May 14, 2020
Dear Church Family,
On May 6, provincial authorities presented a restart plan regarding COVID-19, and we want to update you on Central’s response. The leadership arrived at two conclusions.
1) We will continue with the livestream for the foreseeable future of this COVID-19 season. While gatherings of less than 50 may be permitted in some situations, there are many challenges to manage in order to keep people safe.
2) We are encouraging people to meet socially for Christian fellowship within the boundaries of the province’s guidelines, particularly as the weather is nice and people can meet outside. This Sunday during the livestream, we will talk about Community Groups and encourage those who do not have one to join one.
This decision was shaped by two guideposts: God’s command to us in the Bible and the knowledge we can learn about this virus from science.
The biblical guidepost is “You shall love the Lord your God … and love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:37–39, ESV). During this challenging season, we love our neighbour by working to protect them from infection, especially those who are vulnerable. While we are in a season of physical distancing, we still need to address spiritual, emotional, and social needs, both in ourselves and others—needs that are met as we worship, pray, encourage, witness, disciple, and serve. Yet loving others means minimizing the risk of spreading COVID-19. For this, we must rely on scientific knowledge.
The scientific guidepost is all the knowledge we have learned about the virus. We are learning from countries around the world, and some recent findings are relevant to churches as we move forward. There are many factors to consider about how the virus is spread from person to person and, therefore, many factors to consider when we think of resuming in-person meetings. For example, we know that meeting outside is better than inside and staying 6 feet away from others carries less risk. In essence, a gathering of 50 people would require things like physical distancing, signage, uni-directional walkways, hand sanitizer stations, etc., but would also include the following:
When we consider all the factors, the positives of a larger gathering are minimal compared to staying home and watching the livestream. Even if we did provide a larger gathering of no more than 50 people, many would not want to attend or be able to attend.
With that being said, the big missing piece right now is people craving social interaction and Christian fellowship that comes in face to face meetings. For this reason, we want to encourage you to meet for Christian fellowship within the prescribed boundaries set by the government. The primary way this is done is through Community Groups. Currently these groups are meeting via Zoom but with the new measures we can also start to meet in person with groups under six people. If you would like to be part of a Community Group please be in touch with Josh Kazakoff.
We want to assure you that Central’s leadership will track new developments, but even if the number for a large gathering rises to 100, it still seems likely that we should continue focusing on the Sunday livestream while intentionally engaging in small group interaction.
We also want to thank you for your financial giving. We have greatly reduced our expenses, received strong financial giving, and so currently find ourselves in a healthy position. As we move into the months to come we encourage you to continue to give as you are able to do so.
As this unique season of life lingers, please continue to pray that this virus would end, that our people would be sustained, and that the gospel would move forward. We love each of you and miss seeing you week by week. Your pastors are available for phone calls, social distanced meetings, and prayer. Our care team is also active in calling people to ensure their needs are covered. If you have any questions about this plan or any other matter in the church please email the church office.
Trusting Jesus for each day,
From the Board and Pastors of Central Baptist Church
March 13, 2020
Dear Central Family,
In light of the evolving Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, our leadership team has spent considerable time over this past week in discussion and prayer. Here are a few defining points we want to share with you:
1. We believe God has a unique calling for the Church in moments like this! The good news of Jesus Christ enables us to stay grounded in God’s peace (Philippians 4:6-7), not to react in fear (1 John 4:18), to utilize wisdom (James 1:5), and to be the hands and feet of Jesus to our community in a time of need (Isaiah 52:7). We are making plans—within the public health guidelines—to be an extension of care to our city during this unique season.
2. We are temporarily suspending all our church gatherings. This includes our Sunday morning service, youth, club 456, and all other gatherings at the building.
3. The church is not a building! Although we will not be gathering at 833 Pandora Ave, we will be livestreaming our Sunday service at 10:30am. To access the livestream, go to our website and click on the red “Watch Live” button at the top of the page. This Sunday’s service (March 15) will be especially designed to speak to the current situation and will include a special children’s message from Tom Drinkwater.
4. Meet with each other in different ways. At this point, social interactions are still acceptable within smaller groups provided we follow the public health guidelines. Community Groups can be a key source of strength and each CG should decide for itself if it wants to continue meeting. Let’s take extra time to connect through phone calls, text message, and—assuming proper precautions—in smaller groups.
5. We believe God is calling us to pray like never before! This Sunday we will share one new practice to help us pray. Also, join with each other in prayer over the phone, in your families, and in smaller group settings.
6. We will love our city, particularly the vulnerable. This is a time to be wise but not a time to be passive. We will share some opportunities this Sunday, but also encourage you to find ways to care for those you know within the recommendations of safe social interactions.
As this situation is rapidly changing, please check our website for updates. We would also ask that those committed to Central continue to financially support us through the coming weeks as the costs of ministry, facility, and staff are largely unaffected by this situation. You may give through the website, our Tithely app, or by dropping a cheque off at the church. If you’re feeling anxious, please reach out for prayer and if you have any questions or concerns, please let us know at [email protected]
Throughout human history, the problems of the world have become an opportunity for the Church to rise up, and this is no exception! Let us continue to pray and work that we might see our city renewed through the gospel. We love our Central family and look forward to when we can be reunited as a full family again.
The Board and Staff of Central Baptist Church