As the warmer weather welcomes us into Spring and the threat of COVID has begun to diminish, I am so thankful that infection rates are finally low enough for long enough to allow some of the public health mandates to be lifted. At the same time, I feel deep concern for the wider state of the world. The convenience of daily routines getting closer to ‘normal’ is in stark contrast to the lives of Ukrainians fighting to keep their freedoms.
Reflecting on the differences between freedom and convenience, I hold our regional council communities of faith in my prayers. I know that BC’s lifting of mandates will require church members and staff to once again take the time and energy to discern the best and safest choice for your church and ministry communities. In her announcement this week, Dr Bonnie Henry encouraged British Columbian’s to be kind and patient with one another in as we will all have different post-mandate comfort levels. I trust that you will take her words to heart as we enter this next phase of our pandemic journey.
As you gather together in person, in the context of lessening restrictions, the regional council strongly encourages these three points:
- Ongoing use of masks for worship
- Careful sharing of food / coffee / social time – having someone serve or individual portions is preferred
- That Congregation members continue to be masked for singing. It is best if choirs are also masked, but if choirs choose to be unmasked, please ensure that there is good distance between themselves and the congregation.
We will all have different comfort levels in different places, and for different situations. I pray that we will practice faithful empathy and commit to keeping United Church communities of faith and gatherings safe for immune-vulnerable members.
Treena Duncan, Executive Minister