The Return

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)
  • chills
  • 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.

Before Service

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.  

Because there may be a delay before you can enter and be seated – we recommend you come a few minutes early.

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.)

Hand sanitizer stations have been provided just inside the front doors and inside the sanctuary doors.  You are welcome to wear PPE (personal protective equipment) like masks, gloves, face shields, etc. – but we are not requiring it.

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 the church office (leave a message if you need to) at 905-409-9505 or office@bloomingtongospel.com by Saturday night if you plan to attend the Sunday Service.

During Service

Our service will include announcements, singing, a prayer time, and a message from the Bible.  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).

Some have wondered about singing as we typically expel air more forcefully to sing than to talk.  We have made the spacing between usable pews greater than 2 meters, and would encourage you not to sing “at the top of your lungs” – but we do recognize this is a concern for some.  Do consider if you are comfortable with being with others with singing as you make your decision about returning.

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.

Other Items

Bathrooms

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.

Library

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.

Kitchen

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. The recordings will not be available until later on Sunday – after the service happens.

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 an email or leave a phone message (905-409-9505) 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.

Friday Recap – March 20 2020

It’s Friday. So here’s the weekend – but not like weekends we’re used to. This week seems to have brought more changes than the week before and here at BGC we’ve been adapting. We are trying to keep you up-to-date and included in all that’s going on here. Part of that will be Friday Recaps to sum up the week – and here’s the first one:

Changes to Programming at BGC

Following the recommendations and subsequent directives of our governments and health officials we are not currently holding services or meetings at BGC. This means no Sunday school, Sunday Worship Services, or Small Group Bible Studies — IN PERSON. Instead we are stepping up other forms of communication with each other including phone-calls, emails, updates via the website – and coming this weekend – messages online with special music in the works. (More details on Sunday messages and interaction to follow). Our leadership teams and committees have been meeting via conference calls, which seems to be working ok! Our hope is that we feel just as connected with each other and continue encouraging each other in meaningful ways even while we cannot meet face to face.

What we can do together.

We’re all learning how to do church together in a new situation – so we would encourage everyone to take part in sharing and caring for each other in new and old ways – that are just ‘different’ from what we are used to.

In terms of supporting the ongoing ministry, the Trustees have encouraged us to use the online giving available through the church website (www.bloomingtongospel.com), mailing or dropping off cheques to the church postbox. A bank deposit will be done once a week starting next Saturday.

Today’s Recommended Reading

What are you reading these days? With so much media coverage of the quickly changing impact of this virus we could easily feel overwhelmed. Have you read something recently that helped you with perspective or outlook? Feel free to share it. Pass it along to Pastor and he’ll use some of them to pass along to others. Here’s one that helps us answer “What can we do?”

Thursday, March 19

Thought for the Day:

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:6 (NIV)

I think we are all a little surprised by the difference a few weeks can make in the routines and expectations of our days and lives. The COVID-19 virus has us reorganizing and reprioritizing, but for those of us who have eternity in our hearts – our response — beyond perhaps an initial wobble — should be to trust God and have peace about His authority and promises. Our confidence in who God is – demonstrated in the love and power of Christ – brightens our hearts and radiates out of our lives.

Plenty of people, perhaps your neighbours, coworkers, and family – have a lot of concerns. The same concerns you have! But, for those who do not have your confidence in the power and love of God… the concerns are darker. Let us think of what we can do and say to express our confidence in God and shed a little light. As your burdens are a little lighter because of your hope in Christ – find room to help bear someone else’s. Make a phone-call to share some care and hope. When you go out – pick up groceries for an elderly neighbour. Offer to pray with a friend or loved one who is feeling fearful or overwhelmed. Let your light – the light of Christ – shine in and out of your hearts.

— Pastor Peter

Church Updates:

The Trustees Committee would like to remind you that while we aren’t currently meeting together at the church – your financial support of the ministry and missions are still very much needed and appreciated. You can give online following the menu link here on the website, or you can mail or drop off a cheque (no cash please).

The Care Committee would invite anyone who could use a phone call, or someone to pick up their groceries, etc. to ask. We are standing by ready to care for each other – so don’t hesitate to share a need. Contact a committee member – or Pastor Peter.

Pastor is still working out details for at least a message to be shared online this Sunday morning. We will ramp up our online ability in the days to come. For those of you who use social media – our church Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram accounts haven’t been used a lot so far – but they are linked below and you will get updates there and can also interact with each other in that way!

March 18, 2020 – BGC Update

Today we continue to step up efforts to communicate with each other in new as well as old ways.  The care-committee is taking on part of the role of connecting with our church family.  Last night the Properties Team (or Trustees & Stewards Committee) met via conference call to talk about next steps from their perspective.  A note from them will be going out to the congregation tonight or tomorrow.

If you are part of our congregation and have not been receiving email updates – make sure we have your email address.

Here’s a devotional thought shared in an email from YouVersion (a Bible App for smartphones):

Choose Faith over Fear

“What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”

Matthew 8:27

Think about the disciples hanging out with Jesus on a boat when a life-threatening storm erupts on the water. They’re unprepared to face it and, panicking, realize they might die. The entire time this is happening, Jesus is sleeping peacefully.

Instead of looking at Jesus’ reaction to their situation, the disciples allowed their situation to dictate their reactions.

After begging Jesus to do something, He calms the storm… But not before asking them, “Why are you afraid?”

His gentle rebuke over their lack of faith wasn’t because they didn’t believe Jesus could save them from the storm, but because they struggled to believe He would see them through it.

When we find ourselves in storms we can’t control, how do we respond with faith? Here are three encouraging truths to remember:

  1. God has power over every storm.  If the wind and waves don’t concern Him, then they shouldn’t frighten you. You might not be able to change your situation, but you can choose to faithfully trust God in the middle of it.

  2. Fixing your eyes on Jesus leads to peace.  Are you looking at the size of the storm, or turning towards the One who can calm it? It’s only by focusing on God, who knows every outcome, that you can navigate any situation with His wisdom and peace.

  3. Jesus is always in your boat.  It’s easy to focus on your fears when you can’t control your future. But thankfully, Jesus knows your future, and He’s always by your side. And, He calls you to live by faith, not by sight.  Whenever you find yourself overwhelmed by life, you always have two choices: you can focus on your circumstances, or fix your eyes on Jesus.  If you choose to look to Jesus above everything else, you will begin to see that the storms you face are not nearly as powerful as the Savior choosing to walk through the storm alongside you.

March 17 2020 – Update

Just a short update today…

Some operational updates to report as we move to adapt to the current realities of ‘social-distancing’.  Again, this means for the time-being – no meetings together at the church – but we are figuring out ways to continue, and in-fact grow our communication with each other.

Earlier today the Care Committee met via conference call and will be rolling out regular ‘checking-in’ with each other.  They are taking on the roll of doing this in a more ‘official’ or ‘intentional’ capacity – but they would and will encourage you to reach out to each other to express care and support during this more isolated time.

Pastor is learning about and starting to practice skills to bring some of our teaching, devotionals, and hopefully even worship online.

Remember, the best thing you can do to help communication is to make sure Pastor has the best ways to reach you up-to-date.

Let Pastor know if you want to a) receive regular church family emails / news-updates, b) be on the email – prayer-chain, c) get signed up for Right-Now media – an online library of kids videos and Bible studies.

If you are part of a committee – expect that meetings will go forward – at this time via conference call.

Blessings to you.  Praying without ceasing for the peace of God to rule in our hearts.

Pastor

Monday, March 16 – DAILY UPDATE

GATHERINGS AT THE CHURCH ARE CANCELLED FOR NOW

The Elders have decided together that in the interest of being responsible and ‘better-safe-than-sorry’ – we will cancel services and gatherings for the time being. There are a lot of unanswered questions at this time but we are working to communicate answers and plans as they come together. Stay tuned as we increase communication and adapt together! Check back here on our website regularly. We will have daily updates (at least one every day) out by 5pm. Church family – make sure we have your email addresses – as we will want you to receive updates as they happen and may have more details to share with you.

WHAT ABOUT COMMITTEE MEETINGS ??

If you are part of a committee – plan to be available for an email conversation or phone conversation – or some other kind of remote interaction during that time. Hold your meeting times and we will endeavour to continue to work together for our church family.

COVID UPDATE – March 14 2020

Hello BGC Church Family,

I hope you have had opportunity to read yesterday’s email / update…  If not – please do so.

Today we would like to clarify that you should feel free to stay home if you or your family have any concern about being out.  Yes – for now the church will be open at the regular times – but you are not required or expected.  Even if you have a regular role in our services or behind the scenes in serving – at this time you should not feel that you are disappointing anyone by choosing to stay home.  We are instructed (Hebrews 10:25) to “not give up meeting together” – but missing services doesn’t mean we are giving it up (or even in a habit).  This verse clarifies that we need to continue to encourage each other – and we will continue to encourage each other – even if we must do so without enjoying opportunity to be face-to-face.

Why the Caution?

The concern is that the spread of this virus be slowed so our health system can manage the acute cases.  It is possible that some who have no symptoms can still have contracted the virus and are unaware.  Health officials are warning that if you are older OR have pre-existing health concerns – you should be more cautious during this time.  Please consider these things and avoid putting yourself or loved-ones at greater risk.

For those who decide to come to church tomorrow – we will modify our time as needed.  Offering plates will be at the back rather than passed around during the service, please refrain from hand-shaking, and we would remind you wash your hands before a coffee and after a visit to the washroom.  Soap is available in the bathrooms, and hand sanitizer is available at the front door and outside the nursery door.

In Summary:  You can come to church – but please – only voluntarily, and only if you and your loved ones are comfortable with the risk of you being in a group of people at this time.  Remember – they may be uncomfortable with what you could bring home.

Love and encourage one another!,

Pastor Peter

P.S.  You don’t need to convey your intentions about gathering tomorrow – but you are welcome to – and it might help us to know ahead what to expect.

COVID-19 Notice – March 13, 2020

Dear BGC Church Family,

You may be questioning what we will be doing as a church family in response to the COVID-19 virus.  We are monitoring the news – and in particular paying attention to the recomendations and directives of Health Canada and local health professionals.

We will continue with our regular Sunday Services at this time, but should the need arise – we will communicate with you any changes to worship services or any other program at the church.

At the same time – each of us individually needs to be responsible to care for our personal health and to be caring about each other’s health.  This means:

1.  If you are feeling symptoms that could be COVID-19 or you have been exposed to COVID-19 (or you are currently testing positive for COVID-19):   you should be following the Ministry of Health guildlines to self-isolate and be in contact with local health services.  Please do not come to church physically – we will see about bringing devotionals and fellowship to you online / via email and phone.

2.  If you are unsure or concerned about being out in public or in a gathering of people outside of your family home:   assess the risk based on the most recent guidance available from our health professionals – and stay home if you are more comfortable to do so at this time.  Again – we will try to increase our contact with each other in other ways.

3.  Church is open but greetings are adaptable.  When you come to church – don’t be offended if people are more comfortable not shaking hands (or greeting each other with a holy kiss!)  In fact – in this time of concern we would encourage finding other creative ways to greet each other.  We all need community, encouragement, and connection–sometimes even more so in anxious times–but we can do that in ways that are people friendly – without being ‘virus-friendly’.

Please stay tuned and don’t hesitate to call or write with questions. We will update you all about changes as needed.   Remember – we are a family in Christ and we want to continue caring for each other, worshipping together, and sharing our hope and confidence in Christ with the world around us…   Let’s do this graciously and wisely – the right response in any situation.

Sincerely,

Pastor Peter

Bloomington Gospel Church COVID-19 Updates
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