Faith Leaders from across our city met with Dr. Hanley (Yukon Chief Medical Officer of Health) via Zoom. We were surprised to hear, in his introductory statements, that churches may begin the reopening process this Sunday, June 7th.
Great news, right?!? Depends on who you are. For some of you, this news feels like a long time coming. For some of you, this feels too early. Some fo you are excited, and some of you are nervous. This is why we provided a Physical Gathering Strategy: Your Choice at Your Pace a few weeks ago, to give some guidance to the reopening process.
Now let's get back to Dr. Hanley. Following his somewhat shocking opening statement, there were a number of pre-submitted questions, as well as a flurry of follow-up questions. I tried my best to write down the highlights, to provide you with a decent recap of the meeting. (See bullet points below.)
- Faith-based organizations are considered a blend of business, social gathering, and workplace.
- Faith Leaders are encouraged to create an operational (reopening) plan for their congregations.
- Limit gatherings to a maximum of 1/3 operational capacity, up to 50 people.
- Social distancing should be encouraged, with family / household groups able to "bubble" together in public. (Ex. Households can sit together in one row.)
- Minimalist services are encouraged. Food or beverage, sharing of communal ceremonies, singing, and/or using wind instruments should be discouraged.
- For necessary food and beverage (i.e. communion), use individual pre-packaged options.
- Washrooms can be opened, with ample cleaning / hygiene supplies provided.
- Children's programming may be offered, but should follow the "Day Care" or "Summer Day Camps" guidelines provided by Yukon Health, understanding the increased risk.
- Elderly congregants, and those with pre-existing conditions should "self-triage", knowing the risks when deciding to attend any public gathering during reopening.
- Baptism guidelines are still pending.
Mountainview Church? We're not in a rush. Some of you saw that, "50 people" marker, and started picking out your outfit for Sunday morning. Although a "1/3 operational capacity, up to 50 people" has been given as the maximum, we're going to follow a more conservative approach, outlined in our strategy, aiming for the following dates:
Why aren't we opening to 50 right away? It's not as easy as just opening the doors. Our Ministry Leaders are currently working on plans for how the foyer will function, and how to best utilize the auditorium with the blend of filmed components in a physical context. And these leaders need to connect with their volunteer teams, to find out who's comfortable, and able to assist in these beginning phases.
- June 7th: Phase 1 Begins
- July 5th: Phase 2 Begins
- August 2nd: Phase 2 Continues with Minimal Video-Based Children's Programming
- September 6th: Phase 3 Begins (Pending Yukon Health Recommendations)
Lastly, and most importantly, we don't want to send people away. The worst case situation, in light of the Gospel, would be to send a visitor away because we have hit our 50 person mark. Some form of monitoring and communication needs to be in place before reopening. Like I said, we're not going to rush.
What about this Sunday? If you're comfortable with it, why not try a group of 10? As I unpacked in this week's message, we'd encourage you to begin gathering in homes with your household, family, and close friends, or "bubble" group that health officials have been mentioning over the past couple fo weeks.
Who will you most likely connect with on a regular basis? (Or, let's be honest; have already been connecting with on a regular basis?) Why not form a Church At Home Group this Sunday, or Wednesday evening this week? You can hold a church gathering in a First Century home setting, but with a modern twist.