July 22, 2021 COVID-19 Update

Live Preaching & Discussion Groups are Back!

You may have heard yesterday’s public announcement that on August 4th, the state of emergency will be lifted and the mask mandate will be coming to end. In preparation for this, restrictions for faith gatherings have loosened once again, starting this Sunday.


This morning I received an email from Patricia Living, Director of Communications with Yukon Health and Social Services. I was very thankful to have some of my questions answered, and receive some updated recommendations:

1. Public Speaking (Preaching) Protocol: “You can preach without a mask…As long as you are not roaming the church speaking…

  • This Sunday I’ll be preaching live at the 9:30 and 11:00 AM gatherings…and I will remain on the stage. :)

2. Socialization Protocol: “From a social group perspective we are saying stick to six to keep groups small...a discussion group, up to 20 indoors, spaced and masked (until Aug. 4)...

  • This Sunday feel free to socialize in small groups of 6 people before and after the service, spaced and masked up.
  • Organized discussion and prayer groups, ministry meetings and Bible studies can meet in groups of 20, spaced and masked up.

3. Mask Protocol: “…this is only for another two weeks…if possible that congregants remain masked during the service.

  • This Sunday, masks should remain on unless eating or drinking.

What about gathering size, children’s program, and live worship?


As of now, our gathering size is still limited to 1/3 capacity for social distancing. That being said, we have not yet hit our maximum of 58 in the auditorium at a 9:30 or 11:00 AM gathering. So, if you’re ready to reengage physical gatherings, we’d love to have you!


For BASECAMP and Worship, we are still lacking the volunteer base for (1) children, (2) music, and (3) tech to facilitate programming on Sunday mornings. Therefore, the relaunch date for these ministry is still scheduled for the Fall.


That being said, if you are willing to commit to one Sunday each month, starting in August when the state of emergency is lifted, please contact one of the following ministry leaders:

Is full reopening a possibility for this Fall?


We have all learned that infection rates and variants can change restrictions from one week to the next. This past week has been perfect evidence of that. Nevertheless, our leadership has tried to remain unified with our health officials, while striving forward with our Gospel mission.


We pray now, that God may heal both the illness and polarization in our territory. We also pray that a full reopening may be possible by the end of the summer. And Lord willing, we look forward to celebrating Thanksgiving Sunday together at the Arts Centre in October. I am certain we would have much to be thankful for!


Peace,

Pastor Jeremy Norton

Lead Pastor, Mountainview Church

July 13, 2021 COVID-19 Update

Protocol Adjustment Notice

Dear Mountainview Church,


Churches in Whitehorse have experienced considerable confusion over the past couple of weeks, specifically related to where faith-based gatherings fit within the current protocols and restrictions. Yesterday, Faith Leaders were invited to attend a Zoom call Michael Hougen, a Policy Analyst for the COVID19 Response Unit with Yukon Health and Social Services. We were all looking forward to receiving some updated information and having some questions answered. 

Unfortunately, the news was not favourable. We received notice that our COVID-19 prevention protocols should be tightened back up. Which in turn, restricts some components of our Sunday physical gatherings. In our attempt to adhere to Yukon Health requests, and maintain unity with our local health officials, we are requesting the following:


Updated Mask Protocol: “Masks should be worn at all times…even during the sermon.

  • This is a shift back from our previous directive of being able to remove masks once seated (and not singing or speaking).
  • Beginning this Sunday, masks should only be removed while eating or drinking, then placed back on.

Updated Socialization Protocol: “Impromptu socializing before and after the faith gathering should be strongly discouraged.

  • This is also a shift back from our previous directive of social distanced socializing (small groups) with masks.
  • Beginning this Sunday, socializing in small groups should happen outside of the building.

Updated Public Speaking (Preaching) Protocol: “A mask should be worn while preaching.

CAVEAT - There was significant push-back from a number of faith leaders on this protocol for two reasons:

  1. Many elderly and hearing impaired congregants need to see the lower portion of a speakers face to understand what is being communicated.
  2. There can be significant breathing difficulties for a speaker orating for 30-40 minutes while masked.
    • An example was given whereby Dr. Hanley removes his mask when giving public updates even though other officials and media personnel are in the room.
  • This protocol is now under review and pending revision.
  • However, beginning this Sunday, we will be moving back to video preaching for the two reasons listed above, until the review and potential revision is complete.

Other Notes of Interest

  • Regarding timeline, it was asked if these restrictions would last until Thanksgiving, or even Christmas. (No timeline was given other than, “We’re hoping for weeks and not months.”)
  • Our Wednesday night film team can continue as we have been. We have never stopped our pre-recording process, so that system will continue each and every week.
    • If you’re willing and able to join us to set-up or take down equipment, read scripture, or help in another way, email me at jeremy@mountainviewwhitehorse.ca.
  • Please continue hosting Church At Home groups with your bubble of friends and family. We will continue to provide content and discussion questions every week. Please continue prioritizing church-time as a constant in your lives.
  • The church building is still open for those who prefer to attend physically. Our gathering maximum is still at 1/3 capacity, 59 people in the auditorium at 9:30 and 11:00 AM.

We’ve been here before.

This was my first thought this morning as I got out of bed, knowing that I had to write this email. Then as I poured my coffee, it was there again, “Jeremy, we’ve been here before.


On some level it’s a depressing statement, reconciling with the fact that we’re jumping through the same hoops, yet again. Equally, it’s an optimistic statement because we know these hoops, both what they look like and how they feel as we pass through them. Yet, it’s not lost on me that “being here before” isn’t compelling enough to keep us all jumping (for joy) through these hoops…I needed something more, and I’m sure you do as well.


Coffee in hand, I sat down and asked the Lord to give me something encouraging to hold onto to, and to write to you in this message. He led me to Psalm 125:

  • Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever.” (Ps. 125:1)

There it was. With that Scriptural promise God completed my initial statement: “We’ve been here before; trust in Me.


All of a sudden I realize that it’s not about a self-centric pep-talk. It’s all about Jesus; He being at the centre of this whole journey. When we trust in Him, we move past our earthly understanding toward the eternal. It helps us get a bigger, better, and perhaps (whether we want it or not) longer perspective on the pandemic and all the hoops we continue to jump through as we move back and forth through the various phases of restriction and reopening.


Today, this week, this month…and maybe even for the rest of the year…may we choose to trust in Him, so that we will not be moved, and may abide in Him in this moment, and forevermore.


Sincerely,

Pastor Jeremy

Lead Pastor, Mountainview Church

July 2, 2021 COVID-19 Update

Physical church gatherings are open!

Dear Mountainview Church,


Are you confused yet? Believe me; I was too! Allow me to clarify on what transpired over the past couple of days.


On Wednesday (June 30), based on the public restrictions given by Dr. Hanley, it was decided to put our physical gatherings on hold, including our Celebration Sunday happening this week.

Then I started to get conflicting messages.


Not long after putting out our cancellation notice, I had some communication with other pastors who were receiving conflicting recommendations. At least one of them received a direct message from Dr. Hanley’s office that faith-based gatherings were not included in the new restrictions. (Instead, that churches would fall under the same guidelines as restaurants, for example.)


Like I said, I was confused. So I emailed Dr. Hanley’s communication lead, Patricia Living directly, and received the following message back this morning:

  • “No changes have been recommended for faith-based gatherings at this time and they can carry on as long as adhering to the guidelines in place for them. An organized event references something like a concert, a retirement party, outside wedding etc.”

What does this mean for Celebration Sunday?


Well, we’re back on of course! As per the recommendations we’ve been given, adhering to the protocols we have in place, physical church gatherings will remain open for the foreseeable future.


This includes Celebration Sunday! Clearly we have demonstrated safe operation over the past year to remain open. So we give thanks to Dr. Hanley for allowing churches to be exempt. And we give praise to Jesus that we can gather digitally or physically this weekend! 


I’m really sorry for the back and forth!


I realize the frustration of closing and re-opening our physical gatherings within a two-day period. I am so sorry for any disruption to life and planning that it may have caused you.


It was definitely a confusing situation. Especially when recommendations for faith-based gatherings don’t seem to be included in Dr. Hanley’s public updates. That considered, and moving forward, I will make sure to check in with his office before we take action again.


Thank you so much for your patience with me and our leadership team as we continue to navigate this COVID-19 journey. I am now looking forward to Celebration Sunday even more, whether we connect online or in person!


Sincerely,

Pastor Jeremy

Lead Pastor, Mountainview Church

June 30, 2021 COVID-19 Update

Unfortunately, it looks like the Yukon is locking back up.

Dear Mountainview Church,


Today, Dr. Hanley issued new restrictions for indoor gatherings:

Of course, this comes as a disappointment for many us, especially disappointing as this week is our Celebration Sunday. Our physical gatherings were really gaining traction again. And it was great to see so many familiar faces, and even some new faces on Sunday mornings.


Nevertheless, after speaking with our Board Chair and Elder, Mark Shore, we have decided that the best course of action is to follow what has been asked of us, postponing Sunday physical gatherings until further notice.


What about Wednesday filming?


Thankfully, we’ve been here before, and we have a great system in place, so we’re going to continue doing what Jesus has called us to in this moment. If we stick to our 10 person maximum with masks, we’ll be able to facilitate and upload a digital gathering experience each and every week.


And if you’re not on the Wednesday night crew, pull the pyjamas and waffle-maker back out…it looks like Church at Home is back!


What if I’m exhausted and frustrated?


I hear you. I get it. And I feel it too. But we have to keep reminding ourselves of who is ultimately in control…Jesus! He is still on the throne. And He’s the King we need to to turn to, cling to, and call out to in this moment. We might not always feel like it, but we can choose to lean into Him.


Consider the Apostle Paul’s words to the Roman church:


  • “we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)


I know it’s difficult, but let’s choose to be a people who rejoice in these trials, knowing that we’re being built up for our benefit and for His glory.


Looking forward to chatting with you online this Digital Celebration Sunday!


Peace,

Jeremy Norton
Lead Pastor, Mountainview Church

March 2021 COVID-19 Update

We’re starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel!

Dear Mountainview Church,

It has been quite some time since I provided you with a COVID-19 update. Truth be told, I’ve felt like we’ve been in a holding pattern, with no real changes to our physical gatherings for months.

Thanks be to God that there are signs of improvement on the horizon. And I’m thrilled to provide you with a few improvements to our physical gatherings, some of which will begin this Sunday!

Coffee & Tea Station - We’ve been test-running beverages over the past couple of weeks, and it’s been working very well.
  • As always, we only use single use compostable cups and lids, and single serving cream, sugar, and sweeteners.
  • There are two hand-sanitizer bottles at the station. Please sanitize your hands before using the pump-pots.

  • You may lower your mask when drinking, but please do not remove it entirely unless you are seated. (Yup, you read that correctly!)

Face Coverings / Masks - This is perhaps, the most significant update to faith-based gatherings in the Yukon.

  • According to the most recent Yukon COVID-19 update on “Physical Distancing” procedures, “People may wear non-medical masks. It is not required if they observe physical distancing.” After reading that, I’m sure you’re wondering, “What will this look like for Mountainview Church?

    • Face coverings should still be worn when…

      • entering the building,

      • walking around / through the building,

      • obtaining beverages,

      • speaking and singing,

      • during our post-service discussion groups.

    • Face coverings are “not required”…

      • while seated, watching video updates.

      • while seated, during the sermon.

  • Of course, those who prefer to continue wearing their face covering throughout the entire gathering are free to do so.

Congregational Singing - That’s right! Singing is back…although still modified.

  • According to the most recent Yukon COVID-19 update for “Singing and Music” procedures, “Participants should face forward while singing…(not in a circle or facing each other).” This of course, fits our typical mode of worship.

  • Performers should maintain a 4 metre (12-feet) distance from the audience”, which we have implemented by taking out the first row of seats.

    • Important Note: As of now, our Music and Tech Leaders have not yet decided on a date to begin live worship. Musicians and vocalists will continue to practice and record on Wednesday evenings, to be displayed on film during physical gatherings.

  • Please feel free to stand and sing during worship, as long as you are wearing your face covering.

Gathering Size - Unfortunately, even though some of the restrictions are beginning to lift, we are still under the gathering size restriction of 50 people (including staff and volunteers).
  • That being said, we have not yet reached our 50-person maximum in any physical gathering. There is room for you to attend if and when you’re ready.
  • If we start to reach our 50-person capacity, we will institute a pre-registration similar to that used during our Christmas gatherings, and that we will be using again for Good Friday and Easter.
Sanitizing - As more people return to physical gatherings, the importance of wiping down and sanitizing high traffic areas and equipment increases.
  • We’re looking for some volunteers, willing to serve for 15-20 minutes, one Sunday each month, between our 9:30 and 11:00 AM gatherings?

  • If you’re able to help us, click HERE to email our Facilities Lead, Aaron Mones. (Big thanks to Aaron and those who join him to serve behind the scenes!)

Final Thoughts - Most of us remember the polarization that took place when restrictions were first issued. It was a struggle to find balance. Opinions were formed, emotions were heightened, and positions were taken. My sense is that as restrictions begin to lift, there will be a temptation to become polarized once again.


There’s a potential for people to become encamped on whether or not restrictions are lifted too soon, or not soon enough, or maybe even how they should be lifted in different ways. We must be aware of the temptation to become divided, and prevent ourselves from being pulled back down this path.


May we take encouragement from the Apostle Peter, writing to the persecuted church. That we should “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.” (1 Pt. 2:17) And if and when things get difficult, may we remember that it is, “to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.” (1 Pt. 2:21)


This journey has not been easy. And we still have some distance yet to travel. The world is watching us as Christians; how we respond and how we interact with each other through this crisis. May we, at Mountainview Church, continue to seek balance, choose joy, and pursue peace. May Christ and His Gospel Mission be our guide in all things.


Looking forward to seeing a few more of you this Sunday!


Peace,

Jeremy Norton
Lead Pastor, Mountainview Church

Nov. 23, 2020 COVID-19 UPDATE


As most of you already know, cases of COVID-19 have increased in Whitehorse over the past couple of weeks. I'm sure you have been wondering, as I have, "How will this impact our church?" Or maybe the better question is...

"How should Mountainview Church be responding?"
I sent a message to Dr. Hanley's office to (1) ask if there were any new restrictions or directives for churches since the number of cases has increased?  Also, to (2) ask if Dr. Hanley would be hosting another Zoom conference with Faith Leaders in the near future?

They were prompt in responding and answering my questions. Pat Living, the Communications Lead for the Chief Medical Officer of Health, offered the following answers to my two questions:
  • "To address one of the concerns you raised, we have no evidence of community spread. All of our cases so far have a defined or suspected link to travel and/or cases linked to travel.  Community spread is when we cannot trace the point of origin for infection or link cases to each other."
  • "At this time, we are unable to participate in a zoom call with the faith community however I wanted to provide some reassurance that the advice provided earlier this year has not changed and we are not concerned about spread within churches as long as operational plans and numbers are being adhered to."
To conclude, Ms. Living added, "Should the situation change, we will certainly reach out to the faith community to provide further advice and information.A huge thank you goes out to Dr. Hanley's team for continuing to offer help and advice to church leaders like myself, if and when we need it!

We strive forward as planned!
As per the directives received, we will strive forward with the Physical Gathering Strategy that we developed at the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic. We will continue to take a "Your Choice at Your Pace" approach. We will refrain from policing attendees, but instead, encourage each person to choose based on their comfort level.

We will continue to provide options for people to gather each week (1) online through a variety of platforms, (2) at home bubbled in Church at Home Groups, or (3) in the church building for those who are able to adhere to the following requests:
  • Sign-in at the Welcome Desk for contact tracing.
  • Maximum auditorium attendance of 50 people.
  • Social distanced seating in family-friend bubble groups.
  • Refrain from attending if you are sick or have any COVID-19 symptoms.
What if we get more cases?
Let's assume for a moment, that case numbers do in fact rise over the next couple of weeks. We can choose now, how we will respond then. Our human nature will cause us to lean toward fight, flight or fright.
  • We may be tempted to fight, pushing back against authorities and restrictions, or forcing our neighbour to follow our personal mask convictions. Remember that we're still called to be peacemakers (Matt. 5:9).
  • We may be tempted to flight, heading to the mountains every weekend, using the pandemic as an excuse to stop serving and reaching people. Remember that we're still called to use our spiritual gifts. (Rom. 12:6)
  • We may be tempted to fright, hunkering down into isolation, allowing live-giving relationships to become secondary behind Netflix and YouTube. Remember that we're still called to be in community. (Heb. 10:25)
Most importantly, we're still called to be on Mission.
We may be tempted to put our personal Gospel responsibility aside "until the Pandemic's over." We can't do that. We might have to be more creative and more inventive in order to reach our friends and neighbours, but it can be done.

The Holy Spirit has blessed Mountainview Church with brilliant people who have amazing ideas. That same Spirit will bless us with the ability to troubleshoot and problem-solve in order to get the Gospel into our city, our territory, and beyond.

Further infection and restriction may come, but Mountainview Church can not give up our mission based on Christ's Great Commission, "To introduce, baptize, and teach people to follow Jesus."

On His Mission,

Jeremy Norton

Lead Pastor, Mountainview Church

Nov. 24, 2020 COVID-19 UPDATE


Yesterday, I sent a COVID-19 update with current information from Pat Living, Communications Lead for the Chief Medical Officer.

24 hours later, we have some new information.
Today, I reached out to Ms. Living again, for some updated directives for our physical gatherings, based on the mask mandate beginning on December 1st. She stated that "The only change is that masks must now be worn in churches or houses of worship."

Basically, because our Sunday morning gatherings are open to the public, they should follow all public gathering directives.

What about this Sunday?
In preparation for the mask mandate on the first Sunday in December, we will be hosting a practice run this Sunday, November 29th. You will notice the following changes:
  • All staff and volunteers will be wearing masks.
  • Disposable masks will be available at the Welcome Desks.
  • All service components (including preaching) will be video-generated.
This test-run will give everyone a chance to try out what it feels like to sit through an entire worship gathering masked-up. We understand that wearing a mask for extended periods of time impacts each person differently.

This is a Sunday of grace to help our church adjust to the new directives.

What about filming on Wednesday evenings?
I also requested information from Ms. Living regarding our Wednesday evening crew. Honestly, this was my greatest concern; wondering how the mask mandate would impact our filming?

Thankfully, because Wednesdays are private gatherings of 10 people, by invitation only, the directives are not the same. Ms. Living offered the following:
  • "As long as the individual being taped is distanced from the taper [camera operator], this should be fine for announcements and sermon."
  • For music, "if distancing is possible, then you would probably be ok but if standing together in a tight choir group, then masks required."
  • For clarification, can the person being filmed remove their mask? "Yes, if they are distanced from the individual doing the taping [camera operator] and that individual is wearing a mask."
In consideration of Ms. Living's guidance, we have decided that vocalists will not wear masks but will be socially distanced. Instrumentalists (who are not singing) will be asked to wear masks at all times.

The blessing of a recording studio!
Some of you noticed that the Pastor's Office was cleaned out in November, then received a fresh coat of paint. This was in preparation for creating a separate recording studio, which will be put into use starting this Wednesday.

All speaking components (Welcome Host, BASECAMP Kids Moment, Scripture Reading, Preaching) will be conducted in this space. This will provide (1) better audio quality, and the side benefit of (2) increased social distancing. (May God bless this new space and use it for His Gospel and His Glory!)

Two Final Requests:
1. Please do not stop praying for our Music, Tech, and Hosting crew! Each week they are serving faithfully to bring the Church into phones, tablets, and televisions all over the Yukon. They are crucial to fulfilling our mission in this season, and I am privileged to serve alongside them!

2. If you have any of these people in your contact list, would you be willing to take out your phone right now, give them a call, or drop them a text? Despite the changes and anxiety of this season, they continue to keep the Gospel front and centre. The least we can do is thank them and encourage them.

Thank you again for supporting and praying for me as your pastor. I can feel it!

Peace,
Jeremy Norton
Lead Pastor, Mountainview Church

Stay Home, We Deliver

Do you know someone who is elderly, immunocompromised, in quarantine, or is having challenges related to mobility? The Mountainview Church Outreach Team can help!


Simply email outreach@mountainviewwhitehorse.ca with your delivery request for groceries, prescriptions, or other household items; and we'll take care of the rest.