Dear VBC community.
Until further notice, VBC is cancelling all meetings and programs, including the Varsity@10 and Varsity@4 worship gatherings. We have updated our website to keep you up to date with how we will continue to journey together. We believe that worship (fixing our eyes on Jesus) and community (caring for one another) are vital to human flourishing. Perhaps even more vital in these days. As such, we are implementing the following steps to encourage you to worship and to connect with one another:
Susan will be recording her sermon weekly, available in both video and audio formats at 10:00 AM Sunday. We may add musicians to this as well in the coming weeks (stay tuned). For now, we invite you to listen to “songs for the season,” songs which express God’s faithfulness and unfailing love. We are also posting guidelines for several spiritual practices. All this is available in the Sermons + section of the church website and on Facebook (see below). Kids resources available here.
Social distancing does not mean social isolation. Please take time to pray for one another. Please be in regular contact with others. This includes not only those within the VBC community, but also your neighbours, co-workers and friends. In the coming weeks, we will provide resources for existing and new small groups to meet (virtually). For those of you who use Facebook, we have set up a VBC Facebook page that allows you to listen to the sermon and interact with questions and comments. We are also resurrecting the VBC blog, a weekly story from someone practicing the way of Jesus in this cultural moment. If you have additional questions or concerns, please contact any pastor or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Giving financially is both an act of worship and an opportunity to extend the kingdom of God—for example, through our partnership with the church in the Dominican Republic. These things remain true, even though we are not meeting in large groups. I am aware that some of you already have reduced work hours, and possibly reduced pay… a reality that prompts this request. In the coming weeks and months, the church needs to respond to those most impacted (through our benevolent fund). As you are able, please continue to give. Online options can be found here. Questions to email@example.com.
The Steve Bell Retreat is tentatively re-scheduled for May 29-30. If you cannot attend those dates, refunds are available. Please call 1-800-854-3499 from 9:00-3:30 CST to speak with Faye or Jason. They will need your credit card number to process the refund.
Finally, I encourage you to stay informed. We recommend you get your primary information from the Province: https://www.alberta.ca/coronavirus-info-for-albertans.aspx. This not only ensures you are getting reliable information but also provides updates specific to the province in which you actually live.
Keep your eyes on Jesus. Connect with one another.
Be at peace.
All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well. -Julian of Norwich
In an age of endless information, it can be very confusing to distil fact from fiction. We recommend you get your primary information from the Province of Alberta: https://www.alberta.ca/coronavirus-info-for-albertans.aspx. This not only ensures you are getting reliable information but also provides updates specific to the province in which you actually live. This site also provides detailed information about COVID-19, up-to-date risk assessments, things you can do to prevent infection, and what to do if you have been exposed. If you have additional questions, please call Health-Link.
Do not be afraid.
The encouragement to not be afraid is one of the most repeated commands in scripture (over 100 times). From Psalm 46: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea…” These are anxious days and we are not immune to being afraid. But let us not loose sight of God, who holds our fear and is still present in our world.
That said, in these unprecedented times we should significantly modify our behaviour. This is not done from a sense of fear or panic. As Andy Crouch argues, “one of the basic axioms of the Christian life is that the ‘strong’ must consider the ‘weak’ (see Rom. 15). We are making these choices not to minimize our own risk, but to protect others from risk.” (full article available HERE). Concern for our neighbour is the reason we are changing our behaviour. To that end, we are postponing the Steve Bell retreat. In talking with Steve this morning, he did not feel comfortable putting people at unnecessary risk. We fully affirm this decision.
Let Mercy Lead.
Christians, while not immune to infection, have an opportunity to live without fear and with great love in these times. May we seek to love and care for our neighbour, especially those who are vulnerable. Check in on each other. Offer to run errands for those who cannot. Share what you have. Pray often. To quote again from Andy Crouch: “Real Christian hope is our ultimate confidence, rooted in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, that the Creator of the world is also the Redeemer and Sustainer of the world, and will one day return to renew the entire creation. This hope is not just cosmic but personal, in the astonishing and wonderful words of the Heidelberg Catechism: What is your only hope in life and death? That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ… He preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head..."
One of the great opportunities of this crisis is the chance to relearn these words, teach them to our children (and others) for the first time, and live them out together.
Be at peace.
The VBC Staff