COVID-19 UPDATE FOR WESTMINSTER CHURCH (AUGUST 30)
Here is the message in video format;
Here is the transcript;
Hello everyone, Matthew Ruttan here, your pastor at Westminster Church in Barrie, speaking to you on behalf of our elders.
I want to provide an update about how we’re proceeding at the church as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier in the summer we told you that we would meet later in the summer and decide on next steps. We’ve done that—twice. This announcement is to update you.
And let me just tell you that, as your pastor, I’ve never faced—and we’ve never faced in recent memory—a situation like this which is as difficult as this, and which includes as many different considerations as this. And certainly not since I became the pastor here in 2008.
With this pandemic, things seem to be changing every few weeks, and sometimes days. In light of that, we would rather be an inch too careful than an inch too careless.
Westminster will continue our live-stream-only worship services for the time being. We will re-assess this regularly.
Although many parts of our society are relaxing precautions, there is an expected increase in COVID-19 cases, health care officials have expressed concern about this, the next two months have been called critical, and the re-opening of public schools throws a large question mark into how things will develop in Ontario and in this county. We will watch that closely.
But here are some of the things that are changing:
We will resume outdoor-only youth group meetings for our young people.
I, as your pastor, will also make myself available for 12 hours every Wednesday (7am to 7pm) to talk and pray with people at the church (outside) as a way to connect and care for one another. By request, I will serve you Communion in a safe way. Just be in touch with me to book an appointment.
Further, and this is very significant, we are exploring a yet-to-be-approved home church model. This would be so that people could get together safely to continue to build our community and fellowship, and to encourage and strengthen one another in the faith. Resources and instructions could be provided by Westminster. Details to come.
All of this builds on what we have already done:
The live-streaming of services is going well.
Our existing technology and online presence have been a massive help.
You have been assisting others through calls, distanced visits, and the check-in-chats.
We moved small groups, youth groups and other studies and events online with success.
We’ve been producing some faith-at-home resources—including a VBS resource—geared toward families and young people.
We’ve developed a smart phone app to be better connected and informed.
You have been diligent and have ensured the financial stability of the congregation moving forward.
And learning opportunities will continue and ramp up through the autumn.
We realize this is a lot of information. So a written version of what I’m saying is included with this video.
As I say all of this, we realize that many people will have many different thoughts or feelings about all of this. We understand that, and we respect that. Some people may feel really good about our approach. Some people may really disagree with this approach. And some people will trust that we’re doing our best to be faithful and wise in the midst of a situation none of us have ever been in before.
I’m not going to lie: Some things we will do well; other things, perhaps not so well. It’s a very steep learning curve, and we covet your prayers! With God’s grace, we are doing our best.
With this pandemic, and as things seem to be changing every few weeks, and sometimes even days, we would rather be an inch too careful than an inch too careless.
That’s our latest update.
I want to end with a reminder about two things. First, to continually fix our eyes, as always, on Jesus. And second, our memory verse from last month: “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12:12).
We’ve also developed a form if you want to provide feedback or input into this process. You need to include your name, and the input will be submitted to our opening-up committee, consisting of elders Steve Sainsbury, Colin Leonard, and Tom Walsh. You will find it below.
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