We once again greet you as “partners in the gospel.” You have frequently been on our minds and hearts in the months since our last pastoral letter. We look forward to the time when we can sit together across a table and share in conversation over coffee or a meal. In the meantime, we invite you to briefly pause from the busyness of today, find a quiet space and hear our hearts through this letter to you.
We are all aware of the catastrophic flooding and mudslides in British Columbia over the past week. Communities have been devastated, transportation cut off, people displaced, and homes destroyed. Tragically, some have even lost their lives. The Salvation Army is currently on the ground in several of the hardest-hit communities, providing food, clothing, shelter and much-needed spiritual care. Our prayers are with officers, employees and volunteers as they respond, and we have set up a special donation website at www.salvationarmy.ca/bcflood to support their efforts.
Since our last letter, a fourth wave of the COVID pandemic has also emerged, causing continued challenges for many across the territory. The impact is not only on those that we serve through our corps and social programs, it has also been felt deeply by you, as you share the love of Jesus, meet human needs and act as a transforming influence in your communities. You continue to be a beacon of light in dark times for many people. Our thoughts and prayers are with you as you continue to navigate this pandemic.
During the last 20 months, Salvation Army ministries have responded to changing health protocols applied to our corps, community and social service programs. We acknowledge the efforts and energy, as well as the frustrations and disappointments, that have been a part of the journey of doing ministry in a pandemic. Thank you for your commitment to giving hope today. We remind you that additional support is available for employees through our Employee Assistance Program and for officers through pastoral services.
The Territorial COVID-19 Taskforce continues to carefully monitor national, provincial and local situations, keeping ministry teams updated on best practices to prevent the spread of the virus. As we work together to ensure the health and safety of our clients, congregants, employees, volunteers and officers, The Salvation Army has developed a territorial COVID-19 vaccination policy, in support of public health guidelines and policies. Our goal is to stop the spread of COVID-19 by keeping all places of worship and service safe. We are sensitive to the fact that not everyone agrees with the policy; however, we feel it is in the best interest of those we are called to serve, as well as those who call The Salvation Army their church home and place of employment.
In last 18 months, we have embarked on a journey to see The Salvation Army in Canada and Bermuda, “Inspired for Mission and Positioned for Growth.” Building on our past, rooted in our current reality and looking to the future, Mobilize 2.0 is providing a framework for us to develop a vison-aligned strategy, strengthen service delivery and ensure our processes are fit for mission effectiveness. We understand that there are questions around the timing of such an initiative. For this reason, we paused in mid-October to review the work ahead and re-adjust the pace. We recognize the need to balance the desire for certainty with the opportunity to embrace change in a new reality. With you, we are seeking a fresh breath of God across the movement as he stands up a vast Army for his mission (see Ezekiel 37:10).
We want to express appreciation for the prayer support, contact and care we have received during the last six months as Floyd was diagnosed and received treatment for prostate cancer and a second unrelated cancerous tumour in his right eye. We are grateful for the evidence of God’s provision, presence and healing touch, in answer to the prayers of so many.
Working together across the territory, we continue to bring hope where it’s needed most. On behalf of thousands supported through The Salvation Army’s corps, community and social services we say thank you. Thank you for hands extended in service, your timely words of encouragement to those in need, and your prayers shared with so many.
As the Advent season approaches, we are conscious of the hope and promise of Emmanuel, “God with us.” We know that Christmas efforts are underway, and we are grateful for the tremendous ministry that happens through The Salvation Army at this time of year. May God bless you, your family and friends in this holy season. Be assured of our continued interest and prayers.
Floyd and Tracey Tidd