525,600 minutes. A line from the popular Broadway musical Rent asks how one is to measure those minutes that make up each year we live. 2020 will most certainly be a year many will measure with loss, disappointment, fear, uncertainty, change, lonliness, and upheaval. Still, how will our faith community look back upon this year?
It is pleasing to see all the way our folks have stepped up to make this a year of tremendous faithfulness and trust in God. You have served as an encouragement to all our staff and volunteers as you have engaged in the opportunities offered to let this year be measured by our hope, kindness, goodness, neighbourly encouragement, intentional connection, adaptation, creativity, generosity, and, above all, love.
Take a look below at some (we couldn't possibly list them all) of the ways Victoria Alliance Church stayed on mission this past year. As you do, we invite you to talk with Jesus, give thanks, and open up a conversation with the Spirit about how we might continue to make the most of our minutes, making Jesus known among us, around us, and beyond us.
2020 in review:
- We distributed approximately 300 Taste of Encouragement bags to households throughout our city.
- We provided free counselling referrals through our website, no questions asked, with the cost of the first session covered in full, and an option of receiving some ongoing support as required.
- We continued to provide a weekly worship experience online, with a live chat feature, and the ability to reach into the homes of folks across the globe.
- We augmented this online experience by creating a weekly Worship at Home guide that has served to disciple many in our faith community in practices of prayer, praise, reading of the scripture, and reflecting on the lessons of our faith.
- Our Church Leadership Team continued in the work to direct and protect our faith community through this extraordinary season. They met online when necessary to ensure our church business continued uninterupted. They even took measures to adapt our AGM to a Zoom format to include as many in our church leadership processes as possible.
- The CLT took swift action to update the Barnabas Fund mandate to ensure that help could be directed quickly and to places of greatest need.
- We supported 4 Esquimalt based families this Christmas through our Share Tree gift program and our connections with Esquimalt Community Youth.
- We hosted the Operation Christmas Child collection center and managed to exceed 200 shoeboxes from our own congregation to send around the globe as opportunities for the Gospel to reach unreached peoples of the world.
- In the week before Christmas we distributed $5300 of Baranabas Fund monies to Victoria based ministries that help folks who have been particularly hard hit by the effects of the economic and social impact of the pandemic.
- We faithfully discerned our next steps regarding how our facility could best bring glory to God. We saw our proposed On This Site project through a series of Townhall meetings and a Special General Meeting.
- We launched and brought to near completion the first phase of the On This Site project, while maintaining good relationship with our neighbours at the Greater Victoria Housing Association.
- We stretched and grew our compassion as we engaged in the global dialogue surrounding racial justice and reconciliation through our engagement with weekly Thoughtful Thursday posts.
- We initiated a regular pattern for our Tuesday prayer chain updates, growing this to be a reliable and powerful ministry opportunity as we intercede for those among us, around us, beyond us.
- We learned to love one another with greater intention as we launched a system of pastoral care that connected dozens of volunteers in our community to connect with personal touches like phone calls, porch visits, snail mail, etc, to ensure we are all cared for, and know where to turn to for help.
- We supported two full days of meal provision through Our Place, a ministry that serves a population of folks in the downtown core of Victoria.
- We celebrated God's faithfulness to our community as we affirmed the liscensing of Pastor Bekah with the Pacific District, and joyfully welcomed her onto the pastoral team as Associate Pastor.
- We doubled down on our efforts to build up small groups during the pandemic, and offered assistance to leaders in moving their groups to online platforms or larger spaces while that option was available. Learning to love big in small groups has been life-giving to many throughout the pandemic.
- We helped support local families this past summer as many of our volunteers partnered with Camp Imadene in delivering daycamp programs at Braefoot park.
- We encouraged one another through praise and prayer through the participation in several National Raise a Hallelujah prayer events.
- We hosted and were encouraged through weekly Wednesday and Sunday prayer rooms on Zoom.
- We retooled and redesigned our website to ensure that help could be easily found at a click. And it worked. Our website is a constant source of new connections both locally and globally.
- We sought to deepen relationship and intimacy with Christ through daily musical offerings through Holy Week, and weekday evening devotions throughout the season of Advent.
- We sought to support our seniors community as they adapted to new technological territory by hosting several Zoom training sessions
- We encouraged ongoing discipleship into the patterns of generosity by improving our online and distant giving options.
- We fostered a culture of loving our neighbours through actions of self-limitation such as distancing, mask wearing, and temporary suspension of gatherings. We have worked closely with our District Office to ensure that we have up to date safety protocols in places as we consider use of our facility and as we continue to discern what is best for our gatherings in the months ahead.
- We have sought to increase our level of communication through electronic means during this season of suspended gatherings to ensure a sense of welcome, encouragement, transparency, and belonging are maintained.
- We have offered rental relief to our tenants from the Korean congregation, as well as to the Emily Carr String Quartet.
- We have been part of a community growing to believe and trust God whole-heartedly, led to acknoweldge that the church is not a building - it is a body that bears Christ's love in the world on a minute by minute basis.
Thank you to all who have spent their 525,600 minutes adding to the measure of God's love in the world. We pray, even in the middle of anxious and difficult times, that you will remember 2020 with wonder and appreciation - for truly God has been active and God has been good.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)