Sowing Seeds, Shaping Conversations: Canada Church Seizes COVID-19 Opportunities
By Emily Kearney
In the midst of uncertainty and unrest, many leaders may be feeling like they are building the plane as they fly it. However, God, in his sovereignty, has continued to use these unprecedented times to influence lives in unimaginably wonderful ways. Kevin Snyder, pastor of East Side Church of God in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, has been blown away with how the Lord is bringing peace with a whole lot of dirt and some hopeful conversations.
Kevin was contacted by a board member of the church about a potential issue that could arise from the virus. Many plants that produce about 70 percent of the meat supply in Canada are vulnerable to the virus. If those plants started dying, there could be a major disruption in the food chain. When East Side was first established, the surrounding area was mostly farmland. The church continues to have ownership of about 10 acres of land, even though the city has grown up around them. This board member had a vision of using some of the land owned by the church to create a garden. That way, if produce did become harder to find, the church could donate anything grown in the garden to local food banks and soup kitchens who usually struggle to receive fresh produce. Kevin was on board with the idea, and thought that this could be a small way to give back. Kevin’s mindset was, “If God is in this, then his wind will move this.”
In order to announce the new ministry to the church and ask for volunteers to come and help set up the garden, Kevin made a fun Facebook video. It did not take long for East Side to rally behind this hands-on ministry. The entire garden was mapped out, all the seeds were donated, and the same board member who suggested the idea even helped break up the land and trench in a water line. Small groups take advantage of this opportunity to serve and engage with each other by signing up for weekly slots to weed and water the garden. The garden may not be large, but there are already 6 rows of potatoes stretching about 80 feet long, and 11 rows of carrots also stretching about 80 feet long. The goal is to hopefully have produce to donate this fall, but the church certainly has a passion to make this a long-term ministry if God continues to bless it.
Not only has East Side embraced this outdoor outreach, but they have also been a part of ministering online. A focus of the church long before 2020 has been this question: “How can we shape the conversation?” This year the media has been saturated with 24 hours of bad news, but not much of it has a spiritual or biblical perspective. With the use of some new technology, the collaboration among other local pastors, and a free partnership with SwiftCurrent Online, the podcast “God, Coffee, and COVID” was born. Through this podcast, Kevin is able to virtually come together with other pastors and spread hope. The podcast has covered several topics so far, including: anxiety, fear, what to do with the kids at home, where God is in all of this, and what we can learn from these times. There are more podcast episodes set to come out soon. If you are interested in listening, all the podcasts are uploaded to the “East Side Church of God” Facebook page and are available in the podcast section of www.swiftcurrentonline.com.
Kevin never could have predicted how God would be moving through East Side and through the world this time last year. “I think this is a real pivot point for the church. If we only see it as parentheses and then we’re gonna all go back to the way it was, we miss I think a huge opportunity…we have an incredible opportunity to pivot the church where we never were able to before.”
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.