Resources to Help Congregations During the COVID-19 Situation
Remote Ministry Resources – Association of Presbyterian Church Educators
Key Tips for Planning an Online Worship Service – Christian Reformed Church in North America
How to Smoothly Run a Professional Webinar – CharityVillage
COVID-19 and Worship: Resources for Churches Adapting to Social Isolation – Calvin Institute of Christian Worship
Remote Faith Formation…For the Long Haul – Office of Christian Formation
What Your Church Can Do to Stay Connected During Coronavirus – Horizons Stewardship
Small Groups and Social Distancing: Promoting Online Community – ChurchLeaders.com
A Playlist of 25 Relevant Hymns to Sing in Troubled Times – ChurchLeaders.com
Children’s Ministry: Options for Summer VBS 2020 – ChurchLeaders.com
Stewardship & Planned Giving Information and Resources
Giving is an act of worship. When people cannot attend church, how can they continue to support their congregation? This is a good question even withstanding the current situation. In a time of social distancing, online and recurring giving provide people with many ways to give to your church.
Pre-Authorized Remittance (PAR)
Pre-Authorized Remittance (PAR) enables people to give through an automatic monthly withdrawal from their bank account or credit card.
Congregations already on PAR can easily update the amount of their gift by contacting your congregation’s PAR coordinator or the national PAR administrator . Just remember to include the name, city, and province of your congregation or your PAR number. You can get your PAR number from your local PAR coordinator.
New PAR donors are asked to fill out the PAR authorization form indicating how much they want to give to their community of faith and how much they would like to donate to people in need and programs that matter through Presbyterians Sharing and PWS&D. Normally, in the application process, they would hand the completed authorization form, along with a voided cheque or credit card information, to the local PAR coordinator, who would then mail the information to the PAR administrator at the General Council Office.
However, with United Church of Canada staff working from home, please do not mail them to the address on the PAR form. Instead, mail them to the PAR administrator using this special address:
The United Church of Canada
8 Switzer St.
New Lowell, ON L0M 1N0
Please do not lick the envelope, but seal it with a wet sponge.
There is also an option available to forward the form and void cheque by fax. Staff have secure remote access to the fax so forms can be processed in a timely manner.
Please take all necessary security precautions with personal banking information. Do not send scanned or photographed images by e-mail because e-mail is not secure and there is sensitive financial information on the form.
Congregations are encouraged to provide as much help as possible to new PAR donors to make the sign-up process easy. Please remember to thank new PAR donors for the commitment they are making to your congregation’s ministries and mission.
If you’ve ever had to email money from your bank account to someone, you know how fast Interac e-Transfers work. E-Transfers allow you to send money to a person or business with an email address or mobile number and a bank account at a participating Canadian financial institution.
If your church has an email address that will accept e-Transfers, people who use online banking can quickly send money via email, protected by a security question. Your church can then follow up with you to provide the answer to the security question that will unlock the funds. Fees are usually about $1.50 per transaction.
Make sure your church website provides an easy and accessible way for people to donate online. If you do not yet have a donate button on the home page of your website, now is the time to add one. If you are holding virtual services over the coming weeks, participants can give online during a time of offering. Check out our digital giving resources to help you and your congregation assess and adopt useful digital giving methods and tools.
The information below provides detailed information about CanadaHelps.org and Tithe.ly, two online giving tools, as well as a comparison of the different ways of giving.
Tithe.ly Donation Forms
Tithe.ly is a comprehensive giving platform tailor-made for churches and ministries. Tithe.ly provides churches with a suite of tools to facilitate online giving. Simply put, Tithe.ly makes it easy to provide a donation form on your church’s website. A programmed “donate” button opens a secure, easy-to-understand donation form, either on your church’s website or on the Tithe.ly website. Tithe.ly accepts donations from credit cards (and debit cards that have either the VISA debit or Debit Mastercard symbol). There is no monthly fee and the cost per transaction is competitive. To ensure that your church receives special PCC rates, Tithe.ly has created a PCC registration page: tithe.ly/rp/pcic/register
CanadaHelps.org Donation Forms
CanadaHelps.org is a highly respected and secure charitable foundation that enables donations to charities across Canada. If your church’s website does not already have a “donate” button, donors can still give to your church online by searching for your church on CanadaHelps.org. Every registered charity in Canada is listed on the site. Having found your church,* donors can donate using a credit card (or a debit card with a VISA debit or Debit Mastercard logo). CanadaHelps.org will provide the donor with a tax receipt and send the donation to your church within a month.
It is a good idea for Canadian churches to claim their fundraising account on CanadaHelps.org as the foundation reduces its fee and transfers donated funds more quickly for charities that sign up. Once your church claims their profile on CanadaHelps.org, a button can then be inserted on the church website that points to a customized CanadaHelps.org donation form
(though not if you’ve decided to use Tithe.ly).
* Sometimes a donor may find it difficult to search CanadaHelps.org by name, since churches in different cities share the same name. However, if the first search fails, a donor can search by other criteria, including location.
Which is better, Tithe.ly or CanadaHelps.org?
Since CanadaHelps.org is a foundation, it is CanadaHelps.org that issues the tax receipt. The church merely receives the funds and, unless the church claims its account with CanadaHelps.org, the church is not even informed as to who gave the funds. On the tax receipt, the donor is considered a donor of CanadaHelps.org. This is usually not a problem for smaller churches that are happy that the tax receipting responsibilities have been delegated to CanadaHelps.org. However, your church may prefer to use Tithe.ly for the “donate” button on your church website as the donor remains your church’s donor and your church provides the tax credit receipt.
Does my website need to have special security to use donation forms?
Most church websites do not have SSL protection. Without this extra level of security, you cannot embed donation forms directly onto your church website because the forms would not be secure. To overcome this limitation, the “donate” button can be linked to a form hosted on Tithe.ly or CanadaHelps.org. If your website does not have SSL protection, when someone clicks on your church’s “donate” button, they will be taken to your church’s form in a new secure tab/window. When the donor submits the form, that window can return the donor to your church website; so it is a good idea to create a “thank you” page on your website.
What will my church need to get started for online donations?
Here are the things needed to set-up Tithe.ly:
- Legal business name
- Charitable number (business number)
- Bank routing information for depositing gifts received (transit number, institution number, account number)
- Digital scan (.jgp) of the driver’s license or passport of one of the officers of the church (this is an anti-fraud measure implemented by Tithe.ly to ensure that a real person associated with your church has authorized the account)
- The URL and Username/Password for your church website in case you need to contact Jim MacDonald, Development Manager of Stewardship & Planned Giving, to add the button linking to the Tithe.ly form
Can I get help setting this up?
Whether you select CanadaHelps.org or Tithe.ly for the donation forms on your church website, Jim MacDonald, the Development Manager in the Stewardship & Planned Giving Department, can help you set-up your account(s) and your donation form(s). Jim will either embed the form on your secure website or program a button on your website that points to your church’s donation form on Tithe.ly or CanadaHelps.org.
You are welcome to contact Jim MacDonald for consultation and assistance setting-up donation forms on your church’s website. Through screenshare, Jim can walk you through the entire process as you set it up together.
Encourage giving to community members most affected
Some of our most vulnerable neighbours will experience loss of wages and other unexpected implications at this time. People will want to respond, and your congregation might think about how they can support vulnerable people in the community and/or partner with organizations that are providing help. Consider starting a fund to help your congregation respond.
Pray and stay connected
As we make our way through the difficult days ahead, let us remember that we are not alone. Let us pray for one another. Reach out to one another by phone, email or video chat in case anyone might be feeling afraid or lonely. Offer to pick up groceries, prescriptions or run errands for people who are in isolation. And remember that we are a community of faith.
May the peace of Christ be with you all.
Now is the Time for Faithful Generosity – A Special Edition Newsletter by the Ecumenical Stewardship Center
Stewardship in a Pandemic – Presbyterian Foundation
Stewardship in Trying Times – Disciples of Christ
Online Giving Recommendations for Livestream and Video Worship – Presbyterian Foundation
COVID-19: Financial Guidance for Churches – Stewardship Services (UKET)
How Pastors Should Talk About Giving in the Current Crisis – ChurchLeaders.com
Financial Giving During COVID-19 – Anglican Diocese of Niagara
Sample Letter for Treasurers – Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
Congregations and treasurers can customize this letter and use it to inform their members in the event of church closures.
Webinars: Managing Financial Impact on Churches
These are webinars for anyone looking for wise ways to manage the financial impact the pandemic is having on congregations.
Congregational Finances During the Pandemic for Ministers
Presented by The United Church of Canada
Congregational Finances During the Pandemic for Treasurers
Presented by The United Church of Canada
Stewardship in a Time of Crisis
Presented by the Center for Faith and Giving
Financial Resources for Congregations and Employees
Below are resources prepared by the PCC to provide congregations with information on the policies and procedures to consult in the event of church closures due to COVID-19. The following resources also outline support options that have been made available to aid congregations and employees.
Resources on Government Response Measures to COVID-19
Complete List of Wage Subsidies and Other Assistance Programs
This will likely be more helpful to ministries in following years.
Support Resources from the PCC Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
Stress and anxiety are entirely normal reactions to the many changes and restrictions we are now faced with. The following articles, provided by the PCC’s EAP, ComPsych GuidanceResources, offer ideas and coping techniques to help you and those close to you through these difficult times.
Try the following tips to protect your physical and mental health from the strain of stress:
- Try some deep breathing. Take a slow deep breath—hold it for five seconds—then slowly exhale.
- Learn and practice meditation. Create peaceful mental images.
- Take a mental health break. Make some time each day to devote to yourself—sometimes even 10 to 30 minutes really can help.
- Strive for balance in your life. Make time for activities you enjoy.
- Use your support system. Share your feelings with a caring friend or family member.
- Just say no. Remember that it’s OK to say no to requests that push you beyond your limits.
- Take one thing at a time. Focus on the task at hand and do it well.
- Don’t demand perfection. Ease up on yourself and those around you.
- Take care of yourself. Be sure to exercise regularly, eat a well-balanced diet and get enough rest.
- Plan ahead. Factor in time for traffic or other delays so that you’re more relaxed when you get to work or to your appointments.
- Develop a positive attitude. Try to view negative situations in a positive way.
- Remove the clutter in your life. Clean your house, garage or workspace regularly.
- Laughter is the best medicine. Find what makes you laugh. When you’re laughing, you don’t have time to be stressed out. And, don’t take yourself too seriously.
- Curb Caffeine. Stimulants such as tobacco and caffeine can rev up your nervous system, which increases stress.
- Seek help. At times, you may feel that your stress is difficult to cope with or is interfering with your daily life. If the stress in your life becomes overwhelming, don’t hesitate to seek professional help from your EAP.
You may also find helpful…
COVID-19 Anxiety & Stress Management Resources – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Deep Breathing. Deep breathing focuses on using the diaphragm (the spot just under your rib cage) to draw slow, deep breaths into the lungs and to release them slowly. Take a couple of minutes every hour to practice some deep breathing.
Stretching. Stretching exercises can relieve tension, make your body more flexible and produce a calming effect. Even just shrugging your shoulders, stretching your arms and rolling your neck a few times a day can have positive effects.
Meditation and Visualization. Meditation involves “quieting the mind” by blocking out sensory input and distraction, while visualization involves using the brain’s creative capacity to create a stress-free experience, much like daydreaming. Try to carve out 15 minutes daily to quiet you mind and body.
Muscle Relaxation. Progressive muscle-relaxation techniques involve systematically tensing, relaxing and visualizing each major muscle group. It is best to practice these techniques when you have about 20 minutes and are able to find a quiet place where you can lie down without being disturbed.
Calming Thoughts. Our thought patterns often cause or contribute to the stress that we are feeling. The next time you encounter a stressful situation, take a moment to tune into your thoughts and feelings. Write these thoughts down and then write down a more positive replacement.
You may also find helpful…
A Care Package for Uncertain Times – The On Being Project
Christian Education Resources for Families to Use During School Closures
With families at home together over the coming weeks, it is a perfect opportunity to engage in faith formation activities. There are several resources available online for families. Here are a few that you might want to check out:
Illustrated Children’s Ministry is putting together free, weekly resources that individual church members and families can sign up for and have delivered to them weekly. By signing up, you will receive free faith formation activities for all ages once a week.
Faith@Home is providing a resource each day that includes something for families to watch, to listen to, to do and to pray about. Also, once a week, they’ll also provide a “go deeper” resource that will help parents engage their kids in theological conversation concerning illness, crisis, anxiety, death.
Resources on How to Talk to Children about COVID-19
The following resources provide information and advice on helping children and teens cope with any anxiety they may feel about the present situation:
- Helping Children With Scary News – Sally Lloyd-Jones, author of The Jesus Storybook Bible
- Look for the Gifts: Praying with Children During a Pandemic – Christine V. Hides, Director of Christian Education at Kenilworth Union Church, Illinois
- Faith-Based Conversations to Have with Children and Youth About COVID-19 – Ministries Across Generations, Disciples Home Missions
- Helping Children and Teens Cope with Anxiety About COVID-19 – Seattle Children’s Hospital
- Webinars: Ministry with Children and Youth During the Pandemic – United Church of Canada
Family Faith Formation Toolkit – Christian Reformed Church (CRC)
The CRC’s Faith Formation Toolkit contains theory, tools and helpful ideas about how to engage in faith formation at home.
Family Devotional: Pandemic Hope – Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Illinois
This is a family devotional for life during COVID-19. It contains scripture readings & activities for the next 8 weeks that are focused on deepening faith, connecting with each other and God, and practicing love in uncertain times.
Walk This Way
Walk This Way is a Presbyterian Church in Canada Lenten resource for families that will guide children through the season and participate in the transformative work of the Spirit. For each week there is a recommended picture book, accompanied by a brief written reflection and questions for wondering. Written by Laura Alary, Walk This Way is a colourful, interactive resource, suitable for many age groups.
Available for free download here
God’s Big Easter Story – Christian Reformed Church
Prepare for Holy Week storytelling with children and students with God’s Big Easter Story: A Holy Week Journey for Families, a free resource from the Christian Reformed Church that provides your family with a simple, meaningful way to grow in faith together, remembering the events leading up to Jesus’ death and celebrating Jesus’ resurrection.
Holy “SPIRIT” Holy “WEEK” (Virtual Holy Week for Churches)
Organized by Ministries Across Generations , Virtual Holy Week for Churches has a variety of fun and engaging virtual activities planned over Holy Week and Easter that the entire family can participate in.
The Bible App for Kids is a free app for Android, Apple and Kindle devices, available in over 50 languages. The app introduces children to 41 of the “big” Bible stories and helps them understand the overall story that the Bible is telling. Throughout each story, fun, interactive animations keep children engaged and select stories even include games designed to help them learn, understand and retain important Bible story concepts.
A few great ideas about how to get children engaging with scripture by using their minds, hearts and hands.
Use LEGO to Tell Bible Stories
If the kids in your family like LEGO, why not do a Bible-based LEGO activity? There are also several free resources for teaching scripture using LEGO that you can access online through a simple Google search.
You can also find Christian LEGO activities is Emily Slichter Given’s book Building Faith Brick by Brick; there are two volumes of this book, which cost approximately $25 each.
More Online Resources and Activities for Kids and Parents
In addition to faith-based resources and activities for kids, we have also compiled a list of fun and educational online activities for children of all ages. From audiobooks to virtual zoo tours, these online activities are sure to entertain and educate kids (and even parents) during this long stretch of being at home.
Stories entertain, teach and keep young minds active, alert and engaged. Audible is offering an incredible collection of stories, including titles across six different languages, that will help kids continue dreaming, learning and just being kids. All stories are free to stream on your desktop, laptop, phone or tablet.
Storyline Online is a free literacy program where actors read to children.
Read-alongs, sing-alongs, illustrating demos and more – provided by the Growing Book by Book Community.
Common Sense Media has compiled an excellent list of resources and activities , including audiobooks and virtual story times, music classes and performances, educational activities and lesson plans, virtual tours, fun and games, and more.
Scholastic has launched a Learn at Home website that has daily courses for students from pre-kindergarten to grades six and higher. Scholastic’s learning plans cover all the subjects your student would be taking at school.
In light of the current situation regarding school closures, educators across Turtle Island have come together to provide online learning opportunities for our children K-8 through the Think Indigenous initiative.
The number of educational shows on Netflix is growing every day, which is ideal for kids who learn best visually. This is a list – compiled by Homeschool Hideout – of educational shows on Netflix – watch documentaries, learn about animals, earth and nature, space, history and more.
Ever Clever Mom offers a list of online resources that that are currently being offered for free by companies that have stepped up to offer everyone access to their programs. Also included are resources that are always free, and some ideas for when your family needs some time offline.
This is a super helpful list of websites – compiled by the Kids Activities blog – for education companies that will allow you to sign-up for their learning programs for free to help kids move forward with their education from home.
A list of 22 ways to leave home without actually leaving the couch – from virtual zoo exhibits to museum gallery tours.
Have you ever wanted to ride every ride and see every show at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in one day without waiting in line? Well now is your chance!
The Cincinnati Zoo is offering daily home safaris until April 11. You can also watch “The Fiona Show” about Fiona the baby hippo.
Go on a field trip without leaving your house! Visit the Parliament buildings, Iqaluit, The Canadian Museum of History, The Royal Tyrell Musuem, or go on a farm tour.
Visit a dairy farm without leaving home.
Mo Willems invites you into his studio every day for lunchtime doodles. Learners worldwide can draw, doodle and explore new ways of writing by visiting Mo’s studio virtually once a day for the next few weeks. New episodes will be posted each weekday at 1:00 p.m. (Eastern) and then remain online to be streamed afterwards.
Check out The Kitchen Table Classroom for a collection of online art classes you can enjoy with your kids.
The OMazing Kids Facebook page has a list of apps for kids that developers are offering for free. (Some for a limited time)