“What a wild couple of weeks it’s been! So many things changing so quickly, and life as we knew it grinding to a screeching halt,” says Beth Bryant, member of Community of Hope, a Charis Fellowship congregation in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada (Isaac Whiting, lead pastor).
Like many churches are across the world, Community of Hope is exploring ways the congregation can continue to meet under the COVID-19 prevention restrictions in their province. In addition to livestreaming Sunday morning services, they are planning for community groups to meet through video conference and encouraging them to watch the same livestream on Sunday mornings.
The restrictions did not stop the youth group from meeting. Tyler Weatherly, the pastoral intern at Community of Hope who works with youth, hosted a virtual movie night for the students. The group settled in their own homes for a night of streaming Disney+, along with chatting through Facebook Messenger for Kids and Discord, an audio online chat service. Fifteen students participated.
The next time the youth got together, it was for a digital game night coupled with a message and teaching.
“We did the teaching and worship by Facebook live stream with Facebook Messenger video call before and after,” says Isaac. “We had most of our youth group, one person from Ireland, and a visitor on the livestream chat. Afterward, the visitor asked lots of spiritual questions, and our youth were able to share some of the gospel with her.”
In the midst of being socially distant, the church has found a way to connect safely with members of the community.
Philip Bryant, director of church development for Assist Church Expansion and the founding pastor of the church, contacted a local city organization that helps with physical needs for seniors and people with disabilities. They responded on a Friday morning with a list of many needs – many of which were for toilet paper. After checking three large stores and finding no toilet paper, Philip and his wife, Beth, came to the conclusion that the toilet paper stash they had stocked up just a few weeks earlier needed to be donated.
“It was a funny moment, ripping open that package in the Delta (British Columbia) Assist office, freely giving something that others were hoarding,” says Beth Bryant. “We are well stocked and not in danger of running out, so it’s certainly not a widow’s mite situation – but it was a very real moment of feeling confirmation that our trust was not in the availability of toilet paper or the value that others were placing on those supplies, but in the God who has promised to supply everything we need.”
The church continues to livestream their Sunday services in lieu of meeting in person and will continue to meet the needs of the community as they arise.
[Connect:] Send Isaac Whiting an encouraging note here.