Updates and Church News
May 29, 2020
Dear Emmanuel Family,
Well it seems quite some time since my last update. Much has happened in my life since then. A large blood clot in my lungs, numerous hospital visits, pneumonia, and now a long road to recovery. Thank you for your prayers during the past weeks, your many cards and emails of encouragement. They really helped me weather the storm. Strange, I started out healthy and strong and not worried so much about the pandemic, but now I am among the most vulnerable. I have a new appreciation for our seniors and those who are physically compromised by illness.
In the month that I have been away, not much has changed with respect to our church services. We continue to offer services online and I am deeply grateful for Pastor Aaron, our elders and many others who have carried on these ministries in my absence. We are beginning to see our province taking measures to open up our economy but the measures at this point are cautious. Soon we may see measures permitting our building to reopen to staff, and then, hopefully church meetings. Our elders and staff have been working on a plan to resume services as safely as possible in respect to any guidelines the province may require.
As we consider this possibility let me offer a few Biblical Guidelines that should guide us through this continuing pandemic and into reopening: I’m indebted to my good friend Pastor James Seward of Maple Hill Baptist Church for some of these points.
1) Submission to Governmental Authority: Romans 13 teaches that God uses even pagan governments to establish social order in His world. As such He calls upon believers to be obedient to civil authorities. The only exception is if these civil authorities ask us to disobey God in some way (Acts 4:9). During this COVID crisis, it is the government’s task to determine how our society as a whole should respond. We therefore have a duty to submit to them even though we may disagree with them.
2) Loving our neighbour: Luke 10 and the story of the Samaritan ought to remind us that we need to be willing to give of ourselves to help others in need, even strangers. During this Covid period we ought to be willing to surrender some of our rights and freedoms to protect the most vulnerable among us.
3) The issue of conscience: Romans 14 is a very important text for the time we find ourselves in. This text is central to helping us maintain unity even though we may disagree on how this virus is being handled publicly, as well as when and how we think we should gather again. When the Bible doesn’t speak directly to whether something is right or wrong, believers should do what they think is right before God, while striving to maintain unity. COVID provides us with a textbook example. Some feel they have a moral obligation to do everything possible to limit the spread of the virus, while others are less concerned about masks or the extent of the quarantine. In spite of our differences of conviction, as believers we are obligated to respond to one another with grace and not judgement.
4) The Primacy of the Gospel: Haggai 1, John 9. These texts remind us that God allows calamity to work out His saving purposes among humanity. God is at work right now orchestrating this COVID crisis to prepare people to turn to Christ and become aware of their spiritual need. The church has a voice of hope and redemption to our friends and neighbors even though we cannot gather at this time.
5) A Calm in the storm: Matthew 6 reminds us that whatever comes our way, we need not fear for the future because God loves us and has promised to provide for our needs. As this COVID season drags on, we will be increasingly tempted with anxiety and fear. The headline in the news these days are increasingly apocalyptic. But as believers we need not fear for our God has us in His arms and speaks peace to our troubled souls.
Please remember those among us who continue to struggle with cancer, Laura D., Anne M., Dave B. Please pray for Pat P. struggling with a blockage in her heart. Pray for Dave and Jean W. as Dave remains in hospital waiting to be placed into long term care. Pray for our many seniors and people with ill health that they may avoid the virus.
Pray for our church finances and please remember to support our church weekly. Our staff continues to minister faithfully to our congregation, but bills are still coming in and wages need to be covered. Go to our online giving or giving through the mail.
Please pray for this coming Father’s Day service on June 21st. Please read the announcement below for some details about that service:
Calling all Dad’s, Grandpa’s, Uncle’s, and Big brothers! We want your CURRENT video/pictures of you and your kid(s) doing something (hiking, music, birdwatching, etc. or building a project together). Send to the email@example.com before June 17th and we will present a compilation of the submissions, in our online service on June 21st.
NOTE: Please make sure photos have at least a resolution of 1 mb and videos need to be 30sec or less. Email the office to let them know you are trying to submit.
Also some wonderful news ! One of our young families had their baby on May 12; Blake James S. born to Kaitlin and Mark S. All doing well.
I apologize for the length of this update but trust you are all doing well. I am hoping, as my health improves, to be able to start dropping by some of your homes for a social distancing visit either in the front yard or on a porch. I too now must take precautions! I miss you all and hope we can be together soon Lord willing.
Your servant in Christ,
May 22, 2020
Dear Church Family,
Pastor Tim is beginning to feel a little better. He is still coughing quite a bit and he still gets tired quickly. Continue to pray for him. He is hoping to slowly begin some work next week and he is hoping to be able to begin his series on the book of Acts. Pastor Aaron will be sharing the Word on Sunday.
As a board we have been included in a letter written by the EFC, and signed a letter by some churches from Ontario that were sent to Premier Doug Ford to consider the essential services that a church brings to a community. We believe the church is essential to our community, we want to meet the needs of those who need spiritual as well as physical care during a difficult time. We would still abide with the government, and the health board standards that are in place. I have attached the link if you want to read the letter we signed: reopenontariochurches.ca . If you have any questions please ask one the elders. The other letter from EFC can be found by clicking here. Premier Ford was receptive to the letter and has already had one Zoom call with the churches since we sent it.
The Ladies retreat in Muskoka has been cancelled but they will have a virtual retreat instead. If any ladies would like to attend this Virtual Retreat, please click here for more more Info.Prayer Meeting continues to meet every Wednesday night from 6:30 to 8 pm. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to be part of this.
Continue to pray for your leadership as we navigate these difficult times. As restrictions are lifted we will be preparing for the time when we can meet together as a church. In the meantime pray and stay safe and join us each Sunday on You tube for our service.
Chair of EBC Board
May 5th, 2020
Dear Emmanuel Family,
With Pastor Tim recovering at home I thought that I would provide an update for you our church family.
Please continue to pray for Pastor Tim while he is home from hospital and now recuperating. He is still coughing but feeling much better and with less pain. Pastor Tim wanted to share with everyone that he and Lisa are very thankful for your prayers and support. He is planning to be back preaching Sunday May 17th starting in the book of Acts.
Your Board is now meeting through Zoom calls. We try to meet twice a month and still spend much time each month praying through the church directory. We are thankful that many of you have changed your giving to online donations. We are praising God that funds continue to come in. God is faithful.
As a Board we will also need to decide what to do about a Nominating Committee for 2020 as we usually elect them at our Annual Meeting Part 2.
This coming Sunday is Mother’s Day and we want to salute all of our mothers here at Emmanuel. You all are a blessing to us as a church, as you are in your home as well.
If you are interested in joining our weekly prayer meeting via Zoom please email me, Tony Vanderlaan at email@example.com.
Pastor Aaron and Lori will be updating you this Sunday re Day Camp for 2020. We appreciate them and all the work and time they have put into this process. They have also done an excellent job at putting resources online for your use. Make sure you check them out and use them.
A big shout out goes to Marshall Pettapiece who each week records and edits the service for Sunday mornings. We really appreciate all that he is doing for us in this area of ministry.
Please email or call me if you have any concerns and know that we look forward to the day when we can worship together again. In the mean time stay safe and enjoy your family.
Together Under the Shadow of His Wings
Tony Vanderlaan - Board Chairman
April 17 2020
Dear Emmanuel family,
Psalm 90 is the only psalm in the psalter associated with Moses. It begins with a beautiful affirmation of the security we can find in the eternal unchangeable nature of God. To drive the wonder of this home, the psalmist then spends the next 9 verses reminding us, as humanity, of our frailty, our mortality and finally in v.11 our fate under sin. It is a sobering read. And that’s the point. V.12 then echoes in with a conclusion, “So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” The need for the fear of God to give us a redemptive perspective on our mortality ought to compel us take stock of our limited amount of time on this earth and pursue wisdom that finds it’s culmination in “the fear of the LORD”. (See Proverbs1:7). This passage was a reminder to me not to waste “My Corona”. Our Corona Quarantine is a discipline from God. Not a punishment per say, but an instrument of God’s mercy to instruct us in the way of wisdom and the fear of the LORD. And so, dear brothers and sisters, number your days. Make full use, by God’s grace of this time He has blessed us with, to grow in your dependence and understanding of our merciful and gracious Saviour. More than at any time in history, there are numerous opportunities online for you to take courses in theology and bible study. The Charles Simeon Trust has numerous courses online to teach you how to interpret scripture and learn good Bible reading and study habits. Focus on the family and Prepared to Answer has numerous resources for families and students. Our own website is loaded with links and information to help you thrive spiritually. So, number your days.
Just a reminder to those of you who give through Canada Helps to please consider moving to online giving either through our website or through our Pre-authorized giving. Canada Helps charges 4% per transaction while our website has significantly smaller fees!
We would like to express a profound gratitude to our church family for your generous giving during this time of crisis. Many churches are having to lay off staff due to a significant drop in giving but so far God has richly provided through your generosity to give our staff the time needed to adjust to online ministry and the extra work needed to keep our church family connected. Thank you!
If you are interested in joining us for our weekly prayer meeting via Zoom please email our elder Tony VanderLaan at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that we cannot always mention people’s prayer requests in our online services due to confidentiality concerns. Remember to uphold our many healthcare workers who are experiencing untold stress and hardship during this time.
In two weeks our staff will be updating you with regard to the status of our day camps.
Thank you to so many who are tuning in to our services each week! We are working hard at trying to improve the video and sound quality each week. This is a new experience for us and we are grateful for your patience as we learn.
May God richly bless you in the coming week as together we “number our days” till He comes.
April 12 2020
Dear Emmanuel Family,
It’s a strange feeling to have spent your entire life gathering with friends and family over Easter to have that all suddenly change. I feel out of sorts, in a different world, lonesome for fellowship. At this special time of year where gathering around the celebration of the crucified and risen Christ has been such a blessing, we miss it dearly and feel its loss profoundly. The word “together” takes on a whole new meaning. I suspect we will learn to cherish one another more.
Even though we are apart, please know we are thinking and praying for you all daily. You are in our hearts and we miss you. Tomorrow we will be gathering again online at 10am for our Good Friday service. Please remember to prepare some bread and juice for the occasion. On Sunday we will be gathering online at 10:30 am to celebrate the risen Christ with our Easter Service. We will have a testimony, some songs as well as prayer and the preaching of God’s word from Revelation chapter 21. Perhaps it’s fitting that we reflect on a time in the future where we will never be apart again and with our Saviour forever. The one thing hardship in this life does is that it teaches us to long for our ultimate and eternal home. The New Heaven and New earth where there will be no more tears, or crying or pain… "for those former things will have passed away.”(Rev. 21:4)
Until that wonderful day persevere in the faith, run the race with patient endurance, “…looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.” Please pray for many of our seniors feeling isolated and alone and afraid at this time. Many in nursing homes or on their own. Pray for our health care workers many of whom are working overtime and long hours. The list could go on. Even though we are apart, prayer unites us and enables us to stand together as one body in Christ.
May God mercifully keep you in the coming days,
on behalf of Emmanuel elders and staff.
April 3 2020
Dear Emmanuel Family,
Well it’s hard to believe this has gone on for three weeks! I trust this note is finding you all in good health! I just wanted to update you on some of the work that has been going on behind the scenes to help you stay connected to Emmanuel and our changing way of doing ministry in these trying times. Our staff is working hard at updating and making our church website more user friendly. This is something we were wanting to do for some time now. On the front page of the website you will now find links to most of the important content of the site. Pastor Aaron and Lori have updated their sites to provide you with resources and helps for teaching and helping your kids through this crisis. We all want to be of help in any way we can so if you need help or resources you can’t find, or just someone to talk to about staying sane with a house full of cooped up kids, just call! Haha.
We have now put a link on the front page of our website to facilitate giving. Please remember those who are struggling financially. Some have been laid off, many retirees have seen their RRSP’s take a hit from the economic drop. We who can still give need to continue to do so to support and help them through the ministry of the church.
We have also put a link on the front page of our site for prayer requests. These requests will be kept confidential unless you ask them to be shared with our prayer team or our church family. If you would like to be on the prayer chain please send an email to the church in order to give us permission to share prayer requests with you.
We have begun the process of setting up a number of Zoom meetings where you can join via video with different groups meeting online. Follow this link to find out more about the different groups meeting and when.
Our church has been closed to occupancy until further notice. Staff are now working from home and phone lines have been redirected so you can still get our Admin: Julia if you call Tues-Fri. 9:00am-4:00pm.
Our Easter services coming up will be online. We will be celebrating communion online so we ask that you would prepare some juice and bread ahead of time in order to celebrate the Lord’s Table with us even though we are temporarily apart. Our Good Friday service starts at 10am. Easter Sunday will be a unique service and our staff and elders are at work to make our Easter time celebration a blessing for everyone.
Please pray for us. It has not been easy adjusting to new circumstances, but we know that many have it much worse. Pray for the many who are in desperate need, lonely and afraid. Pray that they would find their deepest needs met in Christ. Pray that we would find new and creative ways of being the church while we are apart.
God bless you and keep you,
March 24 2020
Dear Emmanuel family,
Over the past few days there have been several announcements from our provincial and federal governments to suggest we may be in this state of imposed isolation for some time. Considering these announcements, our elders and church staff have been meeting to come up with a plan moving forward to help support you as families as we all try to adjust to this new reality over a longer term than expected. Our desire as a church is to pull together as many resources, professional advice and ideas as possible, to help our students as well as support you as parents.
Our church website will be the main information hub for our church moving forward. There you will find updates like this one as things change in our community and we need to keep your informed about resources and ways we are adjusting our ministries. There will be links on our main page to video Devotionals as well as Sunday sermons. Our Children and Youth ministries will have their own pages that you can access through the standard menu options. Our staff are working hard at helping you as parents to be able to continue to shepherd your children and youth through these uncertain times. Keep checking in as new information and ideas will be added weekly. Our small groups are working on a plan now to connect with our congregation via online courses and interactive video conferencing. Again, you can access this information under the Adult Ministries menu option.
Special offering for lights and online giving: Some have been asking about our fundraising for the lighting system. Due to the financial stress on many families at this time we have suspended fundraising for the lighting system until a later date. Please be aware that there are a number of options for those of you looking to continue to support the church for our weekly needs. Staff are still working and developing new programs so wages need to be payed and building and maintenance costs still come in. You may give online through our website. If you would like to set up Pre-Authorized giving through your bank click here for access to the proper form. Also, you may mail your offering in with post dated cheques. Thank you for continuing to support the ministries of Emmanuel through this difficult time.
Just a quick update on our Columbia missions Team. The Team arrived safely home last week and have been in self-isolation for the past week. They will be coming together after April 1st to put together a presentation that will be available online the Sunday of April 5th. To get some snippets of the Columbia mission you can visit our youth missions page.
Please pray for us as we partner with you to encourage stability in our homes and a consistent witness to our community of what living under the kingdom rule of Christ looks like during trying circumstances.
Pastor Tim Hawman
March 17 2020
Dear Emmanuel family,
These have been challenging days for all of us as we continue to try to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in a way that is responsive and not reactive. As a church staff we are in regular contact with our local health unit to stay up to date and informed of the safest guidelines and procedures to use to ensure the safety and health of our church and its staff.
With this in mind, we want to communicate with you as soon as possible to help update everyone about the status of the activities going on at Emmanuel as well as the status of our teen mission trip in Columbia.
- Please note the church facilities will be closed and all events postponed until further notice. Staff will be onsite to manage questions via phone or email but we discourage anyone from visiting the church building in person.
- Sunday morning service - postponed until April 5. At this point we expect services to resume on that date. This could change. We will let you know of any change in developments.
- Youth and Children’s ministries - resume when schools reopen. At present that is the week of April 6. This could change depending on if schools reopen at that time.
- Small Groups: Tuesday night Men’s Bible study - postponed until further notice. Both Monday morning Precept groups should contact Jeannie Papple for details about whether their groups are meeting and where. Sermon based groups should contact their group leaders for details.
- The Columbia Team will be flying home this Wednesday. They will be flying to Panama, then to Chicago, and then to Detroit where they will be picked up by a team of church drivers and brought across the border to Canada late Wednesday night. Please pray for their safe journey and protection in travel from infection.
Families of the teens are individually working on how to sort through the implications of a 14 day isolation protocol that best suites their individual circumstances in keeping with Huron/Perth Health Unit guidelines. Pray for their perseverance and resources to make it through this time. The church staff are making whatever resources available we can to help in this process.
- If you have any concerns or need someone to talk to about the crisis, our staff is available via phone or internet to be a listening ear in order to offer encouragement and biblical counselling support to help you navigate through these difficult times.
Psalm 90 is the only Psalm in the Psalter directly attributed to Moses. In it Moses writes, “Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.” The idea behind the metaphor of a ‘dwelling place’ is that Yaweh was a to be a source of security and protection before Israel had a king. We often look to people for security and protection in times of crisis, but this psalm reminds us that only God can afford us the comfort we need in upheaval and worry. This comes out strongly as you compare v.2 to v.3. There the everlasting God is contrasted to man who returns to dust. Let’s together trust the everlasting One to carry us in the days ahead. He loves us and is anxious for us to look to Him for strength to face the day. Why not enjoy this virus-imposed Sabbath to read a God-glorifying book, to take an online course on theology, to go deeper in family relationships, to enjoy the outdoors or, learn how to paint!!!!
On behalf of our elders and staff,
Your servant in Christ