Elder Update: The Church & Covid-19

Elder Update: The Church & Covid-19
November 29, 2020
By Pastor Ruttan

On behalf of our elders here at the church, I want to provide an update to our situation as it relates to COVID-19. We have approved a few new decisions that we’d like to let you know about.

I’ll first let you know what these two decisions are, and then I’ll talk about the rationale behind them.

Limited In-Person Worship Services:

First, in mid-January we will resume limited in-person worship services on a bi-weekly basis.

Safety is a priority. Therefore, we are installing plastic barriers, using heightened cleaning protocols, and will require that people who would like to participate register in advance to attend a service (details to come about how to do that). Attendees would also need to agree to wear a mask and take a COVID-19 questionnaire.

In the case of another provincial lockdown, or an impacting local case, we would return to a live-stream only format.

Sunday School classes and nursery care continue to be on pause; live-streaming will always continue, as was the case before the COVID-19 pandemic, and we will continue to offer the weekly ‘faith-at-home’ focuses.

Youth Groups:

Second, in the new year we will also start holding occasional in-person youth groups in a designated area in the church for those who feel comfortable participating. These in-person events will supplement the online Zoom events.

Previously, in-person gatherings were held outside, but that is no longer possible because of the cold weather.

Youth would need to agree to wear a mask, observe physical distancing, and take a COVID-19 questionnaire before participating.

In the case of another provincial lockdown, or an impacting local case, we would cancel events.

Our Reasons for Making These Decisions:

As we all know, this is a difficult time. At first, many people thought the pandemic would be over in three months, or six, or eight… But it has become clear that there is no hard end-date in sight.

We continue to be concerned about people’s physical well-being, and will proceed in a safe and informed manner. But as the pandemic continues indefinitely, we are increasingly aware of—and concerned about—the serious and growing mental and emotional strain people are experiencing.

Mental well-being, just like physical well-being, matters. Our heart is for the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of the congregation.

These two decisions—limited in-person worship services, and occasional youth group gatherings inside the building—are a part of our response to this reality, and are an expression of our care and concern.

Christmas Eve:

Having said all this, I want to reiterate that our live-stream only format will continue until mid-January when we are ready with the limited in-person services on Sunday morning, and when the Plexiglas additions are in place.

This includes an online-only format for Christmas Eve. We recognize that this will be difficult for some people, especially since Christmas Eve traditions are important to many of us—including me! However, a busy night with many rushing people is not the time to be re-introducing in-person services in a pandemic.

Therefore, there will be two worship options on Christmas Eve:

The first is a live-streamed service from 5:30 to 6:30pm. It will include a family-friendly focus for the first half, and a more traditional feel (with candles) for the second half. It can be viewed at any time throughout the evening on our YouTube Channel.

The second is a use-at-home service (liturgy) with suggested readings and carols for you to use with those in your household. This might be a great option for those who want to try something new (in a year that has already had a lot of new elements!), but which is still very meaningful.

You will even be able to access a short, stand-alone video Christmas Eve message by Pastor Ruttan on our YouTube channel, specifically for the use-at-home format. Details to come.

In Summary:

It’s an understatement to say that this is a very difficult time. There are no easy or simplistic answers.

But we are moving forward with safety as a priority, with what we believe to be creativity and faithfulness, and also with a heart for the mental, emotional and spiritual well-being of our congregation, especially as the pandemic continues, and as many people experience serious mental and emotional strain.

At the heart of the Christmas message is that, in Christ, “God is with us” (Matthew 1:23). He was then, he is now, and we will continue to live confidently—even through a challenging time—knowing this to be true!

Peace be with you.

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