Opening, For Now

Thank you to everyone who responded to last week’s communication about re-opening the building for worship.  Your input is greatly appreciated, especially because there is very little informal conversation such as we usually have before and after a Sunday worship service. 

We have made a decision for now.  These days most decisions are “for now”.  We did not expect the province to give us permission to meet in larger numbers so soon.  To be honest, I am a little baffled about why we as churches are allowed to meet in groups larger than any other group in Ontario.  I suspect many of you feel the same way because the most common answer we received to last week’s communication was “I am not feeling it is safe to come back together yet” or “if the service is that limited then I am not interested in coming yet.”  Others are rather excited to come together and many options were offered on how to make it work best.

Having heard all of these, weighed our options, read many articles about what is permitted and what others are doing, we as staff have decided upon the following as our first steps:

  1. Wait until July to start.
  2. Start with taping the service on Thursday evenings with a “live studio audience.”
  3. Continue to offer this recorded service on YouTube.

Allow me to explain our reasoning.  We want to get back to worshipping together.  We want to begin the process of moving there.  However, there are many steps to take and we want to take them in a helpful way.  At present, the majority of people plan to watch the service online and so we want to make sure that is available on Sunday morning which we consider the traditional “prime time” for a worship service.  In order for there to be a recorded service on Sunday, we need to record earlier.  We do not yet have the live-stream capability, though we are working hard to get it if we can.  You may be surprised to know that a few other churches are seeking the equipment and so there are backorders etc.  For now, those who want to be part of live worship at our building you are welcome to come on Thursday evening. 

Our goal is to try out live-streaming, work out the kinks and bugs if we can (the largest challenge is our internet is not a fiber-optic line and may not be strong enough), and then work toward simultaneous worship on Mayfield Rd or in your home.  This is a feature we would like to maintain on an ongoing basis.

While we welcome people to “Thursday night live”, it is our responsibility (mandated by the province) to let you know the guidelines.  A full slate is being worked on, but it will include pre-registration, answer standard Covid questions, parking in every other space, spaced seating, avoiding bathroom use, masks for singing, not hanging around in the building after to socialize, etc.  So while you are welcome, it will be a distance kind of connection.  It will be good to see people, but connecting might be a stretch.

So here is an “in the meantime” suggestion: as the province allows us each to expand our bubble, consider gathering with up to 10 people to watch worship together.  Or, immediately after worship, gather in a backyard to connect, discuss, and pray.  Or, if you are not ready for that kind of closer quarters, continue to connect online with a group.

As I said, this is how we will start “for now”.  Thursday, July 2 will be the first live worship option and as things change and systems are figured out and more people are ready to come out we will adjust.  Until then, please keep finding meaningful safe ways to worship, connect, and serve.

~Pastor Erick Schuringa