Dear ECD Official Workers,
Yesterday afternoon the Ontario provincial government released the following announcement:
“All places of worship in Ontario will also be permitted to open with physical distancing in place and attendance limited to no more than 30 per cent of the building capacity to ensure the safety of worshippers.” The government also stated that additional guidance will be forthcoming. (Click here for more information)
This is big news! Although I know that many of you have been praying for this and may be tempted to jump right in and start services again this Sunday, my encouragement to you would be to wait at least one more week in order to give time to work out all the implications of this announcement. Allow me to highlight a few things you will need to consider before safely being able to reopen:
- How will you ensure that you can limit attendance to 30 percent of capacity? Will you offer multiple services so that all your people can come at different times?
- How will you ensure that those who come will have a safe experience as a result of protocols that facilitate physical distancing and adequate hygiene/testing measures to prevent further spread of the virus?
- How will you minister to families with children? Are you equipped to implement the stringent protocols released by the government for childcare programming? Will your volunteers be willing to work with children due to the challenges of ensuring proper safety measures?
- How about seniors? Will you encourage them to come or to stay home due to their increased vulnerability?
- Will you have corporate singing? The Ontario government has yet to make a statement on this, but Alberta for instance has banned corporate singing from their church gatherings, so it’s possible that this will be part of the forthcoming ‘guidance’ promised by the government.
- How will you care for those unable to attend the service? Will you have your service available online and in-person? Do you have capacity to handle the extra workload?
In short, this is not a quick fix that can be easily put into action, and that is why I recommend that you wait for the further guidance promised by the government and that you take your time this week to formulate a careful strategic response to all the considerations that need to be addressed before you can reopen safely. In the meantime, I would encourage you to let your church family know that you are working on this so that they know what’s happening. If you have questions related to any of this, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our District team.
I encourage you to watch for new information coming out from the government regarding any additional guidance for reopening. I also encourage you to pray for our political leaders that God would give them tremendous wisdom as they make decisions about these things.
In the meantime, if you’d like to explore some of these considerations with other pastors who are in the same boat as you are, I invite you to attend our #newnext zoom calls where we will be addressing this issue both tomorrow (June 10) and next Wedneday (June 17) from 10:00-11:30am. (Click here for the zoom link) This is a great opportunity to lean on the collective wisdom of leaders throughout our District to help us think strategically about how to respond in these rapidly changing times.
Praying for you,
Rev. Curtis Peters