BC Christian leaders respond to pandemic

Vancouver at 7 pm April 7, from Queen Elizabeth Park. Cheers for frontline workers from the downtown towers filled the air.

Easter Week
April 8, 2020

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 frontline 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.

By and for God’s grace,

LIST OF SIGNATORIES

Denominational Leaders

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

Non-profit Executives

Alpha Canada, Shaila Visser, National Director

ChurchForVancouver.ca, Flyn Ritchie

City in Focus, Tom Cooper, President

CityReach Care Society, Simon Gau, Executive Director

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

Mission Central, John Hall, Executive Director

Mission Possible, Matt Smedley, Chief Empowerment Officer

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

Marketplace Leaders

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 Head, Evangelical Fellowship of Canada

Grant Damery

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

Local Pastors

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 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

*******************

Tom Cooper of City in Focus, along with lawyer/philanthropist Lawrence Ho and UGM church relations specialist Jonathan Bird, did most of the leg-work on this unprecedented letter, which represents such a broad swath of the Christian community in the province. Thank you!

Cooper sent out this cover letter with the statement:

Dear fellow Christian leaders of British Columbia,

Warm and Blessed Easter Wishes to you and your families.

Attached is both the letter and signatories of the initiative encouraging the Christian community to join together in prayer and good works. This public letter humbly aims to signal that we stand together in our diverse traditions and vocations as followers of Jesus so that we may send all British Columbians a message of love, faith, and hope during this time of grief, uncertainty, and anxiety.

As you know, a broad range of leaders has given input to this letter to extend its representation and reach. 

We invite you now to consider sending it out through your relational networks and media channels across the province and nation.

This letter will also be sent to all digital and print newspapers in BC. Our hope is that the letter will reach the mainstream community through secular media such as The Vancouver Sun, The Globe and Mail and other outlets regional and national.

Thank you for partnering with us. We hope to have some philanthropic/charity ideas for ways we may partner together as the Body of Christ in coming days. 

May God use this both as an encouragement to the Body of Christ and as a positive witness to the wider community of BC.

Blessings,

Tom Cooper
President of City in Focus Foundation
tom@cityinfocus.ca 

For questions, please contact the City in Focus media contact: info@cityinfocus.ca / 604-687-7292

jbird@ugm.ca, lawrencejho@hotmail.com 

2 comments for “BC Christian leaders respond to pandemic

  1. April 8, 2020 at 5:34 pm

    Easter is a time to celebrate the resurrection after a time of great uncertainty. Remember how the disciples were all scattered and practicing social distancing . . . not because of some pandemic and yet in a way a pandemic was at work. Fear had doubt and social division over how to execute the Law and keep everyone safe had crept into their faith like a pandemic. Adulterers were to be stoned . . . and Samaritans thought to be an adulterous nation and Northerners and Southerners were divided on how to keep the Law of Moses and remain faithful to the 5 husbands, the 5 books of the Pentateuch.

    Easter morning dawned . . . and the pandemic of doubt and fear lifted as the Woman and her companions realized the Truth and saw first hand how much the Rabboni loved the Light and how the Stone rocked and rolled away and let the Rabboni and the Truth out to stand face to face in the garden of the tombs.

    At first people didn’t understand the significance of the Rabboni and the Woman standing “face to face” in the garden of the tombs. They didn’t understand why she was looking for the GARDENER . . . THE FATHER Her HUSBANDMAN HER LORD that Joshua insisted SHE CLING TO (Joshua 23:8; John 20:17). So they kept their distance and did not even assemble together right away and talk about what they saw. They needed time for the fear and panic of seeing God’s promised resurrection to sink in and be understood because they wanted to be sure that what they were witnessing was of God.

  2. Tony Schmidt
    April 9, 2020 at 2:39 pm

    Thank you for always keeping us up to date via Church for Vancouver reports.

    It is great to see the various churches and denominations coming together to make a combined witness to the people of the lower mainland.

    However I expected to read something about calling people to repentance as we all reflect upon the effects of COVID-19.

    Is this pandemic not a call from God to the world and to His Church to reflect on our relationship with our Creator God, and where necessary to repent?

    Perhaps for many people, when the COVID-19 passes, there will be a returning to life, independent of any relationship to God.

    This is surely not God’s will.

    As Christians don’t we believe as Jesus said in Luke 13:1-6 that disasters are a call to us all to repent. We long for our leaders to acknowledge our need for God’s mercy and intervention.

    Of course, as the statement urges, we should be involved in bringing healing and help to those in need at this time. Especially to share the Gospel of the hope we can have in Jesus Christ in this anxious time.

    But is it not also a time to exhort people to repent and pray to God who alone is able to deal with physical and spiritual sickness?

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