By Ivy Plett
CALGARY, Alta.—Some of ACF’s most dedicated people have found creative ways of facilitating communication and connection amongst members and adherents since gathering restrictions began in March 2020.
Communication 1: Within a week of the lockdown, a church family WhatsApp group was initiated; messages continue to be sent daily. Links to music, devotionals, discussion relating to the sermon and encouraging content is shared, as well as humorous and congratulatory messages.
The bulletin in the form of a multi-page emailed newsletter has become a highly anticipated weekly download. Contributions are encouraged and consist of an innumerable variety of informational and entertainment items such as contests, recipes, upcoming birthdays and anniversaries, photos, bloopers, want ads, giveaways and family videos.
After acquiring the necessary equipment, the tech team has spent an unbelievable amount of time ensuring that the online Sunday service is communicated with quality and ease. They have embraced a steep learning curve. Every person desiring participation in the Sunday morning service (including communion services) is able to either livestream or watch the service at a later time at home through the Abbeydale Christian Fellowship YouTube channel.
Online foyer communication after the Sunday service, a virtual home base for scavenger hunts, a book study club or any one of many other creative ventures can be accessed via one of several online platforms—Zoom, Microsoft Teams, WhatsApp or Facebook.
These communication avenues are, of course, in addition to the prayer chain email group and the church email list through which important news is sent.
Communication 2: As the pandemic continued, communication with believers in other churches with the intent of growing the kingdom of God together also became a greater challenge. In fall, an EMC Spanish-speaking church plant begun approximately ten years ago in Calgary indicated a desire to join ACF.
Beginning in 2021, Spanish services, Spanish translations of scripture/sermon notes and attempts of Spanish phrases coming from English speakers have become more commonplace at ACF. On March 14, a special membership transfer/acceptance took place at which 36 Spanish-speaking believers (representing several countries) from the former Iglesia Emanuel (many initially from other EMC church plants) became part of the ACF family. Some have already become involved in various church ministries.
Communication 3: Free weekly in-person EAL (English as an Additional Language) classes began in mid-March to help people in the church and community with the English language. It is expected that there will an increased need for teachers as more people become aware of these classes. Besides the assistance these classes offer to insecure English speakers, they also provide an opportunity to improve and increase communication among the volunteer members of the recently expanded ACF family as they work together in this ministry.