On June 8th it was announced by the government of Ontario that places of worship would be allowed to open their doors to worshipers if they were able to keep their occupancy levels below 30% and establish protocols to minimize risk of transmission of the novel coronavirus.
Bloomington Gospel Church resumed Sunday Morning worship on June 21st, 2020. Given our demographics only a few have opted to return at this time, but we continue privately broadcasting our service via Zoom meeting and providing a recording of the service for those not able to attend in-person or online.
If you are interested in attending for worship, please read the following protocols. If you decide to visit or attend – please contact our office to let us know your intention as we seek to keep to our 30% of capacity mandate.
Things to Consider Before You Come to Church:
There are two major issues to consider before you physically return to our church building to worship together with others: Are you at risk, or a possible risk to others? and, Are you comfortable returning at this time? Please consider these issues each week.
Are you at risk, or a possible risk to others?
Here are a list of standard questions you might be asked at the bank or find posted on the door of a shop. The purpose of these questions is to determine if you are a potential risk or at risk. If your answer to any of the following questions is YES – you should stay home and self isolate. We would recommend that you take the self-assessment online at ontario.ca/coronavirus and follow directions you find there. If you have any concerns, or worsening symptoms – contact your health care provider or Telehealth (1-866-797-0000).
Are you in any of these at-risk groups?
- 70 years old or older
- getting treatment that compromises (weakens) your immune system
(for example, chemotherapy, medication for transplants, corticosteroids, TNF inhibitors)
- having a condition that compromises (weakens) your immune system
(for example, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, other autoimmune disorder)
- having a chronic (long-lasting) health condition
(for example, diabetes, emphysema, asthma, heart condition)
- regularly going to a hospital or health care setting for a treatment
(for example, dialysis, surgery, cancer treatment)
Are you experiencing any symptoms that could be COVID-19?
Here is the list of the most common of COVID-19 from the ontario.ca/coronavirus website:
- fever (feeling hot to the touch, a temperature of 37.8 degrees Celsius or higher)
- cough that’s new or worsening (continuous, more than usual)
- barking cough, making a whistling noise when breathing (croup)
- shortness of breath (out of breath, unable to breathe deeply)
- sore throat
- difficulty swallowing
- runny, stuffy or congested nose (not related to seasonal allergies or other known causes or conditions)
- lost sense of taste or smell
- pink eye (conjunctivitis)
- headache that’s unusual or long lasting
- digestive issues (nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain)
- muscle aches
- extreme tiredness that is unusual (fatigue, lack of energy)
- falling down often
- for young children and infants: sluggishness or lack of appetite
As you can see – many of these symptoms could be other things, but if you (or someone you are living with) are experiencing any of these symptoms – please stay home. (Do not physically attend services during this time)
Have you tested positive for COVID-19?
If the answer is YES to this question, you should be self-isolating until another test result declares you clear. Follow the directions you received with your result. (Do not physically attend services during this time.)
Have you returned to Canada from outside the country within the last 14 days?
If the answer is YES to this question, you should be self isolating until 14 days after your return to ensure no symptoms arise. (Do not physically attend services during this time.)
In the last 14 days, have you been in close physical contact a person who has a) been experiencing symptoms that could be COVID-19, or b) tested positive for COVID-19, or c) recently returned to Canada from outside the country (within 14 days).
If you have lived with, or been within 2 meters of such a person for more than 15 minutes – the government recommend you self-isolate and watch for symptoms. (Do not physically attend services during this time.)
Are you comfortable returning at this time?
You may not be at risk, or be a risk to others at this time – but we all have unique situations and concerns to consider. The news and bulletins about the virus are not always clear and change frequently. Please consider what you have heard or read about the virus, your comfort level, your family / loved ones’ comfort level, and what is being done at BGC for services at this time. Do not feel pressured to return before you are comfortable to do so. Return to the church building when you will feel comfortable and able to focus on worshiping God and not be anxious to be there.
What Will Be Happening At Church:
At this time the church will only be used for Worship Service at 10:00am each Sunday morning. All other groups are still meeting remotely. This will change over time – but for now cutting down on traffic in the building during the week greatly reduces the risk of contamination or virus being transmitted via surfaces.
Doors, entryways, stair railings and pew rails will be disinfected before each Sunday service.
NEW: Re: Mandated Wearing of Masks in Indoor Public Spaces
On July 9th, York Regional Council unanimously approved a mandatory mask policy which will make wearing masks mandatory in all indoor public spaces in York Region. The new policy will come into effect on July 17 and will remain until Nov. 30. Those exempted in the policy include children under the age of five, people with underlying medical conditions, and those who are unable to place or remove a mask or face covering without assistance.
We will be moving to wearing masks immediately and not waiting another week (why wait? – we can be ready for this now). For the first few weeks at least – we will have a limited supply of non-medical masks available to provide a mask for those who do not already have a mask or masks of their own.
As people arrive we would ask that they maintain physical distancing from each other (2 metres apart from people you don’t live with). To control traffic flow in and out of the building we will only be using that front door. We will have a greeter at the front door who will ask the risk questions (see above) and allow people into and out of the building in an orderly and physically distanced manner.
We recommend you arrive a few minutes early for church as there may be a delay before you can enter and be seated.
Hand sanitizer stations have been provided just inside the front doors and inside the sanctuary doors – we recommend using hand-sanitizer as you come and as you go.
When you enter the building you should go to an empty pew (families that live together can sit together). Pews have been roped off so that there will be adequate physical distancing between seats. Feel free to visit with people across the distances but do keep your physical distances to at least 2 meters. (Remember: even if you are comfortable getting closer – others are not – please respect that.)
We must not exceed 30% capacity in the building – so the greeter at the front door will monitor the number of people entering and will have to stop letting people in if we reach our limited capacity. (We don’t anticipate this happening for some time yet – but to avoid the unfortunate circumstance of having to turn people away we are asking that you contact Pastor Peter by Saturday night if you plan to attend the Sunday Service.
Our service will include announcements, music, a prayer time, and a Bible sermon.
The most recent York Regional guidelines for places of worship a) require that singing be limited and b) recommend no congregational singing. We are honouring this by encouraging those present to hum or sing along in their hearts. We will continue to plan music for the services which will be played and sung by the pastor / or a worship leader. (We have not yet been informed if the latest decision re: mandatory mask wearing changes this.)
We will not be getting up to greet each other and we will not be passing the offering plates. (Offering plates will be positioned by the doors at the back of the sanctuary for use before or after the service). Bulletins will be available but they will not be handed out – they will be waiting for you in the empty pews.
We would ask that you do not handle the pew Bibles or hymnbooks during this time in order to limit contact and reduce cleaning. Words to scriptures and music will be projected on the wall (and of course – you are welcome to bring your own Bible).
After the Service
It will be important to remember to practice physical distancing after the service. We are a friendly family and like to chat with each other. We would ask that you follow directions to leave the sanctuary and building in an orderly and physically distant manner and then, weather permitting – hold your conversations outside – keeping appropriate distance.
The bathrooms will be open. Each time a bathroom is used it will need to be cleaned – so we would encourage you – to think about using your bathrooms at home. Of course – use the bathrooms if you need to.
We are working on protocols for the library that will allow access and cut down on risk and cleaning. For the short-term until those protocols are sorted out and communicated – the library is closed. Please do not borrow or return books.
Sadly, we are not going to be sharing food together during this time so there is no real need to be using the kitchen except for preparing communion – which we still need to sort out!
What Will Be Happening With Service Recording:
We are committed to continue recording our services so that those who are at home can enjoy them. We will be doing this a little bit differently – recording the services as they happen rather than the pre-recorded messages we have had distributed early on Sunday mornings.
Services will be accessible via Zoom – live on Sunday mornings. Zoom is a video meeting platform on the internet that allows people to interact via audio and video in real-time. A separate email will give directions for this. Those with computers and internet will be able to connect just before 10:00am on Sunday mornings and watch the service as it happens. Those without computers or internet will be able to call in via their telephone to “listen in” to the service over the phone.
The services will be recorded – as they happen. This recording will be made available on the internet later in the day for anyone who would like to watch it at another time. The recordings will not be available until later on Sunday – after the service happens. Later in the week (perhaps Wednesday) – an edited version of the message (with the slides and visuals added) will be released.
Out next project that we are working on – is to make DVD’s of sermons that can be distributed to those who cannot watch live, call in, or find recordings on the internet.
How You Can Help:
- Communicate with us. The elders, trustees, stewards, care committee members, and pastor are all great points of contact to communicate things about the process that you like, or are concerned with, or have suggestions for improving. We appreciate that between us all there is a wealth of experience and knowledge which can be shared to help make decisions the best they can be.
- Let us know if you plan to attend each week. Again – we expect that we will have lots of room for all who feel comfortable to attend physically at this time – but to avoid any unexpected awkwardness – just send pastor an email or leave a phone message if you plan to attend – (and how many if you are calling for a family.) If we get to the point that we need to think about how we can all attend (and if there are still restrictions at that point) – we will address that situation then.
- Be mindful of each other and care for each other. We are all in different places in our risk and comfort regarding this virus. We want to get through this together — not physically — but as a family in Christ.