July 2020 Newsletter
Property & Finance Report
2020 Elected Executive:
Chair: Heddy Mueller
Vice-Chair: Rick Norberg
Secretary: Kathy Maxon
Envelope Secretary: Sharolyn Molnar
Treasurer: Dorothy Raynor
Financial Committee: Rick Norberg, Don Wrobleski, Marvin Hollender
Mission Committee: Kathy Maxon, Jan Cuggy, Sharolyn Molnar
Parish Committee: Shelley Kretchman, Jerry Erickson, Tyler Foster
Message from Council Chair,
To: Redeemer Lutheran Church congregation members:
I am writing this message as an update on our current situation in regards to COVID-19.
On behalf of our Church council, it has been decided that tentatively starting July 1st until September 30th, 2020, we will be opening up Redeemer Lutheran Church for St. Mina and St. Anthony Coptic congregation for them to hold their Worship services. We will revisit their future Worship services after that date.
At present, as a council, we decided that we will only be having online Worship services through Zoom and delivering Worship services to members that do not have access to Zoom. We will not be holding in-person services in our Church at least until September 30th, 2020. We have come to this decision as a way to try and keep our congregation as safe as we possibly can.
I have attached the Manitoba Guidelines for Faith-based gatherings in Places of Worship and some information that has been given to myself that I wanted to pass on to all members to review. I encourage all to read this information and once you read the articles, please ask yourselves “ Is having to participate in person Worship services this way worth risking your health and safety?”
I know these last few months have been hard, isolated and alone. I am sure we all miss our Church family, not being able to attend in person Worship services on Sunday’s. The Zoom meetings have been good but they are not the same. We realize there are a lot of different emotions and feelings, we just feel that we are trying to keep everyone safe and to do that, for the time being, we feel it is for the best to keep our online Worship services going for now.
Please continue to keep us all in your prayers.
Enjoy your summer and stay safe and healthy.
COVID-19 NOVEL CORONAVIRUS Public Health Factsheet Guidelines for Faith-Based Gatherings in Places of Worship
The below in-person service guidelines apply to both indoor and outdoor faith-based gatherings, except where more specific provincial guidance exists, such as the guidelines for outdoor drive-in events which is available at http://www.manitoba.ca/covid19/resources/index.html.
Places of worship should follow gathering size limitations, and be aware that public health orders around gathering size are subject to change. Preference is given to holding gatherings outdoors, where possible, to further minimize the risk (weather permitting). Multiple services may be needed depending on the size of the congregation. It is important to note that faith-based gatherings in places of worship have demonstrated to be a higher risk setting as shown by the number of outbreaks reported earlier in the pandemic from these types of gatherings. Congregants should focus on adhering to public health guidance on physical distancing, hand hygiene and cough/sneeze etiquette to lower the risk of COVID-19.
The following guidelines should be followed by all individuals who attend places of worship.
Protecting Congregants and Members of the Public • Congregants, staff, and volunteers are reminded to stay home if they are feeling unwell, even if their symptoms are mild
(visit www.manitoba.ca/covid19/about/index.html for a list of symptoms).
• All congregants, staff, and volunteers should screen themselves for symptoms of COVID-19 or exposures prior to entering the facility. Post signage available at http://www.manitoba.ca/covid19/resources/index.html to aid congregants in screening themselves for symptoms and exposures.
• Where possible, congregants should register for attendance at in-person services to ensure occupancy limits are followed. This also allows the facility to maintain lists of all congregants for at least 21 days to ensure appropriate public health follow-up can take place if a congregant is exposed to COVID-19 during the service.
• Designate health and safety representatives to develop processes and ensure congregants are following COVID-19 guidance recommendations.
• Maintain a single point of entry to the building and ensure physical distancing is maintained. Consideration must be given to how people enter/exit seating areas. Line-ups and areas where people congregate (e.g., foyer, washrooms) should be monitored to ensure congregants maintain a physical distance of two metres/ six feet. Floor markers may be installed to help congregants with maintaining separation and signs should be posted to remind congregants to maintain their distance from people outside of their household. Establish different points of entry and exit from high-traffic areas, where feasible to do so.
• Seating arrangements should allow for a two-metre/six-foot separation on all sides between congregants from different households. When standing, a two-metre/six-foot separation is still required for non-household members.
• Discourage in-person attendance for people at higher risk of experiencing severe illness. Those at higher risk, including people 60 years of age and older and individuals living with a chronic health condition or weakened immune system, are more likely to develop more serious illness. Virtual options should continue to be available for those who cannot, or choose not, to attend in-person.
• Consider creative options to in-person attendance such as “drive-in” outdoor events where congregants stay in their vehicles for the duration of the service. Outdoor drive-in events should follow applicable guidelines.
• Encourage congregants to visit their place of worship outside of peak hours if they are attending for purposes other than worship services (e.g., confession).
• If the service is indoors, minimize the time that individuals are together. There is currently no evidence on a specific amount of time that is safe. If possible, increase ventilation by opening windows.
Guidance on Higher-Risk Activities
• Faith-based activities, rituals and practices should be reviewed to determine if they increase the risk of spreading COVID-19, with a focus on those that increase the risk of COVID-19 through contact (touching surfaces) or droplet transmission (sneezing, coughing, singing). Consider discontinuing or altering practices or activities that increase risk.
• Congregants are advised to physically distance themselves from members outside of their household, except for brief necessary exchanges. Traditional greetings such as handshakes should be avoided. Ushers and greeters must maintain a physical (social) distance and avoid physical contact with congregants. Monitor young children to ensure they maintain a two-metre/six-foot distance from other children and congregants.
•Ceremonial traditions that involve close contact, including handling of the Torah scroll or baptisms, should be altered to maintain a two-metre/six-foot separation. Consider alternative methods to the traditional passing of the peace with a handshake, such as a nod of the head, bow or other appropriate gesture that maintains a two-metre/six-foot separation.
• Passing objects between congregants, such as offering baskets/donation collection plates, is not advised. Rather, consider providing online offering/giving options, placing a stationary basket at the front of the facility or offering other alternatives to offering baskets/donation collection plates.
• Instructional settings for children (e.g., Sunday school) should follow the applicable guidelines for day camps at http://www.manitoba.ca/covid19/restoring/index.html. Small group, instructional settings for adults (e.g., bible study) must follow social distancing and gathering size requirements, bearing in mind that there is currently no evidence on a specific amount of time that is safe. Therefore, if possible, minimize the time spent together in-person and increase ventilation by opening windows or meeting outside.
• Singing and playing a woodwind or brass instrument are high-risk activities because the virus can be transmitted through saliva or respiratory droplets. Choirs are not recommended at this time; refer to the applicable guidelines for music (vocalists and instrumentalists at http://www.manitoba.ca/covid19/restoring/index.html). In addition:
• Discourage congregational singing and chanting. Alternatively, suggest congregants hum along to the vocalist, instrumentalist or pre-recorded music.
• Consider a soloist or other lower-risk instrumentalist, such as a pianist.
• Consider using pre-prepared audio or video recordings rather than live vocalists or instrumentalists.
• Provision of food and beverages (e.g. communion) before, during or after faith-based activities or events is strongly discouraged because of the increased risk of the inherent close contact involved with offering and accepting the food/drink. Consider alternatives to traditional methods that maintain physical distancing and follow good hand hygiene, such as:
• Placing pre-packaged food/drink in individual portions at a designated place in the facility for congregants to pick-up, eliminating the need for physical contact between designated serving individuals and congregants.
• Eliminating the practice of congregants sharing drink containers or utensils (e.g., spoon, plates, chalice, etc.).
• Group meals continue to be discouraged. Other social gatherings that occur outside of in-person services should follow all guidelines related to social distancing, group size, cleaning/disinfecting, food/drink and other applicable guidelines.
• Avoid offering shared receptacles for liquid (e.g. holy water fonts). Cleaning and Disinfection
• Ensure hand hygiene stations are available at entry and throughout the facility.
• All common-touch surfaces must be frequently cleaned/disinfected with Health Canada approved disinfectants that kill viruses, at minimum twice daily. Washrooms must have frequent cleaning/disinfection and must be cleaned/disinfected after each congregational service. Developing and posting a cleaning/disinfection schedule will assist facilities in ensuring commonly touched surfaces and washrooms are adequately cleaned/disinfected.
• Shared equipment and objects (e.g., microphones, speakers, ceremonial objects, books, hymns, prayer mats) should be cleaned/disinfected after each use. Consider pre-recording readings and single-use paper bulletins or project materials to alleviate the need for people to share a microphone or hymnals.
• If shared equipment cannot be cleaned/disinfected between congregants, then it should be removed and not used, i.e. songbooks, pens/pencils.
• If it is required for religious/spiritual reasons, touching of ceremonial objects (e.g., statues, religious symbols, rings) may occur if individuals perform hand hygiene before and after touching the object, and the objects are cleaned before and after use.
• Prayer mats, prayer beads, Qur’ans and other holy books and items should not be shared. They can be temporarily stowed away safely.
• If washing facilities are required, they should include hand hygiene products (soap, water paper towels).
SO YOUR CHURCH IS OPENING UP AFTER COVID-19 CLOSURES? IT WON’T BE WHAT YOU ARE HOPING FOR.
MAY 26, 2020 THE REV. ERIK PARKER 57 COMMENTS
*** Guidelines and public health orders for opening up churches are sometimes hard to follow as the long lists can make your mind go numb. The following is a way of trying to put the guidelines in a narrative context, to help picture what “going back to church” might look like in these COVID-19 days. ***
It’s been months of isolation, months of mostly staying home to stop the spread of COVID-19. But active cases are going down (or maybe not), and politicians and business leaders are worried about the economic impact of social distancing. And so, for a few weeks now, things have been opening up. Playgrounds and hair salons, dentists and restaurant patios are letting people come back. And things seem to be going well enough, so the government announces the next phase of opening, which includes increased gathering sizes. And one of the places you have been missing the most, your church, sends out an email telling you that they are going to re-open for an in-person service on Sunday. You heard from a friend that your Pastor was against it, but enough folks were pressuring the council because of freedom of religion, people are getting tired of staying home and surely church should be a safe place right? Plus you are missing your friends, the folks you love to see on Sunday mornings, the other couples that you often go for brunch with following worship. Finally, the big day comes, you wake up excited to get back to this important part of your life, to something that feels a little bit like normal, seeing familiar faces, hearing familiar music, being in a familiar community. You hop in the car with your spouse and make the well-worn drive to church. You notice that the streets are even deader than usual for a Sunday morning.
When you arrive at church there are few cars parked around the building. You go to your normal parking spot, just down a side street, half a block from the church.
You start walking up to the building, but before you get too close, a masked volunteer stops you. They are standing on the sidewalk.
“Please stay there.” they stop you about 6 feet away from where they are standing. Okay… you think you know who this is, but they have a mask on their face and you aren’t totally sure.
“Have you had any of the following symptoms recently: Cough, fever, body aches, difficulty breathing?”
“No, not that I know of,” you say.
“Are you over the age of 65 or have underlying health conditions?”
“No,” you say.
Technically, you and your spouse are 67 and you take blood pressure meds. But it’s no big deal.
“Have you been travelling recently, or spent any time with someone who has travelled recently?”
“No,” you answer again.
You don’t mention the socially distanced backyard BBQ you had with your neighbours the other night, including one neighbour who is a long haul trucker.
“Have you been in contact with anyone who has been exposed to COVID-19, such as health-care workers?”
“I don’t think so,” you murmur.
The babysitting you do for your son and daughter-in-law, who is a care-home nurse, doesn’t count. Family doesn’t count, right?
“Please maintain social distance while you wait in line here.”
The volunteer gestures ahead, where you see a few dozen folks lined up – all space out according to markers along the sidewalk.
Usually, when you arrive at church, you come early to visit with folks before the service, but as you stand in line, people just whisper amongst households. Even though you can see many familiar faces ahead, you cannot help but feel suspicion and fear when you look at the others. You try to shake the feeling, but this pandemic world has affected you more than you want to admit. Another couple lines up behind you and then you hear the masked volunteer turn another family away.
“Sorry, we are at the max group size we are allowed. Maybe try again next week.”
The church stays closed right up until the time of the service. Then finally with 5 minutes to go, the door opens and households begin entering, one at a time. Another masked volunteer is letting people in. Slowly, you shuffle up to the door. When it gets to your turn, the volunteer waves you in. There are two surgical masks and some hand sanitizer laid out on a table.
“Please clean your hands and then put these masks on.”
“Please follow the taped line to pew number 23 and take your seat. Please don’t stop to talk to anyone, and please remain seated for the duration of the service.”
You follow the taped line into the sanctuary, everyone is sitting down in space-out pews by household. The church is eerily quiet, kind of like a funeral with a masked pianist playing quietly.
Finally, when everyone is inside, the doors to the church are closed. Instead of processing in from the back, where the pastor is usually visiting with people before church, the pastor slips in from the front of the church through a side door. The pastor then greets you from behind a mask… which makes them hard to understand. The pastor then explains that there will be no singing in worship, and no praying together or communal responses to the liturgy. You then notice there are no hymnbooks, offering envelopes or welcome cards in the pews. They are just empty. You also didn’t get a bulletin on the way in. Listening to the pastor, they don’t sound like their normal self… forced, stressed, tense? You can’t quite put your finger on it. The pastor then goes and stands in front of a phone on a tripod at the front of the church and starts talking to it, welcoming all the people worshipping online. The pastor explains where the bulletin can be found on the Facebook page, how to share the peace and greet others also watching online. Then the pastor picks up the tripod turns it around and asks you to wave at the phone… which feels pretty silly and weird.
The pianist plays the hymns, but no one can sing. So you just sit and listen. It felt awkward to sing along with the hymns at home, but this feels even more strange.
The pastor then begins worship, and every time you want to say “And also with you” or “Amen” you have to stop yourself. Instead, there is just silence while the pastor imagines how long it would take the folks watching online to give the responses.
The first masked volunteer goes to a mic and music stand on the other side of the chancel to read the lessons. You can’t say join in the psalm responsively, so again you just sit quietly and listen.
Finally, it comes time for the sermon. The pastor preaches about Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit, encouraging you (but mostly the folks at home) to keep the faith. The pastor says that the time will come when the spirit will send us out into the world – but that time isn’t quite yet. And that even though we are apart, the spirit ties us together into one. It doesn’t really feel like the pastor is preaching to you, but mostly to those still at home. After listening to the hymn of the day, the creed and the prayers, it comes time for the peace. The pastor offers the peace but tells you that today it has to be virtual sharing only. The pastor uses their iPad to share with the folks online and talks a bit to the phone again saying hello to people watching at home and commenting.
Then it comes time for communion. Something you have missed for months now.
The pastor puts on a face shield and changes their mask before the Thanksgiving at the Table. You notice that they don’t lift the bread or the wine. After the Lord’s prayer, which you say along with the pastor in your head, one of the masked volunteers steps up to the mic to instruct you on how to receive communion. And household by household you go forward. There is only bread to receive today. You have to hand sanitize again at the front. The pastor is using a set of kitchen tongs to put the wafers in the hands of each person.
“The bread of Christ given for you.” you hear from behind mask and shield. This is not like communion you have ever received before. You aren’t allowed to eat until the pastor has moved away, and then after you put the wafer in your mouth, you have to hand sanitize again (also knowing that pulling off your mask has compromised it because your daughter-in-law gave you a lecture in mask-wearing).
The service concludes with another hymn that you listen to, a blessing and some announcements.
And then just like you came in, you have to follow the tape straight out of the building, one household at a time. The pastor isn’t greeting people on the way out, in fact, there is no one. Just the voice of the masked volunteer in the PA system announcing pew numbers. There are signs that tell you to leave the church straight away, no lingering.
You walk back to your car with your spouse.
You get in for the drive home.
You have no idea what you just experienced. You were at church, there were other people there, there were hymns and prayers, the pastor preached, you received communion (kind of)… but that wasn’t church, and it certainly wasn’t what you imagined when you thought of things opening back up again….
You drive home in silence… realizing that just maybe the world has changed more than you figured before now.
It might take some time to get used to this.
Three days later you get a text from your neighbour, one of the ones you have had a few socially distant BBQs with.
“You are going to get a call from the public health nurse,” it reads.
“I am so sorry.”
A few minutes later the phone rings.
“Hi, I am calling from your local public health agency. I am calling you today as a part of COVID-19 contact tracing.”
Your heart drops and the nurse’s voice starts to sound like the teacher from Charlie Brown. You make out something about a testing appointment, the nurses give you a time, date and address.
Then the nurse says, “I am going to need you to tell me all the people you might have come into contact with in the past two weeks. Especially, any groups in indoor spaces for prolonged periods of time, like doctor’s offices or someone else’s home, or maybe a church…”
Pastor's Thoughts - July 2020
Discipleship in 2020 and beyond:
Matthew 11:28-30 Common English Bible (CEB)
28 “Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.
29 Put on my yoke, and learn from me. I’m gentle and humble. And you will find rest for yourselves.
30 My yoke is easy to bear, and my burden is light.”
People are tired. They are crying out, "I don't want to do this anymore!" "This" being living with COVID 19 in the world. Everyone is grappling to find ways and means to do their living and working in extremely challenging times.
The invitation by Jesus, "Come to me..." and the promise of Jesus, "and I will give you rest..." are such refreshing words. Uplifting words of hope. Resting in the Lord brings to mind the vision of Psalm 23 for me. Lying beside still waters, resting and being refreshed. Then continuing on the journey into the unknown and through the valley. Our ELCIC Bishops, clergy, lay ministers and you, the members of congregations, are all struggling to understand a new way of doing...everything.
Pastors, church councils, worship committees and others have been busy using talents, creativity and technology to continue to provide worship services in each's context and congregations. We didn't know at the beginning when we would return to "Normal". Over the past few weeks, it has become clearer to us all that "normal" isn't going to be the same as pre-COVID days. Throughout the ELCIC it has become apparent that change is the new "normal". Now we are beginning to address the “how-to” of the rest of being the church in the world.
Throughout history, the church has been faced with challenges. A few to consider: In 1517 Dr. Martin Luther began a re-formation by asking questions and changed the face of Church. Other spiritual leaders such as Wesley, Calvin, Hus and others lead the faithful in new and exciting ways. It was not easy. Many died. But hope was rekindled and the gospel shared. While I worked for the Salvation Army, great respect for the "Sally Ann's" grew. As the Industrial Age moved people from rural to city, the need for hope in the lives of the hopeless became William Booth's call in ministry. And the Gospel was heard.
From the time of the first disciples of Christ to our present day, there has always been the question of how to share the gospel with people; the people next door, the people across our communities, and around the world. Looking through the lens of the 21st Century, we understand that many errors were made in how to achieve this goal. In the midst of the stories of pain and hurt are also the testimonies of God's grace, mercy and love. Testimonies of the Spirit of the Lord touching people's lives in unexpected, and sometimes inexplicable, ways.
Redeemer Church Council is leading to the best of their ability. They are seeking guidance through prayers, from our Bishop and our governments. Decisions that are not easily arrived at. Out of love for our members as brothers and sisters in Christ, the council strives to make the best choices for the health and safety of all.
So, here you and I stand as disciples of 2020 and beyond. We, all God's children around the world, are facing the challenge of letting go of what we can no longer safely practice and opening ourselves up to the unexpected and inexplicably wonderful actions of the Spirit. Unprecedented times, for sure. Yes, we are tired. But thank God for the wonderfully uplifting words of Jesus in Matthew. Trust in God's invitation to give everything into God's care, and accept the bidding to rest in God's grace, love and mercy. The future is in God's hands. It will be revealed as time rolls on. And we never walk alone. How much more secure can we possibly be today and always?
Prayer: Holy Lord, grant us strength, patience and wisdom as we travel this challenging journey of change and uncertainty. May the wonder of encountering the unexpected and the seeking of truth in the inexplicable be embraced in our hearts, our faith and our prayers. We continue to lift up Bishop Susan, Bishop Jason and the other Synod Bishop's and clergy as they walk in your wisdom and love. In Christ we pray, Amen.
Finance Report: June 2020
Greetings to everyone. Council hopes you are doing well and staying healthy. As we enter into our fourth month of COVID-19 lockdown we are praying the end is coming soon.
Congregational Giving has been coming in well. Council thanks all those who have given regularly since the lockdown began. Although our monthly totals are down by about $1000.00 for the month. We seem to be kind of keeping up, however, we are not gaining any ground on the shortfall that occurred in January. Our General fund is into overdraft by $2273.53 at the end of May. Our year-to-date deficit on May 31st is $1205.31. We will be paying the taxes and insurance in June.
Thanks be to God.
Rick Norberg, Marv Hollender and Don Wrobleski
The Storm of 2020 Thanks to the 9 people who helped clean up the church basement after the storm last Sunday. The elevator still is not in service. It has to be inspected.