I am providing a follow-up to yesterday’s messaging around COVID-19 and the intentional steps that we are taking to ensure that our members are safe, and that we are seeking to respond in compassionate and risk-informed preventative ways. Yesterday’s announcement that schools would be closed for a further two weeks after March Break certainly intensified people’s anxiety about this public health crisis. It seems that many workplaces are encouraging their employees to work from home and are postponing conferences and in person meetings. And we are watching images of long lines and bare shelves at our grocery stores. We are all concerned and are seeking to respond in the best way possible to prevent further spread of the virus and maintain a sense of calm.
To that end, having consulted with our Leadership, we will continue as outlined in yesterday’s messaging. We will plan to hold worship THIS Sunday unless advised by authorities otherwise. Please check our website (www.standrewsguelph.com) for information if we are required to close.
To prevent the spread of the virus, please as highlighted by WDG Public Health (https://www.wdgpublichealth.ca/your-health/novel-coronavirus-covid-19):
- If you have traveled to infected areas, limit your contact with others and stay home;
- If you have any symptoms, stay home;
- Wash your hands;
- Don’t touch your face;
- Keep your distance from others (1-2 metres);
- Disinfect and clean surfaces regularly.
For St. Andrew’s, as noted yesterday, we will practice the following:
- We will interact with one another with smiles, bows and waves, and words. We will refrain from any physical contact like hugs or handshakes;
- We will not pass the Offering Plates but will encourage attendees to deposit their offering in the plates before and after;
- We will not have Communion until June 7 as scheduled;
- We will practice SOCIAL DISTANCING. We will sit 1 – 2 metres apart in the sanctuary. “Give Each Other Some Space!”
This morning, I’m adding that effective TODAY:
- There will be NO Church School and Nursery;
- There will be NO Coffee Hour.
This change will be in place for three (3) weeks. It would be our intention to return to normal on Sunday April 5. However, we will continue to monitor the situation and make further decisions as we become more informed.
Our staff are taking extra precautions and ensuring that our building is being cleaned and sanitized regularly. We appreciate their diligence on this.
So at this time, we are NOT cancelling worship or closing our building. We are following the guidelines and recommendations from our public health authorities and will continue to do so. We believe that those who use our building through the week will be doing the same for their groups. However, if you personally would rather not attend worship or programs or groups at St. Andrew’s for a time then please do what you need to do in order to feel comfortable.
Two final things:
1. At Sunday worship, while I will be offering prayers related to the COVID-19 pandemic – it will not be the focus of my attention. In my opinion and experience, (especially with the 24 hour news cycle) we need to think about and set our minds on other things for a time. I look forward to sharing some more thoughts on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount from Matthew 6. The service and sermon are recorded on Sundays and will be posted on our website and the Facebook page in the days following;
2. As we enter this period of ‘social distancing’ and isolation, it is REALLY IMPORTANT that we take extra steps to maintain contact with each other. I’d encourage you to call or email members of our congregation (and neighbours) to see how they are doing. Take the Church Directory out one day and perhaps call people whom you’ve never met before and just say that you go to St. Andrew’s too and you wanted to see how they were doing. Certainly, keep regularly in touch with those whom you do know well. It will be a welcome change from duct cleaners and Revenue Agency calls. Finally, some of our older members may need assistance – maybe they need groceries or supplies – please offer to help them if you are able.
We continue to be in prayer for all who are impacted by this situation. We will get through this together by making risk-informed decisions, taking appropriate precautions to limit the spread of the virus, and being kind and compassionate to each other as we do so.
May God’s peace and patience rest upon us as we navigate the road ahead.
Grace and peace,