Photo Courtesy of Memorial Presbyterian Church’s Facebook Page.

Sylvan Lake churches connecting with congregations virtually

The churches are using the practices to stay connected and spread hope during the time of distancing

Some of the churches in Sylvan Lake have gone virtual since the regulations against gatherings have come into place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The need to connect is still strong during this time of distancing, but some of the loneliness can be curtailed using technology.

“People need to connect… people are still hungry for that,” said Tim Bergmann, lead pastor at Alliance Community Church. “That face-to-face, eye-to-eye look and just engage, that does something for our souls and for our minds.”

The Alliance Community Church is streaming its service on Sunday mornings at 11 a.m. Viewers are able to tun in, make comments and interact.

The videos can be found at the Alliance Community Church Facebook page or alliancecommunity.ca.

Every day during the week Bergmann also puts out a video called ACC Today focusing on a variety of topics.

“It is just to communicate hope and peace and a calm voice and a calm presence through this all,” explained Bergmann, adding the youth pastor and the children’s pastor are doing the same thing.

Memorial Presbyterian Church is following a similar strategy as the Sunday Services and midweek devotionals are available online as well.

The church has been utilizing its Facebook page and slmpc.ca to share these videos, although the weekly Sunday services has been posted to the website for a while now.

Anna Olive, clerk of session at Memorial Presbyterian Church, says the Pastoral Care Team has also been reaching out to everyone in the congregation via phone.

“They’re providing hope and assurance, but also practical things, so some of them have been asked to pick up a few groceries or run a little errand,” said Olive, adding they have also been sending out emails.

She says the members of the church have been appreciative of the phone calls and they are well received.

“There’s a lot of people who are lonely and we have a few people in the Lodge and in Bethany who, of course, are under lock down so those phone calls mean a great deal,” continued Olive.

Staff at the Alliance Community Church is also working their way through a list of numbers to touch base and encourage their congregants.

Additionally, Bergmann says, the church’s website is also an easy way for people to ask for help or offer to provide help.

He says everyone seems to be appreciating the efforts as the church is getting lots of goof feedback and views.

“They like the message of hope and encouragement because we need a lot of that right now,” said Bergmann.

Olive thinks the efforts being made by the church are very beneficial for people who are frightened and have questions about the current situation.

“If we keep in contact they know where they can go and just sort of spill their guts and feel a little better,” she explained.

The virtual practices are serving to be a learning experience and is something the Alliance Community Church is looking to take into the future.

“I don’t think most churches are generally very tech savvy so everybody’s having to learn real fast,” said Bergmann.

He added his church wants to help Sylvan Lakers in any way they can and to contact them with any needs.

Memorial Presbyterian Church also offers a Love on a Plate program in support of Meals on Wheels.

Other churches in Sylvan Lake, such as Emerge Church, St. Mary’s and St. Timothy’s Anglican Church, and Lighthouse Fellowship Church, are also exercising virtual practices during this time.

These practices can be accessed via their respective Facebook pages and websites.

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