Pastor Blake Bentley,
Pickering Community Baptist Church
My name is Blake Bentley and I am a pastor at Pickering Community Baptist Church. Since COVID-19 began, we’ve had to scale down our operations dramatically and, like most churches, move everything online. Sundays are online now… and so are our small groups. Normally, we do our small groups in three terms over a calendar year. Currently, we’re in the midst of our second term and this small group is scheduled to run 12 weeks into early June. Split by gender (we’ve found that to be the most successful), our groups cover the same materials.
Surprisingly, this term we saw an increase in our small group attendance. We are, by nature, a commuter-church. When distance was removed from the equation, we had men and women from all over Durham and Scarborough/Markham sign up online. Currently, we are holding the highest number of men in our small group (14) and a record number of women in small group (13)! From a congregation of 40-50 including children, this is an amazing uptick in people attending. Moving forward after COVID-19, we will seriously consider continuing the online portion of small groups, or have some mixture of in-person and online.
Ambassador Baptist Church
The grant from CBOQ has been a great blessing and is being used to assist with our Wednesday Community Dinner and devotion program. Ambassador Baptist Church held a wonderful Christmas community dinner in December 2019 and in the New Year we were regularly having about 50 people attending our weekly Wednesday night dinner. But in March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the City of Windsor restricting gatherings to no more than 20 people. Having already scheduled the food for Wednesday, March 18, we wanted to help our regular attendees even though they would not be able to participate in a group meal together inside the church. We put out a notice that the church would provide take-out meals instead.
A few brave souls came out in the pouring rain to pick up some boxed take-out dinners; others we delivered directly to a few people that would normally have been at the dinner. The leftover take out boxes were taken over to Street Help, another local charity in our community to benefit others in need. Since that day, the restrictions on gatherings moved down to fewer than 10 people and then fewer than five, so, sadly, we will not be able to have another community dinner until these restrictions are lifted. Even so, during the last six weeks we have been able to assist several people through our church food bank, but we do look forward to reinstating our Wednesday Community Dinner program as soon as the restrictions are lifted.