Author Archives: goodshepherdmoncton

Essentially Serving – French Ministries in Confinement

by David Somers

(NOTE: This article originally published at https://www.canadianlutheran.ca/essentially-serving-french-ministries-in-confinement/ – Ed.)

QUEBEC – Physical distancing protocols and confinement as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic have created avenues for LCC’s francophone congregations that we may not have imagined or attempted before.

The fears surrounding the threat of COVID-19 have opened the door for genuine inquiries about members’ and contacts’ wellbeing. People are more receptive to the church’s questions and concerns about their wellness of mind, body, and spirit – and even welcome this type of contact, not just on a singular basis, but often as this virus remains among us. Frequent phone calls and ZOOM worship services; emailing daily devotions, weekly Bible studies and sermons for adults; as well as sharing videos and worksheets on each Sunday’s Gospel lesson for children have become the accepted normal for our francophone churches in Quebec – as we continue the work we ought to do, through new mediums.

The increased communication in depth and breadth has been well-received. Never before have our services been so consistently well-attended. Never before have so many families and their children been regularly following Sunday school instruction. Never before have we had so many catechumens at one time so faithfully participating in Christian instruction with the full and active support of their parents.

Never before have our services been so consistently well-attended. Never before have so many families and their children been regularly following Sunday school instruction. Never before have we had so many catechumens at one time so faithfully participating in Christian instruction with the full and active support of their parents.

In the case of the catechesis, all of the participating children are those of families that had rarely been seen in worship service in the past 1-4 years, but responded to the invitation to use this time in confinement as a chance to benefit from Christian education! Indeed, 10 households that had all but disappeared from the church are back as regular participants!

In hard-hit Quebec, as members, friends, families and colleagues have fallen ill and even passed away, requests for prayers increased, as did the congregations’ active response to them through phone calls, emails, and in the home. Our congregations continue to grow as praying communities, more than ever before.

When time for re-opening the churches in Quebec came in July, members began stepping up willingly and enthusiastically in Christian charity, with patience and helpfulness – a demonstration of an esprit de corps at a level not previously so prolongedly experienced among us.

When time for re-opening the churches in Quebec came in July, members began stepping up willingly and enthusiastically in Christian charity, with patience and helpfulness – a demonstration of an esprit de corps at a level not previously so prolongedly experienced among us.

During the confinement, we have increasingly taken advantage of the liturgical richness of the Lutheran Church through Matins and Vespers on ZOOM with their particular hymns, and appropriate prayers, such as the Suffrages. Pre-virus, the typical service twice a week in Montreal was one of three eucharistic liturgies. One example of the new opportunities to worship is Quebec Lutherans’ joining Good Shepherd in Moncton, New Brunswick, for Tuesday Vespers commemorating the minor festival of the week and catechetical instruction. Rev. David Milette is the liturgist and I offer the meditation. Another aspect of this increased use of the liturgical wealth is the commemoration of the saints and festivals of the Church – often forgotten – during those services. For example, in the month of August, the feasts of St. Lawrence, St. Mary, St. Bartholomew and the martyrdom of St. John the Baptist were celebrated. These services also serve as a way for Good Shepherd to reach out to the wider Acadian community in French and allows Quebec (and elsewhere) to support New Brunswick: a weekly mission trip by ZOOM!

It is indeed true: Built on the Rock the Church doth stand – even when church buildings are closed, even when we cannot congregate and commune as before, even when we cannot sing together in person. We can nevertheless worship as surely as ever.

Until Pentecost (and even now), we turned to our sister church in France for weekly live Bible studies and YouTube services (since France was set up for confinement services before us, we could simply join what they had already been doing for weeks). Confinement proved to be a great opportunity for members here to get to know that church more intimately than ever before. Special editions of daily devotions were produced by that church body and shared with us electronically. Then, as of Pentecost, we had joint (Qc-Mtl) Zoom Sunday Matins from Montreal (from my living room). When the church building where we meet was opened in July, services were held there Sundays (with ZOOM) and Mondays. Overall attendance has been higher at the Zoom services than in-church services. In all, we have increased the number of weekly services from 3 to 5 for the time being. A virtual choir (another COVID-19 era development) has been organized by a Montreal member. To celebrate the Reformation this year, it has taken on an international flavour with members of the church in France accepting Quebec’s invitation to join the choir. Francophone Lutherans in Haiti and the USA have also been invited to sing along.

In this horrible and cruel pandemic the Word has not only persisted but transformed, enlightened, strengthened and energized us like never before in an across-the-board way. Proclamation of the Word is not bound, but is flourishing. It is indeed true: Built on the Rock the Church doth stand – even when church buildings are closed, even when we cannot congregate and commune as before, even when we cannot sing together in person. We can nevertheless worship as surely as ever.

So now the church is being strengthened, if challenged, and can faithfully preach the Word and administer the Sacrament in new circumstances. We are not paralyzed by new constraints, but energized by them. The Word is no less effective in these times – indeed, all the more so, as more people are being regularly fed and edified by that abiding Word in times of trouble, a bulwark in the storm. We are not frozen in grief over the paradigm of how things used to be but, instead, pushed to the limits to joyfully, creatively, and fully be led forward in Faith to the glory of God.

The Church does not know what tomorrow will bring, but certainly knows how to live today – as it always has.

Dr David Somers

LCC MAL, French ministries

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Rev. Dr. David Somers serves as Missionary at Large for Lutheran Church–Canada’s French ministries in the province of Quebec.

“Go and Be Reconciled”: What does this mean?

(NOTE: originally published at https://www.goodshepherd.nb.ca/go-and-be-reconciled-what-does-this-mean/ – Ed.)

Good Shepherd, Moncton NB, is hosting a two week live, online seminar series over two Wednesdays on September 23 and 30th, from 6:30-7:30pm (Atlantic) each time.   This will take the place of our midweek online Bible Study for these two weeks.

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At a Glance

The Go and Be Reconciled: What Does This Mean? seminar can be presented as a half-day up to a full-day Bible study on reconciling relationships and resolving conflict. Each of the six lesson of the seminar reviews one of the six chief parts of Luther’s Small Catechism.During Good Shepherd’s midweek online Bible Study on Sept 23 and 30 (6:30-7:30pm), Pastor David Smilek (who is also our LCC Ottawa Circuit Counselor) will introduce this topic, and we hope to come back to it early next year for more.

Who Should Attend?

Everyone will Benefit!

In this engaging and inspiring presentation, you will see how God’s ministry of reconciliation is meant to be lived out in your daily life. You’ll learn practical ways to apply your Christian faith in family, business, church, and legal conflicts. Since all children of God are called to be peacemakers, this Bible study is appropriate for every Christian. Church leaders who have responsibilities for teaching and assisting others in their conflicts will find this seminar especially helpful for assisting others to respond to conflict in a biblically faithful manner.

The cross can remind us how we are reconciled

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Click here for an interactive page to learn more about it: https://www.aorhope.org/gabr-cross-diagram

More information about this seminar is available at https://www.aorhope.org/gabr-seminar

Join us for this special opportunity

Join our Seminar this evening and next week online as you would any of our studies or services by visiting www.GoodShepherd.nb.ca.  

(Please let us know if you have any trouble, it will help us keep it accessible to everyone.)