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COVID -19 First Communication

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Dear friends,

This is the first of what we presume will be a series of correspondences regarding the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Staying connected and keeping safe are vital, and will likely become even more so as the pandemic progresses. None of us is alone in this (or in anything).

Our sources of information include 

  • the Public Health Agency of Canada (specifically this site),
    Diligent hand washing slows the spread of pathogens
  • the BC Centre for Disease Control (specifically this site), 
  • the United Church of Canada’s statements (like this one), and 
  • the Pacific Mountain Regional Council (like this pastoral letter).

No doubt there are many other good sources of information. We also urge a critical reading of some sources, especially social media. Emergency preparedness plans are in place and following them, based on the input of experts, will help all of us through what may be a difficult time.

The first steps to being appropriately cautious are the same as during any flu season:

  • Don’t panic.
  • Stay home if you show or feel any symptoms of illness.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Sneeze or cough into your sleeve.
  • Keep some physical distance from others.

“Keeping some physical distance from others” may mean avoiding public and social gatherings. Officials are not asking that we stay home from Sunday worship. We do ask that we all refrain from shaking hands or hugging. And if staying home helps assuage anxiety, there are multiple ways to worship from home:

  • Our podcast, “Freedom to Love and Be Loved” is now active again;
  • ConnectNorth (courtesy of Trinity UC in Prince George, except for the Sunday following Christmas) offers livestreaming;
  • Highlands UC offers livestreaming; and
  • Cranbrook UC has recently begun livestreaming (they also have a cool “Relax corner”).

There are myriad other churches offering online connection and many churches offer a podcast. The Pacific Mountain Region offers more information on “creative ways to worship from a distance” here

At least for the foreseeable future, our sanctuary will be open on Sunday mornings and worship will proceed mostly as usual. Communion is an exception to the latter point: we will not be serving the elements during Communion in April. Similarly, lunch after the ‘Child Within’ service is cancelled for March. Tuesday morning (10:45am) spiritual practice will proceed.

Our Maundy Thursday gathering (April 9) will be a type of experiment. We will eat simultaneously, but gathered via video conference, rather than in person. Expect more details on this as we iron them out. Good Friday (10am) and Easter services (7am and 10am) will proceed as scheduled. 

Step Into Spring had been tentatively scheduled for late April, but we have cancelled that.

All of this is subject to new information from experts and officials.

Our board will develop an emergency response plan, which will consider safe ways of supporting each other in the event the outbreak reaches Castlegar (which is more than likely), and will outline the circumstances in which we will close the church building.

For now, we hope you find solace knowing that appropriate mechanisms to slow the spread are in place. Saying, “Don’t panic” is easy; not panicking is much more difficult. Preparation and awareness are the best ways to avoid panic (for example, stock up gradually on staples; don’t raid the toilet paper aisle!). Let’s be compassionate with each other, especially those prone to anxiety. And let’s remember to laugh and continue as if we are God’s beloved.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns.

In the peace of Christ,

Rev. Greg Powell
Irene Furey, Board Chair

  1. Keith merritt
    | Reply

    Thanks for the update. I think not closing with the use of common sense and a hand sanitizer at the front door is still appropriate.

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