We know that it has been a difficult several months as we have all had to navigate around this pandemic and figure out what a new normal looks like, for our own families and also for our church. We rejoice in the fact that we have the gift of technology to be able to bring church to each of your homes each Sunday morning. As the Ontario government has allowed for the reopening of churches, our elder team has prayerfully considered what the best course of action for Renforth would be. We have been upholding the Great Commandment, to love God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love our neighbours as ourselves (Deut 6:5; Luke 10:27) in our approach. This meant that since the middle of March, we have had to close doors in order to help with the flattening of the curve and to care for the vulnerable in our church family by holding our worship services online. But we also considered the fact that many of us need to be in the physical presence of one another and that the purpose of church is to gather together and to encourage one another.
After prayerful consideration, the elders have decided that we will reopen the doors to the church on Sunday, July 5. During this time of preparation, we have taken every measure to ensure that our building is safe, according to proper standards, and that we have the proper amount of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) available. Your physical health is our top priority at this time, as we aim to gather together physically and serve you spiritually.
If anyone is feeling sick or ill, we highly encourage them to stay home and continue to join us online through our YouTube live stream (link found on our website).
Some alternatives for you and your family may include rotating every other Sunday between attending in person and joining us online. Both options will continue to be available for the long-term, and it is up to you and your family to decide what you feel comfortable with.
As the elder team reviewed the protocols for reopening church, we realized that church will look and feel very different from the pre–Covid-19 period. Many will feel restricted, due to the masks and the physical distancing measures set in place, among other required limitations. Please be aware of this drastic change in the environment of the church if you decide to join us in person on a Sunday.
The following measures have been implemented by the church to ensure a safe environment at Renforth.
- Insurance Company: We have contacted our insurance company and have verified coverage in case of any accident that takes place in our facilities.
- Provincial Guidelines: We are following the guidelines and directives of the province as they have been provided to us.
- Cleaners: We have contacted our cleaning company, Coverall, to come on June 26 to do a thorough cleaning of our building, including vacuuming, dusting, sanitizing of door handles, sanitizing of washrooms, and other necessary upkeep. They will continue to come every week to ensure a safe environment for each Sunday morning.
- Required Masks: We have ordered 200 masks to supply attendees who do not have their own mask. These masks are not N95 standard but are still effective in containing any droplets into the air of the building. The elder team has decided that masks will be required for all attendees inside of the building (with the exception of the worship team and pastor while on the stage). If you have your own mask, please bring and use them. Gloves are not required and are actually discouraged (but not prohibited), as studies have shown little effectiveness of containing the spread of viruses using gloves.
- Hand Sanitizers: Our building is stocked with sufficient amounts of hand sanitizer liquid. We have stations throughout the building available for usage. We will ask each person to sanitize their hands upon entering the building.
- Occupancy: We have deemed that the sanctuary’s maximum occupancy is about 150, and at 30% capacity (Ontario’s current regulation), we can hold up to 45 people in the sanctuary. We are considering having an overflow room with the same measures, but this will be decided on a week-to-week basis. If the sanctuary is at capacity, we have no choice but to close doors for that Sunday and turn people to our live stream service.
- Physical Distanced Seating: The pews have been marked off with tape in order to ensure that everyone is practicing safe physical distancing (six feet apart). A family or household is encouraged to occupy an entire row. We ask that in an empty row, you occupy the far end of the pew in order that another person can sit at the other end.
- Dedicated Entrance and Exit: As instructions per the Public Health department, we will have dedicated entrance and exit doors of the building. The entrance door is the main entrance on the corner of Burnhamthorpe Rd and Renforth Dr, while the exit door is at the newer side of the building on Renforth Dr. Signs will be posted for clarification.
During Sunday Services:
- Ushers: We have a team of ushers who are (or will be) trained to help guide attendees with these protocols.
- Contact Information: We are requiring every person entering the building to provide their name and contact information (email and/or phone), so that in case of an outbreak, each person may be contacted for testing.
- Washrooms: Washrooms will be limited to one person at a time (with the exception of families living in the same household), and each person is responsible to sanitize the washroom after use. Disposable wipes are available in each washroom to wipe down all areas that have been touched, including toilet seats, faucet knobs, and door handles. Please continue to wash hands as directed by health officials after each use of the washroom. Instructions will be posted inside of each washroom.
- Coughing or Sneezing: If you have to cough or sneeze while inside of the building, please cough or sneeze into the inside of your elbow, or into tissue paper or a paper towel, in order to avoid spreading droplets into the air. If you use any type of paper, immediately throw it away into the nearest trash can.
- Duration of Worship Service: As one of the factors in the spread of the coronavirus is time of exposure (another being proximity to an infected person), we are aiming to hold our services to approximately 60 minutes rather than the typical 75-80 minutes.
- Singing: We will continue with singing during our worship service but will shorten the time of singing. We ask that each person sing with minimal force, in order to contain any spread of droplets in the air, which is a primary way that the coronavirus spreads. While the wearing of masks will help with containment, the addition of soft singing will also lessen the probability that droplets are spread in the air.
- Offering: Instead of the usual passing around of the offering plate, the plate will be kept near the exit of the sanctuary. While we encourage online giving, those giving through envelopes can drop their offering into the plate when exiting the sanctuary.
- Communion: Each first Sunday of the month, we will continue to practice communion during our worship services. Instead of passing around the communion plates as per usual, the plates will be kept in the foyer of the entrance, where attendees will be able to pick up a container of bread and juice as they enter the sanctuary. The elements will be prepared by one person, who will wear gloves and a mask. Anyone who wishes to bring their own elements is free to do so.
- Exiting After Service: After the service is over, the exit usher will instruct each side and row to exit the building. We ask attendees to remain seated until they are instructed by the usher to exit the building. We ask that people keep a safe distance (6 feet / 2 metres) from each other while exiting the building.
- Socializing and Physical Distancing Outside: We encourage attendees to socialize outside of the building in the parking lot or lawn area after service. Please wait to begin any conversation until you are outside of the building. Masks are optional outside, but physical distancing measures are still requested.
If you have any questions or concerns with any of the above items, please do not hesitate to contact me directly or the church office. Above all, we wish you health and protection during this precarious time.
On behalf of the Elder Team