On Monday June 8th, the provincial government moved our region into Stage 2 of their plan for re-opening Ontario. As part of that announcement came the news that churches are permitted to gather again at 30% capacity.
In light of this announcement, our staff and Board have been discussing what this means for us as a local church. As a leadership team we are committed to taking safe and responsible next steps and so have been considering many things, including:
- The procurement of Health & Safety items (such as sanitizing stations, etc.)
- Clarifying cleaning and sanitizing procedures
- A plan for safe movement throughout the facility
- Volunteer training
- We recognize that not everyone will be comfortable attending in-person
- At present, health & safety guidelines recommend that we not run a Children’s program or facilitate congregational singing
This week BIC Canada issued a request that churches whose regular (or pre-COVID) attendance is greater than 75 should not consider re-gathering in-person until after Labour Day so that we can be adequately prepared to resume in-person gatherings in a safe manner. At our June Board meeting, the Westheights Church Board agreed that this request was appropriate. What this means is that for the next number of months we will continue conducting our Sunday services exclusively online. In the meantime, although we have not determined an actual re-opening date, the staff and the Board are preparing our ministry plans with the appropriate safety considerations.
Let me remind us that we are not all experiencing this pandemic in the same way. Throughout this season some of us have felt confident, while others of us have experienced a great deal of fear. And so it would be understandable if some of us are disappointed that we are not resuming in-person gatherings immediately while others of us are breathing a sigh of relief at this cautious approach. Whatever our response, let’s commit to being a church family that offers one another as much grace as possible as individuals and families decide what next steps they are comfortable with.
Over the past few weeks, what has been obvious to me is that we miss seeing each other – we miss drinking coffee together, we miss hearing each other’s stories, we miss the children running around…really, we miss the whole in-person experience. This is understandable. But it hasn’t stopped us from being the Church, as evidenced by our outreach to Forest Heights LTCC and generous donations to The Food Bank of Waterloo Region.
As we continue to conduct our services online, let me encourage each of us to look for opportunities to connect with each other on our own. With the warmth of summer here and with gatherings of up to 10 being permitted (following physical distancing guidelines of course), this is a great opportunity for us to use that contact list we sent out a month ago and arrange an outdoor visit with some Westheights friends we haven’t seen in a while! If you didn’t get our contact list, please request it via email from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for patience, understanding and your prayers.