IMPORTANT UPDATE – Staged Reopening Plan for August 2020

Please take a moment to read our latest update on our Staged Reopening Plan for the Fall of 2020.


Over the summer months, our leadership has worked hard to plan for and prepare for potentially reopening our building for worship and other activities this coming Fall. The Board is continuing to make preparations in this regard with our rental groups and for other activities. The Session and the Reopening Task Force have met on several occasions to consider the guidelines from Wellington Dufferin Guelph Public Health and the implications for our future in-person worship experience. We can be very grateful for their hard work and dedication over the summer. At every step, the safety and wellbeing of our membership and our community is our top priority.  

To that end, we are now moving forward with a STAGED REOPENING PLAN. Beginning on Sunday September 13, we move from broadcasting our online worship experience through ZOOM from our homes to the sanctuary. Peter Devries and our Tech Team with support from our Leadership are busy getting everything that is needed in place to be able to broadcast reliably and effectively from the Church Sanctuary. To begin, on Sunday September 13 and for a few weeks following, this is what we expect worship to look like:

  • The service will NOT be open to the public or the congregation at large;
  • We will be broadcasting live via ZOOM and the service will continue to be recorded and posted on our website and YouTube channel;
  • Fred Gingrich, our Music Director, will be back but will only be playing instrumental music LIVE. We will not be able to have a choir initially. There will also be NO congregational singing.
    • We hope to have pre-recorded choral music to include in our worship – these recordings will occur during the week and will follow Public Health protocols to ensure the safety of all involved.
  • Those involved in the service will be restricted to Rev. John, Fred, the Tech Team, and a small number of individuals who will act in the future as ‘Screeners’ (traditionally greeters/ushers).
  • All participants will wear masks and maintain physical distance. Rev. John will remove his mask only when he is in the Pulpit and conducting worship.

If you are interested in acting as a “Screener” for these initial Sundays, please reach out to Rev. John (revjohn [at] standrewsguelph [dot] com). He can give you a brief overview of the role and what is expected. We will require approximately six (6) people to act in these roles each Sunday when we reopen more fully. The bonus to serving in this way is that you will be one of the first people to participate in worship in the sanctuary since March.

We are confident that this initial restricted stage will aid in our preparations as we consider reopening for in-person worship potentially by the end of September. Again, we will follow all guidelines and directions from the Government and our local Public Health unit to maintain safety of all who may participate. As we look ahead to reopening to in-person worship beyond this first stage, please be assured that we will continue to maintain an online worship experience. In fact, it is our assumption that most of the congregation will continue to seek to worship virtually well into next year due to the limited seating that will be available in worship because of physical distancing requirements, lack of singing and socializing, and concerns with personal safety. We appreciate and respect whatever decision you personally make on this matter. We will continue to share the Gospel in the variety of ways that we are able and trust that we will be able to continue to sense the unity of Christ in our congregation albeit while not being together in the same way as before.

If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to our Leadership or myself. We thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue to navigate the challenges that the COVID pandemic presents for us as a worshiping community. We celebrate that we have been able to adapt and thrive during this time – our Summer worship attendance has been the highest and most stable it has ever been and has included many people who have moved away as well as our members who have joined us from their cottages. We continue to be inspired and grateful for your generosity. We truly couldn’t do it without your support and encouragement. May God continue to sustain us with strength and endurance as we look forward to the Fall.   

In Christ’s service,

Rev. John Borthwick
Minister | St. Andrew’s Guelph

An Important Update from Our Leadership regarding Reopening and Worship Online for the Summer – June 2020

Please read this notice from Rev. John regarding our plans for reopening to in-person gatherings at St. Andrew’s and our decision to hold worship by ZOOM exclusively until at least September 13, 2020.

An IMPORTANT UPDATE from Our Leadership
You will now be very much aware that the Government of Ontario announced earlier this week that places of worship may reopen at 30% of their space’s capacity. Some places of worship have taken steps to reopen this week and a few others are planning to reopen as soon as next week. 

Our Leadership (Session and Board) decided early on to ensure that we would make plans and decisions about reopening on our own terms as guided by government and public health authorities. We knew that this day would come where the Government would announce that we can reopen with restrictions. We didn’t wish to be pressured into reopening simply because we’ve been told that we can. The safety and health of our members and our guests, as well as our staff, are our priority as we give consideration to this ever changing situation. 

To that end, the Session of St. Andrew’s Guelph agreed that we will continue worshiping online until at least Sunday September 13. Interestingly, this decision falls in line with our sisters and brothers in the United and Anglican churches in Guelph and beyond. Our church building will not be open until we have made the necessary preparations for in-person gatherings. Over the summer, a newly formed group of members from the Session and Board called the Reopening Task Force will review guidelines and directions from various sources including our own Public Health Unit and formulate a plan for a phased reopening of St. Andrew’s. They will be ordering supplies, signage and other necessary items in order to be prepared for in-person gatherings. Special consideration will be given to the sanctuary to determine how we best facilitate physical distancing (about 2 metres) between individuals and family units. We will take the time necessary to be prepared, planful, and preventative. The Old Stone Churches, of which St. Andrew’s is a part, have a meeting with the Medical Officers of Health for Guelph Wellington and Dufferin this week to discuss best practices and gain their insight into our plans for future reopening. We will not make any decisions without their expertise and direction. Again, your safety, and the health of our guests, and our wider community is of greatest importance to us as we take our next best steps.

From time to time, we will provide updates of the work of the Reopening Task Force. Please keep them in your prayers.

Thanks for your understanding as we live into this decision today. Much has changed for all of us. It has been a challenging time. For a community who seeks to love our neighbours as ourselves, the best way to show that love in the midst of a pandemic is to limit our in-person gatherings and prevent the spread of this virus to those very neighbours. So please, join us ONLINE for the Summer from your homes, or wherever your summer plans may find you. Tell your friends to join us too. Perhaps someone new will find a place to call home as we worship online.

In Christ’s service,

Rev. John Borthwick
Minister | St. Andrew’s Guelph