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COVID UPDATE

Due to Covid-19, Highway Christian Fellowship (HCF) has had to temporarily reduce office hours to Tuesdays from 9:00-12:00pm. Helen continues to fulfill her remaining hours from home. Chris, Pastor Sue and myself are also doing the bulk of our work week from our individual home offices.  We have also suspended on-site church services and activities.

We continue to comply with the recommendations of our District Office – the BCYD district of the PAOC and with the guidelines of Provincial, Local & Federal Health Authorities.

As we learn to live differently in this time of social distancing, HCF has a unique opportunity to help people remain connected and supported.  At this time, we are all called to be attentive to the needs around us, to invite God to show us how we can serve, and to respond with creativity and adaptability.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and He shall direct your path."   Proverbs 3:5-6 

Below is a summary of changes that HCF has put in place for offering connection, support and faithfulness.

COMMUNICATING via Social Media: Right now, people are turning to Social Media and the tools available as a way to connect with others.  Though unplanned, this has been a perfect time for HCF to step up our use of these tools as well.  This will benefit us not just now but also going forward when we are all able to gather together again.

STREAMING PRAYERS, SERMONS AND MUSIC: Though we may not be able to meet in person, that doesn’t mean we cannot still gather in a virtual way. The weekly Sermon is available each Sunday at 10:30 a.m., allowing HCF to continue to connect and provide spiritual encouragement.   We have been utilizing the recorded music of Kari Jobe and Rend Collective. Our own worship team has also put together sets of music that we will be utilizing in our online church worship platform. The public chat section on Online.Church, allows you to add greetings, ask for prayer, and comment during the service.

The number of individuals and family units that have been accessing HCF’s online programming indicate that we are actually reaching more people than we were while gathering in person.

Sermons can be accessed through:

DAILY DEVOTIONALS: A series of brief devotions have been created by your pastoral staff.  They are intended to encourage faith and inspire study and meditation in God's Word.  You can access them via the HCF website, YouTube channel or Facebook page.

ONLINE PRAYER GROUP: I have been hosting virtual Prayer meetings every Saturday evening at 7:00 pm.  This gives folks a chance to come together online, check-in and pray. The meetings are done through an application called ZOOM, which is an easy, reliable platform for video and audio conferencing.  It is free and installs quickly onto a computer, tablet or mobile phone.  The zoom invitation is sent out in our weekly communique.

ONLINE BIBLE STUDY: We hope to introduce a Virtual Bible Study in the near future. Check the Communique for updates.

SUPPORT: Sometimes technology can behave badly.   If you are having issues with Zoom or online.church and require technical support to connect, please feel free to contact Helen, at [email protected]

Tried and True Ways of COMMUNICATING

PRAYER AND CARE: If you have any Prayer or Care requests, please reach out to us by email at [email protected] We are thankful that to date no one from our congregation has been hospitalized due to Covid.

MAKING CARE AN EVERYDAY PRACTICE: Along with Prayer and Care, the elders, Pastor Sue, and Chris have volunteered to reach out and contact the members of our congregation to ‘keep in touch’ during this season.Particular effort is being made to connect with those most vulnerable who might be experiencing a higher degree of difficulty during this period of isolation.Please reach out to those whom the Lord lays upon your heart during this time. You can email [email protected] if you are aware of a particular need so that we can pray and reach out to those needing extra attention and care.

“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” 1 Peter 3:8 NIV

HCF WEEKLY COMMUNIQUE: The Communique email continues to be one of HCF’s main communications tools.  If you aren’t receiving the Communique, or if you know someone who does not have access to a computer, but would like to receive this information, please email Helen at [email protected]

COMMUNITY INITIATIVES & OUTREACH: During tough times like this, we have an opportunity to continue to reach out in love to Sidney and the Peninsula.

THE BIG GIVE: The Big Give will continue on June 6 from 9:00-12:00. This year it will take the form of a Drive Through Donation Drop Off of food and clothing. Pastor Sue has arranged with the Saanich Peninsula Lions Food Bank and YWAM in supporting one of the many local shelters. If you would like to help Pastor Sue or have information on donations please contact her through the online volunteer form HERE.

HCF VACATION BIBLE CAMP: Plans are still on going, but this years VBS will take place in a virtual format.

NEXT STEPS: The safety of our congregation, community and those most vulnerable are of paramount importance to us. Therefore, as we plan for the eventual reopening of our facility and resumption of services it is imperative that we move forward prayerfully, slowly and methodically. 

GUIDANCE: We will be following the guidance of Dr. Henry, the Provincial Health Authority, WORKSAFEBC, and the leadership of the BCYD District in providing a safe and coordinated plan for reopening. 

CONGREGATIONAL SURVEY: to help the staff and leadership team plan for church in the “New Normal”, included in this Communique is a link to an online survey. It will take less than five minutes to complete. The leadership team (Staff, Elders & Deacons) would like to hear from you about your feelings on returning to meeting in the church. The deadline for completeing the survey is June 9th.  (EDIT: Thank you to everyone who completed the survey. The deadline has now passed and the survey is closed.) 

AN UNPRECEDENTED OPPORTUNITY: During this period, it has become apparent that God has given us an unprecedented opportunity to plan, prepare and pray for church in the “New Normal”. We do not have a date at this time nor can we offer a date when we might resume services a 10364 McDonald Park Road. The leadership team of HCF (Pastor Sue, Chris, Helen and myself) will be taking this time to pray and plan for how the “New Normal” might look. The staff, board and elders will be praying as we move forward together. This is a time to pray about how God will reshape the church to best serve our community, families and seniors of Sidney and the Peninsula.

POST COVID PLANNING COMMITTEE: A Post-Covid Reopening Committee has been set up to work on the plan for the “New Normal”. It will consist of Pastor Ralph, Pastor Sue, Helen, Chris, John Prins, Stephen Schubkegel, Randy Lambier and Kathyrn Milner. The team will work on a coordinated plan to reopen services as our province moves through the various stages.

While the government regulations are a maximum group of fifty, in conversations with our MLA, churches are NOT included in phase two of the provincial reopening plan. With this in mind we want to proceed wisely and cautiously. Until the leadership team and committee has produced a plan, all services remain as they are at present.

The leadership team recognizes the hunger and need for connection and fellowship. We also wish to balance this need with the necessity of keeping our people safe. So, until a plan is in place, we encourage you to increase your social bubble at home, in a park, or some place outside where you feel comfortable and safe.

During Phase 2 of the provinces reopening plan, the church building will remain closed to outside rental groups as well as ministry gatherings including Care Groups, Bible Studies and Prayer meetings. This will be re-evaluated as we progress positively through to phase 3.

GIVING: We are very thankful for the faithful and consistent giving of many who are helping to fulfill our financial obligations, i.e., supporting our missionaries and to pay our ongoing bills.

We know that not being able to meet in person has created challenges for giving of tithes and offerings. We have four Giving options available.

  1. E-Transfer Email your direct e-transfer to [email protected] (please note the new email address). Set up e-transfer through your online banking for the easiest most affordable option for you and for the church!
  2. Online giving Give online at Canada Helps by clicking HERE. Follow the instructions to give a single gift, or set up a regular withdrawal with Canada Helps.Please note: All donations are eligible for a tax receipt. When giving through Canada Helps you will receive your tax receipt directly from them. 
  3. In person You can drop off an offering envelope with your cheque by putting it through the mail slot in the church office door.  Or you may stop by the office on Tuesdays from 8-12 pm to drop off your offering envelope or use the Debit/Credit machine in the office.
  4. Canada Post You are welcome to mail a cheque to the church at:Highway Christian Fellowship, 10364 McDonald Park Road, Sidney, BC V8L 3Z9 

We are thankful for the Lord’s faithfulness toward us throughout this time of difficulty. We are believing His promises as a church for each person as well as for the maintaining of the Lord’s work.

OTHER: I would like to end this email with a couple of Good News stories.   

  • This week we received a prayer request on our church webpage prayer center. When I called, it was sent from a gentleman in Oshawa Ontario. He had been surfing the web on Sunday and came across our church online. He was captivated by the music (Rend Collective), and watched. He connected with the church. He is dealing with addiction issues and wanted prayer. I have connected him with a pastor and church in his city who is following up. We praise God for the opportunities we have been afforded through this pandemic, to reach literally the world online.
  • A special thank you to Ike, Stephen and Einar, Pastor Sue and Chris who are making contact with people and praying for people.
  • Thanks to Laurel and Nils for maintaining our flowerbeds at the church building. They look beautiful
  • For Trevor and Cynthia, thanks for keeping the kids playground safe and clean. We can’t wait to hear the sounds of children playing again.

When Can We Get Back To ‘Normal’?

Everyone is asking the same questions, “How much longer do you think this is going to take? When can we get back to normal life?”

While we do not have the definitive answer to these questions, we do know that we will come through this by the grace of God and by being patient, observing appropriate health and safety directives and by caring and reaching out to one another.

We will be monitoring the situation and paying close attention to the directives of the Health Services as to timing in the re-establishing of our regular patterns of programming and events.

On behalf of the HCF Board, Leadership team and Staff, may God’s blessings be with you and keep you and your family.

Be Blessed,

Pastor Ralph