It has been quite a different spring and summer than anyone anticipated. We have seen unprecedented events for us as a church and a community as our “normal”, in almost every area of life, has been disrupted. Church has definitely not been “normal” but by God’s grace (and an unbelievable staff and volunteer team!) we have been able to carry on as a church in Worship, living out uncommon Community, and being on Mission.
Church life has been different and yet it has been so good to be able to continue to lift high the name of Jesus in worship as families and friends at home, be challenged and encouraged by the Word, and step out on mission wherever God has called us. The church has not been stopped!
We are so thankful for how God continues to work in our hearts even in the midst of COVID19. For many, the first weeks of lockdown were an opportunity to spend valuable time with family, root out idols that were always there but not easily identified because of the busyness of life, and grow deeper in our relationship with Christ as He led us beside still waters in the midst of the chaos happening all around us.
In shepherding our church during this time, our elders wanted to make sure of two things: (1) our people were well cared for; and (2) our people were continuing to put their hope and trust in Christ regardless of the season. Each elder was given a list of members and attendees not currently in a Small Group to be able to connect with them, pray with them, see if the church could do anything to care for them, and to encourage them to get plugged into a Small Group as the most practical way for the body of Christ to care for one another (especially during this time).
We were greatly blessed to get to speak to so many and hear how God is at work and to hear of so many who are eager to help out in any way possible.
While we miss gathering together, we are grateful for technology such as Zoom and our “Worship at Home” and HKTV ministry. And now, even as we are able to meet at 30% capacity in the Huntsville building, we still see miss the full worship experience, an active Harvest Kids Ministry, and the opportunity to hug, shake hands and connect with everyone. In saying that, as we connected with people in our church these things were clearly heard over and over again:
- Our God provides for and protects His people.
- His faithfulness and steadfast love abound in our church.
- As believers, we long to gather together to lift high the name of Jesus and fellowship with one another.
COVID 19 UPDATE
Starting this week, the government is supporting new COVID19 regulations requiring us all to wear masks as we gather together for “In-Person Worship” in the building. We know that there may be some of you who have been enjoying “In-Person Worship” who, due to medical reasons, cannot wear a mask so we are thankful for our “Worship at Home” ministry for you to continue to be able to worship at home. We also know that this news has been a welcome announcement for those of you who were not attending because masks were not mandatory.
A video announcement will be coming out this week from our staff to give all the details regarding these new regulations.
Thank you for being a church so full of grace as we walk through these confusing times. And thank you for being an example of those who walk in love for their neighbours, rest in faith in God’s sovereign rule and live out a joy that a virus or a mask can’t take away!
A lot has been happening with our staff during this season.
We were saddened that COVID19 made it impossible to be together on a Sunday to pray over and show our appreciation for Jon and Summer and their family as he moved on this past March from serving as ourDiscipleship Pastor.
Jon gave his whole heart to the ministry here at Harvest and many were blessed greatly by his life and work. While we weren’t able to bless them with a Sunday send-off, we were able to give them some added time off for rest and renewal, a financial gift to say thank you, and put together a video from staff, elders, Small Group Leaders and Coaches letting them know how much we love them and are thankful for the time God had them here with us.
Jon started a new role as the Senior Pastor of Lambton Baptist Church just south of Sarnia. We are praying for the Fitters and cheering them on in this new exciting season!
Bob has been slowly working toward retirement and has decided that this season is the best time for him to fully retire from his role asPastor of Care and Connections.
Harvest has been greatly blessed by Bob and Jolanda from very early on in the life of our church. They have served so faithfully as volunteers and, for the last number of years, on staff.
Again, we are saddened to not be able to have a Sunday together with them to properly thank them, but are anticipating a day soon when we will all be together again. We blessed them with a financial gift and encourage you to reach out with a word of thanks or encouragement.
Bob and Jolanda are building a home to retire right here in Muskoka so will continue to be an integral part of our church family.
Katelyn is soon taking maternity leave. We are not going to fill her role during this COVID season as no Harvest Kids onsite ministry means that we can accomplish everything we need to do in HK with the current staffing and volunteers. We are incredibly thankful for Katelyn and the work and heart she has poured into HK and we are praying for the Niemi’s as they soon add another little one to their family!
The Existing Staff Team:
We have been blessed to see our existing staff and key volunteers step into this season with joy and passion for the mission. Our staff have taken on extra roles or different roles in order for us to accomplish what we’ve been called to as a church with less staff and during these difficult days of COVID shutdown/regulations. We have seen some great volunteers step up into key roles (Jeff Spence has been amazing to step in as a volunteer to keep a steady hand on our Small Group ministry!) and we have been so encouraged by the number of people ready to serve wherever there is a need!
We continue to lift up the staff in prayer and are so thankful that there is a great unity and joy amongst them as they are lean into the Lord together for His strength and all for His glory.
With all the added work of video production, Eric and Marshal have been putting in an immense amount of extra work. In light of the fact that we are going to continue to offer both “Worship at Home”AND”In-Person Worship,” we have just hired Jesse Ricottone as ourProduction Assistant for a short contract position while looking to maybe create this role more permanently. He will take care of all our video production and lead us as we start to create ‘live-stream services.”
We are also praying and seeking for how we take care ofCare and Connections,Small Group Ministry,and our 2 separate Muskoka Worship Locations. Please continue to pray for God’s leading in this and we will keep you updated with any plans we have moving forward. The Executive Support Team (EST) and our Bracebridge Leadership Team continue to work closely with the elders as we prayerfully seek a place to worship in Bracebridge and seek the Lord for His wisdom, timing, and provision for any staff or pastoral hires for our Bracebridge location.
ELDER TEAM UPDATE
Bob and Roger are both taking a season away from the Elder Team. Bob has decided to step away from the Elder Team as he gets his feet under him in retirement as they also build a new home. Roger is walking through a family issue that requires him to be down in the city and give enough time and attention that he cannot also fill the role of an elder at this time.
Over the last few months, we have interviewed a number of individuals as potential elders and are continuing to pray and pursue what direction God will have us move. We will hopefully soon put names before Harvest Members to pray with us as we prayerfully consider who to add to the Elder Team.
We are excited to put Jay Brubacher’s name before our Harvest Members to serve as ourDeacon of Missions. As you prayerfully consider Jay,here is a great article to help you discern, with us, Jay’s calling to serve in this capacity. If you are a Harvest Member and want to connect with an elder regarding Jay, we will give the next month for any feedback before we officially announce Jay as our Deacon of Missions.
The article is also helpful in seeing how we search for and choose Deacons … and to help you as you think of men or women you may want to encourage toward the role of Deacon.
We love you and are excited to worship with you all again. Please continue to pray for us and with us as we pursue our Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ, and seek to follow Him in all things. If you have any questions, concerns, or want to send a word of encouragement, email elders@myharvestchurch.
Thank you for your prayers, support, and passion for the mission God has called us to as a church.
Together on this amazing mission,
The Elders of Harvest Church