The Session of St. Andrew’s met this past Tuesday September 21 to consider some changes to our approach to in-person worship. We have been able to safely gather for 5 weeks now, and in the meantime the public health situation has shown signs of stabilizing. After much prayer and discussion Session has therefore decided to make the following changes:
- Vaccination will be required to attend in-person worship for all persons 12 years of age and over as of Sunday October 3. We will be asking for proof of a 2nd dose of a COVID vaccine the first time you come to worship on or after this date, and then keep a record of who is fully vaccinated. We are happy to assist anyone in getting a copy of their vaccination receipt.
- Live Vocal Music Will Be Reintroduced on Sunday October 3. This will be led by members of the St. Andrew’s Choir and Band.
- Communion Will be Reintroduced on Sunday October 3 and (all going well) will continue on a monthly basis.
Vaccination Requirement for In-Person Worship
- With the Province of Ontario introducing a vaccine passport system on September 22, the provincial vaccination rate approaching 80% of eligible people for both doses, and Ancaster being a community with a high rate of vaccination, Session feels that now is the time to introduce a vaccination requirement for in-person worship.
- “Aren’t churches exempt from the provincial vaccine passport?” But as a Session we believe that voluntarily submitting to this public health measure allows us to be a good witness to our neighbours and do our part to keep everyone in Ancaster healthy. The Apostle Paul speaks of voluntarily setting aside his rights in order to bear witness to Jesus in 1 Corinthians 9 and says further, “‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up. Do not seek your own advantage, but that of the other.” (1 Corinthians 10:23-24)
- All members of the St. Andrew’s leadership team are fully vaccinated. This includes the Minister and Session, members of the Board of Managers, and all church staff. The Elders and members of the Pastoral Care Team believe that most, if not all of our members and adherents are now fully vaccinated. We feel that requiring vaccination is the best way to keep our congregation safe, and to ensure that we are able to keep worshipping in-person week by week.
- As of October 3, the screener at the door will be asking for proof of vaccination. This can either be the paper receipt or the emailed receipt on your cell phone. We will give some grace in the first few weeks of this new policy and will accept your verbal acknowledgment of vaccination if you have forgotten to bring it. You can simplify your screening process by sending the PDF copy of your vaccination receipt that you were emailed by the Ontario government to email@example.com before arriving. We will record your vaccination status and delete the copy of the receipt. If you have lost your vaccination receipt, we are happy to help you obtain one. Or you can simply go to any Hamilton Public Library branch with your health card, and they will print and laminate a copy of your vaccination receipt: https://www.hpl.ca/VaccineCertificates
Live Vocal Music
- Having worshipped safely for 5 weeks with recorded music, and with the coming introduction of the vaccination requirement, Session believes we can safely reintroduce live vocal music into our in-person service.
- Hymns and songs will be sung by a few fully masked members of the St. Andrew’s Choir and Band appropriately spaced on the platform at the front of the sanctuary.
- We will not be resuming congregational singing at this time. Public health continues to discourage singing in large groups, even with masks on. However, you can hum along and prayerfully reflect on the words of the hymns and songs.
- Session and the Reopening Team will continue to review public health advice. We eagerly await the day when we can all safely sing together in worship, but for the time being we are glad to be able to offer live vocal music again.
- Based on public health guidance, Session believes we can safely reintroduce the celebration of the Lord’s Supper on October 3, and plan to offer it on a monthly basis going forward.
- You will be offered a sealed, pre-packaged communion cup and wafer as you enter the sanctuary. When the time comes to take communion, you will be instructed to remove your mask, eat the wafer and drink the juice, then put your mask back on. There will be a waste container for used communion cups and packaging at the back of the sanctuary for you to use on your way out. We will review this approach after a few attempts.