The Leadership Council of Ladner United Church met Thursday night via Zoom and a main point of discussion was re-opening the church. Before anyone gets too excited, we more accurately reviewed the latest “Pandemic Recovery & In-Person Ministry (Re) Launch Guidelines” from the Pacific Mountain Regional Council (PMRC). The good news is that we have started to talk about it, however, we still are unable to meet together in-person with the current COVID-19 situation.
The PMRC has put together an extensive and detailed plan that you can download and read here. There is a lot of information and important questions raised for what it means to re-open a church during a pandemic.
We would like to highlight a few key points from the document:
The Region has posed some really good questions that must be considered before a reopening of the church could take place:
What is the need we are trying to respond to?
- Does the risk of illness outweigh the benefit of gathering?
- What is the impact on vulnerable members?
- Where are the signs of hope?
- Can our space provide adequate physical distancing?
- What is the contact intensity, type of contact, and duration of contact?
- How will you ensure all spaces and surfaces are adequately cleaned and disinfected?
- What protocols are needed for rental groups?
- How will new practices be communicated?
- What extra precautions should be considered if participants are at an increased risk?
The document also outlines the three stages of reopening our church (these are not connected to the phases the Government of BC has outlined):
- Stage I: Worship is still online only, with some exceptions for outdoor worship or small group worship.
- Stage II: Worship and other activities resume in church buildings allowing up to 50 participants, with social distancing and other measures.
- Stage III: Full return during the pandemic.
Although British Columbia has moved to “Phase 2” of their Restart Plan, the Pacific Mountain Region of the United Church is recommending that we remain in “Stage 1” which is the continuation of worship online only.
Following the Region’s recommendations, the Leadership Council of Ladner United Church has decided to continue all church meetings, gatherings, and worship online for the foreseeable future.
We know that this is not the ideal way of gathering as a community of faith and that it is extremely difficult to be apart from one another, especially under the current circumstances. We all miss each other greatly and long for the day when we can meet in-person once again, greeting one another with a hug, serving each other communion, and joining our voices loudly together in praise for God.
However, the current reality is that we must hold off on these kinds of gatherings and even when we are able to begin meeting, it will look quite different. We must be prepared for the long journey ahead, for the time it will take to formulate a reopening plan, and for the different ways we must gather both now and in the future. Church will look different than what we are used to for a very long time.
The good news, however, is that we are still the church and we are on this road together. Ladner United Church has a long history of being a congregation who is strong, resilient, and courageous and this continues to be our story. We are still Ladner United Church (even at home) and called to Connect, Deepen, and Engage with ourselves, our neighbor, and with God.
The Leadership Council will continue assessing the risk, making a plan for reopening, and communicating all of this to each of you. As we continue to talk about COVID-19 and the future of the church, we would like your feedback. What are your concerns, questions, and comments as we think about the church reopening sometime in the future?
Everyone continues to be in our thoughts and prayers, and if there is anything we can do to help, please don’t hesitate to reach out. You can contact the office at (604) 946-6254 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Peace be with you,
The Leadership Council of Ladner United Church
(Sue King, Ryan Hall, Yvonne McKenna, Sandy Watson, Bob Sisler, Don Ross, Iris Scott, Joan Angrignon & Lydia Ruenzel)