Ripe for Harvest: Catching Up with Canada’s East Side Church of God
By Emily Kearney
As a writer for Church of God Ministries, it is a joy to be able to meet so many amazing pastors, churches, and communities all over the world. What is even more amazing is checking back in with someone that I spoke to previously just to see how God is continuing to work in their corner of the world.
Earlier this year, Canada’s East Side Church of God was sharing hope with their community in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, in some pretty unique ways. They planted a community garden on their property with the intention of donating any produce that grew to local food banks that might be lacking in resources because of the pandemic. Pastor Kevin Snyder was also teaming up with other local pastors to create a podcast titled, “God, Coffee, and COVID” where they shared how to find hope and peace during such a tumultuous time. I had the privilege to catch up with Kevin to see how the literal harvest had turned out and how God is continuing to provide East Side with opportunities to impact the spiritual harvest around them.
As a whole, Kevin has felt that the Lord has been blessing and protecting East Side and their community throughout the pandemic. “We are in a very fortunate area with very few cases,” he explains. “We also are an agricultural center, so unemployment has been low. Financially, the church has experienced less than a 5-percent decrease in income.”
However, East Side is facing challenges that many of our churches here in the United States are trying to navigate. “The biggest problems we have,” he continues, “are dealing gracefully with the many varied views on the actual virus (i.e. masks vs. no masks) and trying to navigate the ministry among all the regulations and restrictions. For instance, we just started our children’s ministry two weeks ago for a small number of kids.” What makes East Side one of the shining lights in their area is that they continue to pursue new avenues of ministry, even if that means getting their hands dirty in the garden or speaking encouragement online.
Even though the carrots did not sprout the way that they hoped, the church was able to harvest some delicious potatoes and onions, which were donated to the local food bank. Kevin was especially grateful that God provided the means to have the community garden because the community really needed it. “It was really a blessing because often the Hutterite colonies in the area donate big time,” he explains. “But this fall, several colonies were quarantined because of COVID-19. Thus, we were able to step in a gap at the time.” The garden also became a blessing to the volunteers who were able to spend time serving in it, since East Side was not able to resume in-person services until July 12, with only fifty people at a time. It is very likely that the garden will become an annual service project for the church, with the missions committee taking charge of promoting and recruiting volunteers. There may also be a potential opportunity for the church to bring someone to help manage and oversee the project.
The ministerial podcast, “God, Coffee & COVID” has completed its purpose and will not be resuming this fall. However, they are looking for a new staff person who could assist in developing a digital outreach and discipleship ministry since COVID-19 has opened this up as a new ministry avenue. East Side is also potentially developing a team that could help a new refugee family from Syria settle down and start a new life. According to Kevin, “The City Ministerial Group has been involved in sponsoring and resettling three families, and this new family would be the 4th. The Interchurch Resettlement Team volunteers have become harder to find, so we are looking, as a church, to see how we could take this on as a service to the community.”
May God continue to bless East Side and Church of God churches all around the world as they trust and obey God’s call!
Emily Kearney is an Anderson University alumna who grew up in the Dayspring Church of God (Cincinnati, Ohio). Today the former Church of God Ministries communication intern is a middle school English teacher at Cincinnati Christian Schools. Along with teaching and writing, she loves to spend time with her husband Derek.
Learn more about the response of Church of God Ministries to the coronavirus (COVID-19), including resources for you and your church, at www.jesusisthesubject.org/theway.
Feature (top) photo: Before and after images…East Side planting and harvest!