As we move forward from ‘Anticipation’. The story is unfolding quickly now, as we move toward the arrival of the infant Jesus. The Light of the World. And in these darkest days of the year, we need that Light!
As we move into Advent, we want to recognize the season of transition we are in as a community. We know that there are a variety of emotions and feelings, and we want to recognize those, but we also feel that moving forward through Advent can be a really hopeful and redemptive experience for us, especially this year. The word Advent means ‘arrival’ or ‘appearance’. It’s a gentle season, a season of slowing down and paying attention. A season of yearning. We are longing and yearning for what is to come.
The scripture reading is taken from Psalm 147: 1-5, 8-9.
When all is said and done, at the centre of the Christian faith stands Jesus. He was a profound teacher. He was a miracle worker. He was compassionate, insightful, and wise beyond his years. But Jesus is not just someone from the past for us to reflect on. The four accounts of his life that open the New Testament were written so that we can know him more today!
As we head into the Summer of 2021, our Pastoral Team is making plans to help our Elevation community balance the limitations of pandemic life with some creative opportunities to start connecting in person. Take a look at the schedule below and mark your calendars!
Everything here is subject to change based on local guidelines and provincial restrictions, and more details will be provided in our regular weekly email updates.
July 4 – Long Weekend (no online service—connect with your Neighbours! group, either virtually or in-person)
July 11 – Elevation Livestream and Neighbours! groups
July 18 – Elevation Livestream (plus outdoor Communion at 22 Willow @ 11:30) – No Neighbours! groups
July 25 – Elevation Livestream and Neighbours! groups
August 1 – Long Weekend (no online service or Neighbours! groups —distanced in-person bring-your-own-picnic at 22 Willow 11:30-1:00)
August 8 – Elevation Livestream and Neighbours! groups
August 15 – Elevation Livestream (plus outdoor Communion at 22 Willow @ 11:30) – No Neighbours! groups
August 22 – Elevation Livestream and Neighbours! groups
August 29 – Elevation Livestream and Neighbours! groups
September 5 – Long Weekend (no online service or Neighbours! groups —distanced in-person bring-your-own-picnic at 22 Willow 11:30-1:00)
Our tentative plan is to offer in-person worship alongside our Livestream starting on Sunday, September 12. More details to come!
Without wanting to rush this final stretch of summer, many of us have started to take the occasional glance at September, trying to imagine what life will look like, whether with respect to school, the workplace, or other commitments. Elevation’s Pastoral Team has been doing a bit more than glancing at the fall as we’ve been actively making plans to set our community up for success as we head into this pivotal season together!
Yes, we know, most of us are beyond tired of the change and uncertainty that has been looming over our world for the past seventeen months. But as author Richard Rohr reminds us, Our uncertainty is the doorway into mystery, the doorway into surrender, the path to God that Jesus called ‘faith.’ We like the sound of walking forward in faith, trusting that God is walking right there with us.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at some changes that are on the horizon for Elevation…
The Times They Are a Changin’
Around this time last year, Melodie Sherk (now Reinders!) joined our team to provide leadership to our Emerging Generations and has done a fantastic job helping us navigate these pandemic waters while continuing to engage our children and youth in meaningful ways. What you may not know is that Melodie took a year off of her graduate studies to work with us on a full-time basis, and one of the changes we have coming is that she will be reducing her role to half-time in September so she can continue to pursue her education goals. Melodie will continue to provide leadership for Elevation’s youth, but we are beginning a search for someone to join our team to provide leadership for Children and Family Ministries.
Shortly after Melodie joined us, we invited Connor Jay into the fold on a half-time basis to oversee Digital Community, which included overseeing key elements such as our livestream, website, social media, and communication strategy. Connor and his fiancee, Eryn, will be tying the knot in October and will be putting down roots in Hamilton, which means that he will no longer be in this role at Elevation as of the end of September. We will certainly miss Connor as part of our team, but are praying God’s best as he enters a new season of life this fall!
Our Staff Partnership Committee is working to help us find new additions in each of these capacities and will be getting a hiring process underway in the very near future. Please stay tuned for more information.
A few weeks ago, members of our Steering Committee and Pastoral Team were invited to meet with representatives from Trillium Lutheran Church to discuss their plans for fall programming. In the past, we would have been part of the decision-making process whenever our ministry would be affected, however, in this case, we were informed that Trillium had already made some key decisions that they wanted to let us know about so we could alter our plans accordingly.
Trillium’s plans include moving their morning service to 10:30 and they have allocated 9:00 as the time available for Elevation’s in-person service as of September. We realize that this time change will be welcome news for some and challenging news for others, but rest assured, we are committed to making the most of our new situation in the short run while also considering the impact of these changes on the longer term.
Regardless of the time we gather, the really big news is that we are moving forward to providing an opportunity for in-person worship for the first time since March 2020—starting on September 12!
The last time we surveyed the community about gathering in person for corporate worship, the primary outstanding factors impacting a decision were high vaccination rates and low case numbers in our region. If we’ve learned anything about this pandemic, it’s that things can always change, but based on what’s happening in our region right now, we feel confident and excited about providing an opportunity for those who are ready and able to once again gather at 22 Willow on Sunday mornings.
What to Expect When You’re Expecting
As we’ve been thinking about our desire to move forward to in-person worship, one of the decisions we’ve made is that we will be making our plans in short bursts over the course of the next few months, approaching this as a season of discernment as we continue to seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Today, we want to share our plans for September with you, then we will send an update in mid-September to talk about what October will look like, and so on. This will allow us to remain agile as the world around us continues to change in unexpected ways, providing us with an opportunity to both learn from our week-to-week experiences and listen to your feedback along the way.
Over the past few weeks, our Pastoral Team has been connecting with other church leaders around North America to see what the experience of offering in-person worship has been like for those who are a bit further down the road. We’ve been hearing a wide range of stories, but one thing that has stood out to us is the reality that everyone will resume gathering in person at their own pace—and that’s okay!
This unusual season has taught us that engagement in virtual services looks different than in-person services. Early on, we made the decision to make it a priority to create our services in a way that prioritized a more intimate and personal connection. Once the majority of us are back in person, we expect this personal connection will be filled in other ways and will become less important in the virtual services, but for now, we want to find a way to continue to create a space for meaningful virtual connection while also opening the doors for in-person worship.
With this in mind, September will feature two unique opportunities to gather: online and in-person. We will not be broadcasting the in-person service, but will be creating our online services in much the same way as we are now—with some creative tweaks! Those who continue to engage from home will have a similar experience to what has been offered over the past 17 months with a virtual service at 10:00.
At the same time, we will also provide an opportunity for people to gather in person on Sunday mornings at 9:00. We’d like to share a high-level overview of what we’re planning for September, with a more detailed version coming out after Labour Day so that everyone can make an informed decision. Here’s what you can expect:
All congregants (vaccinated or unvaccinated) will be asked to self-screen and will be reminded to clean their hands on entry/exit
Masks must be worn while indoors in keeping with the regional by-law
Every second and third pew will be roped/taped off and members of separate households will be instructed to leave six feet of space on the pews; we expect a maximum capacity of 85
Registration will be required and a record will be kept for two weeks
Members of the worship team will be properly distanced on the stage
There will be live musical worship but, in following current regional public health recommendations, congregational singing will not be encouraged
There will not be an opportunity to linger in the Sanctuary after the service, but conversations can take place outdoors with proper distancing in place
In addition, before the sermon begins, parents will have the option of having children remain with them for the sermon, or sending them to the Gym where there will be group programming for all children JK-Gr.5 in a safe environment (eg. distancing and masks will be required). The material for this time together will be similar to what has been included in the KidsQuest preservices online and will parallel the online KidsQuest experience each week. There will not be supervision for toddlers or infants at this time, but there will be space designated for parent supervision.
Depending on how guidelines for indoor gatherings change over time, we realize that we may reach capacity in the Sanctuary, which will require us to think about adding an additional service. We do not have any plans in place at this time, but are beginning to discuss what options might be available as we look to expand our capacity over time. We are still working out the details, but we do plan to continue offering opportunities to connect virtually in smaller groups for discussion (eg. Neighbours! groups) and more info on this will follow in September. Finally, if you would be willing to be part of a team that will help implement health and safety protocols on Sunday mornings, please reach out to a member of our Pastoral Team.
Talk to Us
As we walk into this pivotal season together, Elevation’s Pastoral Team and Steering Committee remain committed to listening to your comments and concerns. The plans we’ve made are based on past feedback received as well as what we see happening in our region today. We realize that you may need more information before you commit to how you will be engaging in the fall, but it’s important for us to gauge the level of in-person participation we should expect in September, so please take a moment to participate in this short survey as we make our final preparations:
During this short series in the month of June, we’re looking at How to Read the Bible. Author Pete Enns uses three words to describe the way the Bible ‘works’: that it is ancient, ambiguous and diverse.
Throughout the series, we’ll be updating this page with suggested readings and other resources to help you as you dive into this topic personally, and discuss with your neighbours’ group.
We recognize that there are many valuable resources available on the topic of Anti-Racism, and this list is far from comprehensive! However, for those who are looking for a place to dig deeper into this topic, some of the resources we would recommend are listed below.
As an Elevation community, we are continuing to explore this topic at a more systemic level as well, and we look forward to inviting our community to engage in that process over the next months.
Racial Justice Course:
We are excited about an opportunity our community has to take part in a course this spring called Racial Justice and Equity Practices for Faith & Spirituality-based Institutions: An Introductory Course for Community Members. This course will introduce members of our Elevation community to racial justice teachings and principles. You can find out more and register here.
“This eye-opening book challenges you to do the essential work of unpacking your biases, and helps white people take action and dismantle the privilege within themselves so that you can stop (often unconsciously) inflicting damage on people of color, and in turn, help other white people do better, too.”
It is absolutely incumbent on every follower of Christ to know the stories of injustice and pain that their closest neighbors continue to endure. And beyond just Christians, there is a responsibility for every person to know the story of the land they are privileged to call home.
Thursday September 30th, is the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. A day that honours the lost children and Survivors of residential schools, their families and communities. We know that many of you are finding ways to engage in this day of reflection, learning, mourning and committing to change. And as a community, we want to point out just two opportunities within our own local community to listen, learn and engage.
The Healing of the Seven Generations, an indigenous-led local community organization, is hosting a community walk to spread awareness of and reflect on the tragedies experienced by Indigenous peoples across Turtle Island as a result of the country’s former residential school system. The walk will begin at 10AM from 300 Frederick St in Kitchener and lead to Victoria Park’s Clock Tower where there will be a number of guest speakers and drumming to follow. All are welcome and encouraged to wear orange!
In the evening on the 30th at 7pm, we are partnering with UNA church in Kitchener to host an online screening of the documentary Trick or Treaty. A zoom link for the event was included in the community email on Tuesday this week. Please plan to join the zoom call at 7pm for a brief introduction. For those who wish to watch the film on their own (outside of the zoom call) a link will be provided at that time. We will then join back on the Zoom call at 8:45pm for a short time of discussion. Please reach out if you have any questions or have trouble finding the link. (email@example.com)
Resources to Educate
At the end of 2011, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada submitted a report on the history, purpose, operation, and supervision of the residential school system, the effect and consequences of the system, and its ongoing legacy. The publication of this report can be found here.
In 2015 the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released a call to action to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation. The publication of these 94 calls to action can be found here. Although all of these calls to action are incredibly important, some of the most applicable for our context are in the section titled “Church apologies and Reconciliation” (58-61).
A website has been formed to monitor the progress of the journey towards reconciliation, based on these 94 calls to action. You can follow along in this journey here.
There has been a National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada. You can find the Executive Summary of the Final Report of this Inquiry here.
The University of Alberta offers a free course on Indigenous History in Canada. This course has 12 lessons and can be completed at your own pace. You can find more information and register for this course here.
The First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada has created a guide to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada in a format that is written especially for children. You can access this guide here.