in a small group (or where the job is too big for a single small group) the Crisis Reponse Team will be there! To sign up, email email@example.com.
March 20, 2020
I hope you are doing well today. I want to give you the latest about our church’s response to the COVID 19 crisis.
First of all, I want you to know, and your leaders want you to know, that we care about you. This has been, and will continue to be a hard time for many. If you should run into hard times during this crisis we want you to know that we are there for you.
If you are in a small group we urge you to turn to your group members for support—if only online or by phone. But also, we have set up a webpage to respond to needs. The page shows several kinds of support you can receive from your church.
To find the page, first go to Bethel’s home page. You will notice that there are two buttons you can click. One will give you the latest information about our response to the COVID-19 Crisis. The other will bring you to the help page. On the help page you can you can request prayer support, material and physical assistance, or pastoral care.
This Sunday at 10:00 a.m., and each Sunday for the weeks to come, we will be live streaming our services. To access that live stream just go to our church’s home page. There you will find the button that will take you to the live stream.
This week, I will be speaking from Bridge Church. I made a long standing promise to be at Bridge Church this week, and we thought it would be meaningful to combine for this first live stream with the church we helped to launch.
Now, for all of this to work, we need your help and support. Here are several things you can do:
•Reach out to anyone in the community you know of who might need to hear from you. This can be a very lonely time for people.
•Secondly, we planning to raise up a Bethel Crisis Response Team--people who will be on hand to help those affected by the crisis. That could be lending some physical help, running errands or any number of things. We will tell you more about this as the plans develop and hope many of you will join the team. •Finally, we need you to continue to support your church financially. Approximately one half of the church’s donations come in through offerings collected on Sunday mornings. We need for most of those offerings to shift to an electronic medium if we are going to be able to continue to function as a church.
There are three simple ways to give! These are all explained for you on the Bethel website. (From Bethel’s homepage, click on the “Give” tap to see this laid out for you.):
1.Automatic Withdrawal: This is for reoccurring withdrawals from your account to Bethel’s Operating fund. This is the very best option, because there are no fees associated with it that will be skimmed off your gift.
2.PushPay: You can access this on Bethel’s webpage, or through the Bethel App. PushPay accepts credit cards, which means there are fees associated with the transaction. You can donate to various causes using the pull down menu, and can set up one time or reoccurring donations.
3.Drop off: The office is open Tuesday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. if you would like to drop a cheque off at the church office.
God bless you, Bethel. Stay strong, be prayerful, and love!
- Pastor Tom (for Pastor Cris, the Staff, and all of Bethel’s leadership)
*Please visit this page for updates about COVID-19 and how we plan to respond as a church.
March 17, 2020
Dear Bethel, We are all navigating the COVID-19 storm. It has meant different things to different people. Some of you have suddenly found yourself with kids to take care of at home because of school closures, some of you have worries about your jobs, some of you are in the vulnerable population and are worried about your own health, and others of you may be in quarantine because of travel abroad. COVID-19 has put us in strange and uncharted territory.
As a nation and as a church we are not completely sure of what lies ahead. Our Governing Elders continue to monitor all Alberta Health updates as we seek to formulate the best policies for our church as we chart the way ahead.
With this in mind, our Governing Elders have decided to suspend all church services and ministries until further notice with one caveat. In the case of ministries with fewer than 15 adults in attendance, that group may meet in the church building if proper social distancing is observed. All participants should be encouraged to exercise proper hand washing, and ministry leaders should ask people with any flu-like symptoms to stay home.
Starting this Sunday we will be live streaming our worship services. There will be a single, 10:00 am service each week. We encourage you to tune in with your family or a few close friends. (This week I will be speaking from Bridge Church to both Bethel and Bridge churches!) We will let you know the details of how you can tune in to that service.
Our staff, Elders, Deacons and ministry leaders are busy developing ways to keep our church connected and our ministry vital during the next weeks or months. As challenging as these times are, I believe God wants us to emerge from them stronger than ever as a community.
Let’s keep in mind the three words I spoke about this past Sunday (and if you missed the service, I encourage you to listen to the podcast). Those words are:
• Trust: We are in God’s hands. He was with us before this crisis and he is with us now. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
• Prudence: Don’t be guided by panic, but DO exercise proper precautions for yourself and for your family. Practice wise social distancing and wash your hands often. Stay tuned to Alberta Health guidelines that will give you valuable advice.
• Love: It is easy to become self-absorbed at a time like this. But there are always people who are worse off than we are. How can you reach out, if only by phone, to other members of the community, and to people in your local community who may have needs?
Let’s stay prayerful! And let’s stay united! You will be in my prayers. - Pastor Tom
March 14, 2020
Bethel’s Governing Elders met this evening to reassess whether we would hold church services this Sunday. We continue to monitor all Alberta Health updates regularly as we hold several things in tension: our desire to come together as a church community for worship, our need to be present for people who come to church seeking God’s guidance, and our social responsibility.
After considering these things, we reaffirmed our decision that Bethel WILL have church services tomorrow. However, we ask you to refrain from attending if: · You have recently travelled outside of Canada, · You or someone you live with or care for is a part of the high-risk population (as defined by AHS) · You, a member of your household, or your children have any signs of illness—such as coughing, sneezing, or fever.
Here is a link to Alberta Health Services, which includes current information and an optional self-assessment tool if you feel that you may be experiencing some symptoms of the virus. May God guide you as you seek to discern what is best for you and your family. Please continue to pray for God’s guidance as we journey together through this challenging time.