As many of you know, the Ontario Government released our region into Stage 2 of its reopening plan. It now allows for an increase of gathering from 5 to 10, and with respect to worship services, an allowance for 30% of the buildings capacity.
The Elders, Board, and Staff have been anticipating this for some time. Although this is a sign of progress and relief for many, these measures still demand social distancing and other safe protocols to be maintained.
As part of our weekly meeting with the Elders, the discussion on how to prepare the church for regathering was the major focus of our time together. We are asking that you pray for wisdom, guidance, and discernment for everyone involved in preparing the church for in house worship gatherings as many decisions need to be made in order to do this safely and effectively. I want to stress once again that we want to safeguard everyone and ensure we have mitigated the risks as much as possible.
Please pray as we consider the following:
- A comprehensive list of cleaning protocols that are met before, during, and after every service and/or function. This means all high contact areas, washrooms, and main entry/exit points are routinely scrubbed.
- Training and cleaning protocols for every volunteer in every area of ministry.
- A restructuring of typical service elements:
- A suspension of handshakes, hugs, and other expressions of physical contact.
- A suspension of taking up an offering by passing a plate around.
- A suspension of a printed bulletin or Life Group material. All correspondence through digital media.
- A contactless procedure for Communion.
- From everything we are reading, singing will not be allowed for public worship gatherings.
- A suspension of the coffee ministry.
- The seating in the auditorium to be structured to ensure proper separation.
- The determination of whether we need to have volunteers wear gloves and/or face-masks. This may be a necessity depending on their ministry role.
- A plan for how to accommodate the prayer team.
- Will we be screening people as they arrive, such as taking their temperature.
- Kids Connection. How do we, considering their age, restrict social distancing? This is an area that will have a much longer roll out process.
- At present, LINC is in the process of moving out of our building. The facility is in disarray as they are in the early stages of packing and are not scheduled to bring in the moving trucks until June 16-17th.
- Considering the 30% capacity allowance, how do we invite people to attend? Do we have someone to close the door when capacity is reached or ask people to submit a request to the church to be allowed to attend.
- Do we take attendance of those who are in the service? There is some expectation by the government to list the names of those attending, for the purpose of contact tracing should an outbreak happen.
- Many in the survey commented that they would attend a service at a different time in order to maintain smaller gatherings with social distancing. One idea is to have a Saturday evening and Sunday morning service. Such a format would demand all of the points above be duplicated over two services. (By the way, the results of the survey will be made available when complete and thanks to those of you who filled it out).
- There is real concern over the issue of insurance liability. Maintaining government guidelines and operating in accordance with provincial requirements will be critical for making sure we are protected in case a third party claims receiving the virus due to church negligence. Since we have a number of rentals in our building, this will be another area that needs careful oversight and management. In fact, there are rumours that the insurance companies in North America will likely include exclusions in their polices for infectious disease transmission by end of 2020.
I know this list is long but it still does not reflect the full weight of the decisions being considered at this time. With that, the Elders also wanted to make a statement concerning Life Groups, Youth Groups, and other church-sanctioned meetings.
We are asking that all groups stay in virtual mode for the foreseeable future. We know that there is now a limit of 10, that for some groups signals a path to freedom, but please be patient and maintain our present format.
Yes, liability is a big concern, but there are other factors to consider as we see the early stages of regathering begin. As we’ve stated before, the early stages of regathering for Village Green will likely first be seen in our smaller group settings.
As we consider the many variables needed for regathering, we want to make sure every step we take is safe for all, but is also sustainable for the long term. We don’t want to begin a process and then have to reverse course.
We want to inspire your confidence in us as a church, but we will not be able to do it alone. We need your partnering with us to make Village Green a safe space for all and most of all, a place that demonstrates the fullness of Christ’s love for everyone.
If you are a regular volunteer, ask yourself if you are willing to come back and be one of the many we will need to make sure the established protocols are followed with rigour.
Thank you for taking valuable time to read this release and thank you for praying with us. We are still the church that longs to love God, love others, and change the world.
Stay safe and stay healthy,
Jon Korkidakis (On behalf of the Elders)
Lead Pastor, Village Green Community Church