COVID-19: BC Christian leaders’ response
Last month, Tom Cooper, together with City in Focus friends, Lawrence Ho and Jonathan Bird, reached out to Christian leaders in British Columbia to encourage them to encourage others during the COVID-19 pandemic. The following letter, which appeared in the Vancouver Sun and the Province over the Easter weekend, and in ChurchforVancouver.ca, is the result of their efforts. It shows what the Christian community can do together in times of crisis.
Dear fellow British Columbians,
As a group of Christian leaders we seek to join our voice in praise and thanksgiving for the care, kindness, and sacrifice of courageous front-line health care workers, social and food services staff, and civil servants. We are praying for everyone involved in protecting the health and safety of all in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. May God strengthen, protect, and guide all who seek to provide healing and may their work be a moving expression of the mercy and love of God.
We recognize how worrying the global pandemic is. It is a crisis which provokes uncertainty, panic, loss, discouragement, and loneliness. As followers of Jesus, we know that God is with us in the midst of worry and loss. We pray that the Spirit of Christ will bring you peace and an abiding sense of calm. The promise of scripture offers us hope: “Do not be afraid, for I am with you. You are in the palm of my hand” (Isaiah 41:10). We have hope that God will see us through this crisis.
Signs of hope and solidarity are evident throughout our province. Despite the restrictions imposed by social distancing and necessary isolation, people everywhere are discovering new and creative ways of reaching out and helping their neighbour. Knowing the value of community, they are heralds of hope to the lonely and consolers to those in distress. It is inspiring to witness the bonds of affection that sustain our communities and society.
Nearly 2 million people in BC identify as Christian, and the vast majority of them are engaged in their Christian faith and church communities. We are called to love and support our society, not only with our prayers, but also in our actions. Indeed, we are called to “seek the peace of the city” (Jeremiah 29:7).
In this very difficult time in our world we encourage everyone to:
1) Obey guidelines set by the government, including self-quarantining, social distancing, sanitizing, and hygiene.
2) Find neighbours who are alone or self-quarantining, and offer to help them.
3) Assist the elderly, even if only to talk with them from their porch, through a window, or on the phone.
4) Assist others in need of extra encouragement, companionship, and help, for example: single parents, those with limited mobility or chronic illness, or those struggling with mental illness.
5) Do more of what brings you deep joy, then share with family, friends, and the world.
6) Be in touch with your nearest church or community organization and, if it is safe for you, offer to volunteer. For instance, there will be very high need for grocery and meal delivery in the coming weeks.
7) Donate to charities working on the frontlines. Money is best, but you can call to see what items are most useful in these circumstances.
God is with us and wants to shoulder our burdens and offer us comfort and protection. As we pray for the virus to end, let us also together pray:
– For everyone affected by COVID-19 or the closure of social services, particularly the elderly, marginalized, homeless, and hungry.
– For the mental and physical health of all.
– For our political and civic leaders to have wisdom, courage, and humility as they make extraordinarily difficult decisions.
– For all those who work on the frontlines and behind the scenes.
– That all secular and religious communities would work together for the common good.
Let all followers of Jesus Christ join together asking for the grace and peace of our almighty and merciful God, especially for all the sick and their families, health care and social workers, authorities, and volunteers who are sorely tried by the COVID-19 pandemic.
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The full list of signatories:
By and for God’s grace:
Archdiocese of Vancouver, Roman Catholic Church, Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB
British Columbia Baptist Conference, Rev. Dr. Bernard Mukwavi, District Minister
Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, Rev. Rob Ogilvie, Executive Minister
Christian & Missionary Alliance, Canadian Pacific District, Rev. Errol Rempel, District Superintendent
Christian Reformed Church, Classis BC North-West, Kathy Smith
Diocese of Kamloops, Roman Catholic Church, Bishop Joseph Phuong Nguyen
Diocese of Nelson, Roman Catholic Church, Bishop Gregory Bittman
Diocese of Prince George, Roman Catholic Church, Bishop Stephen Jensen
Diocese of Victoria, Roman Catholic Church, Bishop Gary Gordon
Ecclesiastical Province of British Columbia & Yukon, Anglican Church of Canada, Archbishop Melissa Skelton
Evangelical Free Church of Canada, Lower Pacific District, Rev. Rob Stewart, District Superintendent
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, British Columbia Synod, Bishop Gregory Mohr
Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in British Columbia & Yukon, Rev. David Horita, Regional Director
Foursquare Gospel Church of Canada, Rev. Barry Buzza, President
Mennonite Church British Columbia, Rev. Garry Janzen, Executive Minister
North American Baptist Fellowship, Jeremy Bell, General Secretary
Pacific Mountain Region of the United Church of Canada, Treena Duncan, Executive Minister
Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, British Columbia & Yukon District, Rev. Ken Russell, District Superintendent
Presbyterian Church in Canada, Westminster Presbytery, Rev. Victor S.J. Kim
Salvation Army, Divisional Headquarters, British Columbia Division, Lt. Colonel Jamie Braun
Alpha Canada, Shaila Visser, National Director
ChurchForVancouver.ca, Flyn Ritchie
City in Focus, Tom Cooper, President
CityReach Care Society, Simon Gau, Executive Director
Coram Deo Foundation, Bill Blaney, Chief Operating Officer
Corpus Christi/St. Mark’s College, Dr. Peter Meehan, President and Vice-Chancellor
Focus on the Family Canada, Terence Rolston, President
Hope For Freedom Society, Dennis Fagan, Executive Director
L’Arche Greater Vancouver, Denise Haskett, Executive Director
Leading Influence, Tim Schindel, National Director
Mission Central, John Hall, Executive Director
Mission Possible, Matt Smedley, Chief Empowerment Officer
More Than A Roof Housing Society, Lee Anne Michayluk, CEO
Nightshift Ministries, MaryAnn Connor, Executive Director
Power to Change Ministries, Rod Bergan, President
Regent College, Jeff Greenman, President
Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries, Daniel Whitehead, Executive Director
St. Andrew’s Hall, Tim Dickau
Trinity Western University, Mark Husbands, President
Union Gospel Mission, Bill Mollard, President
Vancouver School of Theology, Indigenous Studies Program, Rev. Dr. Ray Aldred, Director
World Vision Canada (BC), Lisa Hamilton, Philanthropy Advisor
Young Life, Mike O’Leary, President
YWAM Vancouver, Mike Davies, Executive Director
24-7 Prayer Canada, Aaron White, National Director
A. Allan Skidmore, Chairman & CEO, Skidmore Group
Andy Szocs, Chair, The Szocs Family Foundation
Angus Reid, Chairman, Angus Reid Institute
Bob Gaglardi, Owner & CEO, Northlands Property
Brian McConaghy, Founding Director, Ratanak International
Bruce & Diane Ledingham
Bruno De Vita, QC, Alexander Holburn Beaudin + Lang LLP
David & Lise Ash, Business & Philanthropy
David Bentall, President, Next Step Advisors
David McLean, Chairman, McLean Group
Dick Vollet, President & CEO, St. Paul’s Foundation
Fiona Dalton, President & CEO, Providence Health Care
Geoff Tunnicliffe, Former Secretary General, World Evangelical Alliance (WEA)
Jae Kim, Principal, JK Philanthropy Advisors
Jim Crescenzo, Founder, East End Boys Club
Jim Pattison, Chairman & CEO, Jim Pattison Group
John Montalbano, Chair, St. Paul’s Foundation
John Neate, CEO, JJ Bean Coffee Roaster
Joo Kim Tiah, CEO & President of the Holborn Group
Michael Audain, Chairman, Polygon Homes Ltd.
Lawrence J. Ho, Senior Fellow Murdock Charitable Trust
Paolo Aquilini, Aquilini Investment Group (AIG)
Peter & Debbie Ash, Business & Philanthropy
Peter Bull, President, P.M. Bull & Company LTD and Blenheim Realty LTD
Peter Chung, Chairman & CEO, Primacorp Ventures INC
Peter Lee, Caffé Umbria
Peter Mogan, Mogan Daniels Slager LLP
Reuben Zuidhof, Partner, Digital Hot Sauce
Santa Ono & Wendy Yip
Scot Sustad, Partner, Adventure Teaching
Dr. Stephen Chung & Gail Chung, Head of Hepatobiliary & Pancreatic Surgery, Vancouver General Hospital
Tom Skidmore, CEO, Skidmore Development Group LTD
William Lee, Navigators of Canada
Dr. Will Johnson, Family Physician
The Hon. Yonah Martin, Canadian Senator
Broadway Church, Vancouver, Rev. Darin Latham, Lead Pastor
Calvary Worship Centre, Surrey, Rev. Sam Owusu, Pastor
Chapel Vancouver, Jonathan Mitchell
Christ Community Church, Victoria, Rev. William Delleman, Pastor
Christian Reformed Church, Rev. Henry Numan, Retired
Christian Reformed Church, Prince George, Rev. Andrew Aukema
Christian Reformed Church, Vancouver, Rev. Mary-Lee Bouma
Christian Reformed Churches of British Columbia, Dena Nicolai, Chaplain and Refugee Support Mobilizer
Coastal Church, Vancouver, Pastor David Koop
First Christian Reformed Church of Vancouver, Rev. Tom Trevor Vanderveen, Lead Pastor
Fleetwood Christian Reformed Church, Surrey, Rev. Tom Bomhof, Pastor
Fraser Lands Alliance Church, Vancouver, Pastor Abe Chan
Grace Lutheran (ELCIC) Church, Burnaby, Rev. Nathan Fong
Grace Vancouver Church, Pastor Mike Hsu
Gracepoint Church, Surrey, Rev. Steve Bains, Pastor of Community Development
Hope Vancouver Network, Rev. Dave Carson
Jericho Ridge Community Church, Surrey, Brad Sumner, Lead Pastor
Jubilee United Church, Burnaby, Rev. Graham Brownmiller
Maple Ridge Christian Reformed Church, Rev. Dr. Tim Sheridan
Nelson Avenue Community Church, Burnaby, Rev. Johannes Schouten
New Westminster Christian Reformed Church, Rev. Andrew Beunk, Lead Pastor
Pacific Grace MB Church, Vancouver, Rev. Xavier Law, Senior Pastor
Pastor and Professor, Rev. Dr. Darrell W. Johnson
Peace Mennonite Richmond, Rev. Winston Pratt, Lead Pastor
Peninsula United Church, Surrey, Rev. Bruce McAndless-Davis, Pastor
People’s Church Surrey, Rev. Ryan Delblanc Lead Pastor
Southside Community Church, Surrey, Rev. Cam Roxburgh, Senior Pastor & National Director Forge
St. Andrew’s Wesley United Church, Vancouver, Rev. Dan Chambers
St. John’s Shaughnessy Anglican Church, Vancouver, Rev. John Stephens
St. Peter’s Fireside, Vancouver, Rev. Alastair Sterne, Lead Pastor
Telkwa Community Church, Telkwa, Rev. Joe Ellis
Tenth Avenue Alliance Church, Vancouver, Rev. Dr. Ken Shigematsu, Lead Pastor
Terrace Christian Reformed Church, Terrace, Rev. Joel Ringma
The Tapestry Church, Richmond, Rev. Albert Chu, Lead Pastor
The Tapestry Church, Richmond, Rev. Michael Yang
The Way Church, Vancouver, Rev. Jason Ballard & Chris Price
United Church of Canada, Vancouver, Very Rev. Dr. Gary Paterson, Former Moderator
Westside Church, Vancouver, Rev. Matthew Menzel, Lead Pastor
Westwood Community Church, Coquitlam and President of the Association of Christian Ministries Vancouver, Rev. Giulio Gabeli
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