I hope that you are enjoying the summer and that you are getting a break, and experiencing a slower than usual pace of life. I really enjoyed my time in Chinook Winds in July. It was great to connect in person with staff, and with some of you, and I appreciated the opportunity to lead worship at Waterton (AB) United Church. We bid farewell to Lee Spice from her role as Pastoral Relations Minister, and welcomed Stephen Harper into the role. Jes Beckerly is fully immersed as Admin Assistant in the Region and it was a gift to have some time to get to know each other.
Safety Measures Still Offer Protection
I am grateful to be able to work from the Okotoks office more regularly as the pandemic restrictions ease. As I head into three weeks of holiday, I realize that many of you are beginning to think about the fall, and the possibility of a full return to worship, and some of you have already returned.
While worship services are no longer subject to restrictions under current Provincial Health Officer Orders, there are many basic precautions that Communities of Faith can implement to keep their services a low-risk setting for transmission. Many of the measures put in place during the pandemic still offer a level of protection and help to reduce transmission of COVID-19. Communities of Faith may choose to put precautions and requirements in place that are above and beyond what the provincial government requires for indoor gatherings . Encouraging or requiring mask use, physical distancing, and restricting activities such as singing or sharing food are all measures that reduce virus transmission.
Consider how those unable to join you in-person can still connect to ministry
The most important message is that staff and congregation members need to stay home when they are unwell. Communication about how important this is, as well as a way to stay connected electronically, will be important to facilitate this goal. PMR’s LeaderShift is offering August workshops to help think about ‘hybrid’ offerings.
Encourage people to be vaccinated
The national church advises us that we should not be asking people about vaccination status. We should, however, encourage people to be vaccinated in order to protect themselves, as well as those who are unable to be vaccinated. You may also suggest that unvaccinated adults wear masks at all times when in the building.
Communion and Offering/Donations
We are still recommending single-serving communion. Pre-cut bread served using tongs or gloves, and individual communion cups served at the front (as opposed to passed along the rows) is recommended.
For receiving offerings, it is recommended to encourage online offerings and/or opportunities to deposit donations into a receptacle upon entry or leaving.
The province is shifting to thinking about COVID-19 the way that we think of other Viruses. I know I have enjoyed not getting a cold or flu these past winters!
Other Measures to Reduce Virus Transmission
In order to reduce virus transmission, it is advised to:
- Encourage or require mask use, physical distancing, and restrict activities such as singing or sharing food
- Promote hand hygiene by providing hand-hygiene facilities with appropriate supplies, and reminding people through policies and signage to wash their hands regularly.
- Maintain a clean environment through routine cleaning processes
- Ensure building ventilation is properly maintained and functioning as designed.
Thank you for doing all that you can to keep each other safe!
Executive Minister for Chinook Winds and Pacific Mountain Regions