Undoubtedly, you have heard the news from earlier this week regarding new COVID-19 related public health regulations here in British Columbia, as we try to stem the tide of our fourth wave of rapidly rising case counts. While the comparative success of vaccination efforts here in BC have us in better shape than many places in North America, we can now see that we are not yet "out of the woods," and so we need to respond appropriately -- not only in order to follow legal mandates but, even more importantly, to heed our responsibility and calling as disciples of Christ to love our neighbour and care for the "least of these".
You may be wondering how the current "fourth wave" situation and the updated public health mandates affect life here at Cloverdale United Church. There are two highlights to revised protocol that will be in place as we enter into the fall season:
Beginning with our Sunday morning worship service on Sunday, 29 August 2021, masks will be required to be worn for worship and all other activities inside the building at Cloverdale United Church (paid staff will be able to de-mask while working in their own offices).
This newly-reinstated requirement is in line with the recently reinstated masking mandates for public spaces around the province. While a masking mandate for religious worship services was not included in the provincial health orders, here at Cloverdale United Church we will be honouring the 'spirit' of the law above and beyond its 'letter'.
Of course, when we last had mandatory masking in place, we were not yet gathering in-person for worship services, so that will be a new element in the mix. We are asking that worshippers remain masked while in the building, even while seated and even (and especially) while singing. Persons in roles of worship leadership (presiding, preaching, serving as a reader or liturgist, etc.) will be permitted to take off their mask while they are reading or speaking.
If you are unable to wear a mask for medical reasons, or if you are uncomfortable being in a public group setting in the light of the rising COVID case counts, we encourage you to join us live for worship via Zoom... all the info you need to connect is available at our website: http://www.cloverdaleunitedchurch.ca/worship-online/
As announced in the new public health orders this week, from 13 September 2021 proof of vaccination will be required for most "discretionary" indoor activities in public settings around the province. All meetings, activities, and small group gatherings at a religious organization, other than worship services and recovery/12-step groups, fall into this classification according to the public health orders.
This means that from 13 September 2021, proof of vaccination will be required at Cloverdale United Church for things such as committee meetings, fellowship gatherings, classes and other adult faith formation offerings, rehearsals of the choir and other music ensembles, and so forth. We will be honouring and following these provisions of the new public health orders, not only because of the legal requirement but, again, because of our Christian responsibility to love our neighbour and care for the "least of these". (Proof of vaccination will not be required for attending worship or a recovery/12-step group meeting.)