Have you wondered during this COVID-19 time, how many print copies of The Banner magazine, Today devotional, and other ministry items are sitting in church offices or congregant mailboxes unable to reach readers? While closed church buildings might have affected the typical distribution of print material (particularly in Canada), in one northern B.C. town, Terrace Christian Reformed Church’s Pastor Joel Ringma had a solution. In April and May he turned a box of Banners into a multi-fold opportunity.
An avid cyclist, Ringma decided to deliver the magazines himself. “I split Terrace into a grid, plotted the addresses of members and tried to visit a group of 10-15 in an afternoon,” he said.
“Terrace is pretty small, so most of the congregation (members) are within 5 km (3 miles) of the church.” The rest were vehicle deliveries. “The farthest was to a family who lives 90 km (55 miles) away.”
More important than the actual delivery or personal exercise was the physically distanced but socially close pastoral visits Ringma was able to make once he rang the doorbell and stepped back two meters (six feet).
From front stoop ‘hellos’ to over-the-fence conversations to handwritten notes, Ringma connected with most of his congregants. Terrace CRC has 175 members.
“I was out in my backyard playing with my 1-year-old son when Joel dropped by, and it was such a surprise and joy to see a familiar face over the fence,” said Meghan Kort.
In turn, Ringma said, “I was encouraged by the conversations and being able to connect with my people at a time when the social aspects of my vocation were largely muted: no in-church gatherings of worship, meetings, bible studies; no hospital visits, home visits, etc.”
While Terrace CRC returned to in-person worship mid-June, only about a third of the congregation can come each week due to gathering-size restrictions. They continue to livestream the service for those not able to be included, and Ringma will continue his deliveries, weather-permitting.
Since that first Spring outing he’s done one other delivery, in July, distributing a new church directory along with other literature.
“I felt like a bit of a library bookmobile,” Ringma said. “People would ask, ‘Do you have any Todays?’ or ‘Is that this month's copy of The Banner?’”
Council chair, Sharon Bandstra, said, “We are so blessed that Joel does this. Not only is he thinking outside the box, but mostly, he truly loves and cares for ‘his people,’ our congregation.”