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Ruthven Pastoral Charge

United Church of Canada

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Reopening Churches during COVID-19

Each council (Regional) makes decisions on reopening for its areas of responsibility.

The governing board (Official Board) of each community of faith should consult with its local public health unit, provincial health ministry, and regional council. The guiding principle is the safety of all who enter the building.

For information: The Board for each congregation, is the Elders, Stewards, a rep from the UCW and Trustees and for it to be an official meeting the Minister needs to be in attendance. Doug Scott would chair the Olinda-Ruthven Board, and Richard Dalton would chair the Trinity Board. The Sessions looks after Worship and Spiritual Matters.
The Stewards looks after Temporal Matters (finances and building matters.)

The Official Board is the governing body for the pastoral charge and is made up of the Elders, Stewards and reps (UCW, Trustees) of both congregations.

Safety Considerations for Reopening during the Pandemic

Guidance for those responsible for making decisions in all parts of the church, and things to consider before moving from one phase to another. As of May 7, 2020.

Phase ONE

Small groups may be in the building. Worship is still online only, with some exceptions for outdoor worship.

The Building

Church boards, committees, or staff groups may meet in person in small numbers, respecting local restrictions, and with social distancing and masks.

Churches need to have an opening plan that spells out the provisions for safe opening. They should require the same of their tenants before allowing them back.

Worship Guidelines

Generally, worship will continue to be held online only, although some exceptions may be made for outdoor worship with social distancing and masks.


If communion is offered, best practices suggest the following: The officiant and servers use hand sanitizer before offering communion. Individual pieces of bread and individual cups are offered. Servers offer the bread and cup to each person, rather than each person taking them from a communal plate or tray. Each communicant places their empty cup into a separate receptacle.

Passing the Peace and the Offering Plate

Social distancing must be maintained. Offering a phrase or pressing hands together in a prayerful bow can convey the message of passing the peace. Passing the offering plate should be avoided. Place the plate in the church for people to drop their offering into, and have gloves available for staff handling cash or cheques. Now is the time to suggest that people give through PAR.


There should be no congregational or choir singing. Soloists must be at safe distances from each other and from the congregation.

Source: A Conversation: What Do Science and Data Say About the Near Term Future of Singing webinar recording. You Tube


After each gathering, it is important to thoroughly clean bathrooms, door handles, hymnbooks, pew Bibles, backs of pews, microphones, musical instruments, and all other highly used areas.

Over 60 or Otherwise Vulnerable?

People over 60, those with underlying medical conditions that have weakened immune systems, and those who have family members at home who are vulnerable are encouraged to participate only in online activities. Clergy who are in one of these categories should have a conversation with their Ministry and Personnel Committee to develop an alternate option where exposure to groups of people is limited and high-risk activities are avoided altogether.

Ministry personnel who are at higher risk or who have family members at home who are at higher risk must exercise diligence in limiting their exposure to groups of people and higher-risk activities.

Phase TWO

Reopening In-Person Worship during the Pandemic

Worship and other activities resume in church buildings, with social distancing and other measures.

Masks, Social Distancing, and Limited Singing

In-person worship could resume in church buildings where space allows social distancing, adhering to public health directives and allowable numbers. Masks may be worn.

Only soloists can sing, appropriately distant from congregants, because singing by congregants can cause droplets to spread farther.

Even after resuming in-person worship, online versions should continue to be available for those in high-risk categories who need to continue to avoid group activities.

Weddings, Baptisms, and Funerals

Small funerals, weddings, and baptisms may be held within local restrictions about numbers.

Infant baptism: The parents/guardians of the child should be the only ones to hold them. The officiant will need to sanitize their hands before each baptism.

Child and adult baptism: Water should come from individual cups or a bottle for each person, not the common font.

Administration and Maintenance

Maintenance and administration functions resume more fully, but with provisions for social distancing. These might include such measures as alternating times for staff to be present in the office.

Tenant use of church buildings may be staged back in, depending on the types of activities and the ability to implement appropriate safety protocols.

Deep cleaning needs to be done after every gathering.


Full Return during the Pandemic

For worship and other gatherings, you will still need to consider the health and safety regulations of your province

Worship and Gatherings

Worship services with people in attendance, in-person small groups, and in-person gatherings of all kinds may not be possible until a vaccine is developed and generally available. However, if public health directives say worship can resume fully, people may still want the option of distancing in the sanctuary and wearing masks.

For gatherings including coffee hour and congregational dinners as well as fundraisers with food preparation, you will need to consider all of the health and safety regulations for the province in this time of COVID-19 recovery.

Don´t Forget Your Online Members

(We don´t have online services only the Newsletter) The ability to participate online may continue to be important for people in vulnerable categories. Many church members and regular participants may be from vulnerable categories.