CSC Response to COVID-19

Pastor Henry Updates

 

 

Hello again Centre Street Church family.

If I had told you, six months ago, that our world and our life would be turned upside down--like it has--you would have wondered if I was delirious and desperately needing to see a doctor. If I would have described what we are experiencing today no one would have believed it. Many of us are still trying to process how dramatically our lives have changed as a result of this Coronavirus pandemic.

Not only have our personal lives been impacted, our church life has also been affected in a big way. A little over a month ago, thousands of us worshiped together at one of our five campuses. Since then, out of love and concern for the health of our friends and neighbors and our desire to cooperate with our government in stopping the rapid spread of this virus, we've cancelled our weekend public worship services. Our facility leases in Airdrie, NW, South Campus have been suspended. All our buildings are closed. Midweek groups and other ministries are not meeting in person as they used to. We’ve moved to worshiping only online in our homes. Not much is the same.

In Acts 2:46, we read that the early church gathered together regularly for public worship and the Apostles' teaching and then scattered out into the community and met together in homes Like the two wings of a plane, we believe both are important aspects of making disciples and we look forward to the day we can once again gather for public worship and scatter to love and care for one another and together accomplish the mission Christ has called us to.

But make no mistake, even though we cannot meet for public worship for a time, our church is still very much alive. At its core, our church is made up of hundreds of community groups and other small groups and ministry teams-- and many of you have been part of such a community--for years. Through this pandemic, we have learned in a whole new way not only how important it is to be in community with one another but how supportive these relationships can be especially in uncertain times like we are presently experiencing.

The good news is presently over 70% of our community groups are meeting through an online platform and we are working on even more of our groups meeting this way. Our children and youth staff continue to partner with parents in discipling their children and youth with online groups and video resources.

If you are a youth, young adult or adult and are not part of a group, please let us know--by going on our website or by calling the church and we'll do all we can to help you be part of a group or better yet, help you start a group or host a group in your community. If you want to access our online resources for children check out our website or call the church as well.

In my last update on March 18, I informed you that our ability to support our ministries, missionaries and staff depends on your continued giving. The reality is, the COVID-19 pandemic combined with the economic slowdown, and inability to collect tithes and offerings in public gatherings has had a significant negative impact on the finances of our church. Left as is, projections indicated we would end the ministry year (June 2020) with a large deficit.

Therefore, we developed a new budget based on our new financial reality and took steps to reduce costs wherever possible while still doing our best to advance our mission and ministry as a church. In order to garner more input, we vetted our process and conclusions with our senior team leaders and our Board of Governors, receiving their affirmation to make the following painful changes:

First, effective immediately, only critical spending will be authorized in both ministry and operational budgets.

Second, earlier this week we had to lay-off a number of our staff. While the lay-offs are temporary, we are not able to make any promises or guarantees to bring them back on staff, because we won't know whether we will be in a financial position to do so. We are seeking to understand to what extent we will qualify (if at all) to receive funds being made available through the provincial and federal government and will utilize whatever funds we receive to keep as many staff employed as possible.

The decision to lay-off staff has been very difficult and heartbreaking. These people are part of our church family and we appreciate who they are, we value them as individuals, their dedication, commitment and their ministry to the people of our church. Unfortunately, if finances continue to decline, we will have no choice but to continue laying off more staff. I know this is hard news and how I wish it weren't so--but we have to live within our means.

We know some of you have been laid off, others of you have experienced a significant down-turn in your business. Still others of you are not sure there will be a job waiting for you when the worst of this pandemic passes. This is a very challenging time for all of us---which makes me so grateful for those of you who continue to give faithfully.

Steve, our pastor of Compassion Ministry informed us today how he and his team were kept busy for an hour and a half unloading food---that people from our church were dropping off for the needy of our city and how with the help of many of you were distributing or delivering up to a 100 food hampers a week to the needy. God bless you all for your generosity and acts of kindness.

If you are able to give to the ongoing mission and ministry of our church but haven't yet, my big ask is that you would go to God in prayer and ask Him to give you the grace needed to trust Him in these uncertain times and then step out in faith and give as He leads you to. Since giving in our public worship services isn't an option, please consider mailing in or dropping off your offering at Central Campus during office hours (Monday to Friday--8:30 to 4:30) or go on our website and sign up for one of the many ways you can give online so that we can continue to make disciples, care for the needy and accomplish God's redemptive purposes in our city, nation and world. Thank you in advance for your generosity and support.

You know--history teaches us that pandemics and plagues do not last. The coronavirus will peak and then decline and then fade away. With God's help, we will make it through this difficult time together. Presently this pandemic is a valley we need to walk through but let's not forget that our Good Shepherd is walking with us and we can find comfort in His rod (His protection) and His staff (His provision).

In 2 Chronicles 7:14, God says, 'If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land". God promises to 'heal our land' of pestilence like COVID-19, if we, His children, will humble ourselves, turn from our sins, seek His face and pray.

In this time in which we are being asked to stay in our homes, I want to challenge us to not devote most of our time to trivial pursuits but to give priority to reflecting deeply on what this pandemic is teaching us about what really matters in life, to opening the Scriptures and to ask the Lord often, "Lord what are you saying to me and what are you asking me to do about it?"

For over a month now, I have been specifically praying that our church would come out the other side of this pandemic spiritually stronger and more aligned with God's heart than ever before and that all of us will go to another level in our relationship with the Lord as we humble ourselves, repent of habitual sin and seek His face with all our heart. May it be so, to the glory of God and for the sake of a world that needs the Jesus we know and love.

In closing, I just want to remind you that as we approach Palm Sunday and Holy Week, we, as a church family, will be having 3 days of prayer and fasting starting this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. You will find prayer guides on our website. I also encourage you to participate in the daily devotions that we have on our website.

Then finally, I remind you that next week we will be having our usual Good Friday services online at 9 and 11---and on EASTER WEEKEND---or more accurately--RESURRECTION WEEKEND--I am so looking forward to sharing God's Word with you--and also with many others in our city and nation who will be joining us online--Saturday evening at 6:30, Sunday morning at 9 and 11 and Sunday evening at 6:00 pm.

Until then--may God bless you and keep you--may He make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift His countenance upon you and give you His precious peace. In the name of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

 

 

Dear Church Family,

With the Coronavirus Pandemic escalating, we continue to find ourselves in a surreal situation we’ve never experienced before and things are changing daily. Last week, even though we had public worship services, we strongly encouraged you to worship with us online and I’m pleased to report that over 95% of you did. On average we had about 60 people in each of our 7 services with a safe distance between worshipers which far exceeded the Alberta requirements at the time.

Well things have changed even more dramatically since then. Yesterday, the Premier of our Province declared a public health emergency and called on all gatherings larger than 50 people to be cancelled, effective immediately.

Therefore, because we want to do what we can to love and care for the health of our friends and neighbors and to cooperate with our government and health professionals in stopping the spread of this evil virus, EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY, WE HAVE DECIDED TO CANCEL OUR PUBLIC WORSHIP SERVICES AT ALL OF OUR CAMPUSES UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.

THE GOOD NEWS IS WE WILL STILL BE ABLE TO WORSHIP ONLINE, Saturday at 6:30pm or Sunday at 9 & 11am and 6pm. Our Sunday 9am service will continue to have a more traditional flavor. This weekend, Pastor Ashwin will be giving a message of hope and encouragement from John 10. So please join us online at cschurch.ca.

While we hope and pray this pandemic will soon be over and that we can gather for public worship again we are grateful that we can worship and stay connected online as a church. One family expressed how uplifting, reassuring and comforting it was to go online and see familiar faces, hear a sermon and sing songs of praise in their home. They added, “All the external moorings of our life have been yanked the last few days. We’re so glad Centre Street Church wasn’t one of them.”

 

MIDWEEK GATHERINGS AND GROUPS

Additionally, to prevent further spread of this virus, all our Midweek classes, Groups and Community Groups of all ages WILL BE SUSPENDED FROM MEETING IN PERSON for at least the next month. During this time, we encourage these groups to continue meeting online. If you are a group leader please contact your campus or community pastor who will introduce you to online options for your group.

 

WE ARE HERE FOR YOU.

This is a challenging time for all of us. If you need prayer, encouragement or help in some other way, our pastoral staff will be available at Central Campus during office hours to provide support in any way we can in person or over the phone. All Centre Street buildings will have limited access Monday thru Friday and will be closed over the weekend.

 

PLEASE STAY IN TOUCH FOR UPDATES

We want to keep you informed of any changes and updates through e-mail, social media and our website at cschurch.ca and so it is crucial you check in with us regularly.

If you do not have the means to receive e-mails or to go online please call the church at 403-293-3900 with your questions and give us your contact information so we can stay in touch and be of help.

 

YOUR FINANCIAL SUPPORT REALLY MATTERS

Forgive me for being direct, but without your faithful giving we will not be able to support our ministries, missionaries or staff for very long. We have witnessed God change thousands of lives through our life witness, our serving and giving and we pray that through this challenging time even more lives would be spiritually impacted to the glory of God. So thank you in advance for continuing to believe in and supporting our mission financially.

 

HOW YOU CAN HELP OTHERS

Many of you have inquired “how can I help others? Our Compassion Ministries is formulating a plan to help us meet the needs of those needing care during this crisis. If you would like to help others please visit cschurch.ca/hope and look for more information on how you can help. There will also be more information shared in our weekend services.

 

A FINAL WORD

In 2 Tim 1:7, the Apostle Paul writes “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

We serve a good, faithful and all-powerful God who is more than able to accomplish what concerns us today. Therefore, we need not respond to the challenges we face with fear, worry or panic the way most people in our society are. Rather, we can lean into Him in total trust and deal with the upheaval surrounding the coronavirus with a sound mind, and in the mighty power of the Spirit lift up the shield of faith, loving one another with the sacrificial love of Jesus.

For example, one family from our church sensed God leading them to put a note in the mailbox of all the people on their block with their name & phone number offering to grocery shop for them or help in whatever way they could. Others are dropping off meals for people who are sick or in isolation.

Church let’s do all we can to not spread this virus. Instead let’s spread the love of Jesus to those in our sphere of influence.

 

As we spend more time at home and ‘PAUSE’ from face to face gatherings for the next month or so, my prayer is:

  • Instead of spending hours of our day watching Netflix, we will make time to love and connect with our family in a meaningful way.

  • We will reach out to our neighbors and to those in our community group or ministry team by e-mail, text or phone and ask how they are doing and just listen as the process their worries and fears and then pray for them or with them.

  • We will set aside time every day to pray:

a. For all the things in our world that break God’s heart
b. For God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven
c. For all the things that concern us today
d. That families and friendships would be strengthened in this time
e. That people would be introduced to Jesus
f. For the death of the Coronavirus
g. That medical staff, the elderly and the most vulnerable would be protected from this evil virus
h. About anything or anyone God places on our hearts to pray for.

  • We will all continue to grow and worship together ONLINE until we can all gather together again for public worship and in our community groups and ministry teams.

 

May it be so to the glory of God and for the sake of world that needs the Jesus we know and love. God bless you all!

Pastor Henry

 

 

 

 

Dear Church Family,

I'm sure you are aware of the rapidly escalating concerns about the COVID-19 virus and wondering how we are responding. Even though we find ourselves in a situation we've never experienced before, our trust is in the Lord and we want to assure you we are monitoring this situation closely and prayerfully considering how best we can respond as a church. During this challenging season, we have an opportunity in our city and our neighbourhoods to be not only modeling the peace and assurance we have in Christ to those in our sphere of influence who are fearful, but also showing them His love in practical ways. This is a time to be sensitive for how God is prompting us to be faithful, trusting and loving and to pray for our city, nation and world--especially for those who are directly impacted.

On afternoon of March 12, the Alberta government took new measures to slow the spread of the Coronavirus by requiring all gatherings and events with more than 250 attendees to be cancelled. While these restrictions DO NOT extend to places of worship, as a church we want to do what we can to love and care for the health of our friends and neighbours and to cooperate with our government and health professionals to stop the spread of this virus.

Therefore, we are taking serious precautions and making significant changes this weekend (March 14/15). We will still have our worship services at our campuses for those who wish to attend (except for South Campus*). However, we strongly encourage you to worship with us online. This will lower our attendance at our public gatherings and minimize the potential spread of the virus.

In addition, to protect the most vulnerable, we will be postponing all weekend ministries including Children's Ministry, Grade 5 & 6, youth weekend ministry (The Pursuit), Special Needs Ministry and Maranatha Senior's Ministry until further notice. We will not be providing any food or beverages during our weekend worship services.

*Due to circumstances beyond our control our South Campus leased facilities are unavailable to us for the foreseeable future--so please join us online.

What to Do

FOLLOWING ALBERTA HEALTH SERVICES GUIDELINES, PLEASE STAY HOME IF:

  1. You are elderly, immune suppressed, have a pre-existing health condition or are highly vulnerable to the virus in some other way.
  2. You, your spouse, children and/or family member are not feeling well including fever, cough or shortness of breath.
  3. You just returned from traveling outside of Canada. Please postpone attending small group gatherings or church events for at least 14 days.

 

WE ARE KEEPING OUR FACILITIES SANITARY, INCLUDING:

  1. Increased disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces--before and after our worship services and events--both inside the worship center and other areas of our church buildings including handrails, door handles, counters etc.
  2. Placing signage in restrooms on best hygiene practices.
  3. Providing numerous hand sanitizer stations.
  4. Having people not pass offering plates but putting their tithes and offerings in baskets or boxes on their way into or out of a worship service.
  5. We are taking other precautions by temporarily changing how we conduct communion, baptisms, etc.

 

PLEASE PROTECT YOURSELF AND HELP PROTECT OTHERS BY:

  1. Using good hygiene practices, including frequent hand washing for at least 20 seconds.
  2. Using alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
  3. Resisting touching your face, nose, eyes or mouth.
  4. Avoiding close contact with people. Health officials advise keeping a social distance of at least 1-2 meters--as coronavirus can spread through water droplets from mouth & nose. During this period, avoid hugs, handshaking and other kinds of touching and don't be offended by those who avoid shaking your hand or giving you a hug.
  5. Having some wipes with you to clean surfaces you will touch or to clean your hands after touching certain surfaces.
  6. Coughing and sneezing into the bend of your elbow.
  7. Staying at home and away from others if you or your children are feeling sick, have a runny nose, sore throat, cough, fever etc.
  8. Carefully evaluating the risks of traveling elsewhere during this season.
  9. Monitoring your health and contacting your primary health provider or 811 Health Link if you have questions or concerns about your health.
  10. Following the Alberta Health Services safety guidelines found HERE.

 

PLEASE STAY IN TOUCH BY REGISTERING FOR UPDATES
Our church is closely monitoring communications from health officials and our government about COVID-19 and will inform you of any changes. We will also be providing updates on our website and social media platforms about weekend services, ministry events, and mid-week programs.

Please subscribe to receive updates by e-mail https://www.cschurch.ca/resources/itk/
 

THANKS FOR YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT
Thank you so much for your faithful giving to the mission and ministry of our church. We would not be able to do what we do in our city, our nation or around the world without your faithful support. Even if you are not at a worship service, there are many ways you can give. You can mail or drop off your tithe and offerings to Central Campus or you can give online. Click HERE for more information.
 

LET’S ENCOURAGE AND PRAY FOR ONE ANOTHER
This is a challenging time for all of us. We want you to know that our church staff are available to care and provide support in any way we can. Also, reach out to members of your community group or ministry team and encourage and pray for one another.


A CLOSING WORD

We are reminded in Psalm 23 that "even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me." As His followers, we are called to trust in His protection ("rod") and His provision ("staff"). Our peace and security are not based on having our circumstances free of darkness or difficulty. Instead our confidence is anchored in His love, power and goodness.

May we all experience the assurance of His protection and peace at this time, and let us extend His love to those around us.

I love being your pastor,
Henry

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION AND UPDATES PLEASE VISIT:

COVID-19 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Last updated: 2020, March, 13

 

We are monitoring the COVID-19 situation closely as it continues to evolve. In matters like this we are trusting God, and we do not want to give in to fear. We are doing everything we can to ensure CSC is a safe, clean place for us to worship, participate in learning events and find community. If we are to limit its spread however, we are going to have to pull together and towards God as a church and as a community.

The first thing we want to do is to pray. Let’s pray for those who are worried or affected, ask God how we can serve those who are ill, and ask for God’s healing and protection.

NOTE: This webpage will be updated with any major changes to CSC ministry. For ministry specific events or programs - visit ministry page on this website to be informed of any changes.

For email updates, please sign up HERE.

As one of Calgary’s churches and as good neighbours, we recognize that an outbreak of infectious disease will rely on us helping to share information about COVID-19 and to play an important role in preventing the spread of this virus or any other virus. We are responding by:

  • Strongly encouraging people to watch weekend services online on March 14/15. We will still have our worship services at our campuses for those who wish to attend (except for South Campus*)
  • Taking serious precautions and are making significant changes to our weekend services to protect the most vulnerable. We are postponing Children's Ministry, Grade 5/6, Youth Weekend Ministry, (The Pursuit), Special Needs Ministry and Maranatha Seniors Ministry until further notice. We will not be providing any food or beverages during our weekend worship services.
  • Providing information on best practices for our health and how to protect the health of others.
  • Making changes to our public worship services to prevent the spread of infectious disease. This includes not passing the offering plate, discouraging shaking hands and other physical contact, altering how we participate in communion and water baptism.
  • Elevating cleaning of facilities before and after events. Examples include regular cleaning of common use surfaces such as handrails, door handles, counters, check-in terminals.
  • Placing signage in restrooms on best hygiene practices.
  • Providing congregants with abundance of hand sanitizer stations.
  • Advising our congregation to worship online if they are feeling sick or vulnerable to illness, if they have traveled outside the country, or if they have compromised immune systems.


*Due to circumstances beyond our control our South Campus leased facilities are unavailable to us for the foreseeable future. Please join us online.

 

Let’s all take responsibility to do what we can to protect each other! Please consider the following precautions to reduce the spread of illness:

  • Hand hygiene: Wash your hands well and often. This means two rounds of happy birthday with hot water and soap. If soap and water is unavailable use hand sanitizer with 70% isopropyl alcohol.
    • Wash your hands before and after eating
    • Wash your hands before and after going to the bathroom
    • Wash your hands before and after being in a public setting
  • Self-infection: Resist touching your face, nose, eyes or mouth.
  • Social distancing: Avoid close contact with people. keep safe social distances (1 – 2 meters). Hugs, handshaking and other kinds of unnecessary contact should be reduced or eliminated during this period. Instead of making contact you can:
    • Nod or slight bow
    • Wave at one another
    • Wifi hi five (gesture a high five from across the room without touching)
  • Clean as you go: Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched. Take a wipe with you for door handles, restroom locks and elevator buttons.
  • Self-quarantine: Stay at home and away from others if you have symptoms of acute respiratory illness and/or a fever higher than 37.8 c.
  • Cough properly: Cough and sneeze into the bend of your elbow.
  • Stay informed: Consult the Federal Government’s Travel Health Notices page if you are leaving the country and are concerned about the coronavirus.
  • If you are sick, join our weekend services online here!
  • If you are sick please postpone attending small groups or other ministry events.
  • If you are in contact with someone who is ill or who has been traveling to a high-risk location, please postpone attending church events or small group gathering for 14 days.
  • If you believe there is good reason to refrain from attending a CSC service, consider watching the service online.
  • If you have traveled outside Canada please postpone attending church events or small group gatherings for 14 days.

At this time, holding weekend services is in alignment with Alberta Government guidelines listed HERE. We are taking direct action to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and are monitoring local government and health authorities for instructions regarding any gatherings.

  • Weekend Worship Services
    Continue to refer to this website to receive updates and also sign up HERE to receive communication. If local governments restrict public gatherings, we will continue to stream our worship services and we encourage you to join us online.
  • Ministry Events
    Ministry events that are canceled due to Coronavirus or other reasons will be listed on our website.

 

We have no upcoming missions teams scheduled to travel. Presently, we have no current teams travelling, or planning to travel, and any trips being considered are on indefinite hold.

We are presently developing protocols for our partners and global workers, especially those coming home on their furloughs.

We are grateful that all of our partners and global workers are safe and healthy as we know at this point. Continue to pray that the Lord’s name will raise higher and higher as the world sees how weak it is without Jesus.

HOW CAN I BE PRAYING?

We must seek God in prayer for His hand of protection on our church, on our families and on our loved ones. We know God hears and responds to our prayer! If we are a praying city praying against the spread of this virus, we do believe we will see a difference. Please be praying:

    • For God’s protection on Calgary, Alberta and Canada, on our frontline healthcare workers and our politicians/public health officers. Pray for wisdom and guidance for all our leaders to make the right decisions to help stop the spread.
    • For God’s wisdom for our leadership at Centre Street Church – that He will direct our steps to understand the situation, and to provide a timely and effective response in protection of our CSC community.
    • For God to reveal our role as a good neighbour in the community. For God to open doors through this crisis for us to continue serving the vulnerable and those seeking help and hope.
    • For our missionaries who are traveling overseas – that God would be protecting them and helping them make prudent decisions for their health and for their communities.
    • For our partner churches who are serving as the hands and feet of Jesus across the globe – that God would direct their steps and reveal His self through the church during this time of crisis.
    • For our vulnerable populations here at CSC – including Maranatha Seniors and our Special Needs Ministry and anybody with a compromised immune system – that God would protect them and help us to serve them amid this evolving situation.

COVID-19 BASICS FAQ


1. What is Coronavirus? What is COVID-19?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause respiratory illness in people, ranging from mild cold symptoms to severe illnesses. Coronaviruses are most commonly spread from an infected person through:

  • Respiratory droplets when you cough or sneeze
  • Close personal contact (e.g. touching, shaking hands, kissing, sharing food/drinks/household items)
  • Touching something with the virus on it, then touching your eyes/nose/mouth with unwashed hands​
  • Coronaviruses are not known to spread through ventilation systems or through water.​

On February 11, 2020 the World Health Organization announced an official name for the disease that is causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, first identified in Wuhan China. The new name of this disease is coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19. In COVID-19, ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease. Formerly, this disease was referred to as “2019 novel coronavirus” or “2019-nCoV”.1

 

2. What should I do if I think I have COVID-19?

If you are experiencing influenza-like symptoms (fever, cough, runny nose, excessive sneezing, sore throat, difficulty breathing)

AND

You have travelled anywhere outside of Canada in the 14 days before illness onset (or have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 or has been sick and travelled outside of Canada in the 14 days before illness onset)

THEN

Stay home and call Health Link 811. You may be directed to a testing  centre, or a nurse or paramedic will be sent to your home to test you for coronavirus.

You will be instructed to "self-isolate" – stay at home and limit your contact with others in your home to avoid spread of the virus as far as possible.

DO NOT go to a doctor's office, a health care facility, or a lab without consulting with Health Link 811 first. Their trained health care professionals will assist you in making the most appropriate decision to help yourself and to protect others.

Call 911 if you are seriously ill and need immediate medical attention, and inform them you may have COVID-19.


Who is at risk?

Although everyone can catch viruses and flus, those most at risk of having a serious reaction are:

  • Those with a pre-existing health condition
  • The elderly 
  • People with multiple body stressors, such as smoking, heavy alcohol use and poor sleep or nutrition

 

1https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html#basics

 

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