On March 17th the Ontario Provincial Government declared a State of Emergency concerning the Covid-19 pandemic. Consequently, in response to this declaration and to avoid passing the virus to others, groups of more than 5 people were forbidden and social distancing was advised.This was challenging for church groups accustomed to gathering together for weekly services. Several church communities in the area have meetings streamed in a variety of ways.
Pastor Drew Jacques of St David’s in Campbellville said: “St. D’s is doing ZOOM worship Sundays at 10 (with Nassagaweya). …we’re making this up as we go along. There is some discussion of doing a combined Pentecost Sunday Service with the Guelph Line Churches (Lowville to Ebenezer).”
Some churches record services which are available for their congregation to view. St. Paul’s United Church is not using Zoom, but is using a similar platform for small groups and Bible Study. Their services are recorded and posted to YouTube. Grace Anglican and Faith United also record services for their congregation. St Clements Church in Cambridge streams Mass daily for Catholics in the area.
A group of motivated members of Knox Presbyterian Church on Main Street combined to organize weekly services that are live streamed through Zoom to any of the congregation that sign up. Rachel Morris, the Knox Music Director, leads the singing with a full assortment of hymns. Pastor Jim Danielson hosts each service live from his own home. Participants in the presentation of each service are in their own homes except organist June Kim. She enters Knox during the week and records the music for each service including Good Friday and Easter morning. Each week full services are experienced by a growing number of willing worshippers. The Good Friday service also involved a communion service led by Rev. Brad Shoemaker. Partakers of communion at home were asked to provide their own bread and juice for the event.
Knox Milton contacted their congregation with emails that said: “During COVID-19 – Our building may be closed but our Church is OPEN as we share Christ with others online & by phone! .…We have a Worship Service live streamed on Sunday mornings beginning at 10:30. Pastor Jim Danielson will be our host and we are grateful to Jim for his comforting messages during this time. .. For some of us, technology comes easy but for others of us Zoom was a technology we never heard of … and the thought of presenting a worship service online was daunting. …What we found however is that the technology is easily learned and the experience is rewarding. Most important we are blessed in knowing that our Knox family and friends are connecting in worship that is as Spirit filled and meaningful as if we were together in person.”
Church Secretary Carol McPhail emails weekly ‘Knox Notes’. Recently she said:
“For anyone not on the Knox e-mail mailing list, they can receive, by e-mail, their own personalized LINK to worship with us. All we need is an e-mail sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org with their e-mail address, First Name, Last Name. Requests can be received up to 10:00 a.m. on the morning of the worship service.”
Christian Educator Isaac McEachern holds weekly times for children and youth via Zoom. Isaac can be contacted at email@example.com for more information and scheduling. Isaac said in an email: ”Knox Presbyterian Church, a presence on Main Street in Milton for over 150 years, is staying connected, online, with its own Church community and beyond during the Covid-19 pandemic. While our building is closed right now, the Knox family is gathering together for Sunday morning online worship and welcoming others, from across Canada…”
In an email to the congregation, Interim Moderator Pastor Ian McWhinnie said: “Please connect with each other and be eyes and ears of those who might feel isolated and anxious. We are doing this to not to panic but to participate and to be prepared in our collective desire to stop the spread of Covid-19. Please continue to pray for government officials and health care providers at all levels as they have begun to manage the impact of Covid-19. We also do this knowing that God is with us. “Do not fear, for I am with you: do not be dismayed, for I am your God.” Isaiah 41:10