The Leadership Council will be providing monthly updates on LUC’s COVID-19 response. Below is the first monthly update. We thank you for your patience as we navigate this pandemic with the utmost caution and concern for our community’s safety, health, and well-being.
Dear Ladner United Church Family,
I have the privilege and pleasure to write to you on behalf of the Leadership Council to bring our greetings and information about what is going on at Ladner United Church. We all hope that you are well and that the global pandemic has not reached too far into your homes causing undue stress to you and your families. We know how hard this physical and social isolation has been to our congregation and we all look forward to the days ahead when we can be in each others’ company again.
In the meantime, Council hopes that the information here will help you to know what is happening in the church and where you can continue to “Connect, Deepen and Engage” with each other. This letter outlines some of the areas we are working on including the COVID-19 response, church activities and finances, areas where you can contribute and questions for you as we go forward in this new world.
Foremost on our minds these days is the COVID-19 pandemic response and how that affects our church. The Pacific Mountain Region of the United Church (formerly BC Presbytery and BC Conference combined and reordered) has revised their recommendations and Council is following these guidelines which includes:
- Assessing the Risk – We are a social community and we want to continue to connect with each other, however the Pacific Mountain Regional Council does not recommend expansion to Stage 2, therefore Council has agreed not to resume in-person services, events or small groups at this time. Considering that our congregation includes several older persons and those with compromised immunity, the risk of infection is too great. Online services and meetings will continue.
- Making a Plan – A COVID-19 Task Group has been formed and is asking others to join. We will look at how to slowly move back into the building over the next several months including: social distancing protocols; maintenance, cleaning and safety protocols; protective measures (masks, barriers, washing stations, etc.); clear policies and practices for people who are ill; and communication to congregants and renters/users of our church facilities. If you are interested in joining this task force, please contact the Church Office at (604) 946-6254.
- Moving Through the Stages of Reopening – The BC Government has moved to Stage 3 which allows religious gatherings up to 50 people, but the Pacific Mountain Region has determined for their congregations – and Council agrees – that “the risk outweighs the benefit”. That said, there are possibilities for some small gatherings that may be outdoor and will require strict guidelines. The Council and Task Group will look at the possibility of planning such events later this summer, if the BC Government COVID-19 Stage 3 is maintained.
But all is not lost! We can still meet and connect with each other, and we encourage people to do so! Here are some suggestions:
- Meet outside in small groups of 2 or 3 with social distancing of at least 2 metres and protective masks in the church garden or in backyards or driveways, making sure not to hug or share food.
- Continue to call each other. The Phone Tree is still in use though not as active these days. If you have any needs or would like to be called more often, please contact the Church Office.
- Use Zoom, Skype or Facetime to call and see each other. Seeing one another’s faces helps bridge those distances.
- Have an idea for a book group, bible study, or online gathering? Join or form a new groups that can meet online, including: Broadview Magazine discussion group, Craft Group, garden group, etc. Suggest an online group and the Church Office would be happy to help you set up a Zoom meeting.
- Go for a socially distanced walk or bike ride with others.
In other church business, Council would like to thank Sandy Watson and Joan Angrignon for their work in obtaining the Canadian government wage subsidies and grants to help Ladner United stay afloat. This has helped to keep our staff fully employed and has offset losses in our finances due to not having weekly offerings or renters. That said, we cannot know how long the government funds will be available and our finances are not in the black. Council would like to encourage those who usually donate in the church offering to consider mailing a cheque or submitting an online e-transfer through online banking using the email email@example.com. Immense thanks goes for all of the offerings that we have received through regular pre-authorized chequing, cheques and e-transfers during this time.
There will be a time when we will gather again and hold services, meetings, dinners and other events when we can see each other face to face. Oh, how wonderful that will be! Until then, we ask that you be patient and consider what roles you can play in looking toward this time. Here are some questions that you can ponder and let us know if you have any ideas about how we move forward. You can email any ideas or answers to the church office or call anyone on Council to discuss these (Lydia Ruenzel, Sue King, Ryan Hall, Bob Sisler, Iris Scott, Don Ross, Yvonne McKenna, Sandy Watson, and Joan Angrignon).
- What do I miss or need during this COVID-10 pandemic?
- What needs do I see others have?
- What are some considerations or concerns about reopening Ladner United?
- What are some suggestions for reopening our spaces?
- What are some ideas for having virtual or small group gatherings?
- What else can the Phone Tree do to inform, connect or engage with the congregation?
- What are some ideas for raising funds for the church during this time if we cannot hold our regular fundraising events (e.g., the Christmas Bazaar, Sundays @ 3)?
- What are some spiritual practices that we can incorporate into our services or virtual/small group gatherings?
- How do we reach those who do not have computers or internet?
- What are some ways to reach out to the Ladner community?
Thank you for taking the time to read and consider this letter. Again, we hope it finds you well, but we also know that this is a difficult time for many since this pandemic has increased our anxiety and stress. Connection is an antidote to fear and despair, so let’s stay connected and engaged with each other.
Yvonne McKenna on behalf of the Ladner Leadership Council (Lydia Ruenzel, Sue King, Ryan Hall, Bob Sisler, Iris Scott, Don Ross, Yvonne McKenna, Sandy Watson, and Joan Angrignon).