On the opening of churches

On Friday June 12 at a regular monthly meeting of the regional council executive, the Assembly of Elders, passed the following motion. Please read it carefully, see the requirement for submitting plans, and see the resources provided to help communities of faith with these tasks.

2020-06-12-086 MOTION (R. Lambie/N. Sutherland) That the East Central Ontario Regional Council Assembly of Elders:

  1. strongly recommend that no churches reopen for public worship before Labour Day weekend;
  2. expect that every Community of Faith prepare guidelines for reopening and submit their plan to the Regional Council (ecorc@cogeco.ca), two weeks prior to their proposed opening date;
  3. agree to post and circulate the information and resources pertaining to safely reopening Communities of Faith;
  4. strongly encourage Communities of Faith to be in touch with their local health units;
  5. expect that every Community of Faith create a separate plan with guidelines for reopening buildings to rentals and community activities or Community groups; and
  6. continue to provide information, as developments require. Carried

Where to send your plans

This is a valid email that will go to ECORC Pastoral Relations Minister Reverend David Timpson or whomever covers him during holidays this summer. It was set up to deal with volume / to help David with the many parts of his job. Thanks for understanding and using this email for this purpose.

Government regulations released today (June 12)

Workplace Safety & Prevention Services Guidance on Health and Safety for Places of Worship During COVID-19

Risk assessment: Why

This is the opening statement of a document prepared by your Regional Council executive and that can be found in the next text block (and here)

As of Friday, June 12, 2020, much of the ECORC will be in Phase 2 of the COVID-19 reopening. Simultaneously, the Province of Ontario has allowed in-person religious gatherings to resume. Many jumped at the announcement, believing the only requirement was a reduced seating capacity. This is NOT the case.

The Province of Ontario has issued guidance documents that will govern the return to in-person worship as well as documents respecting offices and general workplace requirements. The documents represent the minimum legal standards which communities of faith much follow. Communities of faith will be held legally responsible for following these standards, and the failure to follow them may result in fines and other penalties.

Once these restrictions are taken, communities of faith are likely to find that their ability to accommodate worshippers in-person will be lower than the 30% maximum.

We strongly encourage you not to resume in-person worship until you have adequately worked through the risk assessment. Remember, should you have an outbreak, members of your community of faith could become very ill or die. In case of an outbreak, your actions will face media scrutiny. Failure to have adequately assessed the risk and created a plan may open you to legal liability and void your insurance coverage.

Risk assessment resources

The linked document was created and reviewed by the Assembly of Elders to aid Communities of Faith in the East Central Ontario Regional Council. Special thanks to Reverend Ryan McNally for spearheading this effort.