COVID-19 Resources

Stay Up To Date On The Latest Information About COVID-19.

The following are resources for our churches that we are continually updating as more become available. If you know of a resource that you would like to share with us, please email communications@bcmb.org

Discipleship and Outreach Resources

Other resources from BCMB for churches that require additional ministry support through the Coronavirus pandemic.

Easter Message from Rob Thiessen

Rob has made this Easter message available for your church use at or after Easter.

Marriage Ceremonies in BC During COVID-19 – Updated Apr.17, 2020

Please see the attached Information Update regarding marriage ceremonies in BC and distribute to all of the religious representatives who are registered by your religious body to solemnize marriages in BC.

 

Religious Representative Registry
Vital Statistics Agency
305-478 Bernard Avenue
Kelowna, BC  V1Y 6N7
Phone: 250-712-7597, Email: VSrelreg@gov.bc.ca
Health Sector Information, Analysis and Reporting Division
Ministry of Health, Province of British Columbia

Online Meeting Solutions

Online Meeting Solutions

As we all navigate this new online world, many churches will be looking for solutions to enable them to continue ministry in an efficient manner. Here is a quick list to help narrow down some of the choices out there.

free accounts allow up to 40 minutes and up to 100 people in your meeting. Reliable if you be sure to follow security measures they suggest.

TECHSOUP CANADA has a discounted rate for Zoom for non-profits. Check it out if you are considering this option.

Requires G Suite. All paid plans include Google Meet. G Suite provides other online solutions that may meet other needs your church may have as well (such as email, cloud storage, and word processing).

This replaces Skype for Business. The free version includes chat, video calling,Team and individual cloud storage, as well as collaboration using Microsoft Office programs.

Run Alpha Sessions Online

If your church is looking for ways to be effective in ministry while finding online solutions that work with meeting restrictions currently in place, consider running an Online Alpha Course. Alpha Canada has provided some great digital solutions as well as a webinar to help you get started.

Vidflex Faith™ Offer 2020

In response to COVID-19, Vidflex Faith™ is offering churches
3 months free of video hosting and streaming services that integrates online giving.

Financial and Administrative Ministry Resources

Resources to help churches navigate the increased financial pressure and reduced giving brought on by COVID-19

CBC News Benefit Hub

One more place you can find a hub of benefits the federal government, provinces and territories are offering to people financially affected by the coronavirus.

COVID 19 – How It May Affect Your COMMERCIAL INSURANCE POLICY

Dear BC Conference of Mennonite Brethren:

 

Johnston Meier is reaching out to our valued commercial clients to remind them of important information as it pertains to your insurance policy and how best to reach us during these unprecedented times.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way many companies do business.  In an effort to protect our valued clients, loyal employees and trusted community, Johnston Meier closed our offices to walk-in traffic and migrated to servicing our customers via phone and/or email.   The contact information for any of our 46 locations throughout British Columbia, are located on our website at www.jmins.com.

Many businesses have been affected by government closures. All insurance policies contain an exclusion of coverage if your premises are vacant, unoccupied or closed down for more than 30 days. If this is the case with your business, please contact your Broker immediately to determine if the Insurance Company will offer an extension to the 30 days during this time.

Finances at this time can also be challenging; your Broker will be happy to explain our financing options.

Please contact us if you have any questions or where we can be of any assistance in these trying times.

Thank you for your business and continued support.

 

Sincerely,

 

Johnston Meier Insurance Agencies Group
22367 Dewdney Trunk Rd, Maple Ridge BC  V2X 3J4
Tel: 604-467-4184 or 1-888-256-4564
Fax: 604-467-9711
Email: mapleridge@jmins.com
Web: www.jmins.com

Employment Standards Regulation amendment – May 5, 2020

Yesterday, the provincial government made the attached Order in Council to amend the Employment Standards Regulation. It redefines “temporary layoff” in the Employment Standards Act for employees that have been laid off because of the COVID-19 emergency.  Instead of a “temporary layoff” being for up to 13 weeks in a period of 20 weeks, it is now for up to 16 weeks in a period of 20 weeks.  (Ignore the reference to “right of recall” – that has to do with unionized employees.)

 

If churches have a need to extend layoffs past 13 weeks, this Order in Council may provide some flexibility in that regard.  (This doesn’t deal with the underlying issue of a risk of employees claiming constructive dismissal because of a lay off.)

How your church can survive financially

Recently, our churches have had to make some very difficult decisions in light of COVID-19, with regards to continuation of ministry, and also with regards to finances and employment. John Albiston, a Church Effectiveness Coach, has shared some valuable insight into this struggle that we thought we would pass along to our churches. Below, is a brief summary of the content he provides in his 20 minute video that follows.

Covid 19: How your church can survive financially

To survive this crisis your church must do two things:

  1. Reduce expenses
  2. Increase income

Reducing Expenses

  1. Mothball your facilities
  2. Reduce program costs
  3. Develop a staffing contingency plan
    1. Determine income thresholds
    2. Create a staff triage order
    3. Abandon tenure and hierarchy
    4. Prioritize tech and ability to connect
    5. Prepare yourself and your team for bi-vocational and volunteer options.
    6. Inform your people of government support options
    7. Do not abandon those you have to lay off!

 Increasing Income

  1. Make it easy to give
    1. Physical giving
      • Sanitized drop off
      • Safe pick up
    2. Online giving
      • tithe.ly
      • Is the 2.9% fee too much?
  2. Give them a reason why
    1. Formulate an action plan
      • For your congregation
      • For you community
  3. Cast the vision for involvement
    • By volunteering
    • By giving

If this seems like it would be helpful for you and your church watch the video below.

Shared with permission by:

John Albiston
Church Effectiveness Coach
Alberta & NWT District of
The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada

Insurance and Risk Management Questions from Clients

Robertson Hall Insurance – Covid 19 Church and Charity Update Bulletin.  April 17, 2020.

MDS Canada Launches Fund to Help Canadian Congregations Respond to COVID-19

April 28, 2020

MDS Canada Launches Fund to Help Canadian Congregations Respond to COVID-19

 

Spirit of MDS Fund to offer grants for responding to community needs

 

WINNIPEG, Man. – Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) Canada’s operations may be suspended until fall due to the pandemic, but the organization still wants to be active in responding to COVID-19.

“MDS normally responds to natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, fires, and earthquakes,” says Ross Penner, Director of Operations for MDS Canada.

“But the pandemic is a disaster for many people in Canada. Since we aren’t able to respond in the usual way, we want to do it through local congregations that are on the front lines of responding to needs.”

To do that, the organization has created The Spirit of MDS Fund to help Canadian churches respond to people in their communities facing hardship due to the virus.

“We recognize many churches today might be cash-strapped because of the pandemic,” says Penner. “Yet they want to respond to needs in their communities. Through the Fund, we want to come alongside to help them be the hands and feet of Jesus for those impacted by COVID-19.”

 Through the $100,000 Fund, which received unanimous support from the MDS Canada board at its April 15 meeting, Canadian congregations can apply for grants of up to $1,000 to help with various COVID-19-related needs.

According to Penner, this could include replenishing a church’s food pantry, helping a family with emergency bills or rent, assisting seniors to connect with family members, or other practical forms of service.

Preference will be given to congregations that are part of an Anabaptist-Mennonite denomination that supports MDS Canada, Penner says, but applications from other churches will be considered.

“I deeply appreciate how MDS is offering to support local congregations with this proposal,” says Doug Klassen, Executive Minister of Mennonite Church Canada. “This models beautifully how the arms of the church can pull back in to help sustain the torso. This is truly in the Spirit of MDS.”

For Cam Priebe, Provincial Director for the Mennonite Brethren Church of Manitoba, the Fund is a “creative and generous way to partner together.”

The Fund is “creative and visionary,” adds Elton DaSilva, National Director of the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches. “I favour this initiative.”

Through the Fund, Penner says “we want to help local congregations respond in the spirit of MDS—of faith in action, caring relationships, service to those in need, and compassion. It’s a way for us to continue to do our mission through local congregations, the ones who are active on the ground during this time of need.”

Congregations that want to apply for funding can find an application form on the MDS Canada website at www.https://mds.mennonite.net/ or by e-mailing somds@mds.mennonite.net.

 

For more information or an interview, contact Ross Penner at 204-261-1274 or 204-218-4436.

Online Giving Resources and Information

We are sure that many of you are having to make some difficult decisions with regards to finances moving forward. One big reason is that churches rely on giving in order to operate. With people losing their jobs, investments plummeting, and financial uncertainty causing people to scale back spending, churches are seeing a decline in giving. We want to support you to help provide opportunities for congregations to continue to give as much as is possible, given our new reality.

We have compiled a list of some platforms* and services* that you can explore to, hopefully, find a good fit for your church:

  1. TECH SOUP CANADA
    Tech Soup has some great resources available to walk you through accepting online donations in Canada. While you’re at it, you may want to sign your church up with Tech Soup because they have some great deals for non-profits to obtain special pricing on various software and technical needs.
  2. TXT2GIVE
    This service allows people to give to your church by texting or online. There is a demo video on the site, and they offer two different types of plans that vary in price depending on the average amount of giving your church receives (or expects to receive). You would still need to pay for a merchant account or payment gateway (such as Stripe), but this service works well with many different account providers.
  3. SUBSPLASH
    Subsplash Giving Provides App/Text/Online giving options for churches with a percentage-based fee rather than a monthly charge.
  4. TITHE.LY
    They have a wealth of different products to offer (giving/app/event planning/CHMS), including clearly priced giving options.
  5. EASY TITHE
    This giving platform offers app/text/online giving options like the rest. It has pricing based on size of church, and even offers a special rate to church plants. There are many integrations that it includes in order to work with what you already have.

 

*Please note: BCMB does not endorse any of the companies or organizations listed here, nor do we make any guarantees about their services. If you would like to know about our experiences with any of these suggestions (if any), please call or email and we would be happy to share with you.

Order of the Provincial Health Officer-May 26, 2020

TO: PERSONS WHO OWN, OCCUPY, OPERATE OR ARE OTHERWISE RESPONSIBLE FOR AN INDOOR OR OUTDOOR PLACE INCLUDING A PLACE OF WORSHIP, HOTEL, RESTAURANT, HALL, THEATRE, MOVIE THEATRE, DRIVE IN THEATRE, SPORTS ARENA, CEMETERY, FESTIVAL SITE, FAIRGROUND, RECREATION CENTRE, CASINO, PARK, CAMPSITE OR ANY OTHER INDOOR OR OUTDOOR PLACE

Temporary Wage Subsidy – Updated March 25, 2020

TEMPORARY WAGE SUBSIDY

  • This measure provides eligible employers with a temporary wage subsidy for a period of three months;
  • The subsidy is to be 10% of remuneration paid during that period, up to certain per employee and per employer maximums;
  • Businesses can benefit immediately from this support by reducing their remittances of income tax withheld from their employees’ remuneration;
  • Remittances for CPP and EI cannot be offset by the subsidy.

Eligibility

  • The employer must meet three criteria:
    • employ one or more individuals in Canada (“eligible employees”);
    • be registered with a business number and a payroll remittance account on March 18, 2020; and,
    • be any of the following:
      • a non-profit organization (exempt from income tax);
      • a registered charity;
      • most Canadian-controlled private corporations (CCPCs);
        • Eligibility requires that the CCPC had a business limit, for purposes of the small business deduction, greater than nil for its most recent tax year ended prior to March 18, 2020;
        • Reduction to the business limit caused by passive income is not considered;
        • A CCPC which had no business limit for other reasons (please check with us for this exception) would not qualify.
      • an individual (this means a proprietorship);
        • the proprietor themselves are NOT eligible; or
      • a partnership;
        • the partners themselves (if individuals) are NOT eligible

Benefits

  • The subsidy will be equal to the least of three amounts, as follows:
    • a fixed maximum for each employer of $25,000;
      • CRA has indicated that this amount is per employer, and is not required to be shared between related or associated employers;
    • a fixed percentage, being 10%, of remuneration paid to eligible employees during the period from March 18, 2020 to June 19, 2020; or,
    • the number of eligible employees employed during the period from March 18, 2020 to June 19, 2020, multiplied by a fixed amount, $1,375.
  • To get the maximum benefit of $25,000, the employer must have more than 18 employees with total wages no less than $250,000 during the period.

Application process

  • No formal application process has been released;
  • Source deduction remittances for income tax, but not for CPP or EI, can be reduced for the available subsidy, providing an immediate cash flow benefit to the employer;
  • Presumably, there will be an eventual requirement to account for the subsidy claimed, possibly when T4 slips are prepared and filed in early 2021 – no additional filings have been implemented to date.

Other Notes

  • The legislation does not provide any exclusion for owners of the employer or persons related to the employer, so their remuneration should be eligible.

 

HR and Employment Resources

Here are the resources we've pulled together pertaining to human resources and employment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bill C-13 – Updated March 25, 2020

Bill C-13

On March 25, 2020, Bill C-13 An Act respecting certain measures in response to COVID-19was introduced, and received Royal Assent. 

Here are five key items found in that bill which may be of interest to you and/or your employees:

  • Emergency Response Benefit;
    Canada’s Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) – Updated April 15, 2020

    CANADA’S EMERGENCY RESPONSE BENEFIT (CERB)

    Eligibility

    The ERP is now also available for: workers who still have their employment but are not being paid because there is currently not sufficient work and their employer has asked them not to come to work; and wage earners and self-employed individuals, including contract workers, who are not eligible for conventional EI benefits.

    The legislation requires the applicant to be an “eligible worker”, which means that they must be:

    • At least 15 years of age;
    • Resident in Canada;
    • Stopped working because of COVID-19 or are eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits
    • Have not voluntarily quit their job
    • Had income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application.

    On April 15,  changes announced to the eligibility rules to:

    • Allow people to earn up to $1,000 per month while collecting the CERB.
    • Extend the CERB to seasonal workers who have exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to undertake their regular seasonal work because of COVID-19.
    • Extend the CERB to workers who have recently exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to find a job because of COVID-19.

    An online questionnaire will help them direct you to the service option that best fits your situation (i.e. eligibility for Employment Insurance benefits or not).

    Benefits

    • A taxable benefit of $2,000 every 4 weeks for up to 16 weeks to eligible workers who have lost their income due to COVID-19

    Application process

    • Do not apply for the CERB if you have already applied for EI.
    • Online Application
    • You can also apply over the phone: 1‑800‑959‑2019 or 1‑800‑959‑2041

    Other notes

    • Legislation does not exclude shareholders or their family members as long as they meet the income requirements.
  • Temporary wage subsidy for employers
    Temporary Wage Subsidy – Updated March 25, 2020

    TEMPORARY WAGE SUBSIDY

    • This measure provides eligible employers with a temporary wage subsidy for a period of three months;
    • The subsidy is to be 10% of remuneration paid during that period, up to certain per employee and per employer maximums;
    • Businesses can benefit immediately from this support by reducing their remittances of income tax withheld from their employees’ remuneration;
    • Remittances for CPP and EI cannot be offset by the subsidy.

    Eligibility

    • The employer must meet three criteria:
      • employ one or more individuals in Canada (“eligible employees”);
      • be registered with a business number and a payroll remittance account on March 18, 2020; and,
      • be any of the following:
        • a non-profit organization (exempt from income tax);
        • a registered charity;
        • most Canadian-controlled private corporations (CCPCs);
          • Eligibility requires that the CCPC had a business limit, for purposes of the small business deduction, greater than nil for its most recent tax year ended prior to March 18, 2020;
          • Reduction to the business limit caused by passive income is not considered;
          • A CCPC which had no business limit for other reasons (please check with us for this exception) would not qualify.
        • an individual (this means a proprietorship);
          • the proprietor themselves are NOT eligible; or
        • a partnership;
          • the partners themselves (if individuals) are NOT eligible

    Benefits

    • The subsidy will be equal to the least of three amounts, as follows:
      • a fixed maximum for each employer of $25,000;
        • CRA has indicated that this amount is per employer, and is not required to be shared between related or associated employers;
      • a fixed percentage, being 10%, of remuneration paid to eligible employees during the period from March 18, 2020 to June 19, 2020; or,
      • the number of eligible employees employed during the period from March 18, 2020 to June 19, 2020, multiplied by a fixed amount, $1,375.
    • To get the maximum benefit of $25,000, the employer must have more than 18 employees with total wages no less than $250,000 during the period.

    Application process

    • No formal application process has been released;
    • Source deduction remittances for income tax, but not for CPP or EI, can be reduced for the available subsidy, providing an immediate cash flow benefit to the employer;
    • Presumably, there will be an eventual requirement to account for the subsidy claimed, possibly when T4 slips are prepared and filed in early 2021 – no additional filings have been implemented to date.

    Other Notes

    • The legislation does not provide any exclusion for owners of the employer or persons related to the employer, so their remuneration should be eligible.

     

  • GST tax credit special payment; and,
    Goods and Services Tax Credit (GSTC) – Updated March 25, 2020

    GOODS AND SERVICES TAX CREDIT (GSTC)

    Eligibility

    • Any individual eligible for the quarterly GSTC based on their 2018 personal income tax filings will be eligible for an additional payment in May 2020.
    • Some others may be entitled to a one-time payment, even if their income is too high to receive quarterly payments.

    Benefits

    • The one-time payment will depend on family composition;
    • The benefit is income-tested, and is reduced when “adjusted income” exceeds $37,789;
    • Some individuals or families whose “adjusted income” was too high to qualify for any quarterly GSTC payments will be eligible for the GSTC.

    Application process

    • This benefit is managed under the income tax system;
    • No special application is required as the payment will be calculated by CRA based on income tax returns filed for 2018.

    Other Notes

    • Payment is to be made in May, 2020, or earlier, so it is possible that these payments will be released in April, 2020;
    • Families not presently receiving the GSTC may wish to confirm that CRA has a record of all minor children in their custody to ensure the calculations reflect these individuals;
    • Taxpayers registered with CRA’s MyAccount service can view the children CRA shows under their custody online through that service.
  • Canada child benefit special payment.
    Canada Child Benefit (CCB) – Updated March 25, 2020

    CANADA CHILD BENEFIT (CCB)

    Eligibility

    • All families eligible for monthly CCB benefits based on their 2018 personal income tax returns will receive an extra benefit as part of their May 2020 benefit payment;
    • Some other families with children under age 18 who do not receive monthly benefits will be eligible for a one-time benefit in May.

    Benefits

    • For families receiving monthly benefits, the May benefit will be enhanced by $300 per child under age 18;
    • Families receiving no monthly benefits may receive a portion of this enhancement, depending on their income levels.

    Application process

    • Like the monthly CCB, this benefit is managed under the income tax system;
    • No special application is required as it will be based on income tax returns filed for 2018.

    Other Notes

    • Individuals or families with children under age 18 who are not presently receiving the CCB may want to confirm that all the children in their custody are reflected on CRA’s records, to ensure the appropriate payment is computed.
    • Again, taxpayers registered with CRA’s MyAccount service can view the children CRA shows under their custody online through that service.
Canada’s Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) – Updated April 15, 2020

CANADA’S EMERGENCY RESPONSE BENEFIT (CERB)

Eligibility

The ERP is now also available for: workers who still have their employment but are not being paid because there is currently not sufficient work and their employer has asked them not to come to work; and wage earners and self-employed individuals, including contract workers, who are not eligible for conventional EI benefits.

The legislation requires the applicant to be an “eligible worker”, which means that they must be:

  • At least 15 years of age;
  • Resident in Canada;
  • Stopped working because of COVID-19 or are eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits
  • Have not voluntarily quit their job
  • Had income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application.

On April 15,  changes announced to the eligibility rules to:

  • Allow people to earn up to $1,000 per month while collecting the CERB.
  • Extend the CERB to seasonal workers who have exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to undertake their regular seasonal work because of COVID-19.
  • Extend the CERB to workers who have recently exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to find a job because of COVID-19.

An online questionnaire will help them direct you to the service option that best fits your situation (i.e. eligibility for Employment Insurance benefits or not).

Benefits

  • A taxable benefit of $2,000 every 4 weeks for up to 16 weeks to eligible workers who have lost their income due to COVID-19

Application process

  • Do not apply for the CERB if you have already applied for EI.
  • Online Application
  • You can also apply over the phone: 1‑800‑959‑2019 or 1‑800‑959‑2041

Other notes

  • Legislation does not exclude shareholders or their family members as long as they meet the income requirements.
CBC News Benefit Hub

One more place you can find a hub of benefits the federal government, provinces and territories are offering to people financially affected by the coronavirus.

Employment Standards Regulation amendment – May 5, 2020

Yesterday, the provincial government made the attached Order in Council to amend the Employment Standards Regulation. It redefines “temporary layoff” in the Employment Standards Act for employees that have been laid off because of the COVID-19 emergency.  Instead of a “temporary layoff” being for up to 13 weeks in a period of 20 weeks, it is now for up to 16 weeks in a period of 20 weeks.  (Ignore the reference to “right of recall” – that has to do with unionized employees.)

 

If churches have a need to extend layoffs past 13 weeks, this Order in Council may provide some flexibility in that regard.  (This doesn’t deal with the underlying issue of a risk of employees claiming constructive dismissal because of a lay off.)

Supports for Individuals & Families

Here are some links to resources that may assist individuals and families in your congregations, as well as your employees.

Canada Child Benefit (CCB) – Updated March 25, 2020

CANADA CHILD BENEFIT (CCB)

Eligibility

  • All families eligible for monthly CCB benefits based on their 2018 personal income tax returns will receive an extra benefit as part of their May 2020 benefit payment;
  • Some other families with children under age 18 who do not receive monthly benefits will be eligible for a one-time benefit in May.

Benefits

  • For families receiving monthly benefits, the May benefit will be enhanced by $300 per child under age 18;
  • Families receiving no monthly benefits may receive a portion of this enhancement, depending on their income levels.

Application process

  • Like the monthly CCB, this benefit is managed under the income tax system;
  • No special application is required as it will be based on income tax returns filed for 2018.

Other Notes

  • Individuals or families with children under age 18 who are not presently receiving the CCB may want to confirm that all the children in their custody are reflected on CRA’s records, to ensure the appropriate payment is computed.
  • Again, taxpayers registered with CRA’s MyAccount service can view the children CRA shows under their custody online through that service.
CBC News Benefit Hub

One more place you can find a hub of benefits the federal government, provinces and territories are offering to people financially affected by the coronavirus.

Goods and Services Tax Credit (GSTC) – Updated March 25, 2020

GOODS AND SERVICES TAX CREDIT (GSTC)

Eligibility

  • Any individual eligible for the quarterly GSTC based on their 2018 personal income tax filings will be eligible for an additional payment in May 2020.
  • Some others may be entitled to a one-time payment, even if their income is too high to receive quarterly payments.

Benefits

  • The one-time payment will depend on family composition;
  • The benefit is income-tested, and is reduced when “adjusted income” exceeds $37,789;
  • Some individuals or families whose “adjusted income” was too high to qualify for any quarterly GSTC payments will be eligible for the GSTC.

Application process

  • This benefit is managed under the income tax system;
  • No special application is required as the payment will be calculated by CRA based on income tax returns filed for 2018.

Other Notes

  • Payment is to be made in May, 2020, or earlier, so it is possible that these payments will be released in April, 2020;
  • Families not presently receiving the GSTC may wish to confirm that CRA has a record of all minor children in their custody to ensure the calculations reflect these individuals;
  • Taxpayers registered with CRA’s MyAccount service can view the children CRA shows under their custody online through that service.
MDS Canada Launches Fund to Help Canadian Congregations Respond to COVID-19

April 28, 2020

MDS Canada Launches Fund to Help Canadian Congregations Respond to COVID-19

 

Spirit of MDS Fund to offer grants for responding to community needs

 

WINNIPEG, Man. – Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) Canada’s operations may be suspended until fall due to the pandemic, but the organization still wants to be active in responding to COVID-19.

“MDS normally responds to natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, fires, and earthquakes,” says Ross Penner, Director of Operations for MDS Canada.

“But the pandemic is a disaster for many people in Canada. Since we aren’t able to respond in the usual way, we want to do it through local congregations that are on the front lines of responding to needs.”

To do that, the organization has created The Spirit of MDS Fund to help Canadian churches respond to people in their communities facing hardship due to the virus.

“We recognize many churches today might be cash-strapped because of the pandemic,” says Penner. “Yet they want to respond to needs in their communities. Through the Fund, we want to come alongside to help them be the hands and feet of Jesus for those impacted by COVID-19.”

 Through the $100,000 Fund, which received unanimous support from the MDS Canada board at its April 15 meeting, Canadian congregations can apply for grants of up to $1,000 to help with various COVID-19-related needs.

According to Penner, this could include replenishing a church’s food pantry, helping a family with emergency bills or rent, assisting seniors to connect with family members, or other practical forms of service.

Preference will be given to congregations that are part of an Anabaptist-Mennonite denomination that supports MDS Canada, Penner says, but applications from other churches will be considered.

“I deeply appreciate how MDS is offering to support local congregations with this proposal,” says Doug Klassen, Executive Minister of Mennonite Church Canada. “This models beautifully how the arms of the church can pull back in to help sustain the torso. This is truly in the Spirit of MDS.”

For Cam Priebe, Provincial Director for the Mennonite Brethren Church of Manitoba, the Fund is a “creative and generous way to partner together.”

The Fund is “creative and visionary,” adds Elton DaSilva, National Director of the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches. “I favour this initiative.”

Through the Fund, Penner says “we want to help local congregations respond in the spirit of MDS—of faith in action, caring relationships, service to those in need, and compassion. It’s a way for us to continue to do our mission through local congregations, the ones who are active on the ground during this time of need.”

Congregations that want to apply for funding can find an application form on the MDS Canada website at www.https://mds.mennonite.net/ or by e-mailing somds@mds.mennonite.net.

 

For more information or an interview, contact Ross Penner at 204-261-1274 or 204-218-4436.

Virtual or Online Ministry Resources

Here are some ideas that we have collected to help churches find resources to help conduct ministry online or virtually during the period of social distancing or isolation mandated by our government.

BC Restart Plan-Church Guidelines & Considerations

BC’s Restart Plan – Church Guidelines & Considerations

 

BC has made significant progress in the fight against COVID-19 and on

May 6, 2020, Premier John Horgan outlined BC’s Restart Plan for slowly and carefully easing restrictions. This document is intended to provide guidelines and considerations for churches as they navigate these changes in their unique contexts.

 

Disclaimer: This is our best understanding of the information provided by the BC Government and its implications for our churches. These are not directives that the District will be policing or enforcing, but rather guidelines we believe are wise and questions that your Board and pastoral leadership should consider and work through. There may be legitimate areas of interpretation where the implementation in your church context could look different than in other settings, however, please be aware of your responsibility and the ensuing consequences should you choose to deviate from provincial guidelines and the guidance provided below.

 

The New Normal[1]

 

To continue to protect seniors, those at risk, and our health care system, we must continue to modify our behaviour and keep protective measures in place until a vaccine is developed. These changes in restrictions are not a return to normal, but instead a move to a new normal. Yet, there is increased freedom, and this is encouraging!

 

For churches, this new normal allows for the following, provided physical distancing is maintained and hygiene practices are in place:

 

  • Gatherings of up to 50 people to take place

 

  • In personal settings, gatherings of 2-6 people

 

  • In-person counselling

 

  • A return to office-based work settings

 

  • Opening of parks and outdoor spaces

 

Please note that the allowances above apply beginning May 19, 2020.

 

 

 

Health & Hygiene Practices

 

The health and hygiene practices that undergird these new allowances and continued easing of restrictions are:

 

  • Stay informed, be prepared, and follow public health advice

 

  • The pandemic is a fluid situation and restrictions may change, so paying attention to news and updates is essential.

 

 

  • Practice good hygiene

 

  • Frequent hand washing
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Cough into your sleeve
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces

 

  • Stay at home and away from others if you’re feeling ill

 

  • Maintain physical distancing outside your household

 

  • No handshaking or hugging
  • Small numbers of contacts
  • Keep a safe distance from others

 

  • Clean your home, workspace, and in churches, clean common spaces more often

 

  • Consider using non-medical masks when physical distancing isn’t possible

 

Questions to Consider:

 

  • How will health and hygiene protocols be implemented in your church?

 

  • How will you physically distance in our facility? Are there any physical changes that need to be made to the building?

 

  • What cleaning practices will you need to increase in your church building?

 

  • What high touch areas need to be cleaned more often?

 

  • How will you communicate your health and hygiene practices and protocols to your congregation and community?

 

Gatherings

 

The order given by Dr. Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer, on March 16, 2020 to restrict gatherings to no more than 50 people has not been lifted. In fact, it was emphasized at the May 6, 2020 press conference that gatherings of no more than 50 people are here to stay in BC until there is a vaccine available or there is community immunity to COVID-19. However, while the BC Government previously discouraged gatherings of any size, beginning May 19, 2020, there is allowance for groups of no more than 50 people to meet in person.

 

In a local church setting, this means that groups like the following will be able to meet:

 

  • Board of Elders
  • staff teams
  • worship teams for recording or live streaming
  • youth groups
  • small groups
  • ministry committees and teams

 

Groups must practice physical distancing and the health practices outlined on

page 2. Dr. Bonnie Henry has emphasized that gatherings of small numbers of people should be held in the largest room possible. This may mean that groups may need to meet in a different place in the church than they are accustomed to.

 

There is freedom under the 50-person limit for creativity within your church context. Creativity should be held in tension with the care that must be taken to prevent transmission of the virus.

 

Reconnecting with others after many weeks of isolation has been encouraged, however this is with the proviso by both Dr. Bonnie Henry and Premier Horgan that the number of contacts be kept small. The government has specified that personal gatherings be kept to 2-6 people and also stated that double the number of people in your current home ‘bubble’ is allowed. This gives freedom to interact with others, but in small groups and again, is taking into consideration the health and hygiene practices outlined on page 2. We would encourage you to exercise this freedom with common sense and use the largest possible space to allow physical distancing.

 

 

 

 

Weddings have not been restricted in BC during the pandemic, however gathering restrictions have impacted the number of people who are allowed to be present at celebrations. Weddings must be officiated in person in BC, and until May 19, 2020, the BC Centre for Disease Control has encouraged gatherings of no more than 5 people (the officiant, bride and groom, and two witnesses).

 

Beginning May 19, 2020, wedding gatherings may have up to 50 people, however physical distancing must be followed, and health and hygiene practices should be in place.

 

Funerals should also follow the gathering restriction of 50 people and follow physical distancing and health and hygiene practices should be in place. We recommend that Boards and pastoral leadership discuss how requests to hold weddings and funerals in the church will be handled. It may also be helpful to reach out to a local funeral home for further information.

 

Questions to Consider:

 

  • How will you determine when you have reached 50 people for a gathering? Is there a protocol in place to deal with more than 50 people coming to a gathering?

 

  • How can you accommodate small groups in the church and ensure health and hygiene practices and protocols are followed?

 

  • How are you demonstrating to your congregation and the public that you are following government restrictions and working to protect those that are vulnerable?

 

  • How can you be creative in your context while following gathering restrictions?

 

  • While being creative, there will be a breadth of opinion about what you’re doing, from adventurous to conservative, in both your congregation and community. How are your creative efforts being perceived? Are they helping to further your ministry or undermining it?

 

  • How will requests for weddings and funerals be handled?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Workplaces

 

To reduce the risk of virus transmission for church employees, the BC Government states[2] that it is important to keep a low number of contacts (the number of people present at the same time) and a low contact intensity (contacts distant and length of contact brief). There are steps that support reducing the risk in the workplace:

 

  • Physical distancing measures – measures to reduce the density of people

 

  • Engineering controls – physical barriers (like plexiglass at high interaction areas) or increased ventilation

 

  • Administrative controls – clear rules and guidelines

 

  • Personal protective equipment – like the use of non-medical masks

 

Along with the health and hygiene practices outlined on page 2, employers are encouraged to:

 

  • Create clear workplace policies that ensure people who are ill do not come to work – Premier Horgan has stated that there should be zero tolerance for illness in the workplace.

 

  • Implement sick day policies that allow people to be off or work safely from home when they are ill or have symptoms of a cold or flu.

 

  • Provide work from home options, when possible, to reduce contact intensity. When it’s not an option, consider measures such as staggered shifts and virtual meetings as much as possible.

 

  • Implement strategies that reduce the number and intensity of contacts.

 

  • Clean high-touch areas frequently and provide hand sanitizer at entrances.

 

  • Focus on higher-risk employees including those over the age of 60 and those with underlying medical conditions – from more flexible hours, to work from home options and workspace accommodation

 

 

 

 

 

 

Questions to Consider:

 

  • Are there any physical distancing measures or implements that need to be put in place (ex. plexiglass barriers) before staff return to the workplace?

 

  • How will lunch and coffee break areas, and high-touch or high traffic common areas be addressed?

 

  • What work from home options are possible? What other measures, including staggering staff or virtual meetings, need to be in place?

 

  • How will you support higher-risk employees?

 

Communication

 

Ultimately, everything we do is about making Jesus known. We are called to be a light in our community, and we can demonstrate love and care for our congregation and community by creating a safe place for people to gather. People may react with curiosity, concern, fear, or even anger in the midst of uncertainty and change. We encourage you to communicate the changes you make with honesty, authenticity, compassion, and integrity, to enable your church to understand both the practical steps you are taking and the reasons behind them.

 

When your next steps for the easing of restrictions are agreed upon, communicate these to your staff, leaders, congregation, and to visitors that may come to the church. Consider outlining the steps you are taking to maintain a clean, safe environment and who they can contact for any questions they have.

 

As a reminder, the Crisis Communication for Churches – COVID-19 document is a resource should you need help with communication or have any media requests.

 

Questions to Consider:

 

  • What will be communicated regarding gatherings? Health and hygiene protocols? Next steps and practical considerations?

 

  • How will you communicate your response to the new normal and the easing of restrictions?

 

  • Who is the church’s contact for congregants or those in the community who have questions?

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Are we able to hold drive-in church in our parking lot for more than 50 people?

 

No. We reached out to a local MLA for clarification and were told this would be considered a contravention of the 50-person gathering restriction. Aside from this, it does not demonstrate adherence to governmental authority and both the congregation, and the church congregation and local community may question this step or react negatively to a perceived defiance of the gathering restriction order.

 

Our building can host multiple groups of 50 at a time and we can keep all groups separate. Are we able to hold multiple gatherings at the same time provided each gathering isn’t over 50 people?

 

No. We reached out to a local MLA for clarification and were told this would be considered a contravention of the 50-person gathering restriction. The concern here is the same as in the question above regarding legitimacy of this action in adhering to governmental authority. There are also health concerns with this approach as there is a high potential for multiple groups of 50 people to interact, touch common surfaces, or share the same ventilated air regardless of the precautions taken to keep groups separate.

 

Our small group is more than 6 people. Can we still meet in homes?

 

While we want to encourage compliance to the government’s restriction of “around 2-6 people” for personal gatherings, we recognize that some small groups may be larger than 6 people. Therefore, you may have opportunity to gather in a home provided you can maintain physical distancing in your backyard or outdoor space, or in a large room.

 

We encourage you to use your common sense as you determine an appropriate setting for holding your small group gathering, and where a home setting is not able to provide adequate physical distancing, we encourage you to consider using your church facility.

 

 

 

 

Resources

 

BC Centre for Disease Control COVID-19 Information

http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19

 

BC Centre for Disease Control – Event Planning

http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/event-planning

 

BC Response to COVID-19

https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/covid-19-provincial-support

 

BC Restart Plan

https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/covid-19-provincial-support/bc-restart-plan

 

CPD COVID-19 Resources

https://pacificdistrict.ca/covid-19-church/

 

WorkSafeBC COVID-19 Information

https://www.worksafebc.com/en/about-us/covid-19-updates/covid-19-industry-information

 

The District Office is here to support you as you navigate these changes. Please contact our office at 604-372-1922 or cpdoffice@pacificdistrict.ca

[1] Information on changes is retrieved from: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/covid-19-provincial-support/bc-restart-plan

[2] https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/covid-19-provincial-support/bc-restart-plan#next-challenge

CCLI Licensing for Online Worship Music Content

CCLI Licensing for Online Worship Music Content

As we work to function in our new reality with respect to social limitations within our churches, we have been so encouraged to see how many of you have embraced change and have done your best to engage your church families through online, virtual means. Though this pandemic has stretched us and presented multiple challenges, our BCMB churches and leaders have responded in fantastic ways and risen to the challenge.

We have noticed that many churches have opted to stream their content, or record it and then make it available to their congregations online in some way. We love this, however we offer a word of caution and urgent action for some of you. It has come to our attention that churches opting to include worship music as part of their online content, need to have an additional CCLI license in order to do so legally.  The CCLI Live Streaming Licence enhancement allows your church to include worship music that was recorded with your worship team using their instruments.  Any worship music or segments for your service that have been copied from another source such as YouTube needs to have permission to be posted to your website from the source (ie YouTube).

We have arranged a group rate which is still available for churches who sign up with us now,  through CCLI which provides a 20% discount off of the regular costs of this license. The cost breakdown is as follows:

License Level Description – based on average church attendance Regular Price Discounted Group Rate
A 25-99 people attending $66.00 $52.80
B 100-199 people attending $69.00 $55.20
C 200-499 people attending $93.00 $74.40
D 500-999 people attending $122.00 $97.60
E 1000-1499 people attending $176.00 $140.80
F 1500-2999 people attending $236.00 $188.80
G 3000-4999 people attending $293.00 $234.40

Costs are for one full year (ie. March 2020-March 2021) and may reduce rates for those churches who have already paid the Regular Rate.

If you would like to provide (or continue to provide) a musical worship portion in your online services, and you would like to take advantage of the Discounted Group Rate,  please email sandra@bcmb.org to find out exact costs for your church and to add your church to the group rate.

Please be diligent in this as we seek to be compliant with the law in all that we do.

Marriage Ceremonies in BC During COVID-19 – Updated Apr.17, 2020

Please see the attached Information Update regarding marriage ceremonies in BC and distribute to all of the religious representatives who are registered by your religious body to solemnize marriages in BC.

 

Religious Representative Registry
Vital Statistics Agency
305-478 Bernard Avenue
Kelowna, BC  V1Y 6N7
Phone: 250-712-7597, Email: VSrelreg@gov.bc.ca
Health Sector Information, Analysis and Reporting Division
Ministry of Health, Province of British Columbia

Online Meeting Security

Online Meeting Security

Many of us are trying to find our way in the online world with the need for social distancing and isolation. In doing so, there has been a significant increase in businesses and organizations using online meeting tools such as Zoom, to conduct meetings and connect with coworkers. Along with this increased need for online meeting solutions, there has also been an increase in hacking opportunities and individuals with nefarious intentions. Due to our own experience in this matter, we urge you to familiarize yourself with and investigate your online meeting tool’s security features so that you can protect your meetings from these increased threats.

For those of you who are using Zoom, here is a great article that walks you through some ways to secure your meetings:

How to Secure Your Zoom Meetings From Zoom Bombing Attacks

And this excellent video from LDV Podcast

Online Meeting Solutions

Online Meeting Solutions

As we all navigate this new online world, many churches will be looking for solutions to enable them to continue ministry in an efficient manner. Here is a quick list to help narrow down some of the choices out there.

free accounts allow up to 40 minutes and up to 100 people in your meeting. Reliable if you be sure to follow security measures they suggest.

TECHSOUP CANADA has a discounted rate for Zoom for non-profits. Check it out if you are considering this option.

Requires G Suite. All paid plans include Google Meet. G Suite provides other online solutions that may meet other needs your church may have as well (such as email, cloud storage, and word processing).

This replaces Skype for Business. The free version includes chat, video calling,Team and individual cloud storage, as well as collaboration using Microsoft Office programs.

Run Alpha Sessions Online

If your church is looking for ways to be effective in ministry while finding online solutions that work with meeting restrictions currently in place, consider running an Online Alpha Course. Alpha Canada has provided some great digital solutions as well as a webinar to help you get started.

Vidflex Faith™ Offer 2020

In response to COVID-19, Vidflex Faith™ is offering churches
3 months free of video hosting and streaming services that integrates online giving.

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