May 29, 2020
Last week on my study leave I began to virtually visit the 11 thriving United Churches I visited on my sabbatical last year. This pandemic shutdown is a great test of how the rubber is hitting the road. Predictably—all of the churches have online worship and have moved their groups to online (women’s groups, men’s groups, study groups, prayer groups, children’s ministry). Some have even started new groups. They have shown resilience and creativity in the face of challenging times. One church has set goals of communication and connection. Their top priority has been to find creative ways for people of all ages to continue making connections with one another. This is not to say that they don’t have their challenges. Some have had significant financial challenges due primarily to loss of rental income and they have had to lay of some staff. They say that they have had a steep learning curve with bumps along the way. But they remain undeterred, picking themselves up each time they fall and continuing to seek God’s guidance for ministry in shifting sands.
I refer you to one church’s website page, which contains helpful information on staying safe during this pandemic: https://standrewswesley.com/curated-for-you/health-updates/ .
Westworth has forged ahead with online worship and online committee and team meetings—with some bumps as well. After recording today’s service, we are considering having a humour Sunday, showing our bloopers. I have beaned myself on the head a number of times when I’ve run into the cross. Peter had to re-record a sermon once when he discovered that the camera had slowly sunk, leaving a headless preacher delivering her sermon. Humour is proving to be a God-send that keeps us going.
I am grateful to those who continue to phone, email and text others in the congregation, just to check-in with them. If someone comes to mind, please contact them—these connections help people know that they are not forgotten and that we are still community. If anyone has ideas for a small group study online, please let me know. I hope that our current groups might consider having at least one gathering in some kind of virtual fashion before summer. I would be pleased to help you figure this out—just give me a call. I’m working at home these days (204) 775-8817 except Thursdays when I am recording in the morning and working in the office in the afternoons (204) 489-6974 x22.
I am pleased with creative initiatives that are beginning to rise from our midst. Ray M. has begun to offer a church porch serenade every Sunday at 10:45 am for about 5 or 10 minutes. This coming Sunday, George N. will be joining Ray with guitar. Ray’s last Sunday, before he heads to the lake, will be June 7, when he will play with his newly formed quartet called the Six Feet Four because they play 6 feet apart from each other. They are playing at hospitals, parks and community centres. If you plan to come Sunday morning, please remember to keep 2 meters apart!
Let us keep in our prayers Jewel, Emily and Adara C. and their family as they grieve the death of Jewel’s father. Also, please pray for Cheryl M. D. and Gerald D. and their family as they grieve the death of Cheryl’s brother Kevin.
Let’s also keep in mind not only the sacrifices those on the frontline are making—and we now include teachers in the essential frontline workers—but let’s also remember that many of those working on the frontline are newcomers to Canada who face racist comments. I recommend this 2 minute youtube video: https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/immigrant-health-workers-speak-out-against-racism-570844562.html
This is a difficult time for those whose grieving is prolonged because of the postponement of funerals. It is also difficult for those in nursing homes and retirement homes who remain under lockdown. Let’s keep praying for one another and supporting each another in creative ways—we’ll get through this with God’s compassion and strength.
For the month of May, we will continue to have online services, followed by After Church Café at 11:30 am. The Zoom link is below, accompanied by phone numbers if you cannot connect by computer. Please note that you will be calling long distance. This link is the same for each Sunday.
Click on this link at 11:30 am on Sunday to join the After Church Café:
Meeting ID: 922 2364 9526
You may also dial any of the following long-distance numbers:
+1 778 907 2071 Canada
+1 438 809 7799 Canada
+1 587 328 1099 Canada
+1 647 374 4685 Canada
+1 647 558 0588 Canada
Note from Council
As we navigate our way through the information and struggles with COVID 19, your council has been doing our best to unfold the journey that this church will need to take over the next few months and years. There are lots of unknowns!
This we know for sure
The church will remain closed to the public until September at this point and we based this decision on information from the Health Department and the United Church Regional direction. The online services have been serving our community extremely well and we have had good response from those who have had the opportunity to view them. A big thank you to all who have been involved in the service and those behind the scenes making it happen. Loraine has been tirelessly leading all of us to ensure our spiritual and emotional needs are being met. We are very fortunate to have a such a dedicated person leading our community. Peter S. and Ray M. have been doing an amazing job with the recording of services. We thank Peter immensely for his time and expertise to edit and post the service in ways that make them so interesting and fluid. We also of course cannot say how fortunate we are to have Dorcas Windsor and Debbie McLeod as members of our church family!
Moving forward in these unusual times we as a council are wanting to ensure the safety of all those in our community so we have decided to continue with limiting people (until September) to enter building to staff only. The exception will be the day of filming the service. When the church does open we will have protocols in place to keep all safe. We will communicate to everyone once the plan for reopening is completed.
All the teams in the church have been dedicated to create interesting pathways to make sure we are continuing our ministry to all our community members as best and the safest way we are allowed. All of us have been thru some very challenging times and reaching for support or a friendly talk is often a great lift to the spirit. We have an amazing telephone team at work!
We (your council) are exploring a few new projects. We are considering next steps as well as plans for the church in the next 10 years. Changes are inevitable and the more we embrace the changes and come up with ways to expand our opportunities the better our community will become.
Engaging God from our Lenten study:
I’m searching for the simple in the midst of the complex, Jesus-the grace in the middle of the rules because there are so many of them (written and unwritten). Help me to act where acting is right. Guide me where I need to go. Point me where I need to love. Rules or not. ….
From Your CE Team:
The rains have come…so please feel free to take your chalk back to re-decorate the steps and sidewalks of our building. Our neighbourhood friends appreciate the artwork, messages, and the hopscotch games!
And those rains will help your flowers grow! If you are able to take the flowers that our children received to the church to plant, please let Maggie know (firstname.lastname@example.org) and she will make sure the water is on, and help you determine where to plant them. We are still honouring physical distancing so we ask that you take your own watering can and trowel along with you. If you have young children and somehow were missed in the plant delivery process, please let Dianne S. know (email@example.com) and she will make sure you receive some petunias or impatiens.
And now…..Some Good News!
The Westworth Window Project has been awarded a $10,000 grant from the Province of Manitoba from the Building Sustainable Communities program.
Thank you, Frank Wynes, for coordinating this successful application. This takes the total raised to about $45,000 in either donations or pledges towards the estimated $50,000 cost.
We are awaiting the results of an application to the Winnipeg Foundation for the same project. Fingers and toes crossed!
Thanks to all who have made a donation to this important project. Soon construction will begin to upgrade the north windows in the Sanctuary and protect the stained-glass windows on the south wall. A reminder that if funds donated exceed the amount needed, the excess will be added to the Building Fund for other upgrades. Donations and pledges are still welcome.
Ron B. for the Finance Committee