This is our June 19 Newletter. If you believe that you should be receiving this via email please check your spam filter or one of the other tabs (Other, Focused, Promotions, Updates, etc.) in your email. If you cannot find it please contact the Church Office at firstname.lastname@example.org to see if you are on the list (or if you would like to be placed on the mailing list).
|Friday, June 19th
Dear Friends in Christ,
Can you believe that summer has arrived?
Our letter last week was full of a lot of information, so we decided to send you the document outlining some of the ways we will be changing the way we gather, in today's letter. I know that it can feel disheartening reading about all of the things that we cannot do during Covid-19. There is a great sense of loss when I think of gathering and not being able to lift our voices in song together. But these restrictions are there to keep us safe. Whether you are concerned or not personally, it is important that we respect the boundaries of social distancing to protect the most vulnerable. Church needs to continue to feel like a safe place where all are welcome. We can do that by following the guidelines below. Of course this is a living document, which means that it will change and evolve with time. But we thought that it would be helpful for some folks to start wrapping their heads around what the new normal will be for the next while.
Please feel free to reach out and share with us any thoughts or concerns you may have.
It has been a few months since we had an update. I am pleased to tell you that donations to the Challenge this year have meant that each month’s loan payment to date has been covered.
But we need some additional donations to get the full amount of the June payment covered and then to have the summer payments covered too. Your extra donation identified for the Resiliency Challenge will be appreciated.
Just a reminder about offering during this time of physical distance.
To get your offering to the office you can use PAR, e transfer, website donation www.firstunitedchurch.ca or send a cheque. Checks can be dropped off at the church mailbox which is located at the Entrance on the William Street side of the building.
Also you may send your cheque to
First United Church
16 William St. West
Reminder, credit card companies have a fee of around 3-5%. If you wish First to get the full amount, then please add that percentage to your contribution.
Thank you for your continued and timely support. I am going to remind you one last time that our Easter offering is being collected for SHOW, Rainbow Camp and the Skylight Festival and so far we have $400 (usually over $900). We will be closing off this collection at the end of June.
AFFORDABLE ACCOMMODATION NEEDED
If anyone knows of an apartment or part of a house that would be available for the Badr family (3 people) to rent please call Bryan Kirkham 519-888-7117 or Sheena in the church office 519-745-8487. Prefer 2-bedroom.
INDIGENOUS HISTORY MONTH SPEAKER SERIES
The month of June was designated Indigenous History Month in Canada in 2009. You may wish to access the Indigenous History Month Speaker Series on Sundays this month at 4 p.m. for a discussion of the past, present and future of Indigenous ministry, advocacy and social justice with Indigenous Elders, Ministers and Leaders from the United Church. The sessions are open to everyone.
June 21 – Indigenous People’s Day: The Indigenous Church, Mission and Call with Rev. John Snow Jr.
June 28 – Vision: The Caretakers Report and the Future Indigenous Church with Adrian Jacobs, Keeper of the Circle, Sandy Saulteaux Spiritual Centre
To access the series, contact Tony Snow to obtain the Zoom link.
Contact Tony Snow at email@example.com
Together We Stand, but Apart
This is a living document that reflects our current knowledge and our best guesses as to the ways we will be moving forward. It is based on guidelines and suggestions from the United Church of Canada, Western Ontario Waterways Region of the United Church of Canada, and various government and health agencies. It has been a major topic of discussion at numerous board meetings and has already undergone a number of revisions. It, and our actions, will change as we learn more about living with Covid-19
First United Reintegration During and Following Covid-19 (June 2020)
Some of what we now know is:
- Social distancing will be needed for a very long time
- Extra deep cleaning will be needed every time we meet and in every space we visit
- We will need to work hard to leave as small a microbial footprint as possible
- Singing will not likely be allowed in group settings
- Use of space will need to be carefully controlled especially for entering and leaving
We still do not have a timeline for reopening for meetings and for worship. What we do know is that this will be a much slower process than the shutdown was and that we need to have patience and trust the guidelines of public health as they will have the most up to date information on safety for our whole community. The reopening will be in steps, and full corporate worship will be the last step.
What was initiated as of March and should continue
We are already doing the following:
- Extra cleaning, especially:
- Hand rails
- Door knobs and bars
- Door opening buttons
- Light Switches
- Hospital grade cleaner being used
- Hand sanitizers being checked and refilled
- Pews sanitized
- Paper towels installed in washrooms
- Bleach Sanitizer in kitchen better labelled with date of refresh
- Sign In sheets at the door – to continue for all meetings including worship when started
Initiatives at the start of reintegration
We all need to be responsible for our part:
- Education to let the congregation know what to expect
- Email and other communication about start up should include the precautions we are putting in place
- Ushers to be specially educated so they can direct worshippers once worship resumes
- Request that anyone who has been sick stay away until they have been well for 14 full days
- Mask wearing to be encouraged
- No physical contact when greeting
- Continue virtual governance meetings with gradual return to face to face
- Continue virtual Christian Education activities with gradual return to face to face
- No social gatherings including coffee before and after church
- Consider which online meetings worked well and if we might want to continue them
- Consider what other online services we might we offer in an ongoing way
- Only emergency home visits
- Hospital visits only when hospital deems it is safe
- No communion for the sick
- Continue offering home services and prayers for those not able or willing to attend in person
Resumption of Activities in the Building
It is likely that small meetings will begin before full worship. Protocols to follow will be:
- Require every activity that is church sponsored inform the board of the safety precautions that they are taking
- Rentals we can ask to do the same. We might need to provide extra cleaning depending on the spaces used and the procedures of the group
- Office half door to remain closed to visitors unless there is a reason for the person to be in the office. (At discretion of the administrator)
- Check with insurance to ensure we are in compliance with any directives they have
- No use of rooms outside of your scheduled activity (kitchen, other meeting rooms)
- Only one person at a time can be in the washroom
When groups start meeting, we will still need to observe some rules to be safe. The following might be some initial suggestions:
- Limit size of group to the number set by public health guidelines
- No physical contact (Handshakes, fist bumps, elbow bumps etc.)
- Wear masks if you cannot maintain distancing
- Sit in chairs spread out around the meeting room (Not around a table)
- Do not switch chairs or move around the room
- Limit the rooms used or visited
- Do not share communal food or beverages. If desired for your meeting, each person should bring their own
- Rooms should be somehow marked to be cleaned after every group
Worship will need to be very different from what we are used to. Some of the changes are listed below:
- No physical contact when greeting
- Bulletins will not be printed for distribution. Special requests will be honoured
- Bibles, hymn books and envelopes will be removed from the pews
- Services will be designed for the full congregation (all ages)
- Offering plates to be placed on table outside sanctuary
- Sit apart at Church
- Block off every second pew
- Areas for families to sit will be marked and must be adhered to
- The sanctuary will be filled from front to back, then emptied from the back to the front
- No physical Passing the Peace
- Use individual elements for Communion
- Community singing, including a choir, will not be a part of the service until we know it is safe
- Children and youth will remain with their families or on their own in the service until safe alternatives have been found
- There will be no gathering and no coffee before or after the service and people are requested to leave as quickly as possible to maintain social distancing
It is not advised to serve communion until all of us are more used to the requirements of social distancing during worship. When we do:
- Use individual cups and bread
- Servers should be handing the elements out rather than participants taking their own
- Possibly incorporate hand sanitizing into the liturgy for servers. Even if not part of the liturgy, servers should sanitize hands immediately before serving
- Have the participants maintain social distancing as they come to the front
- Consider ushers offering sanitizer as people leave their pews
Food activities will not start up for quite a while as health departments and food safety experts are still figuring out what additional protocols will need to be in place. We will not be allowing food activities until those protocols are in place and being used elsewhere. Once they are, the following is a guideline of the minimum procedures we think will need be followed:
- Size of the gathering should be controlled
- A certified food handler must be a part of any kitchen crew.
- All guidelines of the health unit should be followed.
- Absolutely no home prepped foods should be served until all danger of infection has passed
- If meals are served, extra space needs to be provided to allow social distancing.
- Everything, including pots, pans, bus bins etc. should be put through the dishwasher to be sanitized
- Counters, stoves and other prep or serving surfaces should be sanitized once an hour and/or whenever being used for a new purpose
- Items that are left to go through the dishwasher should be well rinsed and sprayed with the bleach solution that is left in the kitchen.
PS. Although many details in this document will look and sound very different from what we are “used to”, these changes are very necessary. They are needed to help protect our individual wellness and that of the whole congregation and the community as well. They are the new reality and become part of fulfilling our mission to care for one another- living God’s transforming love.
Questions and Suggestions are welcome and encouraged!
Cathie Stewart Savage firstname.lastname@example.org 519-589-2303
Greg Case email@example.com 519-725-0898
Rick Heemskerk firstname.lastname@example.org 519-747-4069
Lynne Blake-Dickson email@example.com 519-744-5012