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A Plan for Reopening Bonnyville Baptist Church

The Province of Alberta has eased its restrictions set in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We intend to open immediately but the province has some stringent restrictions (see here) which means our reopening will not return us to normal practices. This letter is intended to lay out our plan to reopen while honouring these guidelines. 

This Sunday (May 17th) we are having a Drive-in church service at the C2 Center in Bonnyville at 10:00 AM (an online service will also be available at the same time). You can listen in your car on your radio.

Starting on May 24th we will meet in our church building while honouring the restrictions set by the Province of Alberta. The key ones are:

  1. No more than fifty people.
  2. Physical distancing must be maintained at all times (before, during, and after the service)
  3. Infants and children are to remain with their families.
  4. There will be only one entrance per meeting space.
  5. Masks are encouraged but will not be provided by the church.
  6. We will have hand sanitizer at the entrance. Please use it as you enter and leave the church.
  7. No coffee will be available.
  8. The following people should not attend:
  • If they are sick
  • If they are high risk to the virus
  • If they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 within 14 days.
  • If they have returned from travel outside of Canada within 14 days’ prior

In light of these restrictions, we will offer the following: 

Option 1: Live Streaming - We will be live-streaming the service for those who feel the need to continue to self-isolate. The only difference between this livestream and what we have been doing the last few months is that it will not be a pre-recorded service, so the quality may be different. These live-streamed services will be available online for later viewing.

Option 2: Home Groups - We will have several homes available for those who want a smaller setting. The homes will show the live stream of the church service but you will meet as a group and not just a family if you wish. This group must be less than 15 people.

Option 3: Live service at the church - We will have two services: 9:15 and 11:00 AM. We have a limit of fifty per service in the Worship Center and 30 in the Multi-Purpose Room (MPR) allowing us to host up to 80 people per service. The two rooms will be separated and with separate entrances so we do not cross over. We will direct people to the MPR when the sanctuary reaches its capacity. 

Please read the full list of guidelines here


Renewing Our Call to Join a Life-group

Since the lockdown prompted by COVID-19 pandemic churches have been mandated to cease meeting in large settings.  The original rational for the mandate was to “flatten the curve” so as not to overwhelm the healthcare system enabling us to accommodate those most impact by the virus. It seems that the Province of Alberta is beginning to loosen the restrictions and has increased the number to 50.

Now that we know more about the virus our options are becoming clearer regarding its risks.  We know the virus is highly contagious but that it only really posses a risk to the most vulnerable people (elderly and those with pre-existing conditions).  The overwhelming majority of people can have it without knowing it or without harmful symptoms. There are statistically zero deaths for those under 18 and only around 0.01 to 0.01 for those under forty-five (based a recent study by Stanford University).  This is comparable to the average flu. It seems then that our response to the virus needs to protect those most vulnerable while allowing others to get on with their lives. 

This prompt us to ask, “What can we as church do now reopen our church while continuing to mitigate the risks?” Let me list a few of our steps to achieve this.

First, the present provincial limitation on group meetings is 15 people has not changed throughout this time.  That is about the size of an average small group.  Many of our small groups have been put on hold due to peoples fears and uncertainties about the virus.  Now that we have a better understanding of the virus its seems there are ways to safely take advantage of that option.  We are encouraging our people to begin attending our life groups again using the safeguards that have been communicated through the media.  This may include masks, social distancing and frequent handwashing and sanitation procedures. There is a lot of ministry and encouragement that can happen in these small settings to allow us to continue to fulfill our mission as a church.   

I have asked Danielle Gervais to begin calling our Life-group leaders to contact you, and those of their groups, to re-establish our meeting times.  People who are in the high-risk categories will need to determine if it is appropriate for them.  In some cases, extra precautions need to be considered.  For most of you any risk is very minimal.

Second, we will begin live services again starting May 25th at our building.  A separate letter will be send outlining the details of what that involves (See above).  During this time, we will continue hosting online services as we have done the last six weeks.  We also hope to host some smaller group gatherings at homes for those not yet ready for the larger setting.  If you are willing to be a host of one of these small groups, please call our office ASAP so we can make arrangements.  Please join us for these services.  Each week we are trying improve the quality and introduce new elements so that they do not become too predictable and boring.

Third, several weeks ago Les Parsons approached me with the idea of hosting meals for those most severely impacted by the effects of the lockdown.  A few days later I was contacted by the FCSS with information that the province was providing grants to go toward assisting those effected by this virus.  I was able to get Les Parsons connected with the FCSS to look into our options for such a grant.  Since then he has gotten the grant and recruited others to provide lunch for those in need.  There are several things you can do to help him.  First, you can tell those who you think might needed that this lunch available (so far those taking advantage of it is few in number) and second, you can help prepare and provide the lunches by contacting Les at 780 691-6912

Fourth, call and encourage those who you think might need it.  It has been documented that as many as one-third of our community has is having mental and emotional trauma as a result of the virus and the lockdown that follows it.  Our local economy was already hit hard by the dramatic drop in oil prices but the lockdown brought the impact to a whole new and unprecedented level.  Most people cannot work and have no income.  The federal aide programs help but they cannot account for, or address the uncertainty such times bring.  We need each other to remind us that God must be our basis for hope and contented as our study in Philippians will show.

My prayers are with you all.  I, along with other provincial pastors and church leaders, are sending a letter to appeal to the province to allow churches to open up again ASAP.  Please join me in prayers that this letter will be heeded so we can worship God together again soon.

Posted by David Mcclain with

The Problem of Evil: Is Covid-19 Evil? (Part 5)

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It probably comes as a surprise to some of you that there are things that God can’t create. Now, now, don’t start heating up the tar and gathering feathers; hear me out for just a bit. Can God create a square circle? No. Or how about a married bachelor? No. These are logical contradictions and God is a God of logic and reason, they come from His very being. So God cannot make a circle square as it is a contradiction. See that wasn’t so bad now was it? 

What else can God not create? Evil. But, you ask, how do you know that God did not create evil? And this of course would include the Covid-19 evil. There are several reasons why we know that God didn’t create evil.

  1. The Christian God, as opposed to all other gods that are false, is defined by St Anselm of Canterbury as, “a being than which no greater can be conceived.” Or as philosopher   Alvin Plantinga has said, “God is a maximally great being.” These are just two ways of saying the same thing, but over 900 years apart from each other. Part of being such a great being, a perfect being, is that you are perfectly good and Holy. Caaaaaaan a perfectly good and Holy being create evil? No. This shows that God did not, cannot, create evil. 

Let’s sum this argument up in a tight and succinct way:

  • God is perfectly good
  • A perfectly good being cannot create evil
  • Therefore, God cannot create evil

In order to defeat the syllogism above, you would need to show either that one of the statements is false, or that one does not follow from the other. In other words you would need to show that the syllogism, or part of it, is logically incoherent. 

  1. No one, including God, can create something that cannot exist. Notice: I didn’t say that there is something that God cannot create. After all God created everything outside of Himself. But even God cannot create something that cannot exist. 

What cannot exist you ask? Evil. Whoa whoa whoa. Evil exists, it’s all around us! Hmmmm, no. Evil is not a thing, rather it is the absence of a thing, goodness. Agustine of Hippo was one of the first people to think and write about this, and that was over 1500 years ago. And more recently Greg Koukl has written a few articles about this on the website. Using knowledge from these sources let me show you why even God cannot create evil.

Evil is real, but not a thing. Rather it is the absence of good. The further from good you get the worse off you are. Here is a classic example. We do not measure cold, rather we measure heat, in the form of a temperature. The further from hot, the colder we say it is. What we really mean is, the less and less heat that there is.

With evil, the further from the good, meaning God, the more evil there is. So in everyday language we would say this or that is evil, but what we actually are saying is that it is away from God (goodness) and how He would want things to be. 

Sooooo technically evil is not an actual thing. And if it’s not actually a thing, God can’t create it. Sorry that it took so long to get to the point, but it’s a complicated idea that needed to be thought out; and we’re just scratching the surface on it. 

So God did not create evil, including Covid-19, but then how is it here? Isn’t He in control? Didn’t He know what would happen when he created? 

Short answers first. Yes He is in control. Yes He knew what would happen. No the Toronto Maple Leafs will never win another Stanley Cup. (Unless Kawhi Leonard takes up hockey) 

           So God knew that evil would enter the world, (His creation, meaning everything besides Himself.) but did not create it. He set up the conditions, free will, and allowed it to happen. There. Case closed. Thanks everybody, have a good night! (Exit music…)

No, wait! Soooooo, let me get this straight, God did not create evil?

But He knew that it would enter His creation before He created?
And knowing this, He allowed it?
You got it! I’m wondering why you need to read this blog if you knew that already???

But, isn’t allowing it, the same as, creating it? Isn’t it just as bad? Doesn't this make God’s hands dirty? Why would He do this?

Whooooaaa. There’s like at least four more blog posts there. Knowing me, probably like eight or nine. Let’s just answer one of these questions for now, why did God allow it? The short answer is because He knew that it would be worth it. 

Remember that God, by definition, is perfectly good, perfectly holy, and all knowing. He knew before He created that it would all be worth it. His ends is always for the good and He calculated, (meaning that He knew), that all of the pain, suffering, evil, was worth it. 

He knew that through creating free willed beings, so much good would follow that it would far outweigh all of the evil. 

So to FINALLY, (Fully?) answer the question, God did not create the Covid-19 pandemic, but allowed it to happen. Good has, and will come from it. God, being in control, will make sure of that.  Not too long ago there was a seaquake and then tsunamis that killed hundreds of thousands of people. From that event we now have early warning systems that may save lives in the future. I am NOT saying that this early warning system was worth the deaths of several hundred thousand people. I am saying that the early warning system is part of the good that came from that tragic event. 

Some good has come out of Covid-19 already. People, families are spending more significant time together; both in person and virtually. Most people are kinder and considerate towards others. Front line workers are much more appreciated than they have been. If you didn’t appreciate your health care, I’ll bet that you do now! It has caused people to reflect upon what really is important. 

OK that’s it. Covid-19 is evil, but allowed by God. Good has, and will continue to come from it. It is 100% certain that more good than evil will result from this. God’s will, will be done after all. 

In our next blog post, we will discuss the causes, and treatments for, why the Toronto Maple Leafs haven’t won a Stanley Cup since before I was born. See you there!

Posted by Kevin Casper with