November 25, 2021
After a beautiful fall, winter has arrived in Edmonton, with a bit of a vengeance. Those of us who are worried about slippery sidewalks and the isolation many hours of darkness can bring are not enthusiastic about this, while those who are looking forward to skiing, sledding, and skating can’t wait to see more winter weather. I have always been happy to live in a place where we experience the four seasons completely, as there are aspects of each season that are enjoyable.
As we approach the Advent season, it is good to see Covid 19 numbers and hospitalizations continue to decline. Our worship and visuals committees are busy preparing the services for advent and Christmas. At this time we are still limited to 30 percent of capacity with distancing. If this remains in place, we are looking at offering multiple services on Christmas Day to ensure that we can accommodate everyone who wishes to worship in-person. Further details on that will be sent in the coming weeks. Our Nativity committee is also considering what this event will look like this year; I continue to be impressed at the creativity and resilience of our congregation as we seek ways to worship God and be community together.
One of the items that council has been working through in the last several weeks is the rental of our building. We are receiving requests to utilize the building for things such as concerts, family Christmas Dinners and other events. At its November 1 meeting, council asked that a small working group be put together to look at current guidelines and recommend to council executive and council how or if West End Christian Reformed Church (WECRC) should implement the for such rental requests. We have sought guidance from AHS on how the rules apply to our facility.
Implementation of a REP for rental activities means that individuals in attendance must provide proof of vaccination via the QR code, an approved negative rapid test, or a valid medical exemption. Once screening is done, capacity restrictions are lifted, and activities such as meals can be shared together.
It is important to note that our worship services and faith-based services are considered out-of-scope and are not allowed to implement the restriction exemption program. We continue to offer our worship services and ministry programs with capacity restrictions, masking and physical distancing. The exception to this is weddings and funerals, which are in a separate category in the guidelines.
However, recognizing that there is value in the community and fellowship opportunities that we are missing, it was decided in line with AHS guidelines that rental groups may choose to run their event with a REP or without one. Weddings and funerals can run with the REP if the family chooses that option. This allows for the maximum flexibility in the use of our building, while also respecting the choices of those individuals and groups who prefer not to implement a REP.
There was much to consider and discuss to reach these decisions. I am thankful for the care and grace council members showed during this process, it is our prayer that together we will extend that care to each other as we walk together.
Our congregational meeting last week was filled with the hopes and dreams of our church, both through the budget presentation and the ministry plans it contains and the updates from various ministry programs we have been involved with together. Our God is faithful, and it was good to spend time together seeing the tangible evidence of the difference we can make in the lives of those around us.
As we enter Advent, the Worship Sourcebook (2nd edition) contains a prayer that resonated with me this week as we wait in hopeful anticipation.
sometimes we see your hand in little events,
and sometimes we see it in the broad sweep of history.
Stir our hearts, that we might be people of hope;
help us seek you in your Word;
and keep us from growing weary as we wait—
that we may not miss the glory of your appearing.
Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus.