June 17, 2020 Meeting Update

Council’s agenda for our June 17th meeting was lengthy. Following Ontario’s move into Stage 2 of reopening, there are many questions and decisions to consider for our Harcourt Community of Faith.
United Churches within Western Ontario Waterways Region (WOW) are guided by lists of things to consider in our planning process before reopening our church buildings. For example, I include this excerpt from the June 17th newsletter.
“Is the congregation ready?

  • The membership of many congregations are among those who are vulnerable to the virus. People may not feel comfortable returning to church yet. What plans are in place to continue to engage those who still shelter in place?
  • How will the congregation be prepared for the changes in worship and for the changes in behaviour – no lingering in the narthex to visit, no going to greet people, and so forth. How will you help people not fall into familiar but dangerous patterns?
  • This is the most difficult stage yet. To date, congregations have done an amazing job of learning something totally new to them to be able to continue during  lockdown. Now, as we consider reopening, we face the difficult task of adapting the familiar into something different. Over the past months, many communities have discovered benefits in their new experience. The changes that must happen once congregations return to the building are more likely to be viewed as a necessary restriction rather than a potential enhancement. Building commitment to and compliance with best practices is essential and may be challenging.”

Council and the Re-entry Planning Group have developed ten guiding prinicples for Harcourt to follow as plans are made. See the list here. Following discussion of updates provided by Megan Ward, Co-chair of the Re-entry Planning Group, Council approved this motion: “That Harcourt’s indoor space remain closed to Harcourt and non-Harcourt users until September 2020, with the exception of necessary access by staff. This includes not making washrooms available to those using Harcourt’s outdoor space. To be reconsidered as new information becomes available.” Additional decisions will be made in the coming weeks about use of our spaces, health and safety protocols for all who use our spaces, and impacts on our many program activities and worship opportunities.
Peter Gill brought two requests to our meeting. Following discussion, Council approved this motion: “That Harcourt Memorial United Church continue to support the Fuad Ali family for three months (July, August and September) at $1200 per month, with funds from the Outreach Pillar.”
Peter also requested financial support for Chalmers Community Services Centre’s plan to hire a part-time Executive Director. Council tabled this request for further discussion at our next meeting.
There are many opportunities to engage with the wider United Church on-line. Here are two that might interest you. Notes from the June 11th Guelph United Ministries (GUM) Town Hall #2, focused on serving the community, are available (notes are here). WOW Regional Council has invited Cameron Trimble to lead two webinars (June 22 and 25) on “The Great Unveiling: How the World is Changing and What It Means for the Church” (see details here).
Our collective experiences through so much change in the past three months indicate that change will continue in the weeks and months ahead. The work of Council, the Re-entry Planning Group, the staff team, and other committees/teams will continue through the summer. There is much to consider as plans are created in preparation for fall and the year ahead. It is also important to take some time for rest and renewal. May we keep balance in our lives and perspectives.
Blessings to all who are providing leadership.
Lorraine Holding, Council Chair