The first of our “Ministering During a Crisis” panels, streamed live on Tuesday, the 19th, offered viewers a chance to finally hear the story of how the pandemic has impacted our “frontline workers”—pastors, Bible workers and elders. The response was positive, as viewers got a sense of not being alone in their struggles and gleaned insights that will help them in whatever form of ministry they undertake.
Our panellists hailed from regions across Ontario, including
- Western Ontario—Pastor Jephthah Ndlovu (Windsor & Living Faith)
- Northern Ontario—Alison Down, Bible worker (Cochrane & Haileybury)
- Eastern Ontario— Pastor Nephtaly Dorzilme (Ottawa French); Pastor Bob Winsor (Nepean)
- And the GTA—Pastor Jesse Anunciacion (Bramalea); Pastor Andre Anderson (Shiloh)
Furthermore, these ministers represented a range of ministry experiences, from Pastor Ndlovu, who began his ministry in 2019 after completing his BA at Andrews University, to Pastor Dorzilme, who has pastored for over 20 years. Interestingly, whether the panellist was new to ministry or ministering for decades, COVID-19 put everyone on a level playing field.
Our moderator, Pastor Sam Neves, Associate Director of Communications from the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, expertly moderated the panel mentioned above, as well as an extended panel of other ministers who joined in via Zoom Webinar. His insights and experiences, having lived in South America, Europe and North America, added a much-appreciated global perspective.
Ministers offered viewers sage counsel based on their COVID-19 experience, such as
- “Change or die” (Pastor Ndlovu). “Adapt or go extinct” (Pastor Winsor).
- Have a plan, even if you have to change it along the way.
- Be willing to adapt and be forward-thinking.
- Learn to depend on God more than ever before.
- xDon’t worry about “competition.” “There may be better speakers out there, but they don’t know my church like I know my church,” said Pastor Anderson. Stay engaged with members throughout the week via small groups, Facebook groups, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, etc.
Many viewers remained engaged throughout and made plans to tune into next week’s session for more insights. One viewer, J. L. Snagg, said, “This is such an amazing opportunity to connect the conference with members. This would not have been possible had we not been forced to lock down and find other ways to connect. Enjoyed!”
Another, Judy Rodney, said, “Excellent first night! Hearing how our [ministers] are adapting to (enforced) online ministry, how they are intentionally connecting with members, the creative and innovative evangelistic methods, was uplifting. Our [ministers] are doing the best they can. I'll be joining again next week.”
While ministers opened up about the loneliness they and members had experienced during COVID early in the session, the biggest takeaway was, as Pastor Winsor stated, “If we’ve learned anything, COVID might have closed our doors, but it didn’t stop the church.”
Pastor Andrew King, an extended panellist, concluded, “The church has changed, praise God. I hope we don’t change. God had to teach us to get out of the four walls, look after each other and stretch out our hands to the community.”