Building a Community to Reach a Community

Previous Updates

May 5, 2021

Dear Zion Family,

I'm sure there are many mixed emotions within our body following Premier Kenney's May 4 announcement of new COVID-19 restrictions. Although I trust we all share a concern for the health and safety of one another and our neighbours, we may also rightly grieve once again losing some basic privileges that we had just started to enjoy. Although I trust we are all grateful for a more comprehensive response to address rising infection rates, we may also rightly grieve how long this ordeal has gone on.

The Ministry Council, staff team, and worship volunteers have agreed that we will fully and strictly comply with the Government of Alberta restriction on places of worship (max. 15 people in attendance) until further notice. Only those volunteering to lead/facilitate our livestream worship services will be permitted to enter the building on Sunday mornings - all other upcoming RSVPs are canceled.

The church office will also be closed. Please contact church staff via email, or leave a message via phone, which will be returned as promptly as possible.

In place of an in-person gathering, we plan to share music, prayer and a message from God's Word with you via our church livestream over the coming Sundays, as we have throughout the pandemic.

Though viewing the worship service via the livestream has become almost normal for some, I want to encourage you to ponder anew how you prepare and gather your household to join us live at 10:45am. How will you consecrate (set aside) this time in the week to set your heart and mind on the Lord and contemplate His presence and His grace afresh? I invite you to sing out loud, shout your 'amens!' in prayer, and sit with a Bible open in hand as we all join together virtually to fix our eyes on Jesus.

Grace & Peace,
Pastor Nick
 
Sing to the Lord, you his faithful ones, and praise his holy name...Weeping may stay overnight, but there is joy in the morning. (Psalm 30:4-5)


December 11, 2020

On Wednesday night (Dec 9) the Ministry Council met, in part to discuss the provincial COVID-19 restrictions announced on Tuesday. I know that many of you have questions, and so I wanted to update you that we reached a unanimous consensus to continue to invite in-person participation in worship services on Sunday mornings, as well as an in-person Christmas Eve service (Dec 24 at 6 pm), both of which will also be livestreamed.

We believe that the Bible is clear that, although a local church is far more than a mere gathering, a local church is never less than a gathering. While much proverbial ink has been spilled over the last months, announcing the end of church and worship gatherings as we know it, I believe that if anything, the pandemic and related shutdowns has only highlighted how crucial a steadfast commitment to weekly corporate worship gatherings, where the Word of God is heard, prayed, read, sung, and preached, really is (in addition to other opportunities to gather, which can also have great value!).

The word in the Greek translation of the Old Testament for "assembly", ekklesia, is the same word the New Testament writers use to refer to the local church. It's simply the term for a gathering. But when applied to the church, it carries the rich Old Testament connotations of standing together as God's chosen people (e.g. Deut. 9:10, Judg 20:2, 1 Kgs 8:14, 1 Chr 28:8). A church is a blood-bought people, devoted to the worship of the one true God...set apart from the world, committed to serve one another and love our neighbours. And we do all this by assembling together in space and time. The point being that gathering physically for corporate worship is an incredibly significant thing, and that while we're permitted, we're committed to doing everything possible to continue as we have.

I think that it's really important that we remember that we don't only gather for ourselves (i.e. to "get" something), but that a major reason to gather is that even simply by your presence, you give. You give presence to those who are weary with loneliness when you sit in the same room, make eye contact and wave from a distance, and then allow them to hear your worship (Col 3:16). You give opportunity to those who don't have access to the livestream, who could not otherwise participate, to join in praising God (Gal 6:2). You give testimony to a watching world, of where your confidence, joy and hope lie (Ph 2:14-16). You give encouragement to those who labour for the sake of your soul, who themselves will give an account for their work on your behalf (Heb 13:17).

As I wrote to you a couple of weeks ago, each of us will have to weigh carefully what we'll choose to do week to week. Please prayerfully consider how you'll choose to participate on this Sunday and each Sunday morning:

If you believe that the Spirit of the Lord is directing you through prayer and the Word to join us in person, trusting that He moves even in less than ideal circumstances, ask yourself if there might be other activities in the course of your week that you can foresake in order to come to worship with as little risk of bringing the virus with you as possible. If you have discerned that you are unable to attend in person on Sunday mornings presently, I encourage you to continue to consecrate (set apart) that time for the Lord by committing yourself to viewing the stream live.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all.

Grace & Peace,
Pastor Nick
 

August 25, 2020

Over the last three Sundays, we embarked on a trial run of in-person services. It was a joy to see so many of you in person again, and I cannot express enough how grateful I am for how willing you all were to follow the guidelines, wear masks, and maintain physical distancing. I also want to thank our volunteers who made all of this possible, and gave their time and energy to help ensure we could gather safely in person.

Now that the trial has wrapped up, I wanted to take the time to outline the next step in our Phase 2 Ministry Relaunch. At this time, we feel like we are ready to continue gathering as we have for the foreseeable future (beginning August 30). The following will outline how this will look, including a few tweaks we are making to how we gather.

How We Are Resuming Services
In this video, I outline in greater detail how we are resuming our services, and small tweaks we are making to our RSVP process and singing policy.

RSVP
You can RSVP for upcoming services by clicking here. Instead of reserving a specific pew size, you just need to let us know how many people from your household/cohort are coming, and we will sit you accordingly. You can still RSVP through the church office if you require assistance.
RSVP is open for the services on August 30, September 6, and September 13.
For an updated tutorial on how to RSVP, see the video here.

Singing
For those wearing masks, singing will now be permitted on Sunday mornings. However, we strongly ask that anyone not wearing a mask does not sing during the service.

Volunteering
We are doing volunteer training on Saturday, September 19 (at 10 am, 11 am, 12 pm, and 1 pm). If you or your family is interested in volunteering on a Sunday morning, sign-up for any one of our training times here.

We have videos available here as a source of information for our Phase 2 Ministry Relaunch.

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me, Pastor Thomas, at [email protected].

Blessings,
Thomas Verboom
Associate Pastor
Zion Baptist Community Church


June 25, 2020 (Revised July 28, 2020)

As a church, we have willingly followed the direction of the Government of Alberta and the recommendations of the province's Chief Medical Officer of Health. Back in May, we entered Phase 1 of our Ministry Relaunch which opened the door for Mid-Week gatherings to resume. In the weeks since we began this phase, we have seen great success with these gatherings and appreciate everyone's willingness to follow the various guidelines and restrictions.

Earlier this month, the province loosened the restrictions placed on places of worship and opened the door for worship services to resume (adhering to a variety of safe practices). After prayerful deliberation and engagement between different layers of ZBCC leadership, we have laid a path forward into Phase 2 of our ministry relaunch: resuming Sunday Services. Below is an outline of our timeline. Please note that all this path is fluid and is subject to alteration.

Step 1: Preparation (Immediate)
Starting immediately, we are taking steps to prepare ourselves for in-person gatherings. Preparations include: preparing the facility, training volunteers and congregants, and hearing from the congregation.
Over the coming weeks, we will release a variety of information to help our congregation prepare. One source of information to help with our preparation are videos available here.
If you are interested in volunteering, we have the following training times scheduled:
Tuesday, July 28 - 7 pm or 8 pm
Tuesday, August 4 - 6 pm or 7 pm
Thursday, August 6 - 4 pm or 5 pm
Friday, August 7 - 1 pm, 2 pm, or 3 pm 
Click here to sign up for a training session.

Step 2: Trial (August)
Beginning on Sunday, August 9, we will attempt single services with restrictions on how many people can attend. Congregants will be strongly recommended to wear masks and be required to refrain from singing, maintain physical distance, and submit to screening. The trial run will be for three weeks on August 9, 16, and 23. If you would like to attend in person on these Sundays, please RSVP here.

Step 3: Relaunch (September / October)
During this step, we will commit to gathering regularly. There are still numerous questions that will need to be answered, including Will 9:30 ministries resume? Will the Toddler Room be open? Will the vulnerable be encouraged to attend? The previous steps and continually evolving GOA guidelines will inform these decisions.

Over the next few months, we will communicate the details of Phase 2 through the weekly emails, church website, and over the Sunday Service Livestream. Please check these sources for the most up-to-date information or contact the church office.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me ([email protected]).

Blessings,
Thomas Verboom
Associate Pastor
Zion Baptist Community Church


May 14, 2020

This past week, the Government of Alberta released guidelines for Stage 1 of the province's reopening. As part of this plan, there are provisions for churches and other places of worship to reopen. The province continues to encourage that churches meet remotely, but they have opened the door for such gatherings.

However, there are significant restrictions that would impact us and the way we usually do church together. Beyond the physical distancing and health practices adopted by the rest of society, there are restrictions on the number of people who can gather (50); interactions between members of different households; congregational singing; and support ministry like the Toddler Room.

The Ministry Council and the Church Staff are working together to discern how we will move forward as a congregation. As our church leaders prayerfully discern how we will move forward, we will continue to operate as we have with a LiveStream service and a prohibition on in-person mid-week gatherings.

We invite you to join us in prayer as we seek to faithfully walk with God through a scenario that is foreign to us.

If you have any questions about the reopening plan, please reach out to me ([email protected]).

Blessings,
Thomas Verboom
Associate Pastor
Zion Baptist Community Church


March 24, 2020

Please note: In-person Worship Services have been suspended until further notice and will be online only.

These are times unlike any that we have faced in a generation at least. The novel coronavirus (COVID-19), which seemed like a distant concern just a few weeks ago, has now impacted virtually every part of our lives. I wonder how our hearts are doing in all of this? Is yours filled mostly with anxiety? Confusion? Frustration? Anger? Despair? It’s in times like this that we most need to draw near to our brothers and sisters in faith, and yet it’s our very love and concern for one another that motivates us to observe calls for social distancing and self-isolation.

But we are not abandoned. Our God is a refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble (Ps 46), who promises to never leave nor forsake His own (Deut 31:6). And we, as His Spirit-filled people (Jn 14:16), remain committed to one another and eager to deepen our love (Rom 12:9-18). As fear and trepidation grip the world around us, and as circumstances shift each day, we cling to the unchanging One together.

The Ministry Council has unanimously agreed to adapt the way that we gather until future notice; instead of coming together in-person for worship services, we will worship online only via our church livestream (zbcc.ca/sermons/), Sundays at 10:45am. You can view recorded worship services through our website any time, but we encourage you to continue to set aside the Lord’s day to fix your eyes on Him as we read, sing, pray and hear God’s Word together at a distance. If you do not have any way to view the services online, please call the church office (780-433-8756), and we would be happy to do everything possible to make other arrangements for you. Please note that, in the event that we are unable to staff the church office, calls and messages may not be returned promptly.

At this time, smaller gatherings (e.g. Community Groups, youth group, etc.) are permitted at the discretion of ministry leaders, with the expectation that every possible step is taken to mitigate risk to oneself and others. We do request that you check this page on the church website and government guidelines (alberta.ca/ COVID19) regularly, and that you self-assess and refrain from attending any kind of gathering if any of the following is true for you:

  • You have recently travelled outside of Canada.
  • You or someone you live with or care for is a part of the high-risk population.
  • You or someone you live with have any signs of illness.
Your leaders, including pastoral and administrative staff, the Ministry Council, and Ministry Coordinators are staying in regular contact with one another to pray and to ensure that we are doing everything we can to plan for whatever the next weeks and months might bring, and to provide support for this church body and beyond. Expect to be contacted about our plan to create a network for care, made up of small clusters of individuals and families living near one another, who can check in, help one another as each is able, and to ensure that none are forgotten.

We encourage you to remain connected to your church family during these unusual times, in at least a few different ways:
  • Care. We will all need spiritual, emotional and practical care, and this is an important time to love our neighbours, both inside and outside of the church. Something as simple as a phone call is a great way to love others who might otherwise be completely alone. Do you have a neighbour who is vulnerable for whom you can get groceries or do errands? We can show Christ’s love by how we serve one another and our city in this season.
  • Give. We recognize that giving to the church is not an easy choice in times of uncertainty and acknowledge that the rapidly changing economic environment will impact the ability to give for many people going forward. However, we have had questions about how to continue to give offerings, and are encouraged by this desire for the Zion community to continue to support the church in difficult days. The church website (zbcc.ca/giving/) has recently been updated to clarify options for giving online and by mail. If you have any questions, please contact our Treasurer, Jeremy Fuellbrandt ([email protected]) or the church office ([email protected], 780-433-8756).
  • Pray. Please pray for our unity as we deal with isolation, for wisdom for your leaders, strength and protection for health care workers, and for the vulnerable among us. Most of all, pray that God would be honoured and treasured in this time of crisis. Prayer requests can be shared directly to any member of the pastoral staff (zbcc.ca/who-we-are/our-staff/) or by emailing: [email protected].

Our present circumstances may be unprecedented in recent memory, but it’s not the first time that the Church has been challenged, nor is it the first time that the Church has been scattered. Indeed, it’s been in times of trial, confusion and uncertainty that the Gospel has often borne the most visible and sweetest fruit. As you pray for health, safety and provision, pray also that Christ’s rule and reign would expand in these days; that the love of God, our hope in Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit is made evident by our joyful witness.

Grace be with you all.
Nick Thiessen
Senior Pastor
Zion Baptist Community Church


March 14, 2020

The Ministry Council has unanimously agreed to suspend gathering for Sunday morning worship this Sunday (March 15) and next (March 22). Worship services will be online only. We will monitor the situation closely via reputable sources and will re-evaluate the situation based on the most reliable current info the week of March 23.

In place of an in-person gathering, we plan to share music, prayer and a message from God's Word with you via our church livestream. We encourage you to prepare and gather your household to join us live at 10:45 am and join us by singing, and praying and opening your Bible to hear from our Rock and our Redeemer in times that can feel quite uncertain.

Corporate worship is a big deal. We praise God, and he forms us through it. We love the rhythm of gathering to proclaim God's worth by re-telling the gospel story as we stand shoulder-to-shoulder every 7 days. We anticipate smiles and hugs from brothers and sisters, are eager to greet guests, and our hearts are encouraged as we sing, pray, and speak the Word to one another. It is with a great deal of sadness that we have chosen to suspend meeting all together for a time.

But love is our motivation. The COVID-19 virus is spreading rapidly, with older people and those with underlying health conditions most vulnerable. If the spread of the disease can be slowed down, then it "flattens the curve" and prevents sick people from overwhelming the health care system. That means those who need help can get it; the key is to get out in front and do this before it's obviously bad. Not meeting corporately is a way to love the vulnerable and those serving them.

As Christian apologist, Rebecca McLaughlin pointed out just yesterday: "It is deeply sad that the loving thing to do right now is to step back. It's in our Christian DNA to move toward others. We're called to be one body, reaching out our arms to embrace a hurting world. But now, for one moment in an eternity of others, we must step back."

We can still worship and love each other, even though we aren't meeting in big groups:
  • Worship. We encourage you to prepare and gather your househould to join us live at 10:45 am on Sunday morning (click here to access the livestream or navigate through the church website). Because smaller gatherings are permitted, we'd encourage you to invite a family in your neighbourhood over to watch or even get together with your community group and worship together.
  • Care. This is an important time to love our neighbours. We will all need spiritual, emotional, practical care. A phone call is a great way to love others. If you need a suggestion on whom to call, call a pastor and ask. Do you have a neighour who's vulnerable for whom you can get groceries or do errands? We can show Christ's love by serving our city.
  • Give. Continue to faithfully give financial offerings online or by mail so that the ministry of the church thrives all the more in the midst of difficult days.
  • Pray. Pray. Pray. Please pray for our leaders for wisdom, for health care workers, for the vulnerable. Most of all, pray that God would be honoured and treasured in this time of crisis. Personal prayer requests can be shared by emailing [email protected].
At this time, other smaller gatherings (e.g. youth home groups, Community Groups, our "Day of Prayer" gatherings this Thursday) are permitted to proceed at the discretion of respective Ministry Coordinators, in consultation with staff and the Ministry Council, but we would ask that risk mitigation (e.g. hand washing, social distancing, no handshakes, etc.) be strictly observed as a consideration of others. We will send out an update if we decide that this needs to be adjusted as well.

We do request that you self-assess and refrain from attending any kind of gathering if any of the following is true for you:
  • You have recently travelled outside of Canada.
  • You or someone you live with or care for is a part of the high-risk population (as defined by AHS).
  • You or someone you live with have any signs of illness.
"We are a people of faith and not of fear" has been our refrain this week, and we will continue to declare it, giving glory to the one in whom our sure hope is placed:
 
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

Be still and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!


- Psalm 46:1-3; 10 (ESV)
 

© 2018 Zion Baptist Community Church.