Dear Friends,

We live in an ever-changing society, making our daily lives even more fluid with the threat of Covid-19.  As a church, we have been watching government briefings, reading government bulletins and striving to maintain a proper testimony in our community.  With regards to church activities in specific, the guidance given is often veiled in such language that makes it difficult to understand the direction they are taking.  In other words, they don’t want to appear to be meddling in church affairs, but they are striving to “give advice” in the strongest terms possible.  To complicate matters, these bulletins are often updated retroactively, meaning they make minor changes and change the date, making it difficult to know what facts have been altered.  On July 7, last Tuesday, one of these changes took place.  Since the changes are made retroactively, and not sent to churches (we have to be constantly seeking out the various documents) we do not know if the change was made that day, or previously and we did not see it.

When planning our church picnic, we were making plans based upon the original recommendations to churches, also consulting the local health department which gives specific food handling guidelines for churches in the midst of Covid-19, and we were confident we were following all the guidelines.  The minor change I wrote of above is in regard to size of gatherings.   As you know, churches were given much more latitude than many other groups as far as congregating is concerned.  The language indicated a greater ability to gather outdoors than in, but that has changed.  It has been realized that there is less adherence to social distancing outside than a clearly marked interior of a building, and so gatherings have been capped at 50.   We developed several plans to try to make it work, but at the end of the day, it felt like we were pushing limits for something as small as a chicken dinner.

The other complication is this:  with other churches not returning to services as of yet, we are seeing an increase in our evening attendance.   People are missing church and who can blame them.  It has been a blessing to have these friends come, but it makes an outdoor gathering unmanageable.   We would have to establish an outdoor dining area, capped at 50 people and then an indoor dining area to accommodate the rest, all while social distancing and adhering to food service rules, and then move our service indoors to accommodate the number who have signed up.  Every solution brought several other challenges to light.  As registration has grown, some of the challenges proved insurmountable.

As you have heard, much of our province will move to Phase 3 this Friday, and if that were the case for Norfolk County, this would have solved many of the problems.  Unfortunately, we will have to postpone Chicken on the Grounds until a future date when we are confident we can make it work.  It is still our desire to hold services, and maintain our testimony locally, without jeopardizing what we are currently doing in the future.

Our plan for this Sunday is to still have the Jupp family come for a special evening of Music and Preaching!  We would ask that we don’t advertise this service, as we are just about at the maximum we can accommodate.   We will be putting out temporary seating to avoid crowding, but still are only allowed 130 in the auditorium. Please pray for God to use this service and come expecting a great night!

Thank you for your understanding!


About Al Feere

Pastor of Bethel Baptist Church in Simcoe, Ontario
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