Ministry Update: March 27, 2020

I wanted to take some time to fill you in on some important updates surrounding the ministry at Hanover Missionary Church.

When will we be back?

This is a good question that I am sure many of you are asking.

First, thank you for engaging with us online these past couple weeks. It has been encouraging to see so many joining into our Facebook page, watching live on our website, or being involved in Zoom calls. Thanks for being flexible and being a part of the church community in this new way.

Initially, we had set April 5th as being the target for being back in the building. With the recent spread and growth of COVID-19 in Ontario, that is no longer reasonable. We are prepared to be out as long as needed, and our new ministry structure supports that. For the immediate future, we are planning to be out for all of April, with us evaluating our situation before the May 3rd Sunday AM worship gathering.

What does that mean for Good Friday, Easter, and other ministries?

Good Friday and Easter Sunday gatherings will still happen; however it will be online this year. We will still have a time where we will gather for worship, reflection, and celebration online, but watch for details in the coming week.

As for other ministries, we will continue to operate online as we have been, with the option of introducing more opportunities as the need and ability to do so arises. We are constantly evaluating the status of future ministry events as time passes. As things change, we will continue to be in communication with you.

While I know that some of what follows will be review to many of you, please continue to read this letter as there are some important details in here for everyone.

What is the best way to participate in the online gatherings?

We are online for all our gatherings. You can find us on our Facebook page where we will be broadcasting our events live. You can also watch our broadcast events through our website. Our Zoom rooms are done through a video chat program called Zoom. You can find out more information on our website.

As we have gone online, we have discovered some of our technical limitations. One of those limitations is that our physical website (www.hanovermissionary.com) can only handle a certain amount of online traffic at once. When it hits its limit for traffic, the technology parking lot becomes full, and no one else can come in and park for our service. Just as we would want to create physical space in our parking lot for people, we need to create virtual space for people on our website. Otherwise people can not watch and participate. If you, or your spouse, or your children have a Facebook account, please watch our service through our dedicated Facebook page. We want to leave our website open to those who have no other option. If you do not have a Facebook account, but are able to sign up for a free account, please do. If you need help, please contact one of us, and we would be happy to help you in the sign-up process. (You can find a tutorial here on our website.)

What about giving to the weekly offering?

With our weekly physical meetings stopping, the opportunity to participate in the weekly offering looks different.

Even though the physical, in person ministries have temporarily stopped here at HMC, ministry is still active and happening. There are still ongoing expenses and financial needs to be met so that we can continue to be on mission for Jesus in our community.

I am sensitive to the reality that there are many reading this notice who would normally want to give to help support the ministry of HMC, but your income situation has changed, and you are now unable to give. Please do not hear me pressuring you to give. We (as HMC) need to be sensitive to the situation that some of us may not have a steady income at this time of economic uncertainty.

I am also aware that there are some of us who are able to count on a steady income in this time, and may have the ability and resources to give a bit extra during this time to help us continue to pay our bills. As the Lord leads, would you please consider what you may be able to give in this time?

If you can give online by credit card, please consider doing so. On your web browser, go to tithe.ly or download the tithe.ly app for your smart phone. Through that website/app, you can give directly to HMC. If you need any assistance, contact the office.

If you still wish to give by physical cheque, please call the office to set that up. Marie has requested that you call on Monday or Wednesday.

How can we love our community?

There are some amazing new opportunities we have to be a blessing to our community.

1) Benevolence Fund: Community Aid – During this pandemic, a number of people inside and outside our church family are going to be in need. If God has given you the ability and desire to share with others, you can donate to HMC and designate your gift to “Benevolence Fund: Community Aid”. You will receive a donation receipt, and the funds will be distributed according to HMC policies. Please consider these gifts to be above your regular offerings. If donating through Tithe.ly or the church website, this designation is now an option.

2) Grocery drop off – We have been approached by the medical community in Hanover about if some of our people would be willing to provide assistance to those who are in isolation and can not leave their homes by delivering pre-paid groceries from the grocery store to their front steps. We do have people within our congregation willing to do this, and we have willingly taken on this new way to bless our community. However, if you are willing to volunteer to help with this, please contact myself at the office (519-364-1823 Ext 30 or dave@hanovermissionary.com).

3) White Ribbon Campaign – We have been asked to be a part of a community initiative to show our support and love to the healthcare workers who are on the front line of the COVID-19 crisis. As a sign of support, people are being asked to tie white ribbons to a tree, bush, porch railing, etc… at your home. We think this is a great idea as a church, and we already have one up at the church building. Our challenge for this week is “how many white ribbons can the HMC community place outside this week?”

I know that there has been a lot of information for you to read today. Thanks for taking the time to read through all of this. As always, if you have any comments, questions, or feedback, do not hesitate to contact myself, the office, or one of the other pastors.

Know that we are praying for you and are happy to serve you in this time.

Glad to be part of this family!

Pastor Dave

A Priesthood of All Believers: A Response to COVID-19

To: my fellow Pastors,
former classmates,
church leaders,
(and of course my congregation)

I can still remember the weight and the look of my dad’s ‘church bag’. A big-lug-of-leather brief case. And if memory serves, he only took it church. It was filled with loose papers, his Bible, pens without lids, and church candy. Oh that sweet, sweet church candy! Our family would sit two rows from the front (keeners) – spitting distance from the Pastor. Sunday morning and Sunday night – every week – without fail.

And I loved it.

I loved going to church. I loved being a part of a church. Seeing the people. The feeling of being swept into the river of folks mixing after service. I loved the stories. I felt safe in the building.

I loved the community. The flyby-pencil-stealing-missions past Mrs. Ernst every week. I needed to draw! And she could only guard the supply room door for so long, until SWOOP. Another stash of church pens in my pocket.

Looking back, it isn’t a wonder that I wandered into the clergy. I still love the church. It is my second home. The people are my family. Even my children have been absorbed into the same way-of-being I experienced as a child. They run through the doors, kick off their boots, find the secret stock of baby cookies, and settle in. Our family schedule and weekly rhythm has been molded around the church rhythms. You know as well as I, pastoring isn’t a job – it’s a way of life.

COVID-19 has disrupted almost every facet of pastoral life.

We have literally watched the world stop. Our government has closed its borders. World governments have completely locked-down and shut-out. Airlines have been grounded. The markets are in free-fall. The streets are nearly empty. The toilet paper is gone! And millions upon millions upon millions of people are in isolation. Projections for the crisis to end are a moving target. Our government has signalled we should prepare for weeks and months. Scientists forecast June, or July, or August as a possible end to social isolation and the return of ‘normal life’. Some have suggested even a year. Maybe they are wrong! Maybe they are right. Our world has changed in a blink of an eye. Our churches have followed suit.

COVID-19 has disrupted almost every facet of church life.

Nearly every operation of our in-person community building mechanisms have halted simultaneously. Sunday Worship. Midweek meals. Small Groups. Youth. Visitation. Events. Missions trips. Staff meetings. And all those precious impromptu conversations in the foyer. The hugs. Smiles. Weekly updates. Jokes and rants.

Stopped.

Worse. It is conceivable that as Pastors we may not physically see, or speak, or cluster with our parishioners for weeks on end. It is conceivable that our people may not physically gather for groups, events, meals, game-nights, conferences, or Sunday worship for months.

Let that sink in.

Like you, my soul is grieved. There are moments I am speechless at the thought. Breathless. Where is this going? What will happen to the spiritual health of our people? What will happen to our churches as institutions? What will be left of our denominations, our bank accounts, the volunteer corps, summer interns, that cream I left in the fridge? Can we hold out for weeks, or months, or years? I know it sounds apocalyptic, but I can’t help but wonder:

is the Evangelical Church on the brink of extinction?

Oh, hear me local church Pastor – Sunday gatherings will happen in the post-COVID era. There will be sound glitches, mediocre coffee, hugs and songs, endearing awkward conversations, greetings in the foyer. It is all waiting on the other side. It may take weeks, or months, or longer. But how, oh how, can it ever be the same?

We are all scrambling. Upping our online presence (at least until the internet collapses). Our care teams are in place. Calls are being made. Groceries delivered. But live streaming alone cannot sustain us. We risk becoming a literal ‘show’ and just another barrier to an already passive-consumer-Christian experience. Zoom groups will keep us talking. But they limit our capacity to fully care. Besides, these methods are adult-centric and tech-heavy. Our most vulnerable – the kids, youth, and elderly – remain the most vulnerable. We are in a crisis of faith.

But beneath my feelings of dread and grief, there is a surge of excitement welling out of my soul. Jesus spoke: ‘It is the people, stupid.’ It has always been the people. The kids. The youth. The adults and singles and elderly. The families. It is not our brand. Our programming. Not our vision. Our building. Our production quality. Our preaching. It is the people.

It is time to reimagine the church. It is time to reequip the people!

In this moment, in this crisis of faith, we have a profound opportunity. We have a chance to re-energize our parents to be the spiritual caretakers of their children, youth, and families. We have a window to re-charge our adults to be self-motivated, self-teaching, self-driven people of faith. We have a moment to re-invigorate our people to be the church in action! We have the freedom to reimagine our congregations as JOEL 3 – ACTS 2 people of faith. A priesthood of all believers!

Our congregations are desperate for it.

Every family needs a Storyteller.
(someone who can open up their Bible, read it aloud with conviction, weave a picture with their words, and make it alive!)

Every house needs a Worship-Arts Director.
(someone to paint and draw and express, someone to take charge of the family playlist, load it with Jesus-songs, fill the air with hymns and praise and dance music!)

Every parent and grandparent needs to be Child and Youth Worker.
(someone who takes the work of play seriously – who guards the imagination of their children as their highest priority – who dares their youth to ask tough questions – and who is secure enough to listen without judgement!)

Every person needs a Counsellor.
(someone to listen, create sacred spaces for sharing and prayer.)

Our communities are desperate for it.

Every house needs a Pastor.
(someone who cares deeply for those around them, checks in, prays, and shepherds their flock!)

Every street needs an Evangelist.
(someone to speak boldly the love of Jesus without judgement, or fear, or hesitation!)

Every block needs a Prophet.
(someone who will cry out against injustice, hold truth to power, exclaim God’s promises, advocate for the poor, the starving, and the vulnerable, in Jesus’ name!)

Every town needs an Apostle.
(those who will be sent out on mission – in both physical and digital spaces – to redesign public space, and reinvigorate public conversation, for Jesus’ sake!)

Everyone needs not one – but many Teachers.
(people who adore the ancient scriptures, teach the history, adhere to context and form, embed the biblical narrative into daily lives of those around them!)

And everyone needs a Care Pastor and Encourager.
(people who actively see and intuitively read the needs of their neighbours and respond in kind with open hands and joyful hearts!)

Toddlers. Children. Youth. Adults. Parents. Singles. Grandparents. Families. Generations. We all have a part! There is no time for us to sit idle. We cannot wait this thing out.

If ever our towns needed an organic network of Spirit-led people – it is now.

If ever our world needed to hear and see the Good News of Jesus Christ working and flowing through everyday people – it is now.

If ever your church needed you, as a Pastor, as a shepherd, as an equipper of the saints – it is now.

In this moment, we must do what we were trained to do: reimagine the church and equip the people for the ministry! And then watch, as the priesthood of believers reshapes our world for Jesus’ sake.

There is no model on ‘how to do this’. Complications will abound. Our plans will be a mess. The work is insurmountable. But the spirit will lead.

This is our moment:

To rethink our purpose.
To reequip our people.
To reimagine the church.

May the Spirit lead us.

Your friend and brother,
in love,
in Christ,

-amos

Download a PDF version of this article and share with anyone who needs it.

How We’re Moving Forward: A Message from the Staff of HMC

Read our latest update from Pastor Dave.

Video transcription:

Hello. My name is Amos Shelley and I am the pastor of children, youth, and family at Hanover Missionary Church in Hanover, Ontario, Canada.

Covid-19 has changed our lives for the time being. Many of you are scared. Many of you are anxious. There’s uncertainty around jobs, around health, around our loved ones. We know the effects of social isolation and bans on large group gatherings have altered the course of our society for the time being.

I want to remind you that you are not alone and you are loved and you are not forgotten.

As a pastor and as staff who’s primary job is to meet with people in big and small groups, how we do church has to change for the time being and we are really excited to roll out two new initiatives for Hanover Missionary Church. HMCdigital and HMCcares.

HMCdigital will be a unique online strategy to meet you in your home where you are at. Couples, families, children, youth alike. There will be live streaming of content, there will be digital curriculum, sermon videos, sermon series, suggestions, updates, group chats. We will provide and facilitate as many opportunities for you to connect with each other and with us as possible and we’re excited to see what God will do with this medium.

HMCcares is perhaps the most comprehensive one-to-one contact mechanism that HMC has ever employed, and our goal is to personally contact each and every one of you through a person on our care team every single week. We want to hear your stories. We want to hear your voices. We want to pray with you and talk with you. We want to know your needs and how best to meet them.

Pastor Kristina and I will be live streaming this Sunday at 10:00 and sharing the plan and the strategy and the schedule for the weeks ahead. We invite you to join us. You can hop onto our Facebook page or even through our website at 10:00 to follow along and participate.

Most importantly we want to remind you that God’s redemptive work in the world isn’t finished. He is still active. He is still moving. No economic downturn or virus can slow His grace or mercy. The borders of his kingdom can’t be closed and His spirit can’t be put in isolation. His love is eternal and it is good. Even in death, the hope of the resurrection remains because of what Jesus Christ has done.

So be encouraged. You are the literal light of the world. You are the embodiment of hope and peace everywhere you go. You are filled with His spirit and you are filled with His love. And though there will be difficult days ahead, you’re not doing this alone. We are together, a family of families of generations who follow Jesus together.

For those who are not part of this family, know that this family is open. And if you know someone who need encouragement or needs to be connected in, send them this video, invite them to our Facebook page, connect with them, give them a call. Our family is open for anyone and everyone.

In the words of St. Paul to the Romans, he says there’s nothing that can separate us from God’s love. Nothing. Nothing high or low, nothing angel or demonic, nothing dead or alive, nothing thinkable or unthinkable. There’s absolutely nothing that can separate us from the love of God because we have been embraced by Jesus Christ.

Know today that you are embraced by Jesus Christ, that He loves you, and He has not forgotten you even in the darkest times of our life. So feel His embrace, feel His love, connect with us. We’re here for you and we’ll talk to you soon.

Update: COVID-19 Response

For Immediate Release

March 15th, 2020

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.” (Matt 5:14)

Can our light be hidden if we don’t have a building?

Good morning everyone.  Since the video update yesterday evening, the situation surrounding the COVID-19 virus has been changing, even in Hanover with worship services now beginning to be cancelled.  In the last 12 hours, at least two local congregations have temporarily closed their doors for public worship, with the weekly community Lent services also being cancelled.

While we have been told that we are still okay to meet together this weekend, in consultation with Ministry Council, multiple sources from the medical world, as well as Health Canada and Ontario Public Health guidelines, we have decided that for the following two Sundays (March 22 and 29, 2020), we will be closing down our regular Sunday worship gatherings.  This is in addition to us temporarily closing all our weekly ministries this past Friday.

During this time, Hanover Missionary Church will not be providing any sort of live streaming worship service from our location.  However, we are happy to help provide families with suggestions for home Bible studies, as well as make suggestions for some excellent electronic resources that you can view and make use of from the safety of your home. Please contact a pastor for suggestions. 

While it is our desire for us to remain connected as a community, and it would be our natural desire to see small groups gather within the context of homes, we also need to be aware of the need for social distancing.  Any such gathering needs to be at your own discretion.  We are not organizing any official networks of small group meetings as a ministry of HMC.  

During this time, the church office will be officially closed for public access, but the staff and pastors are still available by phone or email.  For those who wish to give to our weekly offering, please consider using the tithe.ly app and giving electronically.  If you need to use the debit terminal or drop off an envelope in a lock box, you can still do that.  

We are currently working through a strategy and plan to ensure that the congregation is still cared for in this time.  If you are in need, are wanting prayer, and are needing some extra care because of the present COVID-19 outbreak, please contact our office and speak with a Pastor, or with Marie.  

Currently, the plan is to have worship services resume for April 5th, 2020.  We will re-evaluate our current situation over the next couple weeks and will keep you updated on any developments.  Please watch our website and social media pages for important updates.   

As we deal with what has become an unprecedented time within our country, remember that regardless of what happens with COVID-19, we are still the church. We don’t need a building to be the church.   You (the people) are the church.  As such, closing our doors do not stop us from being on mission for Jesus.  It does not stop us from loving others.  It does not stop us from being a source of light, hope, encouragement, comfort, and peace in a world that seems to be falling apart with panic and fear.  You and we are the light of the world.  The light of Jesus in us can not be hidden and needs to be shared.  

Find ways to be Jesus.

Until we gather again,

Pastor Dave

Read the original March 12, 2020 update

HMC’s Response to Covid-19

A NEW UPDATE WAS POSTED (ON MARCH 15, 2020)

For Immediate Release

March 12, 2020

We are a community of families. To borrow a phrase often used around here, ‘we are a family of families’. Part of being a family means that we love each other and look out for each other.

In the recent days and weeks, our world has been buzzing with news surrounding the COVID-19 virus that has moved across the globe and into our own province. With all the coverage surrounding COVID-19, and the potential risks associated with the outbreak, there is a level of fear and concern that exists.

At Hanover Missionary Church, we are aware of the concerns surrounding the COVID-19 virus. While we do not want to perpetuate or continue an atmosphere of fear, we are committed to the health, safety, and well being of all those who would choose to worship with us on Sunday mornings or be a part of any of the weekly ministries here. With that in mind, in an attempt to be balanced in our response, we are proactively taking the following measures:

  1. For the immediate future, we are limiting handshakes, hugs, and other forms of physical contact that we use to greet each other. While we want to be welcoming, and show friendliness through physical contact, we want to ensure that we are not unnecessarily passing around illnesses.
  2. We have replenished our hand sanitizer stations by the main entrance, sanctuary doors, nursery, and other locations throughout our building. Please make use of them when you enter.
  3. Please ensure you wash your hands with soap and water after using the washroom.
  4. We are switching back to disposable dishes, cups, and cutlery for any event where food or drink are consumed until further notice.
  5. We are being vigilant to clean and disinfect all doorknobs and handles where a high volume of people will be touching.
  6. There will be some changes to our ministries here at the church during this time. In tandem with the school closures, all weekday ministries and HMC events will be taking a hiatus until April 5th. As of this point, because our Sunday gatherings fall below the 250 person attendance mark, services are still happening, but we will continue to monitor conditions and recommendations. We will re-evaluate our response based on current conditions prior to April 5th.
  7. If you have any new symptoms (such as a new cough, sniffles, fever, etc..), even if you think it is just a common cold or virus, or if you have been out of the country in the last fourteen days, please avoid all gatherings, including Sunday mornings, until your symptoms have cleared.

If you are ill and unable to be a part of our Sunday gathering in person, we will have a live stream option available for you to be a part of through our Facebook page. If you want to contribute to the offering, you can continue to give through the tithe.ly app, or by visiting tithe.ly .

If you are choosing to stay away from the Sunday gathering for your own safety and well being, but are not sick, please join us online through our Facebook page. You can give online through tithe.ly as well, or visit us in the office during the week to drop off your offering by envelope or through the debit terminal.

While a situation like this has the potential to create a lot of fear and panic, I want to encourage you to remain calm and trust in our God. Remember that He knows what is going on, and this is ultimately in His hands. We can find comfort and peace in Him, knowing that whatever happens, He is taking care of us.

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

(Psalm 91:1-2)

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
(1 Peter 5:7)

Praying for you in all things,

Pastor Dave

Be sure to like/follow us on Facebook for updates about this situation