Extract of a congregational letter from the Session of St. Andrew’s, distributed Thursday June 11:
On Monday evening, the Elders of St. Andrew’s gathered (thanks to Zoom) for their stated monthly meeting. One of the major topics was to be a study of the Guidelines for Re-Opening Church Buildings published recently by the Presbyterian Church in Canada
It just so happened that it was also the day that the Ontario government announced the possibility for places of worship in certain regions to open, subject to certain restrictions of attendance and physical distancing at all times (though promised guidelines for spiritual leaders have not been received at time of writing).
After prayerful discussion and discernment, the Elders agreed a) that St. Andrew’s continue to offer online worship opportunities at least well into the foreseeable future, and b) that church leadership work through the quieter weeks of summer and the Minister’s vacation to prepare for a return to worship in the sanctuary in September.
Behind these decisions were two considerations. One consideration is that it will be some time before a vaccine for COVID-19 is available, and until that time there will be members who will not and perhaps should not physically gather for worship … hence the continuation of online worship opportunities. The other considerations revolve around the fact that public health guidelines are still evolving … and even now these all point to the fact that though our sanctuary may be unchanged, the way we are present in it will be very changed, and will need significant preparation. From what we understand at this point, it is not just a matter of roping off ‘buffer’ pews, but also designating directions for use of doors and aisles, no fellowship times before or after worship, sanitizing washrooms and furniture, and even perhaps restrictions on singing.
While some of us may feel this planning and these precautions are excessive, we are asked to consider that they are undertaken out of care for the more vulnerable among us. In this spirit, the Elders felt it best to plan for the beginning of a new congregational year in September with the assurance that we have taken full advantage of evolving guidelines and competence.
And to provide a different perspective completely, Lori-Kim has shared some humour about the Post-Pandemic Church from Ireland … https://youtu.be/fIfItkvCVfA?fbclid=IwAR3brDAlQ2aInuucMjnpPqYfihvYI0whUpTp-AGeu5719PNnbMtlCSHEKCo