Charlottetown Christian Reformed Church on Prince Edward Island, Canada, has found new ways to reach out to their congregation and greater community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since June, Charlottetown CRC has been livestreaming services to satellite locations in Vernon River and Hunter River so that their entire congregation can worship in distanced groups each Sunday.
When the pandemic was declared in March, Charlottetown CRC had just set up livestreaming as they had a congregation member interested in and capable of setting up the technology for the church. So when in-person indoor gatherings were asked to stop, Charlottetown CRC had livestreaming in place that very first Sunday.
“People really enjoyed that. We ended up having Zoom coffee meetings after church in April. We would all Zoom in and have our coffee and say what was going on in our lives. That was the beginning of connecting together again socially,” said Joanne McIsaac, community groups coordinator and member of Charlottetown CRC. In June, churches in PEI could gather in groups of 50 if provincial guidelines were followed and the church’s reopening plans were approved from the public health office.
“Some families were already meeting together following the province’s size restrictions. They were really blessed by being together in groups. Although they enjoyed being home, they felt like that wasn’t really right and spurred council on to figure out ways that larger groups could safely get together,” McIsaac said. The solution was opening two satellite sites that live-stream the service so the entire congregation can worship together on Sundays. Charlottetown’s pastor, Josh Schatzle, moves from site to site while the praise team remains at the main church building.
“We really believe that community is important. By having these satellite sites open, we can all worship together, stand and sing together, and socialize after the service, following social distance protocols. We’re also broadcasting a 45-minute service from Charlottetown and leaving the last 15 minutes of the service at all three sites to spend time in prayer and sharing … a real sense of community,” said Dannie Reid, an elder and member of Charlottetown CRC.
Families also worship in small groups in homes as well, some inviting neighbors from their smaller communities to join them for the livestreamed service. Not only did Charlottetown CRC find new ways to worship, but they have also found new ways to build community—introducing safe, distanced outings for senior members of the congregation and also reaching out beyond their members.
The church hosted a physically distanced outdoor concert in September to raise money for the Bedford McDonald House, a local men’s shelter. The concert was organized by Mitch Reid, a member of Charlottetown CRC and director of Freedom Begins with Christ, a ministry where he hopes to encourage real change in the lives of people living in various difficult circumstances.
The church hopes to open a fourth satellite site so that there will be room in each location for visitors so they can continue reaching out to their island community.