We came into 2020 with great expectations. We closed out 2019 with a sermon series on “Connecting the Dots” and, with the Christmas series last year, we discovered that Jesus was “The Greatest of All Time”. Pastor Samuel in his year-end sermon quoted from Solomon saying, “Since no one knows the future, who can tell someone else what is to come?” Who knew what 2020 would bring? No one. We had some hopes, some dreams, some plans, but God has had His way. I recall coming into 2020 playing off of the date 2020 and talking about it as a year of perfect and clear vision. I imagined that it was going to be a year of seeing more clearly and doing more justly. Well, I do think the onset of COVID-19 has brought a new perspective, has clarified priorities, and—most definitely—has changed the way we live.
We began the year with the sermon series “Life’s Healing Choices”. What a series! It was so empowering, as we put the importance of our choices front and centre. Hope, commitment, housecleaning, transformation, relationships, growth, and sharing were all choices that we were challenged to make. We then made our way through the “Deeper” series, where we anchored our souls in the deeper certainties of God’s Word. This was so foundational to our emotional health, as we began to experience exponential change as a result of the coronavirus. For the first time in our lives, church as we knew it changed so radically. We were no longer meeting in person and had pivoted to being a dynamic online presence. The “Soul Detox” series was so timely in that many of us found ourselves disconnected from the busy life and the now bound-to-our-homes lifestyle that we were living. The busy schedules ceased and time with self and immediate family became the norm for us.
Pastor Karen took the lead on our summer series “got fruit?”. We made our way through Galatians 5:22-23, as well as some great “Fruitastic” recipes. We learned that with Christ’s Spirit living within our spirits, we bear the fruit of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Most recently, as we launched our ministries this fall, we challenged each other to be “All In” on what God is doing amongst us and around the world. This “All In” sermon series challenged us to love God and our neighbours with all our heart, with all our mind, soul, and strength. At the end of this series, we were blessed with an amazing update from our OnMission team with regard to all the great things that God is doing in our city, our country, and our world. That was one of my favourite services of 2020. Just because the world seems to stop, doesn’t mean our ministries or missionary mandate does. COVID-19 has not slowed us down!
Isn’t it great, that with all that we are experiencing, that we find ourselves now in middle of a prayer series? Prayer is so essential to our health, our wellness, and our relationship with God and others. My prayer in this moment is that God would bless us all with great faith in His ability to see us through all of life’s challenges and that many would be drawn to the benefits and the beauty of a personal relationship with Jesus.
Our desire is to facilitate life-changing connections with God, each other, and our world. We do this through our gatherings (which is virtual at the present), our groupings (also virtual, but with some outdoor meetings), giving (thank you for supporting these life-changing connections with God, our church, and our community), and through our going (or Getting Out beyond ourselves and assisting the world at its points of need). It’s as we facilitate these life-changing connections that we see transformed people impacting their world in Christ. This is our vision!
Just a few thank yous to bring this impact report to an end. First, I want to thank God for His faithful provision of the right leaders at the right time, with the right abilities, and the right heart. The Church Board has been so helpful. I appreciate their willingness to meet whenever and however this year. They have been so engaged, and so in tune with all of our adjustments through this coronavirus crisis. We, as a staff, so appreciate their partnership. I’d like to also mention the COVID Preparedness Team. This is a team that did not exist a year ago because none of us knew what the coronavirus was, or what it was capable of. But this team has been on top of all developments related to the virus and its spread. They have brought us into safe protocols, personal and group disciplines, and have assisted us in our communication of all things the bridge in the midst of this pandemic. Thank you Deb, Cynthia, Shauna, Emily, Samuel, Ann, Garway and Ada. Such a great team! Thank you!
By the way, we had two staff adjustments this past year. Pastor Samuel took parental leave from January to August to welcome little Leah into their family. It’s so good to have him back. He was missed. Also, after a year and a half of volunteering, and then another year and a half of being part time, Deb Childs has moved on to a new full time job in April of this past year. While she is missed in the office, she continues to give inspired leadership to the OnMission ministry.
I would like to thank each of you for your engagement and your commitment through all the changes—all the pivots—that we have experienced in the past year. You have gathered, you have grouped, you have given, and you have gone out to those in need in record fashion this year. I would also like to thank the staff of the bridge for their adaptability and their constant vigilance in finding ways to connect with you while we are not meeting in person. Whether it’s the two services on Sunday, the Hub Live, the Seasonal Groups, the HubSpot Cafés, the LifeGroups, the Kidzone Konnections, the youth and the young adult initiatives, the prayer meetings, the Daily bridge, Care Ministries, OnMission, Alpha Online, Property Development, or Operational Disciplines…the staff have so appreciated the gift of your time and, talent, and your treasure. What an amazing and blessed church God has given!