Noticings – October 27, 2021


October 27, 2021 

It’s time. Our Faith United Council had a good conversation last week and we have discerned that it is time to have our church return to in-person activities and worship. Soon! The Ontario government and medical advisory groups made announcements in the days after our Council meeting that gave even more assurance to us that returning to church activities is safe to do, with appropriate precautions in place. But of course it’s not as simple as just flinging the doors open and returning to business as usual.

Living through this time of pandemic has taught us many things. One important learning is that we can create meaningful church experiences via technology. We have taken a slow approach to returning to in-person worship precisely because we discerned that the experience would not be meaningful with so many restrictions. Sitting distanced, masked, and silent does not make for an engaging church time. When the pandemic first began we had times when folks were invited to come and sit and pray in our sanctuary because we weren’t able to gather in numbers. Apart from a few curious folks who wanted to walk our labyrinth, no one came. We learned that it wasn’t so much the physical space but our sharing the space together that was the draw.

So we learned how to create meaningful worship online, and our congregation now encompasses a breadth and width that we’d never known before. We have online congregants who may not ever be able to physically join us in the building, but they are absolutely part of our community of faith. In our desire to return to in-person worship we mustn’t leave them behind. So we’re asking you to wait just a bit longer.

Our Communications committee is diligently working on getting the appropriate technology for our sanctuary to be able to provide a meaningful worship experience for both those who will gather in-person and those who will gather online.
Our Reopening Team is diligently working on a plan to ensure that we have the necessary vaccination screening process in place, and that we’re following the appropriate rules (as they are currently changing).

So no, we are not doing in-person worship in the next couple of weeks. But yes, we will be back together very soon – hopefully by November 21st, but that is just a goal, not a firm date. And one of the conditions for attending any event, meeting, or worship time at Faith United will be proof of double vaccination for adults. This is another reason why our online options need to continue to be meaningful.

That’s all pretty newsy – so what am I noticing? I’m noticing that I’m feeling some ambiguity about all this. I desperately want to be back to preaching to a full church, and yet the idea of a full church after being so careful about distancing for so long makes me feel anxious. I want everyone to come back and have a giant group hug, and yet I’m wary that the pandemic is not over, and there are risks to gathering. And I’m a bit worried that as we fall back into our in-person rhythms that we may lose our focus on our hybrid church concept – and that is something I’m strongly committed to continuing to build. So yes, ambiguity is exactly what I’m noticing. Excitement and apprehension at the same time. But it is good to feel that the season is changing.

(Click here for a video version of this Noticings)

Rev. Larry