Over the past few weeks the NC Staff has been working hard on a reopening strategy. Here are the principles and guidelines that we have developed for in-person gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Fruit of the Spirit:
By now many of us have become familiar with Dr. Henry’s refrain: Be kind, be calm, and stay safe.
These words remind me of the virtues that we are called to live out as followers of Jesus. At the end of his letter to the church in Galatia, Paul writes that God’s presence in our lives cultivates: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control.
As a community we seek to treat one another according to these fruits of God’s Spirit. During these times how we live them out will look different but they remain our foundation. Let’s remember to be patient, to love one another, and to exercise self-control in these challenging and uncertain times.
1. Gatherings are limited to < 50 people
Because we are a church that includes over 200 congregants this means that all of our in-person gatherings will require signing up in advance.
2. Gatherings require physical distancing
A minimum of 6’ (or 2 metres) of distance will be maintained between congregants from different households. Observing this guideline is a practical way of us being kind, patient, and faithful
This means that we will not be able to greet one another with our customary handshakes or hugs. But guys, air fives are super cool.
3. Those who have travelled out of province or internationally are asked to stay away from physical gatherings and remain connected virtually for 2 weeks after their return to Nanaimo.
If you have not travelled but someone in your household bubble has, this same guideline applies.
4. Congregants with cold or flu symptoms including, but not limited to: runny nose, cough, sneezing, and/or fever are also asked to stay away from physical gatherings and remain connected virtually. This includes those with mild symptoms.
This will be challenging—particularly when cold and flu season hits in the fall. However it is an important way to keep our community safe. When we follow these guidelines we are putting those Godly characteristics of faithfulness goodness, and kindness into practice.
5. We are required to keep a list of attendees for all church events for 30 days.
When you arrive at an NC event, a member of the welcome team will record your name and phone number. This is designed to help public health with contact tracing in the event that someone becomes ill.
6. Our gatherings will not include congregational singing or sharing of food
Sadly this means that we will not be able to provide coffee and tea but you may bring your own.
Singing is considered a “high risk” activity
7. We have adopted best practices for our building
We have designated entry/exit doors, hand sanitizing stations, we will run our exhaust fans, and when weather allows keep our windows open. All frequently touched surfaces will be wiped down before and after services. We will have one washroom open for use that will be cleaned in between services. Let’s all remember to practice good hand hygiene, to avoid touching our face, and, as always, to be kind, patient, and loving of one another.
What about NC Kids?
One of the things that makes NC special is our kids. We’re blessed that almost a third of our church is under the age of 19. Church staff and Public Health understand that young kids will have difficulty observing physical distancing rules and so we ask that parents do their best and prevent their kids from physically touching people outside of their household bubble.
We are currently working on a children’s ministry plan that will make it easier for parents to attend with their children. Stay tuned.