July-August 2020 Letter from Bill Hall
August 13, 2020
It’s hard to imagine that August is already here. Like most Canadians, I live for the long days of summer. Yet, when they come it signals that the fall and winter are just around the corner. We all try to make the best of the warm weather while we have it.
For me and my wife, Averil, this has been a summer of no-travel. Usually we try to get together with family on the BC coast for a few days or go a bit further afield. I’m sure the same goes for many of you. COVID 19 has certainly changed our lives.
While we still aren’t in a position to open up our weekly church services to face-to-face gatherings, I want to commend our pastors and congregations for making the shift to online services.
Although such a move hasn’t been without its hiccups and technological headaches, there have been some benefits as some of our congregations have seen an increase in participation or attendance in the online service. It has also moved us into the 21st Century in using the internet to reach those who haven’t been able to attend our local services on a regular basis because of distance or personal circumstance.
We have also noticed some of our friends and relatives join us on a regular basis. Here in Northwest Saskatchewan, we also get a number of our friends from a local Presbyterian church joining us each Sunday, as they aren’t yet meeting because of the virus.
In my last letter, when I mentioned that we were discontinuing our national online service and moving to local online services, I promised that we would still have a national service from time to time. Well, I am pleased to announce that our GCI President, Greg Williams, has agreed to join to us on Sunday August 23rd at 9 AM Pacific Time. He will be giving us a presentation on what it means to be a “Healthy Church.” We will be cancelling all local online services that day, so we can worship together as a national church.
If you want to join us that day, please contact your pastor. He will be able to give you the ZOOM link for the service or, if you call in to the service, the telephone number to use. I look forward to being with you all that day.
On a related note, since our COVID 19 “pause” I have been receiving many of the weekly update emails our pastors have been sending to their congregations to replace announcements that were given at services. I wanted to share some comments our pastor for the two Toronto congregations, Alvaro Palacio, shared a few weeks ago:
“This has been one of those weeks in which you just blink and it's gone. The work of God continues even if the world comes to a stop. Even when we have to spend most of our time into the relative safety of our homes we still have the opportunity to participate in the work Jesus keeps doing in and through his people.”
“I keep receiving calls for help from members who need prayers, or support. We also keep helping resettled refugees and new immigrants in need of basic household items, and advice on how to start their new life in Canada. They somehow come into contact with me or other church members and we are able to give them some relief in the name of Jesus. This week Tony, Laura and I had the opportunity to help another small family who arrived in our city from a very troubled area in Latin America. Many of our church members and friends generously donated items and money to help this family and we are grateful for their generosity.”
“Among many things, we are learning that by going out of our way, in the love and name of Jesus to help others in need, we can make a great impact in their lives. Especially for former refugees and people who are facing poverty or injustice in some way….”
“However, when we help them without asking anything back many begin to see some light. We invite them to our church and we are willing to start a fraternal relationship in Christ with them; but we don't make that a condition for them to get our help. Love cannot have strings attached. Love with conditions is ordinary business, not love…”
As we look around us at the stress many are experiencing, let’s remember we have been given a great gift that we can share with others. As the apostle Paul writes: “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:16-19).
Finally, I wanted to thank you all for your financial support by donating either online through Canada Helps, or by using the enclosed envelope. I wanted to add that you can now send donations using Interac e-Transfer Autodeposit. All you need to do is send your Interact e-transfer to this email: email@example.com
(Please note that not all financial institutions are enrolled in the Interac e-Transfer Autodeposit system. A complete list can be found at: https://www.interac.ca/en/consumers/products/interac-e-transfer/enhanced-features/#fi-list-autodeposit).
In the comments section of the request, please give your full name, address and if possible member number, along with the name of your congregation. This will help us make sure your congregation gets credited for the donation, as well as enable us to send you a year-end tax receipt.
In closing, I wanted to share with you what has become known as the Aaronic Blessing: “May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord’s face shine upon you and be gracious to you, may the Lord turn his face to you and bring you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).