Valleyview Community Church is located in Blezard Valley, a community of 800 about twenty kilometres north of Sudbury, ON. Back in March when COVID-19 restrictions came into play, lead pastor Jason Tripp was reading the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000, and it got him thinking. “Just because we had shut down our facility didn’t mean we couldn’t do something in the community. That day I went over and spoke to the owner of the Metro grocery store here in town. He and I have gotten to know each other over the years so I asked if there was anything we could do to help.
The owner asked Jason and a group of Valleyview volunteers to take over grocery orders and delivery. The store was overwhelmed with orders, so Jason and his team started taking phone and email orders, shopping for the items, and then delivered them. “A lot of seniors and vulnerable people were using the service and we wanted to get food out to them, so we are the point of contact for anyone in our community who needs groceries.”
Jason also connected with the owner of a local driver training school. A couple of times a week he picks up excess groceries in his 18 wheeler. “This food isn’t on the shelves because it is two or three weeks away from its best before date. He will bring a truckload here and people line up for miles to get free food. He reached out to us after he learned what we were doing with the grocery store and asked if there were people who like some of this food delivered. So, once a week we pickup food from them and we take it to the church to sort it and then deliver it to twenty or thirty families who need more bread on the table.”
In the last two months, Valleyview has done over 500 food deliveries. “It’s been a way to expand our Kingdom footprint in the neighbourhood. It’s a good way for us to stay active and connected. We try to filter everything we do in the church through a threefold rhythm of reaching up, reaching in, and reaching out, so we have that kind of missional impact now.”
Valleyview Community Church is also the local community centre. “We typically have 1,000 people in and out of this building in a week for different classes, clubs, and groups, but right now our 25,000 square foot building is sitting empty. We have taken a financial hit with none of our community groups and tenants functioning, but our board is doing a great job. We are connecting weekly and tapping into some grants. We are taking a hit financially, but we will manage.”
The team at Valleyview are also busy reimagining during this challenging season. One member of the church has created and launched a church podcast, and Jason has taken their Theology on Tap night online. “Going virtual has allowed me to invite some big name authors and theologians to the discussion. It’s allowed us to expand the table.”
By Alison McKinnon