March 24 update

Friends

Your COVID-19 working group met on Monday March 23, 2020. We were very careful to enforce physical distancing, hand sanitizing and good health – however, it will be our last meeting where we physically get together. Beginning next week, we will be meeting online through Zoom.

The following are the key actions from our meeting on Monday. As you will see, we do not always have complete answers, but we are working to make the best decisions based upon the information we have – which may change and then cause our decisions to change!

Supporting each other within our wonderful church community: We know that many of you are making regular effort to connect with other during this time of physical isolation. For this we say thank you. To further this effort, by the end of this week we will have a phone-out system in place designed to make weekly contact with all members of our church community. Ian Kellogg and Carla Janzen with the help of our Congregational Care committee and a group of volunteers will be setting up six teams of two people each to make weekly phone contacts with each of you.

These will simply be calls to say hello, find out how you are, ask if there is assistance you need, find out if there is assistance you want to give to others, and to have a friendly chat. Over the next six weeks you will receive calls from our volunteers and from Ian Kellogg. We hope this will be seen as a gesture of friendship and kindness, and perhaps a way to get to know a new “phone” friend or two!

Coming together on Sunday morning: Last Sunday was the first of our worship services being shared through Facebook and then posted on our website for viewing. First a huge thank you to Ian Kellogg, Bryan LeGrow and Brian Sampson for making this happen – you did a stellar job. One glitch resulted in some people being able to easily access the livestream via Facebook with others not being able to find it. This has been rectified. This coming Sunday, there only two requirements to watch live: have Facebook open on your computer, tablet, and phone; and be one of the many who have “Liked” the MWUC Facebook site. WTB on Thursday will repeat this information.

As well, a big thank you to Georgia Englot who sent out a wonderful video and lesson outline to the parents of our young children.  Lots of love shared in both directions through this!

Food Bank Depot: Through all our working group decision making, the number one factor we have been considering is the health and safety of both our volunteers and our staff. This Monday we came back to our previous decision related to closing our Food Bank depot. After thoughtful discussion, we have decided to keep it closed until we return to regular overall operations. This was not an easy decision, but one made with the understanding of the Edmonton Food Bank who are modifying their services to meet needs.
Bissell Centre Lunch on Easter Sunday: Over the past 25 years our congregation, with the leadership of Don Grabinsky, has provided lunch for many people at the downtown Bissell Centre. While the regular processes have been modified, the need for food continues. Later this week, Don will be sharing further information asking those of you who wish to, to provide a financial gift which will be used to purchase food with can then be shared with those in need. Watch for further information in Thursday’s What’s the Buzz.

4 Point Taekwondo: Our new renter has begun work to set up the basement area for our long-term rental to formally begin later this spring. Kevin, the owner, has his own access code, is using a separate entry and working largely on his own.

Memorial or Funeral Services: We began conversation on how we would respond to requests for memorial or funeral services during this time of the pandemic. We agreed that pastoral care, through electronic means, wold be critical. We agreed that our first request to families would be to defer any form of service until a later date when a more normal situation is in place. What we did not come to a consensus related to how we would respond to a family request to hold a small service during this time period. We will come back to this issue at our next meeting as we work to balance the needs to be both compassionate and maintain the health of everyone involved.

Keeping us going Financially: As Ian Kellogg mentioned on Sunday morning, it is important that we continue to bring in financial support to keep our core work going. Many of you are presently giving through PAR and this automatically comes to us each month. Thank you.

If you are not presently on PAR and would like to be, we ask that you contact Liliana Angel at 780-463-2202 or mwuc1@telus.net. She will then mail out the required forms which you can complete and return by mail. Thank you for your consideration of this possibility.

As well by next week we hope to have an electronic transfer of funds process in place so that those interested in giving this way can do so. Keep tuned!

Staff Needs and Work: Our staff continues to work from the church during regular hours following physical distancing, hand sanitizing and good health expectations. We did however ask Liliana Angel and Ian Kellogg to work through the processes necessary to allow for ongoing communication through both telephone and electronic means if government expectations require more groups to work from home. This linkage with you is very important.

Visiting the Church: Thank you for your efforts to stay away from the church building unless absolutely necessary. As mentioned last week, if you must go to the church please contact Liliana Angel prior to coming outlining why you are coming over. We are working hard to ensure the good health of both you and our staff.

Church Sign: Last week we changed the front sign stating that programming has been cancelled. This was necessary at that time. From here on in, we are going to work to provide some more inspirational messages. Look for new messaging like this one – Join in online, Reach out, Make a Difference – 780-463-2202.

If you have any questions or comments about this work we are doing, please let us know at 780-463-2202 or mwuc1@telus.net.

We wish each of you the very best in this time of newness and unpredictability. We are so fortunate to be part of this wonderful community of Mill Woods United Church.

Rob McPhee

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