With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing most people into isolation, some Moose Jaw churches are reaching out to help their members and any residents who need support.
Victory Church of Moose Jaw
As soon as they heard that residents had to quarantine themselves, Victory Church on Main Street jumped into action by printing and erecting several billboard signs with messages that encouraged people to call or email for help, explained Pastor Dan Goddard.
The message on the signs is simple: Quarantined? Need help? Contact us at 306-681-8947, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The church then created teams that pick up groceries, personal items or medications for residents isolated, quarantined, or simply unable to get out of the house. The teams were trained to stay healthy while dropping off items and keep their physical distance.
“And also, funnily enough, we also have some folks just call to chat. They feel isolated or lonely. They’d like somebody to talk to or to pray with them. So we’ve had our teams working on that as well,” Goddard said.
Twenty people are officially on the teams, although the church can call on another 100 members if need be. Since the church has more than 500 members, it can mobilize many to provide support.
“It’s just people helping people. People love helping one another. Organically, it’s a wonderful thing,” he added.
Victory Church has been forced to close its doors just like every other house of worship. However, it has moved all of its services and group meetings online. Since the church has been online for years already, it has used that experience to help other churches also get online.
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Regina
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Regina — of which St. Joseph Parish on Third Avenue Northwest and Church of Our Lady Parish on Vaughn Street are a part — has two programs it is offering parishioners and all residents. One initiative is the Good Samaritan Project, while the other is called Compassionate Listening.
Anyone who needs the services of either initiative should call 306-541-3086 or email email@example.com.
The Good Samaritan Project delivers groceries and other essential items to people who can’t leave their house. This initiative, explained communications officer Deacon Eric Gurash, grew out of conversations held at the archdiocese office. Staff recognized that not every senior has a family to call for support.
The archdiocese had planned to hold a large youth rally at the end of March, an event that required many volunteers. But when that event was cancelled, the archdiocese asked those volunteers if they would serve in a different capacity; 40 to 50 people stepped forward to help in Regina alone.
“Very quickly, people in rural areas were asking if this was something that we could co-ordinate throughout the diocese,” said Gurash. After putting out the call, more than 100 volunteers from across southern Saskatchewan put their names forward. “It’s quite uplifting to see people so eager and interested in being able to help out their neighbours and be present for them.”
The Compassionate Listening initiative meets the need of maintaining relationships, especially during this time of physical isolation and loneliness. The diocese’s spiritual directors are available to speak with people by phone and offer support during the absence of face-to-face conversations.
“Our faith is centred not just around looking out for ourselves, but looking out for all of our neighbours … for those who are not necessarily connected to a faith community,” Gurash said, adding the archdiocese hopes these projects inspire others to help on their block.
St. Aidan Anglican Church
The telephone has become one of the main communications tools keeping parishioners of St. Aidan Anglican Church connected, explained Deacon Arleen Champion. A phone tree has been established, with 28 members given a list of parishioners to call regularly as part of the outreach.
During this time, parishioners can ask to have items picked up and delivered, while they can also submit prayer requests, which are forwarded to the prayer team.
The phone tree has been “very, very positive” and successful, she continued, as many people appreciate receiving a call versus simply receiving a text or email.
“Some of the younger ones feel that everything is OK … . Occasional calls would be nice, but they don’t need a call once a week,” said Champion, who uses the phone regularly for ministry outreach. “But others are thankful to be called weekly … particularly the seniors (and those in care homes).”
Normally St. Aidan offers a Sunday morning outreach lunch for residents in the community. However, that has now changed to handing out bagged lunches — composed of fruit, sandwiches and granola bars — on Saturdays and Sundays at 11:45 a.m. at the First Avenue entrance. This initiative is done with Riverside Mission and the Salvation Army.
“On (a recent) Sunday, they were handing out bagged lunches and a lady drove by and … came over and handed us a $50 bill,” said Champion, adding with a laugh, “It certainly was (well) received. It was not declined.”