As you likely know, British Columbia has entered into Phase Two of the government’s Restart Plan. We celebrate this step forward and we are encouraged by all the steps we’ve taken as a Province, as a church, and as individuals to flatten the curve and get to this point! But what does Phase Two mean for the church and gathering in-person?
I want to remind you that throughout this season we’re been seeking to collaborate, pursue love, and be creative. When we collaborate, we listen to our governing authorities, our house of bishops, and pay attention to what other churches are doing as well.
Our health authorities and our house of bishops have announced that it is permissible for the church to resume gatherings of up to 50 people, so long as social distance measures and other requirements are still observed.
As our Leadership Team has begun a conversation around this and what it means for our own community, we have decided that for now we will not resume any in-person gatherings whether it’s a community group or Sunday service. We encourage you to continue meeting virtually in your Community Group and for Sunday worship.
We understand that for decision may be really hard for some people, as you’re eager to resume gatherings. Whereas for others, you are relieved as you feel reluctant to resume meeting in person. However you may feel, we invite your patience as our Leadership Team continues to discern how to move forward.
Here are a couple reasons for not resuming gatherings at this time:
First, UBC Robson Square remains closed and will not reopen until July at the earliest, so we will not be able to resume morning gatherings. Our evening space, Church of the Naz, is a mixed-use space and shared with many people which creates challenges to observe the proper protocols.
Second, it is just too soon for us to know how to gather in a way that honours the government guidelines, maintains a safe environment, and demonstrates a good witness to our city.
We choose to exercise patience, dialogue with other churches, and slowly discern the best course of action moving forward. Although we have permission to gather (with limitations), we have seen that even with precautions in place tragic outcomes can occur (and have occurred within faith communities). For now, we believe delaying in-person gatherings minimizes risk and is the best way to pursue love.
Please continue to pray for our Leadership Team as we discern our way forward through this time. We will update you as frequently as needed. We also welcome your insights.
A Pastoral Word
As we enter into Phase Two, please keep in mind that re-entry into life will look different for each of us. Some of us will be more able and ready to reengage in society, whereas some may choose to exercise more caution and restraint during this season of new flexibility. Our government is giving us a lot of flexibility and inviting us to use wisdom and exercise caution as we choose the best course forward for our own needs and lives. But we might not agree with how people move forward.
When you see someone taking steps into Phase Two in a way that is different than what you would choose for yourself, please choose compassion over shame, seek understanding over judgment, and pursue love over fear.
If you’re concerned about the way someone is acting, reach out to them and have a conversation. Unfortunately, shame is employed in some public discourse as a way to correct other people’s behaviour. But as a church, let’s not give into this temptation. We have the opportunity to show a different way of relating to one another, a way marked by compassion, understanding, and love.
BC’s Restart Plan lays out a series of steps that we will take together to protect people and ensure that our province can come back from COVID-19 stronger than before.