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Message from Trevor - March 4, 2022

“God willing and the creek don’t rise,” we will be back to in-person worship on March 13th.   It will be exactly 2 years since we began our journey with the Covid-19 pandemic. As we plan to transition, I would like to temper expectations, ask for patience and compassion, and call us to be inclusive of the vulnerable and the immunocompromised.  
 

Expectation

As you may know, we have tried to approach the pandemic at McKillop by following a simple set of values and approaches in our decision making and approaches:  ‘Love our neighbours as ourselves’.  We have attempted to balance safety with connection.  We have used risk assessment, care of duty, and the common good as guidelines deferring to the most vulnerable and respect for our whole health care system.  It has been a balancing act and it has gone on longer than many of us thought it would.

As we come back to in-person worship, we are still in a dicey situation.  According to Covid-19 wastewater data for Lethbridge, we still have a rolling 7-day average of community transmission that is as high as some of our other waves.  The highly transmissible Omicron variant is still the dominant variant, with the BA.2 seeming to be growing in transmission and possibly overtaking the BA.1.  The positivity rate for limited PCR testing of Covid-19 is still over 20%.  Additionally, hospitalization is 1231 as of March 2nd which is still significantly higher than the peak of the Delta 4th wave at 1136, which means that our hospitals are still under great stress and many folks are not getting the needed care for non-covid health issues.  

This all implies caution and prudence.  The Chinook Winds Region of the United Church of Canada is also asking United Churches to be cautious in the return to worship practices and still retain some public health measures to protect the vulnerable.

So just a few tidbits so you will know what to expect:

  • We are having a SOFT OPENING, not a grand opening.  We are working from a value of keeping things simple as we grow and evolve and come back together instead of trying to build ‘Rome in a day’.

  • We are having ONE SERVICE at 10:30 A.M. to begin with as we discern our volunteer and financial capacity as a congregation.  Each week we will be gifted with a variety of musical styles and musicians that have been part of McKillop’s tradition.

  • We are coming back but having NO COFFEE after the service for many reasons.  Foremost, we have no room or capacity for coffee because of the flood that happened.  The Play and Learn Preschool is still occupying the Sr. Choir Room.  The digital studio will be in the Lane Lounge until the remediations are done in the upper hall.  Unfortunately, remediations have been delayed because of the supply chain and the normal delays that happen in a building project like this.  Remember our $1.6 million dollar renovation process took a long time to complete! We hope the preschool will be able to move back into their space sooner than later.  The replacement of the upper hall floor will begin later in March. It is going to take time.

 

Patience and Compassion

As you can see, we are trying to take the middle way at McKillop as we return.  So, I ask us all to be patient with the process and the speed.  For those that think we are not going fast enough and those who feel that we are going too fast, I hope we can all be patient and have compassion with this middle way.  We are also asking for all of us to have compassion for each other by trying to continue to protect each other.  To create safe space at McKillop, please do the following when you are coming to in-person worship and activities at McKillop starting on March 13th.

  • Please WEAR masks, rated as effective as you can.

  • Please continue to manage DISTANCING in the spaces we occupy.

  • Please STAY home if you are SICK or have any SYMPTOMS and have been in close contact with somebody who has tested positive for Covid or has symptoms.  

These simple actions are actions of compassion, so we make our space safe for all.  I know from our survey, which is out of date because of all the changes that came with Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 and the dropping of public health mandates in Alberta, that we have a spectrum of people in our congregation who have varying degrees of risk and safety needs.  
 

Call to Be Inclusive to the Vulnerable

On twitter, I saw this tweet; “Immunocompromised people can’t just live in a vacuum.  They’re a part of society too.  They are your doctors, teachers, bankers, baristas, grocery store clerks etc.  Please stop saying that high risk people should just stay home so others can live their lives without inconvenience” (@TheLisaWalters).   This is the very reason that we are asking folks at McKillop to participate in a middle way by continuing to be cautious, prudent, wear masks and embody safe practices while still returning to more in-person activities.  

Theologically, we are the body of Christ and this includes everybody.  If one member suffers, we all suffer (1 Corinthians 12:26).  In this perspective, it is an honour for those of us who are able or think we are able to live a higher risk lifestyle, to create an environment for those who are not.  Otherwise, we are just like our world that puts the burden on the vulnerable all the time.  To be a Christian is to see Christ’s light shining in everyone and everywhere and all the time.  To be a Christian is not to conform to the dominant culture of society which is often repressive of others.    I believe how a Christian community works with this pandemic is showing the wider culture if they are trying to follow the Christian spiritual path.  If Christian communities are like the dominant culture, they will exhibit characteristics of egotism, ‘me first’ attitudes, lack of conscious empathy, and willingness to sacrifice and exploit the vulnerable for expediency, for comfort and pleasure, for financial gain, and material satisfaction or consumption.  In many ways, this is the cause of the current war in Ukraine or the inaction we see around climate change. 

I am so grateful that at McKillop we do care for each other, for the vulnerable, and seek to see Christ in all and everywhere.  We are willing to make sacrifices for the greater good and follow a middle way.  Thank you for your support, your prayers, your generosity, our patience, our presence, and our thoughts.  We will get through this together in the Spirit and I do believe ‘all shall be well’.

Peace be with you,

Trevor