Update on the Coming Year & Re-Opening for Sunday Worship

August 4, 2021

Dear Friends of Ladner United Church,

We know it has been a while since you’ve heard an update from the LUC Leadership Council and have been awaiting to hear answers to important questions like:

  • “What will we be like as a post-pandemic church?”
  • “What will this coming year look like as a community of faith?”
  • “When can we worship in-person on Sunday mornings?”

Some of these questions we can’t fully answer yet. Much like we didn’t know what an online church in a pandemic would look like in March 2020, we don’t know what a post-pandemic church will be like in the long run either. However, we have spent a lot of time in discussion, discernment, and prayer to assess where we feel God is calling us to in the coming months and years ahead and we want to share our thoughts, ideas, and some answers to those important questions with you.

“What Will We Be Like as a Post-Pandemic Church?”

A huge part of this discernment has been reflecting on your discussions from our worship service on May 16th, when everyone was put in breakout rooms to consider the following questions (based on Romans 12:1-8):

  • What are some of the sacrifices we, as LUC, have faced this past year?
  • What has been “good” about this year? How have we been “one body”? What gifts do you share as a member of this body?
  • In what ways is LUC being transformed? Where do you sense God leading us as a congregation?

We would like to thank all of you who took part in these discussions. You have deeply impressed us with your thoroughness and your thoughtfulness. Since that time, we have been studying your responses and we noticed three big ideas emerging, which the Leadership Council will focus on in the coming year:

  1. The need for hybrid services which would connect the best of our Zoom experience and incorporate it into our in-person church services when we return to our building.

Many of you spoke about the ways that Zoom has enhanced people’s ability to attend services when they are not physically able to come to church because of health reasons or other circumstances. You noted the special delight of having family and friends join us virtually from far away. You said Council and other meetings have been exceptionally well attended online because of the ability to “Zoom-in” from anywhere. While it was very clear that people are anxious to be back in our beloved church worshipping in person, you were emphatic in saying that we need to find a way to blend our virtual and in person congregations together for future meetings, events, and worship services.

  1. The desire to continue deepening our relationships with one another and deepening our thinking about our spiritual and practical lives in the church.

We have found ways not only to connect, but also ways of deepening our connections, faith, and lives as congregants. People have enjoyed breakout sessions, Zoom coffee hours, and even questionnaires. You talked about our phone tree, and how it has become a good way of connecting with people especially those who do not have family near. Old friendships have been renewed and new ones built, and both have been deepened. There were thoughts about strengthened leadership in all areas of church life and all those who stepped up to take on new positions or lead old ones, and just how much this engagement kept our church life vibrant.

  1. The enthusiasm to pursue the search for a second minister.

The third big idea was the notion that we need to be thinking about how our church can grow the congregation. Who is our congregation? Who could be our congregation? What kind of “growth” are we looking for? You questioned whom we were reaching now and whom we might reach in the future.  We were reminded about the need to search for a second minister and the work that needs to be done providing new programs to serve the needs of all our children, youth, and families.

In all three big ideas, the talk was continually about how we might connect in the future. It was about how we have deepened our faith through intentionally listening, learning and sharing. We became vulnerable with one another talking deeply and sincerely about things that touched us in ways that did not always happen in coffee time at the church. Perhaps most importantly you do not want to lose this depth of connection and engagement in our post-Covid world.

Please look at the answers that we collected from you (contact office@ladnerunited.org if you’d like a copy). They are assembled in the six question headings and they make fine reading. We, as your Leadership Council, take them very seriously. We want to work with you to find ways to move towards the transformation of our church life. As you say, we have thrived despite the many restrictions, hurdles, and hardships of this pandemic and we can now say, “Look at what we have done!”  We have a strengthen and broadened leadership and have had many new volunteers come forward. We have “staying power” and the “ability to think outside the box.”

“What Will This Coming Year Look Like as a Community of Faith?”

We’re still figuring that out, but we do know that things will not be going back to exactly the way they were pre-pandemic. There will be changes and we’re confident that we’ll find the ways to create the deeper connections and the more fulfilling engagement in our church for all. We look forward with gratitude and amazement to all the possibilities before us. Thanks be to God!

“When Can We Worship In-Person on Sunday Mornings?”

As for this question (that’s maybe what you’re more eagerly awaiting an answer to), the church will re-open for in-person Sunday morning worship on September 19th.

We know this date may seem far away, especially with other congregations opening already; however, as we have always done during the pandemic, we recognize that we need to go at our own pace as we prepare for re-opening and all that it entails. The September 19th date was arrived at based on a few considerations:

  • We hope to have a hybrid service up and running by then. A new “Technical Oversight Committee” has been formed under the leadership of Duncan Furniss to review our audio-visual needs, procure quotes, and work on implementing a new AV system for live streaming. To help us in planning for this, we’d love to hear how you plan on worshipping as we return through a quick survey (contact office@ladnerunited.org for the link) – it’s only one question! – “Will you be looking at staying on Zoom, coming in-person, or doing a combination of the two?”
  • The planning of Sunday in-person worship takes some time as we re-think, test, and see how we can safely have more people in the building and participate in worship activities like scripture reading, communion, and the offering.
  • The vacation schedules and time off for staff, the minister, and those in leadership positions this summer means things are taking a bit more time and we think this is important. We recognize how necessary it is for all of us to have some time to rest.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out. You can contact the office at (604) 946-6254 or send an email to minister@ladnerunited.org.

In Christ,

The Leadership Council of Ladner United Church

(Sue King, Ryan Hall, Yvonne McKenna, Joan Angrignon, Bob Sisler, Don Ross, Iris Scott, Joanne Lashley, & Rev. Lydia Ruenzel)