In September 2022, pastor Cari Fydirchuk accepted a call from River Park Church in Calgary, Alberta, to serve as pastor of an online ministry called Reclaim-App. Resonate Global Mission, a partner in this outreach ministry, calls Fydirchuk a “Mission Network Developer.” One could also describe her as an online church planter. The community Fydirchuk hopes to build will function as a bridge between people who are far from God and the church. “My heart is for those who are seeking Jesus,” she said. “We go to them.”
Fydirchuk graduated from Calvin Seminary, was ordained in 2018, then joined the pastoral team at Calgary’s Emmanuel CRC. The idea for Reclaim-App grew out of her personal and professional journey. In 2012, Fydirchuk was in the first cohort of students able to do courses online for a Master of Divinity from Calvin Theological Seminary. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic pushed churches to shift much of their work online, predominantly Sunday morning worship services. Fydirchuk experienced a health crisis during the pandemic that required consulting with physicians online. She also joined an online support group. As Fydirchuk reflected on how well all this online connection and collaboration worked, she learned that since the pandemic’s restrictions ended, churches have seen a significant decrease in attendance. “We cannot wait and expect people to come back,” Fydirchuk said. “If we as the church want to continue in relationship with those who have left, we will need to bring the church to them—and to all our neighbors.” Her response was the founding of Reclaim-App.
Reclaim-App is just in its beginning phase. “As the Reclaim-App and website are being built,” said Fydirchuk, “we're taking the first steps by launching our ministry on YouTube where people can engage in times of devotion, prayer, meditation and movement through what we call 'practices of presence'.” This developing online ministry, which also includes a podcast and an Instagram account, isn't supported financially by the River Park congregation but they are Fydirchuk's calling church in the same way a congregation might call a campus minister or missionary. They hold Fydirchuk's credentials as a pastor in the CRC, and she is accountable to River Park's council.
Fydirchuk said Acts 1:8, where Jesus' followers are sent as Christ's presence ‘to the ends of the earth’ is one of the guiding Scripture passages for her work with Reclaim. “It's a huge vision,” she said. “Yet, in 2022 we are the closest we've ever been to reaching every person, everywhere—thanks to our new online evangelism tools like YouTube, Instagram, and Podcasts. Personally, it has been exciting to see God's Spirit moving in these spaces.”