The Ontario government announced this week that religious services are permitted to open, up to a 30% capacity rate. What does this mean for services at Rideau Park United Church?
- Our Worship and Music Committee met last week to discuss the implications of re-opening our building for worship services, which are currently being livestreamed. Our discussions reflected an abundance of care for our congregation, as well as the impact of physical distancing, controlling numbers and seating, and the absence of singing in worship and coffee time after worship. When we do return to worship, it will not be the worship it used to be.
- There are many safety measures to put in place before re-opening the building. These would include reducing risks for staff when they return to the building, high standards for cleaning and disinfection between room use, whether to require that everyone wear masks and how to provide security at entrances.
- The government stipulation of only 30% of capacity is at odds with the numbers permitted for social gatherings, including funerals and weddings (10 people). We have a large sanctuary, which seats more than 300, but are unclear about the risk involved in having more than 10 people, from a variety of households, with a variety of health concerns, if we were to decide to return to worshipping in our sanctuary. The congregation would have to make allowance for assigned seating, directional arrows in the aisles, and the use of masks.
- RPUC Council Executive has made the decision that, at this time and through the summer months until Labour Day, the church building will remain closed, with the exception of livestreaming for worship on Sunday morning and occasional staff work. The decision was made in order to be as safe and as inclusive as possible for all who normally use the building, whether for worship or other activities. We will use the time to consider how to implement a plan for re-opening, given the health and safety expectations of both provincial and municipal Public Health authorities. We await further information as it is made available. However, the Rideau Park congregation and its leaders are responsible for every one who uses the building and we do not wish to take unnecessary risks at this time.