Nov 10, 2021
First, some great news!
We are looking forward to formally inducting Erich Koroshetz as an elder on Sunday, November 21. Erich became an elder on October 19 after an extensive 13-month process. He is already distinguishing himself in our meetings and, as the youngest elder on the team, he brings down our average age a bit! We feel younger already! Thank you for praying for Erich and Val as he steps into this leadership role in our Harvest family.
After being unable to get together for such a long time, it was a special blessing for the elders and their wives to gather for a meal together in October.
The Pandemic, Restrictions, and Vaccine Passport
As elders, we have been pleased with the way the staff team has led our church through the challenges of restrictions to continue to care for the body, to remain focussed on the gospel, and to have a vision for even greater ministry. As you already know, we have been generally supportive of government measures to deal with the pandemic. From the start of the pandemic, we made it clear that as long as we were treated fairly with respect to capacity limits, we would continue to comply with the measures. Though it is an imperfect analogy, we stated that if attending a place of worship was treated similarly to attending concerts, movies, and sporting events (each one gathering a large group of people to essentially observe something happening at the front), we would happily comply. And that has been the case until the most recent announcement by the Ontario government.
In its statement of October 8, the government said that theatres, concerts, and sporting events would have their capacity limits eliminated, along with physical distancing requirements. Places of worship were also granted the same privilege—and here’s the condition—so long as the place of worship requires the vaccine passport. Thus, only full-vaccinated persons could attend worship. That’s something that, as elders, we simply cannot and will not require. To close the doors of the church to anyone is inherently unloving and contrary to the gospel. And again, there is no inequity with movie theatres, concerts, and sporting events because each one is requiring the vaccine passport. The church will remain open to all, regardless of vaccine status. Thus, we will remain restricted in terms of physical distancing.
That said, with several members of our Harvest family affected by vaccine mandates and the threat of job loss, we will state our concern about the loss of civil liberties. We believe that the governments of Canada and Ontario have been disingenuous in their statements about vaccine thresholds (Ontario is nearing 90% vaccinated) and have trampled the Charter rights of individuals in the public service. It is a grave concern of ours that we have so easily given in to the pragmatics of what benefits me now to the exclusion of what is best for our country in the long term.
The Annual Members Meeting was held on September 19 in person and on livestream. Aside from the normal presentation of the financials, Pastor Todd presented a report entitled, “The Pandemic Changed This for Good.” It was a helpful look at the changes that have resulted in our approach to ministry through the last 19 months. If you were unable to attend, you can watch the meeting online.
In the past year, the elders adopted a protocol regarding baptism that frees up this ordinance to be practiced consistent with what we see in the New Testament and free of church tradition. You can read the protocol here.
Good-byes and Hellos
One of the things that has become apparent over the past 19 months of the pandemic is that an adjustment is taking place in churches across North America. What we have observed—and many others as well—is that the core membership has been strengthened, many on the fringe have drifted away, and many newcomers have arrived. We’re certainly seeing that here at Harvest. We have, sadly, seen many who were occasional attendees simply disappear. Several long-time families have left for various reasons, but we have also welcomed many new people, eager to be a part of what the Lord is doing here.
End-of-Year Offering: 7 George Street
You have been so faithful in your giving through 2021! You may have noticed that our pastors stopped mentioning anything about the offering on Sunday mornings. There’s no great strategy behind that. We have simply taken a break from saying anything about it. Not that we won’t ever say anything again. And as we reported at the AMM, the finances are solid, you are giving, and God is providing.
But, with this in mind, we have put a special effort in front of the church as 2021 winds down. You should have received an email on November 2 introducing our end-of-year offering to raise needed funds for our building. We are so grateful to God for this amazing facility that we get to use, and we have a need to shore up the fund that helps us maintain and renovate it. You can read more about the offering here. Pray that we will be able to raise or even surpass the $200,000 goal through your generous gifts.
Staff 20th Anniversary!
We would like to acknowledge the incredible part that Joyce Martin has played on our staff team for twenty years now! For those who are not aware, Joyce is the quiet, behind-the-scenes, administrative strength that allows for the smooth operation of our staff team. They sometimes call her, “the glue.” Joyce, her husband Dave, and their four children were members of the same church in St. Thomas as the Dugard family, and felt called to move here with them in 2001 to join the core group that planted Harvest. She joined the staff team on November 1, 2001, a few weeks after the church launched. As elders, we’re grateful they did! We’ve given her a gift, on behalf of the church, to thank her for her two decades of faithful service.
Questions or Comments?
If, at any time, you have questions or comments for the elders, please send them to email@example.com