Initial Response to Provincial Reopening Plan for Churches

Many, if not most of you, may have heard that the province of Ontario will be allowing houses of worship to reopen across the province at 30% capacity as of  Friday June 12. This applies across the province including regions like the City of Hamilton that have not yet progressed to Stage 2 of the Ontario Government’s reopening plan. This news comes much earlier than expected as other provinces have only allowed churches to reopen for worship in later stages of their reopening plans.

While this is encouraging news, the Session of St. Andrew’s will be taking a cautious approach to restarting our in-person worship service, and the building will not be open for worship this week. There are a few reasons for this:

    • The Presbytery of Hamilton has asked that congregations refrain from reopening for worship until the Presbytery determines that it is safe to do so. The Session will not reopen the church building for in-person worship until we have Presbytery approval to do so
    • Hamilton has not yet transitioned to Stage 2 of the reopening. Session believes that restarting worship before Hamilton is at least in Stage 2 would be unwise and unsafe.
    • The initial announcement from the Government of Ontario mentioned that additional guidelines for houses of worship will be forthcoming and we cannot plan for reopening until we see these guidelines.
    • Reopening will take thorough planning and preparation, such as the purchase of Personal Protective Equipment, establishing cleaning and safety procedures and a broad consultation with the congregation. This will take time and cannot be rushed.

The top priority for Session is the safety of all members of the St. Andrew’s family as well as the safety of any guests who might join us for worship. We will be meeting again this coming Tuesday June 16 to discuss our next steps, and after that we will need to consult with the congregation before we make a final decision about when to reopen for in-person worship services. Therefore, it will likely be a few weeks before we come to a final decision.

In all things we trust that the Lord is guiding us into his will and desires the good of his church and everyone who is a part of it. You remain in our payers as we continue to make our way through this pandemic together. In times like these we are reminded of the fact that the church is first and foremost a community of people held together by the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ. If you have any questions or feedback, please let us know.

Yours in Christ’s Service,

The Session