This document sets out the measures that we have put in place and the practices that we will be following in order to ensure that when we gather together for worship, we can be satisfied that we have done so in a manner which takes every reasonable precaution to minimize the risk of transmission of Covid-19. In other words, we are taking every reasonable precaution to ensure that if someone who is present at one of our worship gatherings is infected with Covid-19 (whether or not he or she is aware of it), the risk that the virus will be transmitted to anyone else who is present will be as low as possible.
We are subject to a public health order which prohibits public gatherings of more than 50 people. This means that the total number of people who will be in the building, and in a position to come into contact with each other, cannot exceed 50. Included in this “head count” must be not only the worshippers who are present, but also
· All of the volunteers who are serving as worship hosts (greeters/ushers)
· Any pastoral staff members who are participating in the service on a live basis
· Any worship team members who are participating in the service on a live basis
· Any children’s ministry leaders who are present if there is a children’s program
· Any children who accompany their parents
In order to ensure that we comply with this legal requirement, we have implemented a system under which people must pre-register if they wish to attend a worship gathering. The 50-person limit will be firmly adhered to, so if a person shows up for a worship gathering on a “walk-in” basis (or comes along with someone who is registered even though he or she is not), that person may or may not be permitted to enter, even if he or she is a regular member of the church congregation. Once 50 people have entered the building, the doors will be locked and all others will be turned away.
To mitigate the severity of this requirement, we will be scheduling multiple worship gatherings each week, and adding more as we go along if necessary in order to accommodate everyone.
Whichever space we happen to be holding a worship gathering in - whether it be in the Chapel (the space formerly referred to as the Youth Centre), in the Main Auditorium, or in the gym – the seating will be arranged so that no one is permitted to sit within two meters of another person who is not part of his or her household (or a part of that person’s “extended family” bubble). Worshippers will be called upon to respect both the letter and the spirit of this requirement. It will be our collective responsibility to encourage each other to abide by these measures.
The entrances, exits, hallways and washrooms that worshippers will have access to will be set up, as much as possible, to allow people to avoid coming into close contact with others who are not from their own households. Washrooms will be posted with signs asking people to use them on a one-person-at-a-time basis.
In our parking lot, we will be asking each driver to select a parking space that is at least one space away from any other vehicles. We may be using pylons to mark off certain spaces as unavailable.
Everyone who attends one of our worship gatherings will be asked to refrain from the use of any form of physical contact greeting. No handshakes, no fist bumps, no elbow bumps, no hugs, no kisses. As with the requirement for physically-distanced seating, we are calling on worshippers to voluntarily comply with this requirement, not only out of respect for the staff and volunteers who are working very hard to create a safe environment (and ensure our compliance with legal requirements under difficult circumstances), but also in the awareness that
how each of us behaves when we gather together is observed by others, and that we are called as Christians to avoid exercising our own personal freedoms in any way that might cause a weaker brother to stumble.
For the time being, we will not be serving any water, coffee, tea or food at our worship gatherings, as food-sharing represents a relatively high risk activity when it comes to transmission of the virus. We are exploring options for how to safely provide some kind of food and/or beverage service in the fall. You may bring in to the worship gathering your own beverage from the outside, as long as it is contained in a vessel with a lid or top on it.
On those Sundays when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper together, you will be provided with individually packaged communion elements to consume.
There will be hand sanitizer available for worshippers to use in whatever space we are using to worship. Each of us has by now - 4 months into this pandemic - developed our own practices and rhythms regarding hand-washing and use of hand sanitizer. Worshippers are encouraged to be diligent in continuing to carry out these practices.
Worshippers are encouraged to wear face masks if they so choose, but will not at this point be required to wear them. That may change as circumstances evolve. What we do require is that everyone who comes to worship comes with a heart of grace and love toward others. Shaming other people for their choices has no place in a gathering for worship. Nor is a gathering for worship the place for us to air our personal political views and grievances, whatever they are.
All church staff and volunteers who are involved in “hosting” our worship gatherings will be wearing masks as we greet and serve you. We will also be practicing diligence in our use of hand-washing and hand sanitization.
We will also be carrying out a program of frequent sanitization of all contact surfaces in our worship spaces, including frequent cleaning and sanitization in our washrooms.
It may at some point come to light that someone who has attended one or more of our worship gatherings has done so while he or she was infected with Covid-19. At that point, it will be our responsibility to cooperate as fully as possible with public health authorities, as they try to identify, track down and follow-up with anyone who may have been in close contact with that infected person while he or she was at one of our gatherings.
It will therefore be our practice to maintain a complete and accurate list of the names of everyone who has attended each of our worship gatherings. This will be relatively easy for us to do, given that we will be requiring people to pre-register in order to attend. But it also means that when each person arrives to attend one of our worship gatherings, he or she will not be admitted into the building until he or she has “signed in” with whatever member of our worship hosting team is holding the registration list. Under most circumstances, we will have a small registration table set up just outside of the church entrance.
If you have any questions or concerns that have not been fully answered or addressed by the information set out here, please contact the church office and we will be happy to respond. You can phone us during our regular office hours, which are from 8:30 until 4:00 Monday through Thursday, or you can e-mail our Lead Associate Pastor, Brian Robertson, at firstname.lastname@example.org