STATUS as of The Cayuga Pastoral Charge (March 15, 2020)
Cayuga United Church: closed until Easter Sunday, April 12, 2020 (All programming, meetings and rehearsals are cancelled)
Mount Olivet United Church: closed until April 5, 2020 (Pending Review)
While the buildings may be closed, the ministry will continue. The Rev. Debbie McMillan and Glenn Rowell will be available through phone/email/text/social media and in person as necessary.
This decision was not made lightly….
The words below are from the “Emergency Plan:
The United Church of Canada, March 2020.” In times of crisis, the faith community is often the first place people turn to for support, particularly if the emergency has widespread health implications. Yet the very nature of being a community adds an increased level of risk if the emergency involves the spread of a respiratory (droplet) infection. How would we continue to offer ministries on Sunday mornings and throughout the week without putting our ministry personnel, lay people, and participants at risk?
The church’s mission will guide us to do what is right:
• to love one another as Christ loved us
• to provide hope and compassion
• to take action and respond to community need
The United Church of Canada has empowered individual communities of faith to decide how to demonstrate Christ’s love, offer hope and compassion as well be responsive to the ever changing realities of living in a COVID 19 world. Things began to escalate rapidly on Friday, March 13th and our Pastoral Charge didn’t have an answer.
HOW WE MADE OUR DECISION….
(Prayer is a given.) Discussions between ministry personnel, the M and P committee chair and representation from Mount Olivet were based on the best information and the most helpful criteria available at the time. That information included:
an assessment tool from Health Canada; https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/health-professionals/mass-gatherings-risk-assesment.html
the decision to suspend all local gatherings (services, programming and meals) made by the Anglican Diocese of Niagara; https://niagaraanglican.ca/news/ontario-bishops-decide-to-suspend-worship-services
the decision of Cayuga Christian Fellowship to suspend its VBS but hold worship with precautions in place; http://www.cayugachristian.com/
the decision for Gateway to suspend all face to face gatherings (including services meetings and gatherings) https://www.gw.church/covid-19
the decisions made by Haldimand Norfolk County; https://www.simcoereformer.ca/news/local-news/norfolk-closes-facilities-cancels-programs-as-part-of-covid-19-containment-strategy
the decision made by the Ontario Government to close schools https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/ontario-to-close-all-publicly-funded-schools-for-2-weeks-after-march-break-due-to-covid-19-1.4850653
the decision to practice social distancing as stated by the Federal Government https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/health-professionals/public-health-measures-mitigate-covid-19.html
the need for a “deep clean” of every surface in the church as per the Federal Government https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/health-professionals/public-health-measures-mitigate-covid-19.html
and the need for Canadians to take “strong action” to prevent the further spread of the novel coronavirus.” https://globalnews.ca/news/6680382/coronavirus-canadians-313-chief-health-officer/
LIMITATIONS of OUR DECISION PROCESS
We acknowledge that there is a very thin line between response and reaction; however, it is better to err on the side of caution than to be careless.
We acknowledge that we cannot offer a perfect response to this crisis in the context of our community. People will be unhappy and disappointed: ourselves included.
We acknowledge that we made decisions based on the best information we had at this moment in time; our response may change based on new information.
We acknowledge that this decision was ad hoc and made by conversation and consensus between
-the Chair of Ministry and Personnel
-Our Ordained Minister/Chair of Board
-Our Congregationally Designated Minister
-representation from Mount Olivet
ANTICIPATED IMPACT of the DECISION TO CLOSE
This lengthy closure will ensure that recommended social distancing occurs. This lengthy closure will ensure that self-isolation occurs.
This closure will also allow the buildings to receive a deep, thorough and professional cleaning of every personally accessible surface in our buildings.
This closure means that our community groups (Guides and The Rug Hooking Group) will not be able to meet in the building.
This closure means that regular financial offerings will not be made.
This closure means that we will not be offering any services during Holy Week.
This closure means our music directors and music teams can’t practice in the church.
The closure will have an impact in ways we can’t anticipate.
WORDS of HOPE
From Rev. Debbie McMillan
1 John 4:18 (NRSV)
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.”
Fear is an automatic response to what creatures perceive as a threat to survival. Fear can produce a physiological reaction that can cause a creature to fight, to fly or to freeze. We humans are creatures. We still have fear as an instinct; however, we have the ability to control it. This can be done in many ways. One way is to meditate on scripture. In this case, I am suggesting this verse from 1 John. To meditate is to sit quietly and to think deeply and carefully. I have done that on more than one occasion as part of my treatment for anxiety. Each time I do, I feel stillness, calmness, peace and warmth. In those moments, I feel the presence of God draw closer to me. We know that Jesus longs for us to feel confident in Him and through Him. Loving Him fully leaves little room for fear to enter our hearts and minds. That said: it’s okay to be afraid right now. God understands that and wants to help us through it.