How we wish that we could drop by and sit together for a coffee and conversation today. Time and circumstances prevent that from happening, but we would like to take a few moments to share together with you. We invite you to pause at some point from the busyness of today and find a quiet space, and with a coffee in hand, hear our hearts through this message.
As territorial leaders for The Salvation Army in Canada and Bermuda, we are aware of the critical challenge that faces us in this third wave of the pandemic. We’ve all seen the rising case count of COVID-19 infections and deaths, and it is deeply troubling. We’ve also seen the projections, particularly for Ontario, Quebec and Western Canada. There is potential for an even greater catastrophe if we do not strictly adhere to public health guidelines.
These are days in which so many are looking for hope. Because of your commitment, The Salvation Army has continued to give hope today and every day over these last 14 months. We know the “hope [that] does not disappoint us, for God has poured out his love into our hearts” (Romans 5:5 Good News Translation).
The Salvation Army acted early in the pandemic to close and limit gatherings in our churches in order to keep our congregations and the communities safe. We quickly pivoted to online worship, which has been a lifeline for many who are feeling isolated under lockdown. We continue to work in conjunction with public health authorities to carefully follow all health advisories. This is not optional. We have a responsibility to do our best to protect one another. This is an expression of Christ’s command to “love one another” (see John 13:34-35).
At the same time, our front-line essential workers have been busier than ever. In some parts of Canada, our community and family services have seen the need for food and other necessities skyrocket to five times their pre-pandemic amount. In our shelter system, we’ve taken care to protect people experiencing homelessness by expanding our spaces to allow for physical distancing. In our long-term care and health care units, we’ve set up strict protocols to keep COVID out and instituted activities to boost the spirits of residents who may feel frightened or lonely.
In every case, we’ve made sure our workers, volunteers and the people we serve are as safe as possible through physical distancing, the use of personal protective equipment, and outdoor food distribution. We also want to remind you that additional support is available for officers through pastoral services and for employees through our Employee Assistance Program.
Again, we thank you, not only as territorial leaders for Canada and Bermuda and partners in the gospel (see Philippians 1:3-5), but on behalf of the thousands who have been served and supported by your hands, found assurance and encouragement in your eyes, and heard your prayers uttered for them.
We personally know the journey of a positive test result for COVID-19 and the experience of the loss of family members, fellow officers and friends to COVID-19. We encourage everyone that can get a vaccination to protect themselves and others to do so. As a Christian movement that lives out our values, we want to do our part, not just for our own well-being, but for that of those around us—especially those who are vulnerable.
I also want to assure you that our Territorial COVID-19 Taskforce is carefully monitoring local situations and keeping ministry teams throughout our organization updated on best practices to prevent the spread of the virus.
Despite the trouble we are facing, we hold fast to the promise that God is with us—even in our darkest hour. In 2 Corinthians 4:16, we read: “So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace” (The Message).
By working together, we can do even more than beat this pandemic. Let’s continue to lean on each other, check in and take care of one another. Let us look to God, our comfort and strength, the One who equips us to live lives of witness and service in these difficult times. We are confident in the promises of God’s Word and the evidence we see that God is at work in and through The Salvation Army during these days.
We use the words of Paul in Philippians 1:3-5 as we conclude: “Every time [we] think of you, [we] give thanks to [our] God. Whenever [we] pray, [we] make [our] requests for all of you with joy, for you have been [our] partners in spreading the good news about Christ from the time you first heard it until now.”
With you and for you, we continue to pray for a swift end to the pandemic, and God’s power and protection. Stay safe and God bless you.
Commissioners Floyd and Tracey Tidd