Beloved Members of the Shiloh-Fifth Avenue community;
At the Elders’ meeting, held online, on Monday June 22 the main topic of discussion was the congregation’s return to in-person worship. After considerable debate we concluded that it’s still not safe to go back to the Sanctuary for worship, definitely not before October.
The factors considered, and to be reconsidered in the future, start with the Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s recommendations. Currently worship organizations are not allowed to have gatherings of more than 50 people. This has not changed since moving into phase three. In aggregate, this would not pose an issue for us on most Sundays, however when including appropriate physical distancing requirements for groups it becomes an issue. Our Anglican brothers and sisters have calculated the largest number of people who could fit into the Sanctuary is 14. Therefore Shiloh-Fifth worship – including our Reverend Shannon Tennant, would only allow for 13 congregants including people in music leadership.
Without an effective vaccine or treatment for COVID-19, physical distancing and all other health recommendations i.e. face masks etc. will be required for all of us. For the particular culture of our congregation, this means we will not be able to pass the Peace of Christ in the way we are used to, we would not be able to participate in Communion in the ways we have, and potluck(social) events would continue to be curtailed. There would be no congregational singing, although a very distant soloist or instrumental music would be possibilities.
Furthermore, after our Anglican brothers and sisters have concluded their Worship, the Sanctuary would have to be fully disinfected before we could enter to set up and begin our Service and disinfected again after our service has finished. After-worship coffee time would not be a shared event inside the hall. Children’s Church would also be unable to resume. We, the Elders, are not convinced this is an attractive alternative to our current Worship Services on Zoom.
Moving forward, we want to know from you what are your “must haves” to return to in-person Worship, such as the ability to sing hymns, sitting near other people, and/or participate in Communion. We also want to know what would prevent you from returning to our Sanctuary.
At this time, on Sundays we have greater numbers of people attending worship online and it seems there is something about our online Worship that works well for our community. However, there are also people we haven’t seen since we stopped worshiping in person, if you know anyone who wants to worship with us, but has been unable to, please let us know, so we can find a way to facilitate their participation.
We are a vibrant, devoted, passionate community of faith, even when we are apart. Our faith tells us of transformation of our beings beyond physical presence, and we have had an experience of this already as a faith community when we had to leave our beautiful Sanctuary on Sixth Avenue so that we could be renewed. Renewal and transformation is part of our story as people of Christ, as a denomination and as a community, and will continue to be so beyond COVID-19.
Anthony Damonse, Chair
Shiloh-Fifth Avenue United Church Elders
RESOURCES A curated list of resources available for Canadians to help during the pandemic
CHILDREN and YOUTH Events and activites for children and youth
Please see the links below for our evolving plans to continue supporting each other and being a vibrant, faithful community.
For the time being we’ve settled on doing worship services via Zoom. We’ve chosen this application because it supports a broad array of communication options including telephone dial in participation. Passwords, phone numbers and links will be posted on our HOME page.
Zoom is the application we’re using for Bible Study on Wednesday afternoon, coffee time on Friday morning and eventually an evening group with the beverage of your choice. To manage security small groups will likely be via invitation. Please see our CONTACT page to let Reverend Shannon Tennant or the office know you’d like to participate. Even if you haven’t been part of any of our small groups on the past we’d love to have you with us for fun, fellowship and connection.
A number of people expressed in interest in reviving the Spiritual Friends of the 8 week course. This is a pairing up of people (fairly randomly) to offer each other prayer and spiritual support – over the phone or however you find easiest while maintaining social distance. It’s a commitment to meet weekly or even more often. Please see our CONTACT page to let Reverend Shannon Tennant or the office know you’d like to participate.
There will be regular emailings. For Sundays you’ll get an order of worship, as well as the Bible Background Sheet. (The sermons will be up on the SERMON page so you can read them along. In fact that sermon will probably be a little more formal that what you actually see/hear on the live worship.) We’ll send out some links to music that goes with the theme as well. We’ll try for a newsletter although I’m not sure what will be going on! The prayer list for the week will also be sent out. You can send or call with whatever prayer requests you would have made if we were all sitting in church together and we’ll compile that and send it to everyone.
We’re also going to organize a phone tree. Emails are nice but sometimes you want to hear a voice. We’ll have some special resources for families. Remote movie nights where we all watch the same movie and are able to chat, while enjoying our personal favourite snacks. Other ideas are still welcome.
We’re trying to include people as comprehensibly as possible and for right now these are the easiest ways. We have people who will be in touch with those who are digitally unconnected to us, and if you know one of them, feel free to call them to maintain that connection to the church community.
There’s a lot to do to get this going and this is a marathon, not a sprint. We need to pace ourselves. Not everything will happen at once.
Enjoy the sunshine while you can. Don’t forget to exercise.
grace & peace,
Reverend Shannon Tennant