Local churches stay connected to parishioners through hard times

During times of struggle, people often seek out guidance, support, and spirituality. Thankfully, people can still connect with their church online.

“There has been an increase in the emotional and financial stress people are under,” says Rev. Mark Chiang, minister of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church. “I personally provide some pastoral support for folks in crisis. Understandably, a lot of us are feeling tired and not ourselves.”

Rev. Mark Chiang (pictured) from St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church has been holding services online.
Rev. Mark Chiang (pictured) from St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church has been holding services online. | Supplied

The church currently holds their services online. “We provide prayers, fun messages for kids, sermons, and links to worship music for each Sunday,” explains Chiang. “We debated reopening, but our congregation consists of a number of folks who would be more vulnerable to COVID.”

Although the church isn’t being used for services, it is being used to provide bagged lunches for those in need. 

Avenue Vineyard Community Church also went online. “We have not returned to normal and still do not have a set date for that to occur,” explains lead pastor Wayne Thomas. They have begun allowing small groups to gather, following proper distancing protocols.

 “We have a private Facebook group for the church, which allows our members to post and interact. Ask for prayer requests, share concerns,” Thomas explains. They host a Sunday service on their Facebook page. Afterwards, they go onto Facebook live for about 30-40 minutes of teaching time. “After the service, we host a Zoom chat for anyone that would like to connect and maybe pray together.”

“We’re still offering supports where able. We try to stay connected through our Facebook page, website, and app. We are still helping to provide food security where needed with volunteer deliveries,” explains Thomas. “We have encouraged our people to stay connected with one another, with other friends and with neighbours through phone or other electronic means. I have phoned those that may need a little more, or special attention.” They also stay connected with and supportive of other neighbourhood churches. 

Norwood Wesleyan Church also offers online and outdoor services, explains Pastor Nicholas Pybus. Plus, they record a mid-week online devotional called Practical Christianity focusing on applying Christian principles to daily life.

Pastor Nicholas Pybus of Norwood Wesleyan Church offers online and outdoor services, along with a food box service. | Stephen Strand

They have begun hosting their youth group in person again, and follow proper distancing measures as well as mask and sanitization procedures. The group is for people aged 13-19 years old, and they meet each Friday at 7 p.m.

Norwood Wesleyan Church is also involved with a food box service through a lady at their church who also runs a Facebook group called “Pay it Forward Always Edmonton” that helps people in need in our community.

Pastor Pybus says Norwood Wesleyan Church’s youth group has been meeting in person again, with proper physical distancing and sanitation measures in place. | Stephen Strand

“One of the things we found that people were deeply struggling with was the loss of community. Offering church services has been very helpful because community is so important and essential,” says Pybus. The loss of community, Pybus explains, can have a strong impact on people’s hearts and souls.                  

If you need help, reach out to your local church and they may be able to help directly, or at least help point you in the right direction. There is no need to go through this time alone. 

Look for part two online soon and in print in the October issue.For more information, visit: facebook.com/norwoodwesleyan, avenuevineyard.com/, and  pccweb.ca/standrews-edm/.