Fall is almost upon us and there are a few items that we’d like to put on your radar…
In-Person Distanced Sunday Gatherings
We are excited to be providing the option to gather in-person again starting September 13! It has been a long season of meeting online, and while our online gatherings will continue we will also be meeting in person again for those who are able to do so. We are currently working on all the logistics to make the in-person gatherings safe for whomever participates. We will be taking all necessary precautions mandated by the government and health officials, and taking some extra measures to ensure a safe environment for all.
More details will be forthcoming, but everyone will be encouraged to stay home if they display any of the symptoms or are in a vulnerable category. Additionally, hand sanitization stations and masks will be utilized, seating will be set up seating in a physically distanced manner, the space will be sanitized before and after each gathering, and we will be limiting the number of people and the activities that take place in the sanctuary.
Mark your calendars – September 13.
Also, there will be a meeting for parents and guardians of kids and youth to discuss options for moving forward. This will be Sept 13 at 7pm at the church. If you are unable to attend there will be questions circulated in advance for your input.
House Groups will be important in the next season of church life. We need to be together. Some of us may not be able to gather physically, others may choose only to have a few people in their “bubble”, but wherever you are at, if you want to be in a House Group, we’d like to make that happen. Watch for more info on how to sign up in the coming weeks.
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Course
One of the groups that will be meeting throughout the Fall will be using the Emotionally Healthy Spirituality material that we piloted last year. The material is designed to become a regular part of the rhythm of discipleship in churches. We won’t be running a concurrent sermon series on it this year, but if you missed it last year, this is your chance. Let Andrew in the office know if you are interested.
You can find out more info about Emotionally Healthy Spirituality course here.
At a recent Elder’s meeting there was a keen sense that WCV is about to turn a corner out of the turbulent waters of the past few years. “A new thing springing up” (Isaiah43:19) is a word for us in this season. This is super encouraging, but we still need to lead well, especially given the current Covid realities. So we need to know where you are at and how you are feeling regarding a few of the key elements of our regular community rhythms: specifically House Groups and Sunday Gatherings.
The writer of Hebrews encourages “don’t give up gathering together.” (Hebrews 10:25). How do we not give up gathering given the corporate restrictions in place? What should we do given the broad spectrum of needs, requirements and experiences in our community? What should we do with our kids? These are all questions we’re wrestling with. This season requires us to be nimble, flexible and creative as we seek to follow Jesus as best we can.
Would you take a moment to answer 5 survey questions (they can be as simple as yes or no answers)? Your responses will inform plans for the Fall. One thing we know for sure is that House Groups will be vital in order to continue to grow and pursue what Jesus has for us. Also, we are looking at starting up physical in-person gatherings again soon while both adhering to all the current protocols as well as continuing our online live-feed broadcasts.
We are meeting exclusively online on Sundays until Sept 13. To catch our time together head over to our Facebook page. We will be broadcasting a live feed starting at 10am. Tune in for worship in music, prayer, inspiration, and simple connection. The broadcast will remain up on our Facebook page afterwards as a video in case you miss the live feed. We’re going to keep it organic, intimate and simple. Nothing flashy, nothing fancy. Just simple connection with God and each other. Sounds good, right?!
On Sept 13 we will begin to meeting in person again, while remaining online for those who need that option. Read more about how we are starting up our in-person gatherings here.
These are certainly interesting times. We want to update you on some active steps we’re taking to care for our community and plans being made in a season that can be quite unsettling for many. In the midst of these stormy waters we say, like the Psalmist before us, that the Lord is a “solid rock under our feet; breathing room for our souls” (Ps 62). We can stand firm and protected amidst what can feel like crashing waves and not be shaken. Even in those times when we are swept away by a wave of insecurity or instability, we can always find our way back to the solid rock and find space to breathe. Phew.
Sunday Gatherings Cancelled
As of this morning (March 17), the Government of Manitoba recommended that “all gatherings of 50 people or more should be cancelled”. This is to help contain the Coronavirus in a strategy to help “flatten the curve”. More specifically, it will provide some level of protection for the most vulnerable among us as well as some relief to what could quickly become an overburdened health care system. We will follow the direction of the health officials in this matter.
Starting this Sunday (March 22) we will not be gathering at 782 Main St as normal. This will be for at least the next three weeks (up to and including April 5). In addition, we will be cancelling our Youth, men’s and women’s groups for the same time period. House Groups will gather based on their own discretion. We ask that you take all the proper and necessary protocols that our health authorities are recommending: Don’t attend if you’ve recently travelled internationally or are feeling sick. If you do gather, don’t share food, do practice social distancing and do wash your hands properly! Please watch for updates on the duration of this cancellation.
But Wait – there are Options…
Instead of meeting in person, we will be meeting online. We will be preparing a simple live-streaming service so that we can still gather together to worship, pray and be encouraged by a meditation from scripture. This will be done on Facebook. You can go to WCV’s Facebook page to access this. Watch for more details about this in the coming days.
Caring for the Vulnerable
In an effort to care for the most vulnerable among us, as well as to care for those who do not have access to internet, we will have a small team of people present at 782 Main St to meet with, pray together, and offer a small bag of lunch for those who come not knowing we’ve cancelled Sunday gatherings. We want to ensure that those who are less-privileged than us who are reading this, are cared for as we are able.
Additionally, we want to take this opportunity to encourage you to notice who may be falling through the cracks of care.
Do you or someone you know need:
An encouraging phone call?
A ride to an appointment?
Help with shopping?
Let’s think about our neighbours and fellow community members with the eyes of Jesus and respond as needed. If you have specific needs, or you know of someone else who does, let’s be the hands and feet of Jesus in this time. Go for it! Practice safe social distancing, and wash your hands a lot, but go for it! This is what the church has always done in times like these.
You can always call the office or contact anyone on the Leadership Team if you’re not sure what to do, or if you need some assistance yourself.
I’m Bored / Scared / Lonely…
In times of isolation, you may find yourself with a little more time on your hands. Right now there are many resources popping up to bring encouragement, peace and teaching to the people of God. Here are a few:
Music. Vineyard Worship has been posting live worship sessions. They’re simple, beautiful and intimate. You can access them on their Facebook Page here.
Prayer. There are a number of churches and organizations helping people connect with God in a variety of ways. Vineyard Ann Arbor has made Fixed Hour Prayers using Phyllis Tickle’s books available. You can select the Central Time Zone and the appropriate prayers for that time of day will be displayed.
Community Prayer Nights. Currently we are still planning on having our community prayer nights (unless the recommendations for groups gathering shrinks below 50 people). Watch for details about when and where these are.
Teaching on Philippians. N.T. Wright mentions that Paul wrote the letter to the Philippians from jail and in a time of great unrest and personal crisis. He thinks that Philippians may be timely to this season of alarm and unrest. He is making his online course, “Paul and His Letter to the Philippians: Small Group Edition“, available free of charge for the next three days (starting today). Email Andy for more information on how to enrol. Sara Epp – thanks for the tip!
Do you have any resources that are helping you? Leave your recommendations in the comments below!
Lastly, we want to be upfront and honest about our financial situation. We are currently behind budget for the year, carrying a deficit of $15,600 (as of March 15). Cancelling Sunday Gatherings likely won’t help. Can we encourage you to keep regularly giving to the church? For the next few weeks we won’t have baskets to pass around, but we do have online ways to give. E-transfer is the best. Simply send tithes and offerings to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your faithfulness in this matter.
May the peace of God which nobody can completely understand guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
The Upstairs Gathering rebooted this past week. Until Advent it will be in a season of experimenting with a more liturgical flavour. In the past few years there has been quite a bit of community jam for exploring the gifts of the contemplative life – good things have been happening. The Men’s retreat and the Schools of Spiritual Direction are prime examples of people connecting with God in deeper and more intentional ways. This focus for the Upstairs Gathering is another way we can continue to explore this as a community. While liturgy and contemplation are not the same, they can mutually reinforce each other. What we pray, the words we sing, the importance we place on certain elements of our gatherings – these all form us
whether we realize it or not.
In this experiment, we want to intentionally and carefully infuse our gathering with elements that are rooted in scripture, part of the historical understanding of what it means to follow Jesus, and central to Christian worship. It’s not that downstairs is devoid of any of these elements – it’s not! We just want to use the Upstairs Gathering as a venue to intentionally explore these things with a little more attention to detail than we may be used to. For example, each week we will have a specific prayer to lead us through a process of affirming what we believe and a specific prayer of confession in order to ready ourselves to receive communion. This central act of Christian worship has a sacramental power that is very rich if given time and space to do what it should in us. Ultimately, we want to place ourselves in the best possible position to both worship God and be formed, transformed and renewed by him.
The prayers that are used upstairs have been compiled from a wide variety of sources (scripture, Book of Common Prayer, early Christian creeds, ancient prayers, etc). and have been modified to suit modern sensibilities… in other words, they’ve been “Vineyardized”. We will tweak them as we go along. There will still be a condensed sermon on the same topic as the Downstairs Gathering, and we’ll always make room for discussion, interaction and group dialogue. Also, there is always coffee served right after the kid’s are released!
In the end, we’re one church with two gatherings. Feel free to try it out – and then let us know what you think. Bear in mind we don’t really want to know whether you like it or not – as if church were some kind of product to be consumed. Rather, let us know if it helps you to encounter Jesus – enhances your worship – opens up space for God to do something in you. In the end it’s all about worshiping God regardless of form and irrespective of our preferences!