Dear Heartland Family,
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Over the last number of weeks, we have been closely monitoring the situation surrounding concerns with COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and how this situation may impact the way we do life together as a church family. We take very seriously our responsibility to respond to this matter in a way that avoids the ditches of complacency on the one hand and fearful over-reaction and panic on the other. We have already communicated with many of you about how this ongoing health crisis effects specific ministries here at Heartland. Today’s update will supersede those.
Both the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Government of Alberta have identified the current risk of infection as low. Having said that, we know from countries further along this path that this virus, for which we have no immunity, spreads exponentially. The result of this is that many countries, including the US, are experiencing a growth rate of over 400 percent a week. That kind of growth would bring Alberta’s current 23 cases to almost 6,000 in the next 4 weeks. The only way to slow this spread is to practice social distancing … limiting our contact with others.
Most of you are aware of other organizations that have suspended activities to assist in this cause. Yesterday the Provincial Government asked that all gatherings of over 250 people be cancelled. While churches are exempt from this directive, we feel that our call as Christ-followers and as community members requires we take a leadership role. To that end, until further notice, we are cancelling all weekend services.
We understand that some of you will be disappointed by this decision. I want to assure you all that this decision was not taken lightly, nor was it driven by fear. We understand that the Church exists for times just like these. In the days ahead, we will each have opportunities to be the church to those around us … to offer hope and assurance in a world that will desperately need it.
I’m so thankful for our small group network, and for the fact that the Church is not limited to a weekend gathering. We want to encourage those of you who are in small groups to continue to connect with and look out for each other. And if you aren’t part of one, you may want to consider joining one … they remain our primary vehicle for providing care to our Heartland family.
Some of you are probably asking “where to from here”? Unfortunately, with a situation that is evolving as quickly as our current one, it’s hard to have a lot of answers.
What I can tell you is that we are going to continue to post our sermons online each week, continuing with our series from the book of John. In the weeks ahead we will add a worship component so that virtual church is as much like actual church as possible.
We need to continue to pay our bills and to be available for those who may need financial assistance, so we would appreciate it if those of you who typically give in person at our weekend services would give online by e-transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our church office will continue to be open, and staff will be here for those of you who need us. We’ll do our best to keep you updated on any future changes. If you aren’t familiar with our website or social media platforms, I would encourage you to check those out. If you have any questions or concerns about the decision we’ve made or the path going forward, please don’t hesitate to call me.
We’ve also set up an email hotline, email@example.com where you can send questions, concerns or let us know of any needs you may have. And above all else, please be in prayer for our church, our community, and our world.
In the midst of this all, can I remind you that King Jesus is still on his throne. He’s not surprised by any of this. He’s not worried about any of this. He’s not limited by any of this. He still loves us, and he still loves the church. He’s still working all things out for our good and for his glory.
May you and your families experience the supernatural peace of God that passes all human understanding and may it guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Pastor Mike Shellenberg