In view of the rapidly unfolding situation regard the COVID-19 epidemic, Bloordale United Church has suspended our Sunday and other services. During this period online resources will be provided, including Sunday bulletins and prayers as well as sermons. Rev. McIntosh and the church office remain available by phone and electronic means.
The following is a letter from Rev. McIntosh on this subject, issued by e-mail on March 17, 2019:
Members and friends of Bloordale –
COVID-19 Decisions Notice
As you are all aware, we live in extraordinary times. The COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly created circumstances in which public safety and health can no longer depend only on “social distancing,” so voluntary social isolation has now become a virtual necessity. With special measures being implemented by all levels of government, we’re all called to do our part to maintain health and safety, especially of our most vulnerable citizens, namely our seniors, our very young, and those whose immunity is compromised, especially those with respiratory ailments. In our message to you late last week, we outlined some of the personal cautions you can take, and we reiterate them here:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands;
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces;
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick;
- Refrain from shaking hands (elbow bumping or a bow is the new handshake!);
- Stay home if you have any symptoms (fever, coughing, sneezing, etc.) and seek medical attention;
If we follow these measures strictly, the risk to us in Ontario is manageable, and we can “lower the curve” more quickly.
In keeping with the latest public health restrictions, we made a unanimous decision last evening as a Council, by e-mail vote, to suspend indefinitely our Sunday and other services, as well as all meetings and visitations, beyond emergencies or special circumstances, for the foreseeable future. In making this decision we’ve done so alongside most denominational church offices and individual churches around us. We’re also aware of many usual gathering places, such as restaurants, libraries, as well as schools, daycares, businesses, etc. which are suspending or severely curtailing activities for a while, including Terry Tan daycare and a few of our other renter groups. During this suspension of services, we will be providing online resources, including Sunday bulletins and prayers, as well as sermons, for your personal devotional.
As a Council we also made a decision to indefinitely postpone the Annual General Meeting we’d scheduled for this Sunday, March 22nd. We had previously published the Annual Report for 2019, and so our accountability to one another has been done, for the most part. The Council did recognize, however, that one important decision needed to be made at that AGM, namely the approval of the budget, and so assumed the authority of the Congregation and formally approved the budget for 2020. If you have any questions about the Annual Report or about the budget, please direct them to myself or our office, and we’ll try and address them.
Lastly we also decided as a Council to communicate with all our renters and user groups, to convey our decisions, above, and also that, while not imposing a ban on all uses of our building, we strongly urge all groups to consider their members safety and a suspension of all gatherings at this time.
Our hope and prayer is that all of our members and friends, as well as all who use our building, will stay well, be healthy, and act with caution and care for both themselves and others during the coming days and weeks. We remain available by phone or electronic means for any questions you may have or conversations you may wish to have, and will continue to communicate with you as the situation changes or as necessary. Please remember, too, that while our gatherings may be suspended, our ministry is not, and therefore we are urged to continue to connect and care for one another, rely on God for nurture and a calm peace, and support our church financially in this trying time.
All of these decisions were not taken lightly, though we are hopeful that, if we all play our part, we can refrain from panic and begin to overcome the challenge of this virus over time. Those of you who are low-risk, do what you can to help an elderly neighbour. Buy groceries or pick up medicine for someone else if you’re going out. Stay in touch with family and friends. To close, I share a note from a thoughtful person who shared it with a curling friend of mine. Blessings to you all.
A Poem for These Times: Pandemic
“What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath–
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.”
– Lynn Ungar 3/11/20, Vernon, CT