St. Andrew’s Huntsville – Fall of 2020
To the Congregation of St. Andrews, as leaders we want to thank you for your continued prayers as we have sought to lead and protect you in this very stressful season of our Church’s life. The difficult decision was made both in June, and again in July, to remain closed for the summer season (even though the Government of Ontario is allowing churches to reopen at 30% capacity). In talking with our neighbouring churches, we know that they have had some successes in reopening, but they have had many challenges as well. We have no illusions that things will be normal when we do come back together again, as long as this pandemic lasts. As Shepherds of this congregation, we have taken a very careful and measured approach. However, as we look forward to the fall, we are planning to reopen our doors in a limited way to allow for worship again. In all of this, we are reminded of Paul’s words to his friends in Philippi:
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus….
WE WILL CONTINUE TO PROVIDE ONLINE SERVICES FOR THOSE WHO ARE UNABLE OR UNREADY TO COME BACK IN PERSON.
a) Our desire in planning for reopening is to continue to lead our congregation in a Christ honouring way, and to comply with the Government’s guidance on meeting together safely during the pandemic.
b) To that end, we must communicate and follow the provincial and district guidelines on physical distancing regulations, and mandatory mask wearing, and follow vigorous cleaning protocols when we meet in our building.
c) We must also follow other important and practical guidance specific to faith communities involving our worship practices and our community life (i.e., no singing, no fellowship, regulated children’s programming etc).
At St. Andrew’s we are taking a staged approach in reopening.
Stage One: Reopening for Sunday Morning Worship. This document will provide the initial basis for our reopening of Sunday worship. Our ‘soft opening’ will be Sun., Sept. 20th with limited seating. This first Sunday will enable us to walk through our protocols, so that by Sun., Sept. 27th we will be able to safely offer services again throughout the pandemic (as we are allowed). For now, the nursery, Light Seekers and youth Bible study will not be available at the Church. Children are expected to stay with their caregivers during the service.
Stage Two: Children & Youth. We are working to get our children and youth programs up and running in compliance with the Government’s guidance on running day camps throughout the province. This most likely will be delayed.
Stage Three: Internal & External User Groups. Finally, we are working toward opening the church to internal and external user groups. This will be the final stage. We are drawing up contracts, and cleaning protocols, so that both internal and external groups will be able to use our building safely again. Thank you for your patience.
Each person shares responsibility for the care of the congregation, by recognizing “not only their own interests, but the interests of others” (Phil 2:4). We would encourage you to use the Ontario Governments self-assessment tool each week prior to coming (You can find the tool at http://covid-19.ontario.ca/self-assessment/) You will also be screened by our volunteers on your way into the building every Sunday. If you are in a vulnerable category, either by age or because of underlying health concerns, please consider remaining home.
Yes! We ask you to reserve your place in the sanctuary for worship every week. This will ensure that we abide by the provincial regulations. You will be encouraged to call the office ahead of time from Monday to Thursday to put your name (and the number of your family members – your pod) on the list. We believe that there will be about 39 pods available. We understand that making reservations for church will feel weird, but this is how we will ensure physical distancing and ensure that we have a record for contact tracing in the rare event of a COVID-19 outbreak. This is a necessary part of the process.
a) There will be new signs up around the church reminding us of our responsibilities to one another to keep each other safe.
b) Hand sanitizer will be available at various stations around the building.
c) Because we are only opening for worship and not for fellowship purposes, only the sanctuary and upstairs washrooms will be available in Stage 1. The basement, library, kitchen and Goforth Fellowship Hall will remain cordoned off.
d) You will be screened outside or as you enter St. Andrew’s. You will be reminded to maintain proper physical distancing and mandatory masking at all times, as you enter the building.
a) The welcome desk will be closed, but there will be volunteers to assist you should you need help.
b) One door will be used to enter the sanctuary and the other door will be used for exiting.
c) Please keep all your belongings with you as you go into worship.
d) To maintain proper physical distancing throughout the sanctuary, you and your social group (pod) will be escorted to a seat by a volunteer. We ask that you do not switch seats.
e) Worship will feel different, even as we gather:
i) Print bulletins will not be provided. The church office will continue to send a bulletin out
by email beforehand (if you want to print it and bring it with you).
ii) We will continue to provide everything you need for worship on the screen.
iii) The praise teams will likely be recorded beforehand and shown on the screen.
iv) Everyone must wear a mask unless authorized not to.
v) Singing is not allowed.
vi) Worship Leaders and the Pastor or speaker may remove their mask when on the stage, separated from the congregation.
viii) Our weekly offerings can be given by PAR, or at the back of the sanctuary on the way out after worship (we are currently looking at online giving so that option may be available soon).
Here are some highlights:
“It is not yet known how long the virus causing COVID-19 lives on surfaces, however, early evidence suggests it can live on objects and surfaces from a few hours to days. Therefore we must follow best practice guidelines in our cleaning and sterilization of the church to ensure safety of all those involved.”
High touch areas including doorknobs, handrails, elevator buttons, light switches, cabinet handles, faucet handles, tables, countertops and electronics will be cleaned and disinfected rigorously.
Trained volunteers will be in place to supervise washroom use and cleaning, elevator use and cleaning, and sanitization stations will be provided at the entrance of the sanctuary (encouraging people to sanitize hands on entry and exit).
All high touch areas will be cleaned and disinfected prior to and following the service; frequent disinfection will take place for entry and exit doors, washroom handles, and handrails.
There will be signs in place to ask those who use the washroom: to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water; to use a cleaning wipe to wipe all touched surfaces (the most important being the faucets, toilet handle, and door knobs in and out).
We will need additional volunteers to help us carry out this important ministry during the pandemic.
Even though we are focused on reopening for Sunday worship, Children and Youth Programming is now allowed in Faith Communities using the guidelines for day camps across the province. We will be looking into way to incorporate children and youth ministry back into weekly ministry in the near future.
Previous COVID-19 Update information.