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Dear Family and Friends of First United:
I'll bet none of you anticipated Spring arriving at our doorsteps while we are being pushed and pulled by various measures to deal with COVID-19. I surely didn't! It's the sort of situation that will test our mettle as a community of faith. I hope that all of you remain as safe as you can be, that you stay connected with family and friends by whatever means you can, and that together, we remember that we are not alone. To the extent possible, we need to keep on doing what we do, but change the way we do it.

The First United Emergency Preparedness Committee* met on Monday morning March 16 to review our situation. That was a good start yet, we quickly learned that the situation was evolving quickly. Since that meeting, there have been several developments and announcements from all levels of government - all of which impact on our church life. I'd like to begin with a review of those issues.

CHURCH CLOSURE
On March 17, we received a directive from the Medical Officer of Health of the Grey Bruce Health Unit that all churches close immediately. This action was implemented at 4 pm that afternoon. First United Church will remain closed to the public until further notice and no worship, gatherings or program activities will take place inside the building. All or most of our tenants and renters have suspended their use of our space. The daycare is closed by government order too.
Staff members and lay leaders may continue to work from the church while observing all aspects of social distancing and personal health screening. Or, staff may work from home where possible and appropriate. The church post box (snail mail or drop off), telephone answering machine and email account will continue to be monitored and responded to by staff and lay leaders.

WORSHIP
With the church closed, there will be no Sunday morning worship services in the sanctuary until further notice.
We have developed some options for you to experience worship, prayer, song and spiritual connection even though we cannot gather in a common space. Our first option is a home-grown, weekly half-hour video service directed and produced by James Masters. The first segment was recorded Thursday morning and will be made available to you through the ENews early Sunday morning; when you click on the link provided, you will be taken to our church YouTube channel to view and listen to the service.
Another on-line option we will offer is a connection to the United Church of Canada's national worship service.
Beginning on Sunday March 22, Moderator Richard Bott will be presenting a worship service each Sunday for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak. This will be a video-recorded service which can join through the United Church of Canada website: https://www.united-church.ca/covid-19 or Facebook page. The prayers, hymns and reflections from the Moderator's online worship will also be available in audio and text form.

PASTORAL CARE AND VISITATION
Kristal will continue to be available to offer spiritual care and coordinate meaningful connection for our faith community. Monday through Thursday from 9 am to 2 pm, she will be at First to receive phone calls (519) 376-1736, reach out to our community of faith and beyond, send and respond to emails [email protected].
Emerging is a network of households who are committed to being in touch weekly by phone or email with others from our faith community. Kristal has contacted many of you and is heartened by the willingness to express ongoing care. Each and every household will have someone else to be a companion with through the time ahead.

STAYING IN TOUCH

It's a strange fact that at a time when we most feel the need for connection and community, we are cautioned to keep our distance. Hard as that maybe, it's the right thing to do. I keep reminding myself that this is not much different from the life that my Grandma lived: modest, close to home, focusing on what was essential. When I keep that in mind, I think I can manage.Part of managing is staying in touch. If we can't be together physically, let's stay connected by whatever other means we can find. That might be a phone call, an email, a walk-by wave at the door, an arm's length walk around the neighbourhood. There's no need for anyone to be cut-off from human contact.Let's not forget either that as time progresses, there will be some of us that get sick. Our friendship, prayers, care and concern will be vital then. Keep the connection strong. We are not alone in any of this.


 

 

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