Around Town: events cancelled or postponed, churches in flux . . .

Best of Enemies is not able to complete its run, nor will Pacific Theatre’s next show, Love/Sick. Photo: Emily Cooper

Normally I write about upcoming events in ‘Around Town,’ but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, most have been cancelled, postponed or moved online.

Among them, just in the next week:

  • Pacific Theatre: Best of Enemies
  • GMA Week: Covenant Awards
  • Praise with Kim Walker-Smith
  • Dead Sea Scrolls Conference
  • Alzheimer Café
  • for King & Country concert

And there are many more; see the list at the end of this article. Do be sure to go right to the source if it looks like an event is still going ahead; things are changing daily.

These postponements and cancellations are not without cost. For example, in announcing the cancellation of Best of Enemies March 13, Pacific Theatre’s marketing director Julia Lank said:

Though we believe this decision by our Board of Directors reflects the company’s values of serving our community with artistic, relational, spiritual and financial integrity, it was a difficult one, involving both concern for public well-being and regret at the loss of such a substantial and significant piece of theatre.

It has been a high water mark in our season, and we recognize the disappointment this abrupt closure will cause for those who have not yet seen the play, and for the artists who have invested such heart and passion into the work.

But we respect the proactive stance being taken in our province to address the much more dire potential threat to the health of our community, and wish to play a role in that initiative.

Artistic director Ron Reed responded to “folks who may have questions about the practical challenges theatres and theatre artists are facing right now,” and who might want to support Pacific Theatre with donations. Go here for that interesting discussion.

Churches in flux

Many denominations have directed their churches to close their doors or drastically curtail numbers attending services. Here are a few examples:

  • Anglican Diocese of New Westminster

Archbishop Melissa Skelton

Archbishop Melissa Skelton posted a communique March 17: ‘Suspension of in-person worship and parish and diocesan activities’:

Based on the latest COVID-19 related updates from the Prime Minister and the BC Health Minister, and based on feedback from many of you, I am directing the suspension of all Sunday and weekday in-person worship in our parishes until May 3.

Likewise, I am directing the suspension of all other in-person parish activities beginning tomorrow, Wednesday, March 18 through Sunday, May 3.

Also, please know that beginning Wednesday, March 18 the Synod Office itself will be closed to all visitors. We will still be working either in the office or from home, so we will be able to speak with you and meet with you via ZOOM or conference call. . . .

The suspension of all other parish activity includes: all classes, all meetings, most weddings and all outreach programs including community meals.

Go here for the full statement.

  • Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver

Archbishop Michael Miller

Archbishop Michael Miller posted these new measures March 16:

  1. In accordance with the Public Health Officer Order issued this morning, attendance at Mass or any other parish or Archdiocesan event is limited to a maximum of 50 people, effective immediately.
  2. Avoid physical contact with others. A distance of two metres should be maintained at all times, including in the lineup or at the rail to receive Holy Communion. Congregants should sit in alternating rows. It may be helpful to use masking tape on pew backs to mark off two-metre spacing.
  3. Please remove all hymnals, prayer cards, envelopes and other materials from the pews. Parishes are encouraged to use a projector to provide song lyrics.
  4. If collection baskets with handles are not available, monitored collection baskets should be placed at the back of the church, where people can deposit their offerings.
  5. Following each Mass or gathering, all pew backs, table-tops and other high-touch surfaces should be disinfected, inasmuch as possible.

Go here for the full statement.

March 19 update: Archbishop Michael Miller said

After weighing before the Lord the gravity of the current coronavirus situation, which is worsening daily, I believe that now is the time to leave to the conscience of each pastor whether and how to celebrate Holy Mass with a congregation – on weekdays or on Sunday – taking account of the circumstances of his own parish.

March 20 update:

After further prayerful consideration; and after no small amount of sadness; and after hearing from senior pastors and others about the need for a single directive for the entire Archdiocese; and in keeping with the regulations of the other Dioceses of British Columbia; I direct that all Masses, whether Sunday or weekday, beginning on Saturday, March 21, are to be offered without a public congregation, until further notice. This likewise applies to other parish activities and celebrations, such as Stations of the Cross, and so on.

  • The Salvation Army

Commissioner Floyd Tidd, Territorial Commander for Canada and Bermuda, made a statement March 16:

All Sunday worship services across the territory will be cancelled until April 30, 2020. That said, it’s important to note that while formal worship gatherings are cancelled due to directives from public health agencies, we encourage creative alternatives to meeting the spiritual needs of our people and community.

Go here for several Salvation Army statements related to COVID-19.

  • Canadian Pacific District, Christian & Missionary Alliance

Many denominations are allowing more flexibility on the part of individual churches. A March 18 statement from the local Christian & Missionary Alliance office began:

Many have been asking about an appropriate response to the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. While we do not want to cause alarm, we do want to exercise reasonable caution and help bring awareness of how to determine what practically applies in your church or ministry situation. We also recognize that this is a fluid situation and that an appropriate and reasonable response may change quickly.

On March 16, 2020, the BC Provincial Health Officer directed all event organizers that they are required to cancel any gathering larger than 50 people. This includes church gatherings.

We encourage all of our church pastors to urgently discuss with their Board of Elders the ways to follow the government’s directions in this matter for their church services.

Go here for the full statement.

  • BC Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches

A March 13 comment on the denominational website by Tamara Otoki focused on ‘Online options for churches responding to COVID-19’:

As events unfold and we head into spring in B.C, there is a rapidly changing landscape for churches to navigate in response to the COVID-19 outbreak and the resulting risk assessments worldwide and in our province.

As a Conference Office, we are carefully considering the health and safety of our church leaders and their members, given the wide spectrum of demographics and diversity in size and style of meetings.

With this in mind, and with the situation continually evolving, we see that some of our churches are looking at options for moving their meetings to a smaller setting or cancelling them completely. In an effort to continue teaching, discipling, and mentoring through our current challenges, churches may consider engagement with their congregations in an online format.

We have compiled a few tips, links, and suggestions for those churches that are looking for a place to start, or for those that are looking to get creative and to expand their current online presence.

Go here for the details.

  • WestCoast Baptist Association, Canadian National Baptist Convention

Church Ministry Catalyst Hamish Buntain wrote ‘A response to COVID-19’ March 14. He began:

It is not easy for people of faith to know how to respond to the current COVID-19 crisis. Some say we should not let anything interfere with our worship of God. Others would say that we need to be careful that we do not become part of the problem.

I believe that God can help us navigate these uncertain times in ways that both honour God and support the ongoing work of our civic leaders to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.

Many of our churches, in order to be good neighbours and protect the weakest in their number have chosen to not have services for the near future. Some of them are live-streaming their worship so that their people can participate from home. Others are meeting but are establishing certain protocols to keep people safe.

Go here for the full comment.

  • Canadian Baptists of Western Canada

The denomination sent out a press release March 12 which included these words:

We wish to be responsible citizens and be informed of the risks and precautions associated with this pandemic. Our national, provincial and local government health authorities are our best source of that

Go here for the full statement.

  • Village Church

Village Church is not a denomination (it is part of the Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in BC and Yukon), but it does have several thousand people attending 12 services in six locations.

Here is part of their March 16 COVID-19 update:

With the continued rise of COVID-19 and increased levels of concern, including the government’s updated recommendation to avoid gatherings of 50 or more, we want to do our part in “flattening the curve” of the spread of this virus. There is increasing alignment internationally that the only way to slow COVID-19 from spreading and over-tasking our health system is to reduce the opportunities for the virus to transfer.

We are therefore postponing all Village Church related gatherings, meetings and groups (Freedom Session, Alpha, Marriage Prep, Youth, Women’s Groups, Community Groups, The Collective, etc.) to enable “social distancing”. . . .

Be sure to join us this coming Sunday at 9 am, 11 am and 7 pm at – and invite a friend to watch.

Go here for the full update.

There are, of course, other denominations – and many churches do not belong to any denomination, so they would have to be checked individually.

School closures

Schools are also facing closures. When BC’s Minister of Education Rob Fleming announced March 17 that “we are directing all schools to immediately suspend in-class instruction until further notice,” he included independent schools.

FISA BC (Federation of Independent School Associations in British Columbia) – which “represents 300 schools enrolling approximately 94 percent of the students attending independent schools in BC” – indicated on its Twitter feed that it was planning to discuss the new situation on the evening of March 18.

Mar 2020

24-7 Prayer Canada Virtual Prayer Room – March 19, 2020 - March 30, 2020 at All Day
Cancelled: Best of Enemies by Mark St. Germain – March 19, 2020 - March 21, 2020 at All Day
Closed: Shekhina: By Caitlin Ambery & Bailey Carrick – March 19, 2020 - March 27, 2020 at All Day
Webinar: Building an Effective Prayer Team – March 19, 2020 at 9:00 am - 10:00 am
Webinar: Ready or Not? The Urgent Missional Response to C19 – March 19, 2020 at 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Cancelled: SAMC Theatre Presents: The Tempest – March 19, 2020 - March 28, 2020 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Christian Legal Fellowship's Prayer and Devotional Webinar Series Week 1: Trusting God in Uncertain Times – March 20, 2020 at 9:00 am - 10:00 am
Moved Online: The 41st Covenant Awards – March 21, 2020 at 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Postponed: Praise: with Kim Walker-Smith – March 21, 2020 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Jazz Vespers in the Valley: Nancy Newman – March 22, 2020 at 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Cancelled: Dead Sea Scrolls Conference – March 23, 2020 - March 24, 2020 at 12:00 am
Webinar: Epidemics – How the Church Has Responded Throughout History – March 24, 2020 at 9:00 am - 10:00 am
Postponed: Alzheimer Café – March 24, 2020 at 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Postponed: for King & Country: Burn the Ships World Tour 2020 – March 24, 2020 at 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Day of Prayer and Fasting Across Metro Vancouver – March 25, 2020 at All Day
Moved Online: Business Babes Collective: Passion to Profit – March 25, 2020 at 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Cancelled: Business as Calling: Speaker Josh Davis – March 26, 2020 at 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Cancelled: Canadian Family Ministry Strategy & Practice Workshop – March 27, 2020 - March 28, 2020 at All Day
Lionsgate to Release ‘I Still Believe’ Online Amid Coronavirus Pandemic – March 27, 2020 at All Day
Cancelled: Into the Deep: Stop the Buying! Stop the Violence! – March 27, 2020 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Cancelled: Biblical Apologetics 1: Answering the Challenges – March 27, 2020 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Postponed: Renewal 2027: Jesus Christ: Our Hope – Intercultural Conversations and Celebrations – March 28, 2020 - March 29, 2020 at All Day
National Day of Prayer & Fasting – March 28, 2020 at 7:00 am - 5:00 pm
Cancelled: Basic Creation Training with Mike Riddle – March 28, 2020 at 8:30 am - 5:30 pm
Postponed: From the Margins: The Diaspora Effect – March 28, 2020 at 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Cancelled: SAMC Music Presents: Beautifully British – March 28, 2020 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Cancelled: Worship Invades Glad Tidings! – March 28, 2020 at 7:30 pm - 10:00 pm
EFC / WEA Global Day of Prayer and Fasting – March 29, 2020 at All Day
EFC Webinar: Being Church & Neighbour During the Pandemic – March 30, 2020 at 9:00 am - 10:00 am
National Prayer for Canada in the Wake of COVID-19 – March 31, 2020 at 12:00 am - 1:00 am
Webinar: People and Planet 2.0 – Can the COVID-19 tragedy be a historic reset? – March 31, 2020 at 5:00 am - 6:30 am

Apr 2020

Postponed: Sole Matters: John Fluevog – Open House – April 1, 2020 at 4:30 pm - 7:30 pm
COVID-19 Global Church Hackathon – April 2, 2020 - April 4, 2020 at All Day
Postponed: Healing for Nations – April 2, 2020 - April 4, 2020 at All Day
Suspended: 40 Days for Life Prayer Vigil – April 2, 2020 - April 5, 2020 at All Day
Webinar: Empowering & Developing Leaders Using Alpha – April 2, 2020 at 9:00 am - 10:00 am
Vancouver Pastors Prayer Zoom Meeting – April 2, 2020 at 11:00 am - 12:30 pm
Cancelled: Kairos Burnaby (Tuesday evenings) – April 2, 2020 at 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Postponed: Journey Home Community 15th Anniversary Celebration – April 3, 2020 at 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Postponed: Iron Sharpens Iron Conference – April 4, 2020 at 8:30 am - 3:45 pm
15th annual Lenten Vigil for the Silenced – April 4, 2020 at 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Postponed: Rally in Support of Delta Hospice Society – April 4, 2020 at 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Cancelled: Gardens - a sacred oratorio – April 4, 2020 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Registration Closed: The Way of Compassion: A Lenten Prayer Retreat – April 5, 2020 at 9:45 am - 4:00 pm
ELO Webinar: N.T. Wright on 'Christian Leadership in the Midst of a Pandemic' – April 7, 2020 at 9:00 am - 10:00 am
Webinar: How to Launch Alpha Online – April 8, 2020 at 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Postponed: Love / Sick by John Cariani – April 9, 2020 at All Day
Postponed: Sole Matters: John Fluevog – April 9, 2020 at All Day
Now Full: Tax Clinic (by appointment) – April 9, 2020 at 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Cancelled: Vancouver Chamber Choir: St. John Passion – April 10, 2020 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Full: Webinar: Missional Commons – Where are We Now? – April 14, 2020 at 10:00 am - 11:30 am
Webinar: Living Wisely and Loving Well in the Current Crisis – April 14, 2020 at 10:00 am - 11:00 am
Webinar: COVID-19 and migrant/undocumented worker – April 14, 2020 at 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Cancelled: FaithCARE: Growing Restorative Congregations – April 15, 2020 at All Day
Webinar: How to Launch Alpha Online – April 16, 2020 at 9:00 am - 10:00 am
Full: Webinar: Missional Commons – Where are We Now? – April 16, 2020 at 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
Cancelled: Overdose National Book Tour with Benjamin Perrin – April 16, 2020 at 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Cancelled: Almost Silent Retreat – April 16, 2020 - April 18, 2020 at 7:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Postponed: Betty Spackman: A Creature Comfort – April 17, 2020 at All Day
Webinar: COVID-19 and the Majority World – April 17, 2020 at 6:00 am - 7:30 am
Canadian Youth Worker Prayer Call (every Friday) – April 17, 2020 - April 24, 2020 at 9:00 am - 10:00 am
Charter Day Webinar: Celebrating Canada's Fundamental (and Sometimes Forgetten) Freedoms – April 17, 2020 at 9:00 am - 10:30 am
Webinar: SOGI 123 – Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity – April 17, 2020 at 10:00 am - 11:00 am
Webinar with Derek Sloan, Candidate for Leader of Conservative Party of Canada – April 17, 2020 at 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Cancelled: New Eyes for Reading the Old Testament – April 17, 2020 - April 18, 2020 at 7:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Postponed: Gospel Boom: The Astounding Growth of Worldwide Christianity – April 17, 2020 - April 18, 2020 at 7:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Postponed: Tim & the Glory Boys: The Buffalo Road Show – April 17, 2020 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Postponed: Journey Home Refugee Support: Volunteer Training – April 18, 2020 at 8:45 am - 3:00 pm
Postponed: Brave Love Ladner – April 18, 2020 at 1:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Postponed: Alzheimer Café – April 18, 2020 at 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Postponed: Tim & the Glory Boys: The Buffalo Roadshow – April 18, 2020 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Postponed: Jazz Vespers in the Valley: Greta Matassa Quartet – April 19, 2020 at 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Postponed: Tim & the Glory Boys: The Buffalo Roadshow – April 19, 2020 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Webinar: Prayer in a Time of COVID-19 with Brian Heasely, International Prayer Director for Prayer 24-7 – April 21, 2020 at 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Postponed: Roddan Jubilee Lectures: Stephanie Allen – April 21, 2020 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Postponed: Pallay: Andean Weaving of Liturgy & Design by Daniela Amestegui – April 22, 2020 at All Day
Webinar: John Lennox on "The Corona Crisis: How Should Christians Think, Act & Lead?" – April 22, 2020 at 9:00 am - 10:00 am
EarthDay 2020: Towards a Green and Healthy Recovery – April 22, 2020 at 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Postponed: Pallay: Andean Weaving of Liturgy & Design by Daniela Amestegui – April 22, 2020 at 4:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Postponed: Spiritual Care Series: Caring for Aging Seniors (Thursday mornings) – April 23, 2020 at 9:30 am - 12:00 pm
Webinar: Social Isolation & Political Tribalism – Reversed Now, or Intensified? – April 23, 2020 at 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Webinar: Moral & Ethical Choice in Video Games – Are My Games Corrupting Me While I Shelter at Home? – April 23, 2020 at 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Virtual Cafe A Rocha – April 24, 2020 at 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm
Global Prayer for Tech – April 24, 2020 at 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Cancelled: Loreto Aramendi Concert – April 24, 2020 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Postponed: Everyday Theology Seminar: Share a Meal, – April 25, 2020 at 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Virtual Earth Day 2020: Uniting from Home, with Katharine Hayhoe – April 25, 2020 at 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Cancelled: Spirit(us): The Baroque Mentorship Orchestra – April 25, 2020 at 7:30 pm - 10:00 pm
Good Seed Sunday – April 26, 2020 at All Day
Coronavirus and the book of Job with John Walton – April 27, 2020 at 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Missional Commons Webinar: God and Neighbour – April 28, 2020 at 10:00 am - 11:30 am
Virtual Event: Business as Calling – Speaker Donna Cheung – April 30, 2020 at 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Missional Commons Webinar: God and Neighbour – April 30, 2020 at 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
Reaching Your World: How to Share Hope During Social Distancing – April 30, 2020 at 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
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