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Are we opening our building?
Short answer: Not yet!
COVID-19 Response as of June 9, 2020
On June 8, Premier Doug Ford announced that most of Ontario was entering Stage 2 of the province’s re-opening plan. That plan includes the provision that places of worship can re-open to hold services, restricting attendance to 30 per cent of a church’s capacity and requirements to adhere to social distancing protocols. He also announced that social gatherings could increase from five to ten.
The next day, Trinity’s COVID-19 Response Team (Rev. Sue, Christy Humphrey, Mary Feldskov, Peter Kupfer and secretary Karen Ross) met to discuss our re-opening plans.
We reviewed the relevant provincial guidelines, public health directives, and advice (see guidelines below) from Western Ontario Waterways Region 8 of the United Church of Canada, which urged us to consider this question:
“What is the compelling reason to return to the building if returning to the building does not provide more contact with one another than being out of it did?
Is it worth the risk and the work?”
After much careful consideration, we decided that our building would remain closed and we would continue to offer on-line worship services and virtual meetings until August 23, 2020.
While we recognize that this may be disappointing for some people who are eager to “return to normal”, including attending Sunday worship, we felt that this decision was in the best interest of our congregation, our staff and our community.
Here are some the of the considerations that informed our decision:
- COVID-19 remains a serious threat to the health and safety of our community. There still exists a high level of risk of infection spreading quickly among gatherings of large groups of people.
- If we were to return now, worship as we know it would look and feel vastly different, for example: no coffee; no handshakes; no singing; no offering collection.
- We need time to evaluate the various protocols around traffic flow, social distancing, cleaning and disinfecting, wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), etc. Delaying opening gives us the opportunity to investigate best practices and learn from the experiences of others.
- Our annual picnic usually occurs mid-June, after which attendance at services drops off considerably for the summer months. We have often closed our church for a month in the summer while our minister took holidays. From this perspective, the closure over the summer months is not a large departure from other years. Our re-opening date coincides with Rev. Sue’s return to work following her summer vacation.
- We will be unable to share worship with Gale Presbyterian and St. James Lutheran this summer.
By continuing with
on-line services, we feel that we can best keep our congregation and staff
safe, while continuing to share in worship and virtual fellowship using ZOOM
online. For those without access to a computer or internet, we can offer
various options such as delivering the weekly service on a portable MP3 device
to listen at home, a written copy of the sermon, or “check-in” calls from the
minister and other church members. Rev. Sue is also available to provide
pastoral care in-person, at the church, by appointment.
We hope to see you on Sunday, August 23. Our traditional “welcome back” Sunday, including children’s programming, is tentatively planned for September 13.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the COVID-19 response team.