Hello Southwood Church Family!

I hope you're all keeping well as we continue to live into the strange season we find ourselves in. I know for me and for my family, there's still a lot of adjustment happening as we navigate staying home more than usual, getting outdoors when we can, and looking ahead with anticipation as to when we'll be able to return to many of our regular actives and rhythms. Know that in all of this, I'm continuing to pray for all of you each day—God is good, God has been and continues to be faithful, and we are going to get through this pandemic together. Please reach out to me if you need pastoral care in any way—just to talk, or if you need support, or if emergencies arise ... or whatever it may be!

There are two areas that I know many of you are wondering about, that I wanted to provide a short little update on:

Financial Update

Derek, our Treasurer, along with Donna, our Church Administrator, are busy compiling current financial information for everyone to review. Thank you so much for your patience and support as we've been putting this together—many of our normal processes have had to be adjusted and we're still catching up a bit.

At our Council Meeting on Monday, we decided it would be best to wait until the end of this week to finalize the number we want to send to you, because that will enable us to give you an accurate, up-to-date picture through to the end-of-month situation for May. We will have this ready for you next week, so watch for that in next week's newsletter (June 4th).

Re-opening - Initial Conversations

I know that many of you, as you've been watching the news and listening to the conversations going on locally with businesses, public services, and more, are wondering about when we'll be able to re-open the church building (particularly for in-person worship services). I recognize and appreciate that we are all waiting and praying for the day we can gather again in person (myself included!)

Unfortunately, with the current restrictions in place from the Province, as well as the directions we’re being given from our United Church authorities, we won’t be able to resume in-person worship in the near future. The attendance limit would be far too low for us to be able to safely gather in our building, with our size, etc., and no singing in worship or children’s ministry would be permitted.

The Council (upon guidance from myself) are beginning to brainstorm ideas about what re-opening might look like as a longer-term, phased strategy. Likely, some of our small groups and other ministries, as well as some of our renters, will be able to gather, with restrictions in place, before we are able to hold services again. Pastor Corinne and myself also participated in a "Town Hall" conference call for clergy with Dr. Hinshaw and Premier Kenney last week, and have begun to collate some of our initial thoughts around measures we'll likely need to take. At this time, however, we have not established any timelines for re-opening.

I know this is a disappointing and frustrating time for our community of faith and our wider world. As much as I’m so thankful for the technology we have and the ways we are able to stay connected, my heart hurts that we can’t gather together in the same physical space. Continue to pray for pandemic relief and wisdom on the way forward!

Please watch this space and our website over the summer for some more formal information about our plans and contingency plans for re-opening.

Blessings, Peace, and Love,
Rev. Sam