Who can tell us (humanly speaking, of course) what has happened to the church since COVID hit?

Well, here are a few guys who’ve had their eyes on things and have credible insight to offer. Back in January we asked four of Canada’s denominational leaders, “What are you seeing at the local level, and how are our churches responding to the challenges of COVID?”

Even several months later, what they had to say still rings true, possibly even more-so. I will paraphrase a few of their thoughts, but I hope you will pause and take the time to listen to this 10-minute discussion as there are so many wonderful nuggets of much-needed encouragement.

So, how is the church responding in the midst of COVID?

Many people have proven very resilient and resourceful! A revitalized mindset is changing the way we do ministry, as it is no longer solely about the pastor or people coming to the building. It’s the church families and laity who have sensed the urgency and picked up this need to walk with others with intentionality. “How do we stay connected? How do we care for people through the isolation?” The body has risen to the occasion and the change in emphasis is exciting! As well, there are those who’ve never darkened the door of a church being ministered to online. There is great potential for growth!

However, there are certainly some major challenges facing the church as well. Perhaps not the ones you’d expect. They are not external, they are within. There is a clamor resulting from people holding polar-opposite ends of the spectrum of opinion. Demanding and impatient, on both sides. This domestic “war zone” has got to be the toughest obstacle in the current situation. If our congregations were unified and rightly focused, our pastors and communities would be ENERGIZED instead of growing weary. We need to check our hearts.

What might this look like going forward? Are there trajectories we’re on that have permanently changed the church?

A wonderful byproduct of these forced changes is that we’ve rediscovered household discipleship. Rediscovered neighbour. We have seen positive examples of people reengaging in their community, being open to show care. Something as simple as going for a walk and pausing for conversation with people you encounter. The level of need for relationship and the openness to spiritual conversations has forced us into the mode of “go, BE the church”. May this become ‘Kingdom normal’ as we look to the other side of the pandemic!

If all the clamor has just been so that we can “get back to normal,” God help us. There is so much more… may we expect great and marvelous things through this trial, to the glory and honor and praise of our God!

Jayna Snider

Jayna is the Communications Coordinator for Horizon College & Seminary

GUEST SPEAKERS

Our panel discussion features denominational leaders from The Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, The Church of God in Western Canada, the Christian & Missionary Alliance, and The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada.

Rev Elton DaSilva
Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches logo

Rev. Elton DaSilva
Elton has been the National Director for Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (CCMBC) since June 2018.

Prior to his appointment as National Director, Elton served in the role of Provincial Executive Director for the Mennonite Brethren Churches of Manitoba (MBCM) for 8 years. Elton has been a church planter and pastor and has a formal education background in business and economics.

Elton is married to Ana and they have 2 adult daughters and a son in high school. Elton and his family reside in Winnipeg.

Bishop Larry Hasmatali
Church of God in Western Canada

Bishop Larry Hasmatali
Larry is currently under appointment at the Church of God International Offices as the Administrative Bishop for the Church of God in Western Canada, which spans the provinces of MB, SK, AB & BC.

During his tenure as the Administrative Bishop, Larry has also maintained his position as the Lead Pastor of the Church of God-Moose Jaw where he has pastored since 1996.

Larry is passionate about pastoring, planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors and others in ministry to excel in leadership and life.

Bishop Larry has served on several denominational board and committees and presently serves on the Church of God Canadian National Executive Committee and the USA Missions Church Planting & Revitalization Task Force Board.

Bishop Larry and his wife, Connie, currently live in Moose Jaw, SK and have two adult children, Brandon and Maddison.

Rev Dr Bernie Van De Walle
Canadian Midwest District The Christian and Missionary Alliance

Rev. Dr. Bernie Van De Walle
Bernie has been the District Superintendent of the Canadian Midwest District since August, 2019. For 20 years prior to that, he was Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology at Ambrose University and Seminary.

Pastorally, he has served in both British Columbia and Saskatchewan. His book, The Heart of the Gospel, is required reading for ordination with the Alliance internationally.

Bernie is ordained with the Alliance in Canada and has served as the Chair of its Board of Directors. Until recently, he was also the Chairman of the International Commission for Theological Education of the Alliance World Fellowship.

Bernie and his wife, Colleen (a Certified Public Accountant), have two grown sons, Ken and David (who is married to Hannah and are expecting their first child!) Bernie and Colleen were both born and raised in Saskatchewan.

Rev Dr David Wells
Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada

Rev. Dr. David Wells
Dave Wells has served as general superintendent of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada (PAOC) since May 2008. Dave serves as the President of the Pentecostal Charismatic Churches of North America, Vice-Chair of the Pentecostal World Fellowship and on the executive of the World Assemblies of God Fellowship.

Dave Wells has served as general superintendent of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada (PAOC) since May 2008. He was appointed general superintendent at General Conference 2008 after serving as the district superintendent of the BC/Yukon District. The PAOC has close to 1,200 affiliated churches, satellites and church plants, 3,700 credentialed ministers and a constituency of close to 265,000 people across Canada. Internationally, the organization has over 300 global workers serving in more than 50 nations.

Dave completed his undergraduate studies in theology at Vanguard College in Edmonton, Alberta, and has a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry from Briercrest Seminary, Saskatchewan. In May 2013, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree by McMaster Divinity College. In April 2014, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree by Briercrest College and Seminary and in July 2017 an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree by Pentecostal Bible and Leadership Institute, Malawi.

Dave served as senior associate pastor at Broadway Church in Vancouver, BC from 1994 to 1999, and previously pastored in Hamilton, ON, Calgary, AB, and Red Deer, AB.

Dave has served as Canadian chaplain for the Olympic Games (2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2016), Pan Am Games (2011 and 2015), and Commonwealth Games (1990, 1994, 2002, 2014 and 2018). He was chair of the Vancouver-Whistler Olympic organization’s multi-faith committee which organized chaplaincy at the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games. He also coordinated the Christian chaplaincy at the Vancouver 2010 games. He served in the same roles for the Toronto 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games and at the Invictus Games Toronto 2017. He has also served on the executive boards that coordinated the Christian community for service at the Vancouver 2010 and Toronto 2015 Games.

Dave and his wife, Susan, live in Burlington, Ontario. They have three children—Shannon (Eric), Jonathan (Melissa) and Jordan (Justine)—and eight grandchildren, one of whom is in heaven.

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