Friends in Christ,

I hear how sad, anger-inducing and frustrating these months of closure have been for you.
Some of you have left the Cayuga Pastoral Charge and have done so permanently.

Some of you are angry.
Some of you blame me.
Some of you blame our leadership teams for being slow to respond when other churches have opened or are reopening.
I hear all of that.
We hear all of that.

I am sorry.
Truly sorry.
We are sorry, truly sorry.
It was not my intention -or the intention of any member of the COVID team or board to make you angry or sad or frustrated especially during this difficult year.

Your COVID committee is disappointed.
We are disappointed because I made the mistake of asking a question.
Because I asked a question, I got an answer.
Because I got an answer, our committee considered it as we made a decision.
Because we made a decision, our Cayuga building will remain closed.

Please allow me to clarify all of that in the interest of transparency:

1) On Friday November 20, two press conferences were given.

One by the Prime Minister

One by the Premier of Ontario

2) I contacted the COVID committee that Friday and asked them to meet on Zoom on Tuesday, November 24 to discuss any new information that these press conferences would bring up—and any new information we received in the time that would pass between Friday and Tuesday.

3) On that same day (Friday, Nov.20) at 5:21pm, I received a phone call from your regional health officer, Dr. Shanker Nesathurai. Dr. Nesathurai was responding to a question I had raised earlier in the day. The question was:

“Do I need to be concerned about bringing COVID into your community because you are in a yellow zone, I am in a red zone and my partner works in a lock down zone.”

He answered my question in an unexpected way.
In the presence of his Executive Director he said:

given the recent uptick of cases across the country and in the Province I would recommend that Cayuga hold off reopening on the 29th because the majority of people who would attend would be in the vulnerable category that all of our actions are trying to protect.  It is far easier to re-open then to shut down again once there has been a re-opening.” He also said “this is a recommendation. A recommendation is not a rule. His office can make recommendations it can’t make rules.”

4) The COVID committee met on Tuesday, November 24 at 7:15 pm on Zoom.

We prayed.
We considered the information from the speeches.
We considered the increasing cases across Haldimand Norfolk, Niagara, Brant and Hamilton.
We considered the recommendation from Dr. Nesathuri.
We considered the vulnerable population of the pastoral charge and how that number is in the majority for our church. (
We considered that Mount Olivet chose to remain closed until the spring.
We considered that Grace United in Dunnville opened for two Sundays than closed its doors and is remaining closed until February.
We considered that South Cayuga is remaining closed until further notice.
We considered Duty of Care.

5) After all considerations, A motion was moved by Jim Smith and seconded by Dave Glenney that the Cayuga building will remain closed until such time as the COVID numbers decrease across the regions. We will revisit this issue in January.

6) The Phone tree was activated to let people know quickly about the decision.

7) We agreed that we would not put anything out to the community until the calls had been completed.

We cannot account for the decisions other churches make— especially when those churches are outside of our denomination. We cannot account for the decisions other churches make within our own denomination. We can only do what we think is best for the safety of the people entrusted to us —given the information we have available to us at the time. This is not a rationalization or an excuse. This is just an explanation of process.