Dave Stimers
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Online Services, Expanding Life Groups, and more!

Earlier this week (June 8) you may have heard that churches in Ontario have been allowed to open their buildings, up to 30% capacity. We are excited that we are seeing some positive news and progress in our province!

What does this mean for Westside as we head into the summer months?

Over the past 3 months, we have seen a great response to our online Sunday services. We’ve actually increased the number of people who are engaging with us, and we’ve been able to reach people not only here in Hamilton, but in many other cities. It’s been a learning experience and we’ve seen that the Church really is adaptive and able to handle many challenges in creative ways.

When it comes to reopening our building for Sunday services, our top priorities are the health and safety of our people, as well as creating high-quality environments for our people and those we want to invite to join us. With that in mind, we believe that right now we can provide a better Sunday morning environment online than we can in-person at our building.

The current regulations limit us to 30% of capacity. Once we factor in the number of volunteers that it takes to run a safe and engaging service on Sunday, this would only leave a very small number of spots for attenders. Additionally, current social distancing guidelines and requirements will limit our programming significantly. Providing a safe children’s ministry environment remains a large challenge, and we have been asked at this time not to attempt it. We also know that many people continue to have reservations about attending large group events at this time.

In my view, and that of our leadership team, we do not believe that this allows us to offer a great Sunday morning experience at this time.

So what can we expect this summer?

  1. As the restrictions start to loosen we will be able to expand what we can do to create great online content. Even as we are allowed to include up to 10 people gathering, our production and music teams will be afforded more freedom to help make our services even better. We hope that you’ll continue to join us online and invite your unchurched friends and family to watch along! We’ve been seeing this happen and are excited that we’ve been reaching people that we were never able to before!

  2. Life Groups will be a crucial community touchpoint! Our groups are meeting online right now, but we expect that we will be able to begin in-person meetings soon. Being part of one of these groups will be crucial to stay connected through the summer! If you are currently in a group, your group leader will be providing information in the next few weeks about how and where this might happen (perhaps outdoors and/or in places where physical distancing is more convenient). If you are not in a group yet, I want to urge you to be part of one! This will be a great way to simply build community and encourage one another. If you would like to join a group, please let us know by signing up here!

  3. Finally, we’ll be experimenting with other opportunities to get together in manageable groups as well as finding ways to serve our neighbours as things continue to gradually reopen.

I know that not being able to meet in person for a Sunday service is disappointing to many, but we are encouraged that we’re moving in the right direction and that horizon is in sight!

We know that lives are continuing to be changed. I am so thankful for those of you who have stayed engaged in our mission. Let us continue to think and pray about how we can encourage one another and reach the people around us! We are committed to working hard to provide the best possible environments to do this, and we appreciate your prayers for wisdom and guidance as we move forward.

Be encouraged,

Pastor Dave Stimers

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How We Respond to COVID-19 (March 28, 2020)

To offer some clarity as we all make adjustments to our lives, we wanted to share our plans for what life at Westside will look like in the coming weeks. We believe these are the most loving and proactive steps we can take to care for our church family, our neighbours, and our community.

  • We will not be having public gatherings of any kind for the foreseeable future in light of the recommendations made by the Public Health Agency of Canada. We will continue to monitor the situation and advise if this date will need to be extended. This includes: Sunday gatherings, kids and youth programs, and Life Groups.

  • We will continue with online church and share messages every Sunday at 10am. We’re so encouraged by the positive response so far, and we look forward to continued growth and engagement.

  • Good Friday and Easter Sunday services will also transition to an online experience. We’ll send you more info as we get closer to Easter, but for now we can confirm that we will not be gathering in-person this Easter. On the flip side, inviting your friends to join us this Easter will now be a click away.

Thank you for your continued support and prayers as we navigate the changing circumstances in this current reality. Please continue to pray for our entire church family as we lean into our vision and continue to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus.

God bless!

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How We Respond to COVID-19 (March 18, 2020)

  • We will not be having public gatherings of any kind through to April 5th in light of the recommendations made by the Public Health Agency of Canada. We will continue to monitor the situation and advise if this date will need to be extended. This includes: Sunday gatherings, kids and youth programs, and Life Groups.

  • We will continue to share online messages every Sunday at 10am. Starting Sunday, March 22 we will post our messages as YouTube Premieres. This new feature will let us watch and experience Sunday’s message together! We will be able to interact with each other in the comments and live chat!

  • We will continue to work with our Life Group leaders to find the best solutions to help our Life Groups connect online and support one another, care for our families, and love our neighbours. We may not be able to meet physically for the next few weeks, but this doesn’t mean we have to be isolated. If you don’t have a Life Group, this is the perfect time to get connected! Send us a message on Facebook, Instagram, or by email (info@westsidehamilton.com) and we’ll get you set up.

Lastly, it’s always our aim to be transparent with you when we talk about money and finances. Based on our history, we know that cancelling Sunday services has a significant impact on the donations we receive and need to fuel our ministry. Thank you in advance for your continued generosity. To set up recurring giving, or give today, head to our giving page on our website.

Thank you all for your understanding as we navigate through this current reality. We want you to know that we are here for you. If you have any prayer requests or special needs in this season, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. We want to help and bring hope during this time.

God bless!

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How We Respond to COVID-19 (March 13, 2020)

Hi Westside Family,

I’m sure by now you’ve seen so much news regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19). This is a situation that none of us have been in before and is constantly changing. As followers of Jesus, we do not live in a spirit of fear, but we do want to exercise wisdom. There is no need to panic, but we do want to have a proactive plan to ensure that we do what we can to keep people safe and healthy.

At this point in Hamilton, we have seen some organizations close, while others are staying open. Both are options and there are many factors that go into making these kinds of decisions for different kinds of environments.

In light of the nature of our gatherings, which have large groups of people meeting in close proximity to one another, we have decided to suspend our Sunday morning services, kids programs, and youth programs at this time. We’ve made this decision because we want to ensure that we are not putting anyone at risk unnecessarily. It is so important for us to take the necessary precautions so that we can promote the health of our people and our community.

While we are unable to meet we will be providing video messages, updates, and devotionals. We want to invite you to join us online to stay connected during this time.

On Sundays at 10:00am we will post our weekly message and announcements to our YouTube channel (subscribe to receive notifications and updates).

For families, we will provide kids video lessons and resources to parents (subscribe to our Parent Newsletter).

Throughout the week we will keep you informed about what’s going on through email, our website, and our social media channels. This is a great time to follow us on Facebook and Instagram if you don’t already.

You can continue to support and fuel our ministry by giving online. Thank you for your generosity and continued support.

We want to keep connected even when we can’t meet as a large group! As things change, we’ll make sure you stay up to date on our plans and when we can safely meet together again. If you’re part of a Life Group, your leader will contact you soon to discuss how you can stay connected during this time as well.

We know this situation isn’t going to last forever. At a time where many will be highlighting our challenges or feeling anxious, we have a great opportunity to model and share the peace of Christ that reminds us that God is in control and will show up in our times of need.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We will be monitoring the situation daily and keep you updated regularly.

In Christ,

Dave Stimers
Lead Pastor