Updates and Church News
November 5, 2020
Dear Emmanuel family,
Well, we are 9 months into this, and I feel done. I need grace to persevere. Some of us were done in the first week. Some struggled to keep it up. Some are feeling the isolation. Some are just weary of the restriction and change. Where do we go for compassion and encouragement to persevere. One of the things most difficult about this time is it has robbed us of much needed fellowship. So, where do we go with our grief and loss and loneliness and frailty? Psalm 103 reminds us that,
“As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame;[a]
he remembers that we are dust.”
God knows our weakness and frailty and humanity. He intimately understands our every weakness and fear. But just as a father shows compassion to weak and errant children, loving them in spite of their stubbornness and failure, the LORD loves us and lavishes His grace upon us. I needed to hear that this morning as I put on my mask and reckoned with a crazy world and my own fearful unbelieving heart. In my Puritan devotional containing the prayers and poems of the 17th century Puritans I read,
“I am always going into the far country, and always returning home as a prodigal, always saying “Father forgive me”, and Thou art always bringing forth the best robe. Every morning let me wear it, every evening return in it, go out to the day’s work in it, be married in it, be wrapped up in death in it, stand before the great white throne in it, enter heaven in it shining as the sun.”
We are thankful to God that in the midst of some serious outbreaks in other regions, Huron county remains mostly Covid free. This has enabled us to take cautious freedom to gather more often for 2 services as well as other smaller meetings together such as women’s coffee break and some small groups. Our services have been averaging 150- 200 every Sunday! It’s a joy to see many returning for worship onsite. We still have over 100 each week watching our services online as well! God is still moving and we are grateful.
A couple of things to remember moving forward: On November 22 we will be hosting another Prayer Summit at 7pm at Emmanuel. This is a time when we gather as a congregation for focused prayer for God’s moving in our midst by His Holy Spirit.
Soon after, on Wednesday November 25 we will be doing our AGM on Zoom. Our office admin will be sending out a link for zoom via email. Please be watching your email for the info. If you don’t receive an email, please contact the office. There are packages for the meeting available at church and by clicking here.
Our Advent services will begin on Sunday November 29 as we begin our Christmas series entitled “The Light that breaks into our Darkness”. Then on December 5 we will be taking part in an inter-church ministry called “The Bethlehem Journey.” A number of local churches will come together to share a portion of the Christmas story for people to drive in and see. We will be presenting the story of the angels announcing the Good News to the Shepherds. Sign up online here to book a spot!
Please be in prayer that this Christmas, in spite of the restrictions, the Gospel would not be restricted from shinning into the darkness of our county and community through the many ministries of Emmanuel Baptist Church.
October 1, 2020
Dear Emmanuel family,
Psalm 147 belongs to a series of 5 psalms at the end of the psalter. They are known as the “Hallel” psalms because they all begin with the word “praise.” Psalm 147 alternates between praise to God for His care and steadfast love, the gift of His Word to His people, and His manifest power in creation. The psalmist does this to remind us that God’s power and ability to provide, as well as the creative power of His Word, are the guarantees that He can re-gather His people, heal us and bind up our wounds (v.3). He can provide for our every need as we fear Him and hope in His covenant love (v.11). And the same effective Word that creates the seasons year after year, brings moral order and wisdom to His people. Today, the church as God’s chosen people of the New Covenant, are to lift up their voices in praise to God for the unique gift of His self-revelation through His Word and His unfailing covenant love that keeps His church through times of uncertainty and hardship. Comforting and praise-worthy words to reflect on these days! May God grant us the grace to remember Christ and His sacrifice that has made it possible for us to be counted among the beloved, (Ephesians 1:6). Join us for communion on site this Sunday!
At this point Covid cases seem to be on the rise although much more testing is being done and cases are resolving themselves faster. We have had 8 months now to learn more about the illness and have found more effective ways of treating it. All this in answer to prayer! Thank God that cases in our region are minimal at present.
For the time being we will continue singing until our elders feel we need to step back for a time. Our other programs are continuing, with youth beginning to meet on site as well as in small groups in homes. Our Sunday School and toddler program will be re-starting sometime soon so keep an eye on our children’s ministry page for updates.
This Saturday at 9am we will be hosting a men’s breakfast and skeet shoot. For those wanting just breakfast, the cost is $5. Total for breakfast and skeet shoot is $25. Make sure to register for the skeet shoot early online under adult ministries.
Also, this Sunday we are having a number of babies dedicated to the Lord in both services! Make sure and register early as both services will fill up quick!
Finally, two services has stretched our need for volunteers! If you could help in power point or in the sound booth or filming the service - contact our Media director Marshall Pettapiece here. We will provide any necessary training.
Phew that was a lot! We thank God for His merciful provision this fall. Please continue to join us as we make our way through Ecclesiastes and tackle the challenge of living wisely East of Eden.
Yours in Christ,
September 11 2020
Dear Emmanuel Family,
In Psalm 92:1-4 we read,
It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
2 to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
and your faithfulness by night,
3 to the music of the lute and the harp,
to the melody of the lyre.
4 For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work;
at the works of your hands I sing for joy.
The Psalmist reminds us to practice the discipline of thanksgiving in both morning and evening. The implication is that gratitude would characterize our attitude throughout the day. Thanksgiving takes faith doesn’t it? It takes faith in the sense that to be grateful we need to believe that in spite of everything that happens, God’s works are good (v.4) because God is good. It’s especially a challenge to believe that and be thankful when things are not going so good. The first thing we do is doubt God’s goodness and think that He is either displeased with us or out to get us. The immediate result is disappointment, despair and ingratitude. At the heart of gratitude is the theological reality that God is good. When our hearts and minds are captivated by the reality of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness to us in Christ, saving us when we didn’t deserve saving, loving us when we were unlovely, gratitude is a natural and logical response.
Well, fall is upon us and with it comes the start up of many of our ministries here at Emmanuel. Things are going to look a little different this fall, which by now we should be getting used to😊. Our children’s ministry is delaying their re-start until we see how things go with schools re-opening. We will keep you advised when our Sunday school and Nursery ministries will resume. Of special note regarding nursery currently: we now have both infant and toddler rooms available for parents to use during the service. Both rooms are unmanned at this time, so parents will need to stay with their own children.
Our youth ministry is beginning soon, first online and then in person. See Pastor Aaron’s youth page on our website for more information.
On September 20, we are planning to move to two services on Sunday at 9am and 11am. Registration will still be required for now. The 9 am service will be recorded and posted online by 11am for those who can’t make it to our services.
This Sunday we are planning to cautiously begin singing again with masks on. We are encouraging everyone to sing softly and we are keeping our songs to a minimum to be safe.
In our service this Sunday Josh McBurney will be commissioned to Pastoral ministry. Josh will be sharing with us how God has called him to pastoral ministry and our elders will lay hands on him to commission him to this high calling. What a blessing to see young men going out from us to shepherd churches!
In the coming weeks we will also be rolling out a new approach to small groups called “Bubble Groups”. With the many restrictions of COVID, we have had a hard time trying to do small groups like normal. In light of this we are asking you as a congregation to take the initiative in the coming days to gather with a few people in your social bubble to study in your own homes. The church will be making sermon based questions available as well as other material you may wish to study.
Next week we will launching into a new fall series on the book of Ecclesiastes entitled “ Life and meaning East of Eden”.
Let’s remember to continue to pray for those in our midst struggling with cancer or who are in cancer recovery. Dave, Laura, Pat, Marion and Anne.
Please pray for Chris and Marion’s grandson Benjamin in hospital in serious condition.
Pray for the safety of our students and teachers returning to school.
May God grant us in the coming weeks the discipline to give thanks throughout the day, in faith for His goodness even in the midst of these perilous times. God is Sovereign and able to use all things for His glory and our good.
August 21, 2020
Dear Emmanuel family,
This fall, we are hoping by God’s grace, to launch into a series on the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes. It’s a much-neglected book that is very rarely preached from. It comes across as pessimistic and at times hard to understand. One of the words that appears at the beginning of the book, and is repeated over and over, is the word “vanity” (KJV,ESV) or “meaningless”( NIV). Literally it means vapour or smoke. It points to the futility of human existence from a purely secular perspective, hence, “under the sun”. Like vapour, meaning is elusive in a world broken by the fall. But of course, the statement itself, “meaningless” is a statement of meaning! It’s like saying “there is no such thing as truth” which is in fact a truth statement. So the writer of Ecclesiastes, by using this literary hook, is asking us to join him on a search for meaning in life East of Eden where, “ …the creation has been subjected to futility…”(Romans 8:20-22). This book is a powerful witness to the futility of trying to find meaning in life apart from God. But it also struggles with the reality of the futility we sense from trying to live life in a world messed up by sin. As a result, we learn as believers to long for another life, in which there will be, "… no more mourning or crying or death.” (Revelation 21:4) Hope you will join us this fall for this fascinating look into early Jewish wisdom literature written by Solomon himself and pointing to “… the One greater than Solomon” (Luke 11:31).
A few notes by way of updates, next Sunday, August 30th we are hoping to have a baptism service at the church. Both COVID and the weather have made an outdoor service harder and difficult to plan.
Brennan Little and Emily Svensson will be married tomorrow, Saturday August 22 with Pastor Aaron Johnson officiating in Toronto. They have provided a link for everyone to watch their ceremony live tomorrow at 1pm:
Russ and Verona Snider will be celebrating their 65th wedding Anniversary on Thursday Aug. 27. It will be a drop in from 3pm -8pm at 73899 Bronson Line, Zurich. Best wishes only.
Thank you to all our members who attended our Zoom AGM. As a membership we have approved moving forward with a much-needed update to our lighting system to LED that will save thousands in electricity costs per year. The membership also approved a required remediation to a back storage room that will bring the room up to proper building code requirements.
Congratulations are in order to Josh McBurney! Josh was affirmed by our membership as an intern pastor in training. Josh has had a call to pastoral ministry in keeping with our goal here at Emmanuel to train God’s people for mission. Josh will be formally interning 2 days per week beginning in January of 2021! Pray that God would use this young man and his family in the days to come as they train and prepare for full-time ministry whether pastoring in a local church or church planting.
Please remember to be in prayer for Laura D. and Dave B. and Marion D. and Anne M. in the ongoing struggle with cancer.
Pray for Pat P. and her recovery from heart surgery and upcoming post- cancer radiation treatments.
May God richly bless you this coming week as you bear testimony to the risen Christ!
August 6, 2020
Dear church family,
The writer of Ecclesiastes notes in Chapter 3:4 that there is “…. time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;”. Later in the Beatitudes Jesus reminds us that, “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.” We mourn when we experience any kind of loss. Of course, it is more profound and deep depending on the significance of our loss. We mourn differently over the loss of a routine than we would the loss of a spouse. Yet Jesus and the teacher of Ecclesiastes reminds us that mourning is a good and timely thing.
Again, in Ecclesiastes chapter 7v. 3 he writes,” Sorrow is better than laughter for by sadness of face the heart is made glad”. How could this be? Sorrow better than laughter? Well, maybe. Let me explain. What the Beatitudes and Ecclesiastes have in common is that they both share a common origin in what’s known as the Wisdom literature of the Bible. In wisdom literature like Proverbs we are told if we do right we will be blessed, but if we do wrong we will be punished. Simple. But Ecclesiastes and Job, two other wisdom books, reminds us that life doesn’t always work that way. Proverbs, therefore, are not promises but short sayings about how life works much of the time. A lot like, “Rain before seven ends by eleven”. Yeah, mostly true - but not all the time. The reason for the discrepancy between Proverbs and Job or Ecclesiastes is that we live on the other side of Eden. We were created to live in a perfect world, but sin messed everything up. So we mourn, we experience loss, we cry, we are broken. But the very act of mourning, reminds us that because of Christ, the curse is being reversed and we will be brought back to Eden in a new heaven and earth where there is no more crying or pain or loss. So even though we mourn, the very experience of loss is designed to gladden us with the assurance that one day soon, things will be different. Today, most of us are experiencing the loss of routine, the loss of the familiar because of the restrictions brought on by COVID 19. But, it ought to remind us that better days are coming soon! “Blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” To feel the discomfort of living this side of Eden is to look forward in faith to the day we enter the new heaven and earth. Hallelujah!
A couple of things with regards to an update on things happening at Emmanuel. Our church regathering is going well. We are averaging about a hundred people each week. Our limit by law is 120 per service so we will carefully monitor these numbers and decide when we need to begin a second service. An update from our children and youth ministries and the plan for fall programming will be coming soon. A couple of weddings are coming up in August: Brennan Little is marrying Emily Svenson in Toronto. Connor Brand is marrying Alexandria Foreman. Congratulations to both these couples!
Some prayer requests:
Pray for Chris and Marion. Marion is having some test done and Chris is now working in Kitchener.
Pray for Sid & Laura and Dave & Helen battling cancer.
Pray for Larry and family with the passing of Sharon on July 24.
Pray for Pat's recovery from heart surgery and upcoming follow-up radiation treatment.
Pray for Verona's shoulder and recovery from her fall a while back.
Pray for Marlene’s recovery and shoulder pain.
Pray for Joel and Sarah as the rebuild and keep the farm running.
Please remember to be in prayer for our staff and elders as we continue to navigate changing times and seek to minister to the needs of our church and community.
Church family, may the LORD bless you and keep you, may the LORD make His face to shine upon you and give you peace.
July 22 2020
Dear Emmanuel family,
I have a confession to make. I find it hard to be grateful. It seems like gratefulness isn’t something that comes natural to me. I often seem to sinfully default to seeing my glass half empty. Needless to say, I find that very frustrating. Of all people who should be grateful, it should be me. I’m still alive. I’m getting healthier every day. I have an amazing and godly wife. I have a wonderful family. I’m never hungry or lacking in food or clothing or shelter. What’s my problem? The short answer is sin. But beyond that, why is it so hard to be grateful? What forces are at work that hijack our gratitude? Let me make a few observations with the hope that we can prevent our gratitude from being hijacked. One reason I believe, we struggle with ungratefulness is that sometimes we feel entitled to what we have. Whether consciously, or unconsciously, we feel like we deserve a” happy life”. When things happen that don’t coincide with that “happy life” we envision, we are disappointed and feel cheated of what we think we deserve. Gratefulness on the other hand, requires conscious effort. In order to be grateful, we need to think about the things we have that we DON’T deserve. It’s work. We don’t naturally default to being grateful. So, Paul writes in Philippians 3,
“… I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. “
Notice contentment is not something that came naturally to Paul either. Twice in this short passage he says he learned it. We learn by practicing. We learn by working at it. Gratefulness and contentment is a virtue we must apply ourselves to learn. It’s a habit. A habit is only developed by intentional repetition over a long period of time. It’s not something that will just happen, because we are sinful and wired to complain and feel entitled. May God grant us the grace to reflect on all of His benefits and mercies. Lamentations reminds us “they are new every morning.” So let’s take a moment every morning to intentionally be grateful for everything we do have as well as everything we don’t.
Just a quick update on a few things happening at Emmanuel.
- First, our offices will be re-opening this week in keeping with stage 3 provincial guidelines. Our office hours will remain the same; Tuesday-Friday 9am-4pm, however our building will only be open to the public Tuesdays and Thursdays 9-4pm. Please consider calling instead of visiting, if your need is not urgent.
- Secondly, we are planning a community car wash on Saturday August 8. This is an outreach event designed to show love to our community and open opportunities to share the gospel and invite people to Emmanuel. We will need 6 families to volunteer to wash cars. If you are willing to volunteer for this event please contact Lori at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Thirdly, we will be continuing with one service on Sunday at 10am for the time being. Many people are away for the summer so one service has been all we need at this point. We have boosted the attendance limit to 85 so there is plenty of room to register.
In closing I would just like to say how thankful I am for Emmanuel. Lisa and I had a chance to visit up north while on holidays and we were both so glad to get back to Exeter and our church home. We are blessed beyond measure with an amazing church family. As we remember what we have learned in Acts so far, may God continue to enable us to make the most of the opportunity before us to proclaim Christ, plant churches and prepare believers through discipleship!
July 14, 2020 - Two services to one
Good morning EBC church family!
Thank you to everyone who has been coming out to our services on Saturday and Sunday and people watching our services online. It is truly a joy to know we can come together as a body both in person and online! Praise God!
Please see below for an important message from our EBC Teams:
As you may remember, our Ministry and Leadership Team made the decision several weeks ago to return to our church building for services. Throughout, we have been careful to ensure you are safe when you enter our building and are safe with a reduced amount of people allowed in each service. In reviewing our numbers, at this time we believe it is wise to move to one service for a time, in order to further evaluate what our next steps will be moving forward. We walked into this re-opening knowing it would be a fluid situation and that along the way we would need to make changes to our delivery as necessary. This is one of those times and we thank you for your patience while we navigate what is best for this season of worship at EBC.
Therefore beginning this weekend, we will be opening registration up for one service on Sunday morning until it is full. If we see our numbers are full, we will open up the registration for a Saturday evening service. For those who have been attending our Saturday evening services, it is okay for you to switch and attend on Sunday as there will only be one service offered.
Click for our REGISTRATION
IMPORTANT: Would you please consider registering today and/or as soon as possible. This will allow us to determine numbers for Sunday morning and also determine whether or not we open up a second service with registration.
NOTE: Be reassured, we do not want to leave anyone behind, so please know that if our Sunday service fills up, we will open a second service and continue on as we have the past three weeks.
In Christ's Name,
The EBC Ministry Team
July 2, 2020 - Return to Church Update
Dear Church Family,
As you may know, last weekend we gathered for the first time in almost four months. We had two good services on Saturday night and Sunday morning. Sunday morning service was full and seemed to work best for families with young children. The children were so well behaved! The Saturday night group was smaller, but it was a good way to start so we could test our entry procedures. Things went very smoothly, and we are thankful for the great job that our elders and church staff did in preparing carefully over the past month. Thanks to all who attended and were so patient with our safety measures. Even though there was no singing, everyone was glad to see one another and fellowship for a bit. The services lasted 45 minutes and we were able to pray and recite Psalm 46 together, watch a kid’s video and listen to the Word preached. Overall, we were very pleased with the first weekend.
Moving forward, we have a number of urgent needs for volunteers. Now that we are video recording our services, we are in need of PowerPoint people as well as people to work the sound board. If you are willing to help, please contact our Media Director Marshall Pettapiece at email@example.com . Also, we are in need of a couple of volunteer cleaners for after service this Saturday night only. Please contact our office for this need. Finally, we need some ushers and greeters for both services on Saturday and Sunday. Ideally, you may volunteer at both services, or pick one that works for your schedule. Ushers and greeters need to be trained on our new safety protocols so please contact the church office if you can volunteer for usher or greeter and they will set you up to be trained.
Let’s continue to trust the LORD in the days to come to open up our province further and protect our church and community from any effects of the virus.
Please be in prayer for Brian W's father who is in Seaforth hospital recovering from a serious stroke.
Pray for Pat P. at home recovering from major heart surgery.
Pray for Laura D. battling cancer and a new abdominal pain.
Pray for Dave B. at home recovering from a stroke and dealing with cancer.
Pray for Anne M. dealing with poor health and a painful marriage breakup.
Pray for Dave and Jean W. and their son Frank. Jean is at home recovering from a heart attack.
Pray for Pastor Aaron and Holly on holidays till July 6.
Pray for our seniors and those with compromised health that they would be safe during this time.
Pray for those struggling with mental health.
May God, in His mercy, keep us and watch over us as we slowly regather in the coming weeks and months!
ONLINE REGISTRATION FOR Back to Church is available now!
Please click the link Church Registration for more info on service times, notes, and our registration forms.
June 17, 2020 - Return to Church Update
Dear church family,
I read these words from Luke this morning.
Luke 12:32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
The words came to my mind as I prayed in the middle of the night last night. I was having trouble sleeping, feeling stressed and afraid. I was afraid of our church being divided over coming back together. I was afraid for my health. I was afraid of being afraid. My heart was racing. Then I remembered that Jesus was present with me by His Holy Spirit to comfort and help. And the words “fear not little flock” came to my mind through the Holy Spirit taking God’s word implanted in my heart years ago. “Don’t be afraid”. There are many ‘fear mongers’ plying their trade through media these days. A fear monger is someone who’s business it is to sell fear. To promote and buy into fear. Much like a fish monger sells fish, so a fear monger sells fear to a culture eager to “eat up” every fearful article and dark event. There are many people who would encourage us to fear. To fear division, or sickness or social apocalypse. Jesus reminds us again through Luke that in the midst of our fear we need turn to Jesus to receive from Him peace and assurance. He is present with us in a real way by His Spirit. The Spirit is not a fear monger but a peace giver. His peace is free by God’s grace.
Our staff and elders came together this week to assess the results of the survey we sent out to the congregation this past weekend. First let me say “thank you” to all those who took the time to fill out the survey. It has been very helpful to understand where our congregation is at pertaining to the idea of coming back together. Like many issues, there were opinions at both ends of the reopening debate. However, the survey generally pointed to the importance of taking our time and returning cautiously. We recognize that many will not return right away, while many also feel comfortable to do so with proper safety protocols in place. With the survey results in mind, we have decided to delay re-opening until Sunday June 28. We have done this for several reasons.
We feel we need to do more communicating around why and how we are preparing to come back. We would also like more time to prepare and train our servers, so that safety is a priority. We now have adequate government guidelines to go by and we are working to bring our services into conformity to these standards.
Next week we will be releasing more details pertaining to regathering on the 28th. As our plan develops, we will be doing everything to keep you informed. Thank you for your patience. It has been a difficult season to navigate for me personally and for our church. You have all been very patient. Please continue to practice that patience and understanding with one another regardless what your convictions may be in this matter. Let’s remember the words I shared on Sunday from a Pastor friend of mine:
“In the interest of unity within the body of Christ here are a list of words and phrases that wise, kind and loving Christians (particularly pastors) are not going to be using to describe the decisions being made by their neighbours:
3. Lacking faith
These are unprecedented times. This is a once in a lifetime pastoral challenge. None of us knows half as much as we think we do. Therefore lets extend grace.”
Yours in Christ,
June 9, 2020
Dear church family,
I wanted to write this short update in light of the Premier’s announcement yesterday. As most of you may know, Doug Ford made an announcement on Monday that churches may reopen at 30% of their building’s capacity. This is wonderful news! After 3 long months of quarantine we can finally begin to regather as the body of Christ. Many have called and spoken to ask if this means we will be coming together this Sunday for our first service.
As of today,(Tuesday) we have not received any guidelines from the province as to requirements for safe assembly. Our staff and elders will be meeting this week to consider many of the issues involved in being able to safely regather such as; how many services will be needed to accommodate the provincial guideline, how to safely come in and leave the building between services, how to ensure the washrooms are disinfected, proper PPE for greeters, child care and a host of many other issues that need to be sorted out before we can come together safely and responsibly. For these reasons, we will not be gathering on this Sunday at the church. We will continue with our online services for now. When we have all the proper guidelines from the province and our services and personnel organized and properly trained, we will be notifying you via email or letter.
Please know that we are as anxious as you are to be able to meet again in person! However, we want to move forward carefully and with everyone’s safety in mind. Many among us, including now myself, are vulnerable and still at risk from this virus. Please keep our staff and leadership in your prayers this week as we plan and prepare for everyone’s safe return!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com. 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