Greetings Shining Waters Regional Council:
Yesterday the Shining Waters Regional Council Executive met and discussed our Region’s response to COVID-19. Nora Sanders, General Secretary of The United Church of Canada, joined us in our conversation.
In keeping with The United Church of Canada emergency plan the Executive recommends that each community of faith prepare a plan to suspend large gatherings, including but not limited to, worship services. The governing body of the congregation should consider suspending worship or other gatherings if there is a recommendation from local public health authorities or the Provincial or Federal Governments to do so.
We encourage congregational leadership to be attentive and responsive to this emerging situation and be prepared to suspend congregational worship as a precaution and prevention.
If you decide to modify worship as a first step, consider:
• no contact versions of sharing the Peace;
• reduced or no passing of the collection plates;
• consideration of communion;
• increased availability of hand sanitizer;
• increased attention to hygiene for all worshipers and worship leaders;
• limitations on pastoral and community activities; and
• prepare for the possibility that communities of faith may be closed to all public gatherings for a period of time, when required by health authorities.
Also see this helpful link of the Canadian Council of Churches to all denominations and communities of faith.
The Shining Waters website offers resources, support, and advice for those considering online worship and encouraging folks to make their weekly offering through PAR or consider https://www.canadahelps.org .
George Bott (Our Moderator’s father), who has significant experience offering online worship, is offering a webinar on Monday, for folks to ask questions about hosting online worship:
Join Zoom Meeting: Monday March 16 from 2:00-3:30 p.m.
Meeting ID: 243 125 180
Or find your local number to join by phone: https://zoom.us/u/adaLpsFOu2
Who would like to ask questions about hosting online worship for your local congregation?
As a Regional Council Executive, you continue to be in our thoughts and prayers. As we reflected together, several Executive members reminded us of our United Church Creed:
We are not alone,
we live in God’s world
We believe in God:
who has created and is creating,
who has come in Jesus,
the Word made flesh,
to reconcile and make new,
who works in us and others
by the Spirit.
We trust in God.
We are called to be the Church:
to celebrate God’s presence,
to live with respect in Creation,
to love and serve others,
to seek justice and resist evil,
to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen,
our judge and our hope.
In life, in death, in life beyond death,
God is with us.
We are not alone.
Thanks be to God.
We want to express concern for fellow Ministry Personnel and church leadership. Ministry is front-line work, and risk is a part of that. We recognize that it is likely that some of us will fall ill. We are each encouraged to monitor our own health and err on the side of caution. If you feel in the least bit unwell, practice self-care. Stay home. Ask for help. Call on your colleagues and your capable lay leaders to cover for you, as best as they are able. We also thank you for your leadership, prayers and support to your community and our Church.
During this time of Lent, we may need to fast from our normal routine. As with every lent, this is a time for both reflection, prayer and contemplation. If we have to let go of gatherings for fellowship, meetings and worship, or just change how we greet each other, we may want to consider Lenten practice and reflect on what it means to be in community together. Easter will come. With the resurrection, Hope breaks in.
David Leyton-Brown, President, Shining Water Regional Council.
Jody Maltby (Rev.), Staff Lead: Regional and Congregational Support, Shining Waters Regional Council, Emergency Coordinator,
Peter Hartmans (Rev.), Executive Minister, Shining Water Regional Council.