Nov 18 – COVID-19 Guidelines Update – PLEASE READ

Dear Ontario Conference Pastors, Head Elders, Clerks, and Communication Leaders:

Our Provincial COVID-19 guidelines continue to evolve as the cases increase. To keep Ontario safe and open, the government announced a new COVID-19 response framework, which allows the province to rank health units based on case numbers and trends, using colour-coded categories.

  • Green (Prevent)– At this level, we will see a state similar to the former Stage 3, with loosened restrictions and only certain high-risk locations remaining closed.
  • Yellow (Protect)– At this level, we will see increased measures and guidelines for businesses or organizations that are open.
  • Orange (Restrict)– At this level, we will see restrictions enhanced further from the “protect” level.
  • Red (Control)– At this level, we return to a modified Stage 2, with further restrictions and the closure of some businesses or organizations.
  • Gray (Lockdown)– At this level, we return to a modified Stage 1, and a declaration of emergency will be considered.

Please remain abreast of your church’s region’s status and try to keep your members up to date.

The Ontario Conference supports and strongly recommends the more cautious and safest approach of moving our services online until further notice. If your church falls within the orange or red zone classifications for those already approved for in-person worship, your church board needs to immediately ramp up your protection with respect to the restricted guidelines as listed below.

Worship Services: Religious services are allowed indoors, but only up to 30 percent of the building’s capacity to a maximum of 50 people. It is strongly recommended that our services be no more than one and a half hours. All other existing Ontario Conference guidelines remain strictly in place. No socializing is to take place after the service. Attendees should leave the building and parking lot promptly. Apart from baptism, communion, and baby dedication (conducted according to our previously released guidelines), all other non-essential special services/events are to be suspended until further notice.

Funerals: Funeral services are allowed indoors, but only up to 30 percent of the building’s capacity to a maximum of 10 people. All other existing Ontario Conference guidelines remain in place (up to 25 people are allowed for outdoor services providing physical distancing can be observed). No repasts are permitted until further notice.

Weddings: Weddings are allowed indoors, but only up to 30 percent of the building’s capacity with a maximum of 10 people (up to 25 people are allowed for outdoor services providing physical distancing can be observed). No receptions are permitted until further notice. All other existing Ontario Conference guidelines remain in place.

Attendee Vigilance: People not in hospital but those who have symptoms and are waiting for test results or have had close contact with someone who tested positive for coronavirus are not to attend any in-person church gatherings. It is hard to differentiate between flu symptoms and COVID symptoms. Anyone experiencing any of the symptoms and anyone in that household should not attend any in-person church gatherings.

Eager Beaver/Adventurer/Pathfinder and Master Guide Meetings: Remain online until further notice.

All continuation of in-person worship services are on a week-to-week basis. Local churches should be in a constant state of readiness to return to online services as we track the public health advisories.

God will reward our efforts as we continue to be good stewards and practice being our brothers’ keeper.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

  • Mansfield Edwards (President)
  • Jakov Bibulovic (Executive Secretary)
  • Virene Meikle (Treasurer)

For more details and for a PDF version, please visit our COVID-19 page by clicking here

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Ontario Conference George Floyd Press Release

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

We at Ontario Conference cannot remain silent in the face of such injustices as the recent, senseless killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbury and Breonna Taylor in the United States. In a time of crisis, the May 25 death of George Floyd was the latest example of a man’s inhumanity to a fellowman, resulting in a strong emotional response worldwide, including Ontario. In the aftermath of these devastating losses, we grieve with the Floyd, Arbury and Taylor families. We grieve with people around the world. We grieve with you.

We join with the NAD in condemning these acts against people of colour and are saddened by the loss of life wherever it occurs. As Christians, we understand that all life is a sacred gift from God. Whatever the hue of our skin, we were all created in God’s image, saved from sin and adopted into Christ’s family. Thus, when any of our brothers and sisters suffer, it affects all of us.

The Bible calls us to act against oppression. As Luke 4:18 reminds us, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon [us] . . . to heal the brokenhearted, to set free those who are oppressed” (NKJV). However, while we condemn the action, let us be responsible with our reactions. At Ontario Conference, we support peaceful protests but strongly discourage rioting and violence. Everything we do—even protesting injustice—must be done in love.

We must never answer God’s question of Cain, “where is your brother?” with, “am I my brother’s keeper?” At Ontario Conference, diversity is our strength. With members representing the different corners of the globe, we must strive continually toward being united in mission. Just as we are united in spreading “the Christcentred message of hope and wholeness,” we must be united in addressing injustice.

As we tarry on this earth, our eyes focused on the Promised Land, let us break down the walls caused by our differences and build bridges of love and understanding. Let us speak out against the discrimination of our brothers and sisters based on race, ethnicity or language. Let us demonstrate the love of Christ to all. And let us use whatever tools are in our hand to provide a voice for the voiceless and hope for the hopeless.

In these turbulent times, know that we are praying continually for you and your families, and for God’s children worldwide. We are assured daily that despite the chaos around us, God’s love never fails.

Finally, as we mourn together, let us all be comforted with these healing words from Christ in Matthew 11:28, 29 (KJV) – “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”

 

God bless you and yours,

 

On behalf of Ontario Conference Administration