One Winnipeg pastor recently led communion with a senior couple over the phone as they weren't able to connect virtually. 

A portion of the Filipino United Community Church congregation either doesn't have access to technology or find it difficult learning how to use the internet. This means that finding ways to connect during a lockdown is more limited.

"We went back to the telephone," says Pastor Victor Cuarto. 

Cuarto is one of three pastors at Filipino United Community Church in Winnipeg. The church is celebrating its 35 years in Winnipeg this year, with another church in the Pembina Valley led by Pastor Fronnie Silla. 

"I had the opportunity to administer the communion, the elements of bread and wine over the telephone. For a couple, the grandmother is in her late 80s and the grandfather is in his early 90s," says Cuarto. 

While the couple does have access to the internet in their home, they don't know how to work a computer. 

"I had delivered the elements, pre-packed cups to them earlier. So over the phone, we enjoyed remembering the last supper of our Saviour Jesus Christ. It was a first for me."

Cuarto also prays and counsels others in the congregation over the phone and has since the pandemic started. He and the leadership team have also learned to use technology.

Filipino United Community ChurchPastor Victor Cuarto on the left, joined by Pastor Joel Saladaga III, Pastor Val Malinis, and the tech team Glen Marcelo and Jethro Toledo. (Filipino United Community Church/Facebook)

"For the first time since the pandemic hit us we've been trying to adapt to this new normal. In my case, I started doing Facebook live every morning. At one time I was doing it every morning, afternoon, and evening," says Cuarto. 

With a family at home and their youngest daughter just over one-year-old, this amount of commitment was too much. 

"Now I've tapered it down to one, for those that are able to wake up that early."

Cuarto records devotions live on Facebook at 6:00 am each morning for about 30 minutes, to encourage his congregation. 

The leaders of the church use Facebook, YouTube, and Zoom to broadcast their services each Sunday. 

"I thank the Lord for my fellow pastors who are more gifted, they have the skillset to accomplish this," he says. 

For people who are hoping for more connection or looking to grow their faith during the pandemic, he has some advice. 

"Find a partner you can pray with. If you can find several people who could agree on a certain time of the day, that would be helpful. Also, don't forget to pray for your pastors."

Cuarto shares how he is grateful when someone in the congregation calls him to pray, saying the encouragement goes both ways.