Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. ~ Joshua 1:9

Greetings Church,

Thank you so much for your prayers and encouraging emails. As I stated the other day, our church is very much alive.

Staff met yesterday and have a solid plan to go forward into the foreseeable future. It is important that we not just apply a Band-Aid solution, but rather a plan that will sustain us for several months if necessary. Here are the pieces we want you to know about.

Programs

Effective immediately all of our programs are cancelled, with the exception of the following support ministries. These groups are small and pose little risk at this time, but are necessary for the people involved.

Celebrate Recovery will meet online. Please see this Facebook livestream group if you would like to participate. https://www.facebook.com/groups/149418892969195/

Grief Share will continue week by week

Sunday Services

Beginning this Sunday, March 22, we are moving to a livestream format. We are asking that you not come to our church campus but instead watch the service on a computer. Can I be honest for a moment? In spite of the chaos around us, I am very excited about this. We will be having an online talk show/video podcast. It won’t be a church service per-se, but will have some music and a roundtable discussion with members of our teaching team and other guests addressing how the Bible applies to our lives. We will have something for the kids too, as well as a few other surprises. We don’t know the entire length yet, but we anticipate about 30-40 minutes. It will Live Stream at 10am on Sunday mornings. A link can be found on our webpage homepage. Just click the LIVESTREAM button. Later in the week it will be moved to our Teaching section for watching at other times.

Growth Groups

Every group in our church will have to decide for itself how to proceed. However, we are taking the long view on this, and several months of self-imposed captivity is just not healthy for anyone. We hope that our groups will gather. (For perspective, the government still allows groups of under 50 to gather, and this includes “places of worship.”) We understand that there will be differing viewpoints on this, so we leave it up to you. Obviously, we ask that anyone with any health concern will act with prudence and self-isolate.

We are inviting our groups to gather on Sunday mornings at 10am in a home to watch the  livestream together. This keeps families to their regular “church” schedule and allows us to gather together even as we are apart. We will be providing all of our leaders with curriculum that coincides with the morning’s teaching. It can be done by individuals, groups, or families, so it’s up to you how to proceed. All our group leaders will receive this as usual, and it will be available on our webpage under the “teaching” section. 

If you are not in a growth group but still want Christian fellowship in the manner described above, please email [email protected] and let me know. We will be putting temporary groups together, hosted by veteran leaders.

Video Conferencing

We are also looking into some industry-class video conferencing tools. There are many options out there, and if you have a solution you like, please use it. However, we as a church cannot help you with troubleshooting a self-selected tool. Once we settle on a platform we will help leaders implement it in their growth groups, team meetings, etc. Thank you for your cooperation. We should have something in place by this weekend.

Kids

Parents, we just want to remind you that sometimes children internalize events. I’m certain you are aware of this, but our Children’s Ministry team asks you to spend extra time discussing things with them and pointing them to God as their source of refuge during this time. At the very least, take the Bible verses at the top of these emails and read them to your kids. We are looking at several resources that will engage families in conversations around God and their faith. This will be coming soon.

Youth

Our usual programs are not running we are also looking at ways to keep our youth connected and engaged. Stay tuned for more information. To stay connected please join our facebook page (OEFC Youth Page), Instagram (oefcyouth), and our hotline (403-938-8888).

News

All of these emails will be posted in the news section of our website for reference and referral to others.

Church Hours

The church will be open and staffed during regular business hours: Tuesday to Friday 8:30am-4:30pm

On Sunday mornings (10am-noon) the church building will be open to the public. People will be available to meet with you if you want to stop by for a brief coffee, word of encouragement and prayer. This is NOT a church service and we will NOT allow access to the LiveStream, happening on site. This is for people looking for fellowship and support, on a Sunday.

Contact

All pastoral staff can be contacted throughout the week at their extensions, which can be answered from anywhere. We will do our best to reply to voicemails in a timely manner. Email sent to our pastoral staff will be regularly checked and replied to. Email addresses and extensions can be found on our website at www.okotoksefc.ca/staff.

Our main number is 403-938-3311

We have an emergency email address setup; if you need to reach the entire pastoral staff, please email [email protected]

Giving

We now have the ability to give online. Please see www.okotoksefc.ca/giving for more information. We will also be implementing a self-serve Interac machine at the church for people to pay from their bank accounts. When we get it into place, a complimentary Lysol wipe will be given out for each transaction . Cheques can be dropped off during regular office hours or MAILED to the church.

Right Now Media

Please don’t forget about our incredible tool, Right Now Media: thousands of Christian videos for teaching, edification and (parents don’t forget) kid’s shows. You can get a free account by going HERE

Prayer

Obviously we must be praying for the issues of the day. This will be a moving target as our needs will change. As this email communication develops it will include prayer points. We also have a regular prayer chain via email. If you have a prayer request or want to be added to the list of people who pray, email [email protected] or call the church office (403-938-3311). Thanks for praying and for communicating your needs with us!

Serving

We are currently checking in with our seniors to ensure they are well. We will then be compiling a list of any current or future shut-ins who may need assistance. We have people available to coordinate errands and grocery runs for those who are immune-compromised or shut-in due to legitimate health concerns.

Please email us at [email protected] if you are diagnosed with COVID19 or are otherwise unable to venture out. We will be looking for opportunities to serve and for people to help with serving. If you have an idea or an ability that lends itself to the issues of the day (ie. I am healthy and I can run errands for people, etc), please let us know.  

Praise

Church, when we took a look at what was needed to have all of this come together, it occurred to us that we had 95% of what we needed to get this done. The last 5% fell into my lap today. God knew in advance this would happen and was preparing us for it all along. Please pray for our tech, and not just our people. Our church is now 100% reliant on technology to get things done, but it’s her people who reflect Christ. What a world we live in!

Who are the people you are looking out for?