The Diocesan Executive Council members were uplifted by the reports received from parishes at their last meeting on Wednesday April 27, 2021. Understanding that there are struggles and the times we are in can be very trying, the council members took seriously the information regarding a range in emotions and an overall frustration with living out ministry under covid restrictions. Yet, what stood out from the reports was the commitment and dedication of the lay people and clergy to continue to be the Church.
It was the request of the DEC to share these stories of hope and resourcefulness so that all may be encouraged and uplifted as they do their part in the mission of God.
Let us start by saying that the people of this diocese have certainly stepped up and bolstered together to be sure meaningful worship takes place. Brenda Singh, from All Saints’, Fort McMurray, said it best:
“The [ministry] team we have running our online services has remained steadfast and without complaint in their commitment to serving the Lord and the congregation.”
What would we do without our worship leaders (clergy and lay), our musicians and those wonderful people who know how to work a camera and produce video?! From the preachers to the printers—everyone has a part to play and all have been so willing to serve.
Praise God for our Bible Study leaders and all who attend! How amazing that we have the technology that allows us to be together, although apart. So many have learned to navigate Zoom, Facebook, and all things ‘techie’ and when they could not, others have offered to help. Bravo to those who have found ways to bring the Word to those who are not online. Christ Church, Berwyn parishioners shared Bible Study CD’s so people could study at home and chat via telephone. Christ Church, Grande Prairie also provided for a lenten study parishioners could take part in at home.
People of the Diocese are involved in soup kitchens, food banks, highway cleanups, and prayer ministry. On Good Friday, the Parish of Berwyn/Grimshaw went ahead with their annual prayer walk, limiting it to ten participants, yet still ensuring it was an ecumenical event. The people of St. John’s United/Anglican send flowers, baskets and hampers to members of the community going through difficult times or celebrating important life events. St. Helen’s, Fairview parishioners are supporting Samaritans Purse and planning an outreach project for their local food bank clients. Lay Readers around the diocese are connecting with people through phone calls and newsletters. Our clergy are sending pastoral letters and checking in on parishioners—even visiting the sick in hospital despite the barriers linked to Covid-19.
The opportunity to pray together, twice a day during the week, has come through an initiative on Facebook, organized by Bishop Larry Robertson, of Morning and Evening Prayer Services. Every Sunday there are a multitude of online worship services and it has been reported that some parishes are experiencing growth through their online presence; reaching people here at home and around the world every Sunday!
In Colinton, the congregation of St. Andrew’s Zion signed a shared ministry agreement. This fulfills the Waterloo Full Communion Agreement (ACC and ELCIC) which acknowledges that they are one body having more in common to celebrate together than those things which are different among them. In addition to this we have seen an openness among parishes in the diocese to share in worship and support each other in a variety of ways.
In these trying times and unusual circumstances, we continue to witness a true willingness among people to serve. We find joy in your commitment—finding ways around restrictions and roadblocks so that you may share the love of Christ with others. We appreciate you and support you in your beautiful humble service to God. More importantly, God sees you, loves you and delights in you!
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. -Ephesians 3:16-19