I’d like to weigh in on the column published Sept. 3, 2020 entitled “Gathering to worship, but at what cost?” I appreciated the thoughts and concerns expressed about safety measures and the risk of excluding others from in-person worship gatherings. However, it appeared that many of the musings in the article exhibited a lack of awareness of actual church practices in our area.
I co-pastor Telkwa Community church. Like many churches in our area, our church community has worked hard to balance the health risks associated with gathering alongside the risk of exclusion.
We’ve taken steps to ensure that all have access to our services, while still ensuring that we are in compliance with BC CDC recommendations. For example, our in-person service can also be accessed via Zoom, for those uncomfortable with or unable to gather in-person.
Those who attend via zoom may be seen and heard by the congregation (our zoom feed is displayed via projector and amplified through our soundboard). We’ve had Zoomlanders (as we call that contingent) offer prayer requests, read scripture, and share thoughts from their homes.
Those without internet access can also listen and interact in our service through their landline. Like most other churches, visitors are certainly welcome in person or via Zoom. Thankfully, we have not needed to turn people away. If more than fifty people desired to attend in-person, we would simply offer an additional service.
We also have offered nursery for young families during our services.
This opinion piece would have been greatly improved had places of worship actually been contacted to see if/how they have thought through some of the concerns raised. The lack of apparent engagement with local churches seemed to dismiss the very hard work that our faith communities have done to address our shared concerns in a difficult time.
The column suggested small group Bible studies as an alternative to meeting for larger gatherings. While this would indeed be a very good option if the Bible study only comprises people within one’s “bubble,” risk of infection actually increases when individuals from multiple “bubbles” gather in homes due to insufficient space for physical distancing.
We appreciate the concerns raised and agree that faith communities must be very thoughtful on all fronts as they seek to meet in responsible and meaningful ways in this unique time. As we are all in this together, let’s honour one another by paying attention to the hours of planning and hard work that so many are engaged in to address faithfully the unique challenges of this time.
Pastor Telkwa Community Church