5:30 PM Update
I hope this finds you all healthy and safe in your homes, spending time with your families. Things seem to have quieted down a bit this week, as far as new announcements and measures, and people seem to have settled into this new way of life we need to get used to, for the time being. Although there are still many unknowns – how long this will last, what the new normal will be, and for many of you – if you will have a job. But there is much we do know – God is always faithful, always good, and always sovereign.
We have been praying for you all, especially for those who are front-line workers. We would ask all our congregation to pray for doctors, nurses, technicians, EMS, police, all who are required to continually put themselves in contact with others, to serve and care for them. We know of a few from this profession, in our congregation, who we believe have already contracted COVID-19. Pray for all of these special people, not just from our congregation, who risk their own safety to serve us. Pray for their families, also at risk and many not able to even stay together due to the risks.
In addition to praying to God for others, we want to thank God for the many ways we see Him at work. We hear stories from our congregation of various ways God is providing, protecting, caring, and encouraging – thank you God!
Our office continues to be closed, as per government orders, but we are all continuing to work from home, other than filming our sermons and devotionals in the Worship Centre (which we have permission to do and ensure there are no more than five in the building at a time). We are thankful to God that so far, He has allowed our elders to ensure all our staff continue to be paid.
We have received a lot of positive feedback from many of you regarding our weekly communication, devotionals on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, as well as our “Reflections” blog post, sermons, and worship videos. Thank you for encouraging us this way! FYI – we decided as a team not to do livestreaming. There is real no difference for those watching between watching a livestream vs. pre-recorded worship or a sermon, and it is far easier on our staff to pre-record our weekend ministry rather than try to do livestream. This also eliminates a host of technical challenges and risks. We are working on something special for our Good Friday and Easter Sunday services, which will be online. Although I think we’d all rather be together in our worship centre, we are trusting God to see how He will use these “services”. We are seeing a drastic increase in people accessing our sermons, worship, devotionals, as are many churches, so it seems God is drawing people, well beyond our own congregation to this digital media.
We have also heard stories from many of you of how God has worked in encouraging one another, helping each other, and praying for each other. The door has been opened in many hearts to share the gospel, so we praise God for how He is working in and through all of you and this situation. Please continue to connect with your small group via an online meeting tool like Zoom or Google Hangouts. It’s so important to maintain these relationships and be praying for each other.
There is some concern over our finances, and the impact job loss will have on our giving. This can’t really be known at this point, but we are doing all we can to prepare. We are thankful to God and all of you, as we had a really great week of giving this past week. We had many new givers, as well as regular givers give more, which has really helped. However, our first week of the month is typically higher, and the two weeks before were significantly lower. We anticipate that the longer this goes on and people are on EI or have lost their job all together, the real impact on our giving is yet to be seen. Therefore, we are continuing to ask those who have not been regular givers in our ministry to start giving, if you are able. If all of us just do something, we will see our needs met. Sadly, the majority of people in our church do not give, so please, if you have been blessed by Redemption, would you consider giving regularly as we move forward.
Our elders have approved an immediate 9% reduction in our budget (a $162,000 cut). We are able to do this without significantly impacting ministries, and keeping our team intact, but it would mean we would not be hiring another pastor/director this year, not doing some facility projects, reducing church planting donations, and cutting a few discretionary ministry plans. We will do an assessment towards the end of May, if further cuts are needed. We have taken an initial look at what those cuts may be and have frozen spending on an additional $146,000 (bringing us to a 17% reduction) which will move from a freeze to a cut, at that time, should more cuts be needed. This additional $146,000 will still not mean a reduction in staff, nor stop any ministries, but does have some reduction in things we thought we should do this year.
God has graciously allowed us to accumulate a reserve account, but are hoping we don’t have to dip into that, as we have no idea of what emergencies and future crisis may hit further down the road, so our prayer and desire is to deal with our deficit by some cuts and by increased donations. Please consider being a part of the solution to this stress and pressure we are feeling, as all churches are.
Just a reminder, you can give using your credit card HERE (this does cost us about 2.5% in fees) or contact Karen ([email protected]) to get setup to give through online banking (reduced fees vs. the credit card giving). Thank you!
Another initiative we are looking at adding during this time when we can’t meet together as a church family, is to help provide some contact with our elders, so we are asking a different elder and his wife, to make themselves available one evening during the week, where people can join them via technology, to talk, ask questions, hear what God is doing, and receive prayer. This would be like a virtual small group, but just for that one evening for an hour or so. If you would like to be a part of the first one of these – connect with an elder – virtual small groups next week, please email [email protected] and let us know. We will email the day and time and how to connect as soon as we have those details finalized.
Also, a reminder for any who may have special needs in this crisis season. If you need help getting groceries or other necessities, we have a bunch of eager volunteers ready and very excited to help by serving you and caring for your practical needs. Please contact [email protected] or call our office at 519-668-1977 to request help.
If you have some extra time and are looking for a way to fill it, why not take some biblical or theological training? Heritage Bible College and Seminary has made a bunch of classes available online. You can watch them when you want. Some offered this spring are livestream with set times, but others are pre-recorded. If you want to take a class for credit to work toward a degree, you need to apply and then pay a higher fee for the class. However you can also take the class in what is called the “audit” format, so you get all the same teaching, just that you don’t have to turn in any assignments, write any tests or exams, and you don’t have to apply, just sign up for the class. There is a fee, I am not sure what it is, but it is far cheaper to audit. I (Norm) think I may take one or two this spring/summer. I am still working daytime hours, but since I can watch them when I want online, this gives me flexibility to learn. Please check out the courses at https://discoverheritage.ca/academics/summer/ and contact the school ASAP if interested as we are past the signup date, but they said they would waive the late charge for our people, so let them know you are a part of Redemption.
Finally, we are excited to let you know that we have hired Kendra Breedveld in the part-time position of Kids Ministry Coordinator. Kendra and her husband Travis have three children: Silas (age 4), Callie (age 2), and Emily (almost 1). She has been a faithful volunteer in our Kids Ministry for many years, and her most recent role has been as a Service Coordinator. She already has a great grasp on our Kids Ministry and has some ideas on how to build upon the foundation we have to enhance this vital ministry. The exact role Kendra will have as well as how many hours a week she will work will be determined over the next few months. This hire is not as the Kids Ministry Director, but rather we are splitting that role and Kendra will take some of the key aspects of it.
Julie is very excited to welcome Kendra to the team as we know all Kids Ministry workers will be. We are so thankful to God for Julie and how she has carried the leadership of Kids, with such a good attitude, for many months. We are now thanking God for Kendra, as from what we have seen, they will complement each other very well, each able to use their gifting and passion together in a way that brings God glory and serves our kids and their families.
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please email me directly at [email protected] We love, miss, and are praying for you all, and can’t wait until we can be back together, in the same room worshipping as one family. Until then, let’s continue, in faith, to walk after Christ, seeking to trust in Him and honour Him in this very strange season.