Pastoral Letter on When and How Grace Will Reopen for Worship
Saturday, May 2, 2020
Dear Members of Grace,
Grace and peace to you from Christ Jesus our Lord! I hope this letter finds you all healthy and worshipping the Lord as you are able at home. To aid you in this, I post the Sunday sermon in written and video format on our church website (address above) each Sunday, and lead a live-stream Bible study each weekday from noon to 12:30PM. To access the live stream Bible study go to the church website and click on the title which says “Grace Lutheran Bible study for [that date]” and follow the instructions to access the live-stream. If you would like a paper copy of my sermon mailed to you please phone me at my home number.
As we turn the calendar to May, I would like to give you an update in a question and answer format as to where we are now at Grace and what will happen when we reopen.
What Is The Current Situation at Grace? Currently, the church building is ordered closed by the Region of Waterloo. On March 24, 2020, the Province of Ontario ordered the mandatory closure of all non-essential businesses, not specifying churches as part of this group. On March 25, the Province of Ontario prohibited public gatherings greater than five people. The same day, the Region of Waterloo ordered all churches closed. This is where we stand.
From a health perspective, at the time of writing no one in the congregation has had the coronavirus and there are currently no members of the church in the hospital, thanks be to God.
From a financial perspective, at the time of writing our treasurer Dianne Naughton reports: “Thank you all for your generosity during this unusual situation. We have been able to pay our bills and we have a little extra at the end of April. Peggy Willigar resigned as our bookkeeper. Dan Jasztrab will be the interim bookkeeper.”
When Can Grace Reopen? We can reopen for worship services as soon as the Region of Waterloo lifts the closure ban on churches in the Region. At that point, the number of worshippers allowed in the church may be restricted to some maximum number/cap.
When Will Grace Reopen for Worship? We will reopen for worship as soon as we are legally permitted to reopen by the Region, fully complying to the gathering cap imposed by the Province as well as social distancing protocols.
How Will Worship Services Work When We Reopen? If the gathering cap is less than 20 when the Region allows us to reopen I will host brief Holy Communion services (without a sermon-the sermon will be on the church website) lasting half an hour each, starting at 9AM, which will allow groups to have Holy Communion at Grace keeping to social distancing and the maximum gathering allowance. This may mean that large families have to be split up if the cap is five (because the pastor counts as one toward the cap). Families and individuals will be asked to communicate with me, Pastor Korsch, by phone on Saturday (please call my residence) and will be booked filling services starting at 9AM, filling each half-hour block one after the other, until everyone who wishes Holy Communion receives the sacrament on a given Sunday.
Once the gathering cap reaches 20 (and the cap remains under 75) I will begin to hold two regular Divine Services at Grace, the early service starting at 9AM and the late service starting at 10:45AM. We will need to hold to the gathering cap for individuals in each service.
Once the gathering cap reaches 75 or over we will cease having two services and will revert back to our normal 10:45AM Divine Service. Durning the summer months (June-August) the one Divine Service will be at 9:30AM.
I am looking forward to the church being reopened to worship. Please do come and receive Holy Communion when the church reopens. If you do not feel comfortable returning to worship as soon as the building reopens for any reason please understand no one will judge you for that and I hope you will feel confident to rejoin us soon. You are all in my prayers. God bless you as we go through these strange times together. After we get back to one Divine Service we could hold the Easter Breakfast we missed at Easter. Also, at that time there will be several Adult Confirmations and the reception of one or two new members by Transfer to look forward to!
If you have any questions about anything in this letter feel free to contact me by phone at my home. God bless!