To Our Peninsula Mission Family and Local Community,
After much prayerful discussion and consideration the PMCC leadership team has made the difficult decision that we will suspend our Sunday morning public services commencing this Sunday, March 22nd. We are also recommending the cancellation of sub-congregational gatherings and small groups including the Genesis Academy course. We will defer to the various leaders of these groups to implement this directive as they deem appropriate for the well-being of the participants in each group.
Please know this decision was not made lightly. This action is critical for the sake of the church family as well as the community at large. The provincial medical health officer has mandated that all public gatherings over 50 people be cancelled. Those gathering in groups of less than 50 people must maintain a distance of 1 to 2 metres, or approximately finger-tip to finger-tip distance. However, health authorities strongly recommend avoiding all social contact outside of your immediate family. It is our duty as Canadians and indeed as followers of Christ to be in submission to the authority over us. The directive from our government is not an attack on our religious freedom or our right to meet as believers – we are not being asked to stop meeting because we are Christians, but because we are citizens of this community and need to care for one another.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic that is spreading around the globe, we want to ask you to pray for all who are affected by this disease. May God strengthen those who are ill, isolated, afraid, or grieving the loss of a loved one. We offer our prayers of thanksgiving and protection for those involved in medical and emergency care who put at risk their personal health to serve the needs of others. As Christ followers, we are not to be shaped by fear. We trust in the God who often spoke these words of promise: “Do not be afraid for I am with you.” We are called to reassure others with this promise as they face the reality of uncertain days ahead. This is a time to live wisely and with great compassion in our neighborhoods and faith community.
We want to be responsible citizens and be informed of the risks and precautions associated with this pandemic. Our national, provincial and local government health authorities are our best source of that information. We have enclosed the following list of websites as a source of current and accurate information:
British Columbia: BC Centre for Disease Control http://www.bccdc.ca
Canada: Public Health Agency of Canada https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health.html
Other helpful links:
CCCC (Canadian Council of Christian Charities) https://www.cccc.org/news_blogs/noteworthy/2020/03/06/coronavirus-inform-prepare-yourorganization/?ce=786BB2&cind=7on20200311150634orgAA251129AA737784
Our CBWC regional director has strongly recommended the suspension of all public meetings but not the closure of the church. While our sister churches have closed their doors, they have not closed their hearts. They are implementing innovative opportunities for worship, prayer, fellowship and service. Although we are unable to worship together in terms of our physical proximity, we are still able to be Christ’s hands and feet in the world. Worship is not just about song and sermon, it’s about living our lives in the light of God’s mercy and offering our bodies as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1). This is what it means to worship in spirit and truth.
An historical example of this occurred in the 16th century when Martin Luther (and his pregnant wife), decided to stay in Wittenberg when the bubonic plague came to town. They believed that Jesus was calling them to care for the sick (Matthew 25:36). Writing to a friend, Luther said this:
“I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order to not become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, He will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible either for my own death or the death of another. If my neighbour needs me however, I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above. See, this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.”
Luther ministered to those who needed him, but he took appropriate precautions not to place himself or anyone else in danger. It seems prudent that we do the same.
So, what does the future of our ministry look like? We are exploring interactive cyber platforms like Zoom. For those congregants who have computers, our audio-visual technicians can guide us through the acquisition and set up of this simple but effective tool. While there will be no cost to our congregants for the use of this platform, there may be some related costs for a mic and camera if your computer is not already equipped with these items. However, it would allow us to meet as a group online, enjoy worship music, listen to a live streamed message, even ask questions in real time. This is just one example of how we can stay connected. We have an excellent website which provides numerous archived messages and urgent news bulletins. There are many other options we can explore to maintain fellowship and mutual support. Perhaps the greatest tool at our disposal is the telephone. If everyone will make a commitment to stay connected, we will experience added strength as we face the days ahead.
We encourage you to check out the many excellent Christian programs on Television. Our administrator has suggested we compile a list of suitable programming. Also, we have access to “Right Now Media” which offers over 6,000 Christian videos (includes Bible Studies, sermons, seminars, devotional stories and Veggie Tales for the kids). This is a subscription that the church has graciously provided for our church family. Please contact Pastor Larry if you do not currently have access to this resource. In addition, we are considering the most effective way to record weekly messages and post them for your encouragement. Stay tuned as we explore the available technology to help us stay connected.
Thank you for your understanding and prayers as we define the new normal. Please contact any of our leadership team if you or someone you know needs assistance or information.
Love & Prayers,
Pastor Travis Stewart and the PMCC Leadership Team