The Province of Alberta has eased its restrictions set in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We intend to open immediately but the province has some stringent restrictions (see here) which means our reopening will not return us to normal practices. This letter is intended to lay out our plan to reopen while honouring these guidelines.
This Sunday (May 17th) we are having a Drive-in church service at the C2 Center in Bonnyville at 10:00 AM (an online service will also be available at the same time). You can listen in your car on your radio.
Starting on May 24th we will meet in our church building while honouring the restrictions set by the Province of Alberta. The key ones are:
- No more than fifty people.
- Physical distancing must be maintained at all times (before, during, and after the service)
- Infants and children are to remain with their families.
- There will be only one entrance per meeting space.
- Masks are encouraged but will not be provided by the church.
- We will have hand sanitizer at the entrance. Please use it as you enter and leave the church.
- No coffee will be available.
- The following people should not attend:
- If they are sick
- If they are high risk to the virus
- If they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 within 14 days.
- If they have returned from travel outside of Canada within 14 days’ prior
In light of these restrictions, we will offer the following:
Option 1: Live Streaming - We will be live-streaming the service for those who feel the need to continue to self-isolate. The only difference between this livestream and what we have been doing the last few months is that it will not be a pre-recorded service, so the quality may be different. These live-streamed services will be available online for later viewing.
Option 2: Home Groups - We will have several homes available for those who want a smaller setting. The homes will show the live stream of the church service but you will meet as a group and not just a family if you wish. This group must be less than 15 people.
Option 3: Live service at the church - We will have two services: 9:15 and 11:00 AM. We have a limit of fifty per service in the Worship Center and 30 in the Multi-Purpose Room (MPR) allowing us to host up to 80 people per service. The two rooms will be separated and with separate entrances so we do not cross over. We will direct people to the MPR when the sanctuary reaches its capacity.
Please read the full list of guidelines here.
Renewing Our Call to Join a Life-group
Since the lockdown prompted by COVID-19 pandemic churches have been mandated to cease meeting in large settings. The original rational for the mandate was to “flatten the curve” so as not to overwhelm the healthcare system enabling us to accommodate those most impact by the virus. It seems that the Province of Alberta is beginning to loosen the restrictions and has increased the number to 50.
Now that we know more about the virus our options are becoming clearer regarding its risks. We know the virus is highly contagious but that it only really posses a risk to the most vulnerable people (elderly and those with pre-existing conditions). The overwhelming majority of people can have it without knowing it or without harmful symptoms. There are statistically zero deaths for those under 18 and only around 0.01 to 0.01 for those under forty-five (based a recent study by Stanford University). This is comparable to the average flu. It seems then that our response to the virus needs to protect those most vulnerable while allowing others to get on with their lives.
This prompt us to ask, “What can we as church do now reopen our church while continuing to mitigate the risks?” Let me list a few of our steps to achieve this.
First, the present provincial limitation on group meetings is 15 people has not changed throughout this time. That is about the size of an average small group. Many of our small groups have been put on hold due to peoples fears and uncertainties about the virus. Now that we have a better understanding of the virus its seems there are ways to safely take advantage of that option. We are encouraging our people to begin attending our life groups again using the safeguards that have been communicated through the media. This may include masks, social distancing and frequent handwashing and sanitation procedures. There is a lot of ministry and encouragement that can happen in these small settings to allow us to continue to fulfill our mission as a church.
I have asked Danielle Gervais to begin calling our Life-group leaders to contact you, and those of their groups, to re-establish our meeting times. People who are in the high-risk categories will need to determine if it is appropriate for them. In some cases, extra precautions need to be considered. For most of you any risk is very minimal.
Second, we will begin live services again starting May 25th at our building. A separate letter will be send outlining the details of what that involves (See above). During this time, we will continue hosting online services as we have done the last six weeks. We also hope to host some smaller group gatherings at homes for those not yet ready for the larger setting. If you are willing to be a host of one of these small groups, please call our office ASAP so we can make arrangements. Please join us for these services. Each week we are trying improve the quality and introduce new elements so that they do not become too predictable and boring.
Third, several weeks ago Les Parsons approached me with the idea of hosting meals for those most severely impacted by the effects of the lockdown. A few days later I was contacted by the FCSS with information that the province was providing grants to go toward assisting those effected by this virus. I was able to get Les Parsons connected with the FCSS to look into our options for such a grant. Since then he has gotten the grant and recruited others to provide lunch for those in need. There are several things you can do to help him. First, you can tell those who you think might needed that this lunch available (so far those taking advantage of it is few in number) and second, you can help prepare and provide the lunches by contacting Les at 780 691-6912
Fourth, call and encourage those who you think might need it. It has been documented that as many as one-third of our community has is having mental and emotional trauma as a result of the virus and the lockdown that follows it. Our local economy was already hit hard by the dramatic drop in oil prices but the lockdown brought the impact to a whole new and unprecedented level. Most people cannot work and have no income. The federal aide programs help but they cannot account for, or address the uncertainty such times bring. We need each other to remind us that God must be our basis for hope and contented as our study in Philippians will show.
My prayers are with you all. I, along with other provincial pastors and church leaders, are sending a letter to appeal to the province to allow churches to open up again ASAP. Please join me in prayers that this letter will be heeded so we can worship God together again soon.