August 5, 2020

Rev. Larry’s Office Hours In The Church Building
Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. He will be available for conversations (pastoral or otherwise) with anyone.

The Sanctuary will also be available for those who might want to come and sit quietly and pray in our worship space. There is also a labyrinth available for prayerful walking (socks required). Access to the building will be strictly controlled – the door will be locked until Rev. Larry lets you
in, and the only spaces available will be the foyer, the foyer washroom, and the sanctuary. All other rooms in the building are closed for now.

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June 8, 2020

*Re: Re-opening*

Today the Ontario government made a fairly shocking (and in my view irresponsible) announcement suggesting that churches are able to return to worship at 30% capacity, even though everyone else in the province is limited to groups of no more than 10.

Faith United will *NOT* be returning to in-person activities at any point in the very near future!

We have a Task Group that will carefully be looking at all the information available, following the guidance of Health authorities, and will make recommendations to the Faith United Council who will make the decisions as when it might be safe to re-open and under what conditions.

I know we all want to return to ‘normal’. That is simply not possible yet. Please be patient, and let’s continue to love one another by staying safe!

Shalom, Rev. Larry

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March 17, 2020

I write this note with a heavy heart. Life is different now. These are very unsettling times. In this note I’ll share the decisions that your Faith United Council made last night. In spite of the weightiness of these decisions it was truly inspiring to see the care and compassion expressed by Council members, how deeply they love this church, and how willing they are to do the hard work of keeping things going in these curious times. 
In-Person Gatherings Suspended 
Things are changing rapidly, and at times the news is confusing, but there is no avoiding the reality that the Covid-19 virus spreads exponentially, and that vulnerable persons (such as many of our congregants) are at greater risk. The way to limit infection is to limit contact, and the responsible way to do that is to show courageous leadership by suspending all our in-person activities (worship, meetings, rentals, everything) and closing the church building to any usage except maintenance for as long as it takes to be safe. 
At our Monday March 16th Council meeting we voted unanimously to do exactly that. We have set a nominal date of April 4th to re-evaluate, but we acknowledge that the more likely date will be well into May, and probably June. That is a stark and upsetting reality.
Council is 100% behind these decisions and emphatically endorses a full and complete shift to being church in a new way for the next while.
“Surely God is in this place!” – but we aren’t, at least for a while.
But we are not stopping being the church! Read on!
Worship 
We already live-stream our worship and will continue to do so. To tune in, go to YouTube and search for “faithunitedchurch” – or click the YouTube link on our webpage.
Rev. Larry will lead worship on Sunday mornings at our usual 10:30am time, with music support, and with minimal tech support to allow for streaming. 
No congregation will be present – but we hope you’ll join us online. And you can even worship in your jammies if you wish!
For those not online we will be offering worship resources to feed their spirits.
Pastoral Care 
In these times of uncertainty, anxiousness, and isolation, it is imperative that we are very intentional about staying in touch and keeping connected. Council is committed to doing so!
Our Pastoral Visiting group will not visit in-person but will make phone calls.
We are determining which congregants are “online” and which are not, and will develop strategies to ensure both groups stay connected. (There are far more options for those online.)
Office and Staff 
Our church office is closed and Stacey and Rev. Larry will be working from home. Phone messages are being monitored!
Council voted unanimously to continue to pay all salaries and benefits for all staff members for the duration of the crisis. Where possible, staff are doing their work in alternative ways.
Finances 
If you are already on PAR (pre-authorized remittance), THANK YOU!
Unfortunately we cannot sign anyone new up for PAR at this time.
We encourage you to continue to make your financial offerings to the church. Bills and salaries still need to be paid. You will not be able to bring your offerings to the church because there is no one there to receive them, as the office is closed.
Another way to make your offering is by clicking the “Canada Helps” donation button on our website.
There is no doubt that this closure will have a significant financial impact on our church. Please do what you can to continue to support our ongoing mission and ministry together.
 
Physical Plant 
The church building will be closed to all church members and all user groups. 
There will be no exceptions. Please do not enter the building. 
There will, however, need to be ongoing maintenance of the physical plant. 
Meetings 
All in-person meetings are suspended, which means alternate locations are not a viable alternative. 
Council will be meeting via an online meeting platform called Zoom.  
 
Online Gatherings 
Things like “The Porch” can, and will, be done interactively online via Zoom starting March 23rd. Watch our website and social media feeds for information.
Other online gatherings and connections may emerge as we are sharing resources with other churches who are in our same circumstances. In times of crisis we help one another!
Communication 
We will continue to send out our weekly “Noticings” email on Wednesdays. Additional notes, like this one, may be instituted to keep people informed and connected.
And again, communicating with people not online is a high priority for us!
These are just some initial considerations. Many more issues will emerge. 
Let us continue to hold one another in prayer and care and we will find our way through these curious times together. We are not alone!
In these times it’s good to remember, and speak out loud, our touchstone affirmation:
Surely God is in this place! Help me notice!
We hope to connect with you for worship online on Sunday morning!
Until then, stay home, be well, and wash your hands!
Shalom,
Larry