Last month, the Diocesan Office shared the four phases of re-opening church buildings.
Phase I (our current phase): The building is closed, in-person meetings and groups are suspended unless they meet online.
Phase II: In-person services of the word (no communion) is permitted for a maximum of 50 persons with the required distancing between family groups. In-person meetings and groups are still suspended unless they meet online.
Phase III: The building can reopen for rental groups, study groups, small groups, one-on-one spiritual direction, confession and listening prayer while following social distancing restrictions. It also allows for congregations to resume sharing the bread of Holy Communion; something we have all been hungry for.
Phase IV: The unrestricted re-opening of the building (not be possible until there is a Covid19 vaccine). To re-open the buildings, every parish in the diocese must submit a comprehensive application that will be approved by the Archbishop and her team.
Parish Council met for the first time on Saturday, June 6th to discuss how we will move forward.
“[We have] your best interests in mind,” assures Theresa Tancock, one of the Wardens. “There is still so much uncertainty and fear around resuming life together. Although we have been given the green light to begin to look to moving into the next stages of COVID-19 living, we have chosen to do this slowly and thoughtfully.”
Following a lengthy conversation, they voted unanimously to affirm that worship online will continue on Zoom for the foreseeable future. This is to recognize that we are moving carefully through the phases of re-opening.
MP Gallard, a member of Parish Council explains her reasoning behind her vote. “I voted in favour of keeping Zoom as our primary worship service for the foreseeable future because I strongly believe that keeping our congregation safe should be our priority first and foremost, and our second priority making sure that we are coming together as a community. By keeping it all online, we're working to ensure that nobody will be left out or have to make choices about their safety.”
The Council also voted unanimously to affirm a hybrid zoom-in person worship experience once the building does become open for use. This is to allow those who cannot meet in person can still participate in the worshipping life of the community.
“As we think about reopening, I would like our congregation to know we, the Council, are doing so carefully and thoughtfully with the intention to gather in the safest ways possible,” says Katherine Murray, another of the Wardens. “We are making decisions based on information and consultations with the Diocesan office, the provincial health authority, and with our St. Dunstan's community.”
While no specific date for reopening the building was suggested, the council will apply to move into Phase II once the comprehensive application has been filled and a parish-wide survey has been conducted. They hope to have this done by the end of June.
The Council hopes to be in Phase III by September. This will allow for retreats, small groups, and rentals to access the building. The proposed in-person worship schedule for Phases I and II will be Wednesday evening prayer, and (eventually) communion.
Sunday morning Zoom services, in conjunction with the Parish of St. Andrew, will remain the primary worship service throughout this process, possibly even until Phase IV.
Says Theresa, “I very much miss our time together - worship, meetings, social gatherings. I do also realize that through this pandemic, we have managed to stay healthy and safe. I do not want us to lose this level of safety by rushing into moving forward through stages 2 and 3 of Physical Distancing.”
Please hold the Council in your prayers as they navigate this extraordinary time. And keep connecting with your parish family!
We are in this together!