Dear Trinity friends,
I’ve written a few pastoral letters in the last six months that I never imagined ever writing in my ministry. This one might be the strangest one yet. I want to share with you our plan to return to in-person worship so you will know what to expect.
I encourage everyone to read through this information slowly. Even if you chose not to return to in-person worship right now there are other choices.
Many of you are used to restrictions and precautions in stores and services because of the pandemic. Churches also have guidelines and best practices to follow and we are mandated to create an operational plan which Public Health inspectors can ask to see at any time. Council members have a much longer and detailed document. If you have questions or good ideas to add, talk to us.
Trinity United Church Re-Entry Plan
- Our priority is health and safety: physical, mental, social and spiritual. We will support those who are ready to return to in-person worship and respect those who choose to return occasionally, or chose not to return until there is a vaccine. We strongly encourage you to make a decision that is comfortable for you.
- We will continue to provide worship services for all who wish to worship with Trinity United Church: Online worship through live streaming from the sanctuary to Facebook, by providing the worship video later on the website, by mailing a print worship resource mailed to those who ask, and through in-person gatherings.
- We follow the guidelines provided by the Public Health Authority and the best practices suggested by The United Church of Canada. We recognize that this plan may change with little notice in response to direction of the Public Health, the wisdom of the Executive/Council in assessing risk, or in the event of an issue in the Day Care.
- We will go slowly and plan a phased re-entry. This allows us to practice our new way of worshipping with restrictions, and support one another as we learn new ways of gathering. Those who chose may gather for in-person once a month to start: On October 18, November 15 and December 6.
- We ask for patience and prayerful participation. It is a difficult time, a “not normal” time of pandemic. We will find re-entering strange. We will all make mistakes and forget what we are supposed to do. We will all likely find something to criticize in this plan. We will be gentle with ourselves and one another in the midst of change. We will live into this new way with trust. We are not alone.
- This plan will be reviewed and evaluated by mid-December by Council (after consultation) and an updated plan offered for the New Year with more in-person worship if things remain stable in the Province.
- If you decide to attend in-person worship, check yourself on Sunday. If you are not feeling well, please chose to worship online or request a print worship this week. You will also be asked screening questions on arrival.
- Plan to arrive early so you can be seated by 10:50. It takes longer to welcome you.
- When you park your car put on your mask. We require a mask to be worn from the time you leave your vehicle until you return to your car. (Unless you are medically not able to wear a mask.) Masks will be available if you forget to bring yours.
- Look at the front door (unless you chose to use the ramp.) You will see green tape on the steps indicating 6 foot/2 metre spacing. Please honour the physical distancing requirement and space out on the stairs or wait in your car until the line is shorter.
- You will be met by Ushers who will welcome you, ask you screening questions, ask you to sanitize your hands, and will write down your name and phone number as required for contact tracing. You will be offered a bulletin, (the bulletin will also be in The Friday Email if you chose to print your own or follow along at home.) AnUsher will take you to a seat.
- We are limited to seating around 34 people in the sanctuary. Some seats will be roped off. The best practice is to seat the church from the front to the back but we will try to honour your favourite pew or side if we are able. We ask you not to move around once you are seated but, of course, you can talk to one another. (Come early to talk!) We are not requiring “reservations” and feel that we can appropriately seat all who come. This may change if experience proves otherwise.
WORSHIP & FELLOWSHIP
- While there will be music, we are not able to sing or share spoken responses. The hymn books and the bibles have been removed from the pew racks so they don’t have to be sanitized each week.
- Our service will be about 30-35 minutes long. This is the best practice for online worship and follows the advice of a local music department for managing aerosol density.
- We will not have Sunday School and will review this decision in January. We will provide at home faith formation resources on significant occasions.
- We will place a plate at the door to collect offering. We strongly recommend continuing to drop off monthly offering at Becky’s house or ask about PAR.
- We are not able to serve tea/coffee or share food.
EXITING THE BUILDING & CLEANING
- Please take your bulletin and dispose of it in the garbage or take it home. Don’t leave it in the pew. (Ok, we’ll forgot now and then and that’s ok.)
- We will leave the sanctuary from the back to the front under the direction of an Usher There are green lines in the centre aisle indicating the 6 foot/2 metre space we need to maintain. We ask you not to linger long in the foyer. (Yes, you will really want to talk with each other but the foyer only holds a few people properly spaced.) When you talk with one another in the parking lot, please keep your distance and wear your mask until you are in your car.
It’s really different, isn’t it? And even if you’ve read and absorbed this re-entry plan, it will still be shocking when you experience it the first time. Please remember, this is necessary now. Your Minister and Council are genuinely burdened with the responsibility to create a safe worship experience from the moment you enter the parking lot until you leave. On your behalf, we are accepting the risk the Public Health Authority handed us when they determined we can make our own choice about re-opening in the midst of a pandemic. We ask your cooperation.
It won’t always be like this.
While this is hard and we grieve the loss of the way it was, we also recognize this is an opportunity to create new church experiences outside the building and form a wider community of faith in new ways. We open our hearts to possibility.