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August 6, 2020 at 8:12 am #4521officeKeymaster
Noticings…August 5, 2020
I’m not sure if it’s the provincial action of moving into ‘Stage 3’, or if it’s that there is a ‘return to school’ plan (however problematic) being floated, or if it’s just that I’m back and feeling a bit refreshed after a couple of weeks of holidays after a long and complicated season of ministry this spring – but here at the start of August something feels different.
I certainly don’t want to give the wrong impression, and I absolutely don’t want us to get ahead of ourselves. Things are nowhere near ‘back to normal’. Stage 3 could revert to Stage 2 or even Stage 1 in a heartbeat if we relax our precautions too leisurely and act as if Covid-19 is all over. It absolutely isn’t. But it does appear that in a careful and limited way that the time is right to look toward ways we might safely start to re-enter some aspects of our church life together.
Here’s one you may not like. Because of the significant restrictions currently in place – very limited seating capacity, masks indoors or around others, no communal singing, staying 2 metres apart at all times, controlled entry and exit, health screening of everyone at the door, no passing of plates (or handshakes, or hugs, or cookies!) – no sharing of communion bread and juice – because of all that any in-person worship experience would feel strange and unsettling. In other words, so weird as to be un-worshipful. So we will not be gathering Sunday mornings for in-person worship for the foreseeable future. That’s hard, but it’s the loving thing to do.
So what can we do? I’m glad you asked! We’re going to try a re-entry experiment.
To begin, I am going to start to have ‘Office Hours’ at the church on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. I will be there to have conversations (pastoral or otherwise) with anyone.
*NB – just Larry, not Stacey at this time.*
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 I let 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. Nyron our custodian is back on the job and will be working toward cleaning and disinfecting according to the new protocols that are required.
We’re hoping for a few things with this move.
One is that while I’ve been available all along it will feel like I’m more available if a person wanted to drop in at the church to see me.
Another is that while we affirm that God is in every place there is no denying that our shared worship space is a sacred sanctuary deeply imbued with meaning and spiritual resonance for us, and there’s nothing quite like praying in the church sanctuary. This experiment will create an opportunity for those who wish to come and pray at church.
A third is that this is at least a symbolic indication that we are moving through this long, difficult season, and that we can look forward to increasingly more opportunities to re-engage with our Faith community through the fall.
This is our first step toward re-entering. It’s a small, limited, careful step. Our ‘Re-entering Task Group’ is meeting weekly to learn from this experiment and discern about further possibilities and time lines for September and beyond. We absolutely don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, and yet, there’s no denying that something feels different at this point. It’s not back to normal, or even a “new normal” yet – but it is a step. And that feels right.
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