Serving Ministry Outdoors

by British Columbia
Categories: Blog, Community, COVID-19

Serving Ministry Outdoors

COVID-19 pandemic restrictions initially meant the temporary closure of many buildings to the public. This included our Ministry Units who needed to modify policies and procedures in order to continue to serve clients who rely on our programs and services for basic necessities such as food and shelter.

But what about the spiritual care and weekly Church services that had to be cancelled within their communities?

As safety measures prevented large gatherings from meeting in indoor spaces, Sunday services were no longer possible. So in order to maintain contact with members of the Church many Ministry Units took the same route our business meetings did and hosted services virtually using online platforms like Zoom. However, some locations noticed many members were experiencing symptoms of a new side effect of the pandemic restrictions – ‘Zoom fatigue’. A term created to describe that feeling of no longer wanting to watch a screen during live video chats, and a longing for more face-to-face interaction with others. Additionally, some members were struggling with the technology. To combat these issues, while keeping members of the Church safe during the pandemic, these two locations came up with a creative solution …

In West Kelowna, Renew Church Ministries is home to a small congregation that was getting weary of using Zoom since they moved online in mid-March. Their leadership team decided to take advantage of the summer weather and organized a series of three ‘Church in the Park’ services. They found a local park with enough space to ensure safe physical distancing, asked members to bring their own chairs, food, and water, and saw their attendance rise in comparison to online meetings. For Fall they plan to resume meeting Sundays online and also gathering midweek in small groups.

“Because of this, we were able to celebrate one of our congregant’s two-year clean anniversary together”
– Lt. Jennifer Henson, Renew Church Ministries

In Victoria, at High Point Community Church the building was undergoing major renovations during the pandemic, but many members were missing the community aspect of Church while isolating at home. The building’s parking lot provided a space for the group of 18 to gather while maintaining a safe physical distance. People ‘parked’ their lawn chairs in marked spaces in the lot and joined the service; people were excited to gather again and see others.

“Being outside has given us an opportunity to engage with our neighbours … and a chance to be a presence in our community again.”
– Lt. Kassie Cain, High Point Community Church

From hosting virtual services to physically distanced gatherings in parks and empty lots, many of our locations have enjoyed finding new, creative ways to worship and are glad to know that members of the community enjoy the opportunity to still get together to pray during such unique and challenging times, no matter what it may look like.


Cover photo credit – Scott Sutherland