Our world changed a few months ago. Mid-March was the start of a new, forced adventure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, I must confess that I expected a few weeks of discomfort as I sheltered at home and then a fairly rapid return to our previous definition of normalcy. How wrong I was.
At the time of writing this, there were 1.5 million COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and more than 92,000 deaths. Though the case numbers in Canada are significantly lower, the conditions are no less serious for those in impacted locations. We’ve been physically distancing for months, the Council of Delegates meeting in May took place entirely online, and Synod 2020 was canceled. Yet in the midst of all of this change and societal chaos, the church is standing tall.
To be sure, there have been significant adjustments that churches have had to make. Most of the congregations of the Christian Reformed Church in North America, for example, have adapted well to creating an online presence. I am greatly impressed with the creativity and determination of pastors and leaders and their support teams as they diligently work to ensure that the message of the gospel continues to reach people.
I also love the fact that best practices and experiences are being shared at an accelerated rate. Ministries and congregations are listening to and sharpening each other so we can all be even better at ministering to our congregations and communities. In many cases, this has included an increase in congregational care for those who are not members of our churches but are experiencing critical needs at this time.
We are the church. We are called to love and honor God and to show that love to all of our neighbors. I believe that God is pleased with how the CRCNA has been living out this calling in this time.
At the same time, we know that navigating this pandemic has not been easy. The CRCNA has a significant number of smaller and emerging churches who have suffered significant financial hardship during this crisis. Yet even these financial struggles have been an opportunity for the entire church to coalesce around serving each other.
The CRCNA established the COVID-19 Church Engagement Fund as a way to supplement the various governmental financial support programs available to churches and other organizations. We are pleased that this fund has been able to help several churches as they try to offer resources to their economically deprived communities. We would invite every congregation that has not been critically affected to consider donating to the fund so that others might be blessed. This could be our Acts 2 moment—churches coming together to help congregations in need as they serve their communities well.
I am grateful for how God has gifted each of you for such a time as this. May God strengthen you greatly as you continue to minister in these difficult, different times. And may communities who have never heard of the Christian Reformed Church before this crisis be able to say to their children and future generations, “We saw God at work through an organization called the Christian Reformed Church in North America during the greatest crisis of our time.”