COVID-19, Update 3

Friends
 
Over the past week there have been a number of actions related to our COVID-19 response at Mill Woods United Church taken by both our COVID-19 working group and your Church Council. These are listed below.
 
Our hope is that each of you are finding ways to meet the challenges of our present situation and keeping both healthy and happy. Please remember that if there are specific needs we can help you with or help you wish to offer, you can call 780-463-2202 and let us know.
 
On March 26, 2020 your Church Council, through an email process, passed the following:
 
Motion: That we move forward to purchase a laptop computer for Liliana Angel to use at the time that she is required to work from home, at an approximate cost of $1000.
 
Background: The COVID-19 working group has asked staff to make the needed preparations to keep communications and other necessary church functions going if the government requires that only essential workers go to their regular workplace. We have indication that this could occur at any time. This would include ensuring that both telephone and computer-based communications remain open and available to members of our church community, and that the ongoing operations of the church continue.
 
On March 30, 2020 your Church Council, through an email process, passed the following:
 
Motion: That council give Randy Round the go-ahead to pursue for Mill Woods United Church the 75 percent wage subsidy program initiated by the Federal government, to help cover the wages of our staff.
 
Background
 
Since the beginning of this time of pandemic, the approach the working committee has taken has been to maintain staff at their usual levels, realizing that if this went on for a sustained period we might end up dipping into our reserves.
 
In the past day or two the Federal government has announced a 75 percent wage subsidy for small and medium sized businesses. Details are still forthcoming, but everything indicates that charities and non-profits are included. This would help us a great deal.
 
The major criteria for organizations is that the pandemic situation has created a situation whereby at least 30 percent of their revenue is lost.  We feel we will be able to make that case. Our monthly budget is about $18,000 a month. We are losing all of our rent income ($4,000 per month), fund raising ($1,000 per month) and likely most of our $3,000 per month Sunday non-PAR offering.  We may also see a decrease in our present PAR giving (presently about $7200 a month) as families are impacted by the situation we are in.  We can expect to see our annual lump-sum cell tower payment of $18,000 in November that is on average $1,500 per month.
 
The COVID-19 working group met again on Monday March 30, 2020 through a Zoom meeting. We share the following information from this meeting:
 

  • Sunday March 29 Facebook Worship Service

With the assistance of Brian Sampson, Ian Kellogg and Bryan LeGrow led us in a wonderful service of worship, meaningful messages and beautiful music. Yes, there were a few technical issues which will be resolved for our Palm Sunday service on April 5, 2020. Unfortunately, as a result of our technical issues, we were unable to post the service on our church homepage. There are text versions of material used in the service posted.

  • Congregational Contacts and Keeping Connected

Thank you for the efforts many of you are making to keep connected with others. Physical distancing does not mean social distancing – we need each other even more at this time. Wonderful work was done last week to bring both our choir members and men’s group together for Zoom meetings.
 
Thanks to the leadership of Carla Janzen and Ian Kellogg, and the efforts of 14 phoners, we have established our congregational phone-out. Our goal is to contact members of our church community each week over the next while. Mostly this is designed to be a friendly conversation and keep in touch with you. However, if there are specific needs we can assist you with or if there is assistance you can provide, please let us know. If for some reason you have not received a call by the end of the week, please call 780-463-2202 and let us know– we have tried to include all of you, but there is a possibility we have missed someone.
 

  • Financial Contributions

A process has been established to allow people to make electronic transfers directly to Mill Woods United Church. To do so please use the email address mwuc3@telus.net and in the comment section indicate the purpose of the donation. As well, you can continue to mail cheques to the church, drop cheques off at the church, send a series of post-dated cheques, or donate through our website. Those interested in changing their donations to PAR can do so by contacting Liliana Angel at 780-463 2202 or mwuc1@telus.net. Thank you for your ongoing support.

  • Funerals, Memorials and Graveside Committal Services

Last week we share initial information as to how we would respond to requests for funerals and memorial services during this time of pandemic. We agreed that pastoral care, through electronic means, would be critical AND that our first request to families would be to defer any form of service until a date when a more normal situation in place. At yesterday’s meeting, after good discussion and a review of the guidance from the Moderator of the United Church of Canada, we agreed that for the health and safety of staff and the community we would not take part in physical small group gatherings in either the church or at graveside during this time.

  • Activity Cancellations

As a result of our present situation, the following planned activities have been cancelled. Thank you for the many efforts that have already been made in the planning of these.

  • Colombia Night: April 24, 2020
  • Spring Craft Fair: May 9, 2020
  • Caring For and Monitoring our Building

If or when we are at the point that we have no staff working from the church, we realize there will be a regular and ongoing need to monitor our church building. We had an initial discussion this week and will prepare a checklist and monitoring process at our meeting next week.
 
As has been the case over the last few weeks we encourage each of you to provide us feedback about decisions we are making, make suggestions on topics we might consider, or share positives or concerns you have.  Let us know at 780-463-2202 or at mwuc1@telus.net.
 
As the sign in front of our church reads
 
Join in online, Reach out, and Make a Difference!

Rob McPhee