Short version of requirements:
- Perform health self-assessment before leaving home or entering the building
- Maintain 2 meter distance between social bubbles at all times inside and outside.
- Masks are mandatory. Secure your mask in place before entering or pick up immediately upon entry.
- Use hand sanitizer on entering building and regularly during your visit.
- Do not sing.
- No socializing or chatting within the building.
- Pick up communion at the back table before you sit down.
- Minimize washroom use. Knock at inner door and wait for washroom to be vacant.
- Fill pews from front to back. Exit from rear to front following service.
- Attendance will be taken to allow for contact tracing.
- Services will be recorded and made available on Facebook and YouTube.
To say the least, we have all faced several challenges in recent months. For many of our congregation, being physically separated and unable to worship together, has been difficult. In light of recent government approval, it has been decided to re-open for worship on Sunday July 12/20 at 10:30 a.m. There will be no adult or children’s classes nor will there be any child care provided during the service. The worship service will not be “as usual” due to the present pandemic, so we want to give you an idea of what to expect and ask for your cooperation with the following guidelines. Our goal is to provide a spiritually encouraging experience and to ensure the health and safety of everyone present. Extensive cleaning will be done after each service.
Our recent survey indicated that about half of congregants would be interested in attending right away or relatively soon, while the other half will take a “wait and see” approach or wait for further easing of restrictions. At present the province is mandating that we operate at 30% capacity, meaning somewhere between 60-75 people in attendance. We encourage everyone to do what seems right for their situation and health circumstances. The province recently permitted each person to have up to 10 people in their “social bubble”. If you come with people who are in your regular bubble, then we encourage you to sit together since the number of useable seats will be restricted. Otherwise, social distancing rules will apply and seating options will reflect this.
- Before leaving home, we ask you to do a health self-assessment (see below). If you answer yes to any of the symptoms, we respectfully ask that you not attend.
- When walking from the parking lot and entering the building, please practice social distancing (remain 2 meters apart), from others who you have not travelled with. This may mean that you wait outside until those ahead of you move away from the sanitation station just inside the entry doors. Only the right entry door will be accessible.
- If you bring your own mask, please secure it in place before entering the building.
- Upon entering the building you will be asked to use the hand sanitizer provided at several stations. It is imperative that there be no physical contact including hugs, handshakes, etc. We ask that you wear a face mask throughout the service. If you arrive without one, they will be available at the hand sanitizing stations.
- Please avoid socializing in the foyer other than a quick hello. There will be no access to your mailbox. After sanitizing, move directly into the auditorium. Once inside, an usher will ask you how many people in your group and seat you according to both the space that is required and the space that is available. FYI – we will be using every other pew to maintain social distancing.
- Communion elements will be provided on the table at the back of the auditorium. When you enter the usher will ask if you plan on participating in communion. If so, he/she will direct you to pick it up off the table before you are seated. Please note: the bread and juice are together in a peel back system with the bread on top and the juice underneath. Please wait until the appropriate time in our service and we will all partake together. When finished, put the waste in the cup holders in the pew until dismissal. Please dispose of the waste in the garbage cans, as you exit the auditorium.
- We ask that you try to minimize the use of washrooms. Our plan is for the service to be approximately 45-50 minutes in length. If a washroom visit is needed, you will notice the outside door will be propped open. Please knock on the inner door and enter if there is no reply. Otherwise line up in the hallway and wait for the person to vacate. Please practice proper hand hygiene (washing with soap and/or sanitizing), before returning to your seat in the auditorium.
- Upon completion of the service a recessional approach will be used to vacate the building, beginning with the back pews. Those sitting at the front may choose to use the emergency exit doors. Please do not stop to chat in the foyer as this will create a bottle-neck. Keep moving until outside and talk with people on the front lawn from a distance as per social distancing protocol (preferably with your mask still on, especially if people are from different social bubbles). This is proven to be less risky and hopefully the weather will be pleasant for several months. If it is raining, there will be less opportunity to visit … or you can bring an umbrella.
- As part of our regular practice, attendance will be taken to record the names of people present at each service. Having this information will be useful for tracking purposes should someone in attendance develop any COVID-19 related symptoms.
- For those who are not able to attend, the service will be recorded and available on YouTube/Facebook on a one-week delay, due to the time-consuming editing process. You will still receive an e-mail bulletin with direction for linking to the service.
Health Self Assessment Guide
In light of the present COVID-19 pandemic, if you have any of the following symptoms, please refrain from attending our worship service: a temperature of 37.8 degrees Celsius or higher, the onset of a worsening cough or difficulty breathing and/or any of the following unexplained minor symptoms – fatigue, difficulty swallowing, chills, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell, pink eye, nasal congestion, nausea, muscle aches, headache, sore throat, runny nose. Also, if you have returned from travelling outside Canada in the past 14 days or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, please stay home.
The worship will be approximately 45 minutes in length. Those leading the service will not be wearing a mask while on stage (which is a minimum of 3 meters to the nearest audience member), but will wear one while sitting in the audience. Here is what to expect during a typical service going forward:
- Welcome, announcements and opening prayer
- Playing a recorded song
- Video suitable for kids (related to the message if possible)
- Don’s message – he will do his own scripture readings
- Recorded song for communion (optional)
- Lord’s Table thoughts with prayer(s) for bread and juice
- Taking communion together with time for reflection
- Prayer for dismissal by host followed by a recessional from back to front of building as per the above instructions.
Please note there will be no singing in the traditional sense. If however, you want to hum or sing softly with your mask on, feel free to do so. Depending on attendance and further directives from Public Health, this policy will be changed when appropriate. No bulletins or orders of worship will be handed out. All pew hymn books and Bibles have been removed. The offering box will be propped open.
There will be microphones in spaced stands on stage. Each will be cleaned prior to service and labelled for use by one person. One set of stairs will be labelled for “up” and the other for “down”. The sound booth will not be accessible during service. No hearing assist devices will be available.
Although the above directives may seem restrictive to some, most will be thankful for them. Like all routines, we will get used to the “new normal” with repetition. Many hours of thought, discussion and compromise have resulted in these measures being enacted. The guiding principle throughout has been to provide a safe worship environment for all, while complying with the present rules and regulations in place for Niagara. If restrictions in the wider society are relaxed, we can always review and revise these procedures. If you are unable or unwilling to abide by these measures than we respectfully ask you to refrain from attending.