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Celebration of Ministry in the midst of a Pandemic

On Friday, April 19th, a new stay-at-home order came into effect in Ontario which includes restrictions for religious services:
  • physical distancing must be maintained
  • guests must wear masks or face coverings
  • capacity limits of 10 people, including officiants, both indoors and outdoors must be observed

This order is in place until at least May 19th and right now we don’t know what the restrictions will be as of May 30th when we will hold our virtual Celebration of Ministries Service.  For this reason, we are planning for the possibility that the stay-at-home order may continue and are following the restrictions as outlined.  Celebrants will be in their homes with only members of their immediate household.  Those who live alone may be in a bubble with one other household.

As people of faith, we are called to uphold the whole community and contribute wherever we can to well-being and safety. We continue to urge communities of faith to carefully consider the risks associated with gathering for worship, even in small groups, and we commit as a region to doing the same.  In planning the Celebration of Ministries Service, we will do what is needed to keep celebrants and participants safe, while honouring as best we can the theological importance of the rituals involved in the service.

Please hold in your prayers those being admitted, commissioned and ordained to Ordered Ministry and those being recognized as Designated Lay Ministers across the United Church during the pandemic, and those who choose to defer until we can gather in person.  They are offering their gifts when and where they are most needed.

Pastoral Relations Commission
The Pastoral Relations Commission oversees the work of promoting the health, joy and excellence of our ministry personnel. Flourish is the program that has been developed to respond to this mandate. In April, Shining Waters offered mental health first aid training to approximately thirty ministers in collaboration with the Mental Health Commission of Canada. The workshops will be evaluated to determine whether this will be offered again in the future.

M&P Committees continue to face unique challenges with regard to COVID-19 and employment. In response, Shining Waters is offering a quarterly check-in on Zoom open to all M&P committee members. The second such check-in took place on April 28th. Our Pastoral Relations Minsters provide updates to participants and then provide an informal time for them to raise specific questions. We will continue these check-ins for the foreseeable future, with the next one taking place in September.

Grants and Funding

There is now granting information for a number of granting sources on the Shining Waters website.  The region is still not accepting new grant requests but we are continuing our work on developing granting priorities and practices for the region in anticipation of a fall funding cycle for 2022.  The new Grants and Funding page is under the Communities of Faith tab.

Call for Nominations

The Intercultural Diversity Commission is seeking  a chair and 6 to 12 members to allow for some regional representation, ethnic/cultural diversity, abilities, gender identities, and with a balance of ministry personnel and laity. Members should have a deep analysis of what it means to be an intercultural church based on lived experience, work in anti-racism and cultural diversity in the church, and a passion for this work.  The term will be three years with a renewal for one term. After a one-year hiatus, an individual may be elected again.  The Commission will meet by electronic or other means 8-10 times a year. The primary language of meetings will be English. Here is more information and how to apply.  Applications are due June 7, 2021.

GC44 Commissioner – The General Council of The United Church of Canada will meet online in July 2022. Shining Waters Regional Council may elect 13 commissioners to attend the meeting and serve as members of the General Council for three years, beginning in July 2022. Commissioners will also participate in educational sessions beginning in February 2022.  Here is more information and how to apply.  Applications to be a commissioner will be accepted between Thursday, May 20 and Thursday, May 27, 2021.

Social & Ecological Justice Commission

Over the past month, the Social & Ecological Justice Commission has been busy with a number of initiatives. 

Good Friday liturgical resources, centered around a homelessness theme, were curated and made available on the Shining Waters website. Many of these resources remain useful even outside of the Lenten season and continue to be available for use by communities of faith.

On April 8th, a number of onsite and virtual vigils were held across the country in support of a Guaranteed Livable Income. Approximately a dozen online vigils were held across Shining Waters, many of which were recorded and will be edited into an online resource as soon as possible. You can read a letter in support of a Guaranteed Livable Income signed by President David Leyton-Brown here

Finally, Shining Waters Regional Council has launched a campaign in support of Paid Sick Days for every worker in Ontario.  A letter was sent on behalf of the Regional Council and almost 200 people have sent their own individual letters to the Ontario government from the Shining Waters webpage. Other Regional Councils in Ontario have encouraged their members to engage with this campaign and send their own letters to Premier Ford.  In addition, Shining Waters has endorsed a letter from the Interfaith coalition Faith in the City, calling on the Ontario Government to help curb the spread of COVID-19 by allowing workers to stay home when they feel unwell, without needing to worry about loss of wages.

Recently, the Ontario Government has announced it will implement a policy of three paid sick days for Ontario Workers.  Unfortunately, this measure does not go far enough to support those who find themselves ill or needing to self-isolate. The Social & Ecological Justice Commission encourages you to send a follow-up letter to the Ontario Government, asking for a more robust program that will protect Ontario workers and help curb the spread of COVID-19.

Shining Waters Staff

We have updated our staff directory on our website to include a little more information about our team and how we are organized. Everyone has offered a short quote about their work. In this issue we are sharing the words of the executive staff. See our renewed staff directory here

Shining Waters Staff pictures