Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ at NFBC,
We trust that this letter finds you well, both spiritually and physically, and that your confidence, peace, rest and hope in our sovereign God, and His faithful promises, have been a great comfort to you over these last several months. These have indeed been very strange days. As a Church, due to restrictions placed upon us by our Provincial government, we have not been able to meet together for worship since March 8. But all of that changed yesterday, Monday, June 8, when Doug Ford, the Premier of Ontario, announced that “places of worship can re-open at 30% capacity,” beginning June 12. This is surely good news for us, and it has long been anticipated.
In light of this announcement, the elders at NFBC met this afternoon, June 9, to discuss the next steps that we need to take, as a local Church, in terms of when we will be re-opening our doors. I know that most of you, if not all of you, have longed for the sweet fellowship of the saints; our souls are hungry to be back together again; we desperately need one another. As I said when all of this began: we were never meant to isolate, but to congregate. There is something very special and unique that takes place when the people of God gather together to worship Him, and to be instructed by His Word; something that we can’t fully experience through social media.
Because of that, and because we are commanded in Scripture to not forsake the assembly of ourselves together, the elders of the Church have decided to begin services, here in this building, beginning Sunday, June 28, at 10:30 am, under the following guidelines:
1. Our auditorium presently has a seating capacity of approximately 425 – 450 people; 30% of that population would mean that 125 – 130 people could gather together for worship in our facility. For the next several weeks after we open, and perhaps several months, depending on further direction from our government, families whose surname begins with A to M will be permitted to attend the service Sunday, June 28, at 10:30 am, and families whose surname begins with N to Z will be permitted to attend the service the following Sunday, July 5, at 10:30 am, and we will continue with this pattern, alternately each week, until we receive more direction and information from our government.
2. Out of love and respect for one another, and for every individual’s personal convictions and beliefs about COVID-19, we will take the following precautionary measures:
2.1 We would ask our seniors, and any other in vulnerable health conditions, to seriously consider the wisdom of attending services in the building at this particular time. We will leave that decision entirely in your hands, and will respect whatever choice you decide to make regarding your own personal health and safety.
2.2 Every other row in the auditorium will be not be in use, providing social distancing measures for one another’s safety. We would ask that families sit together, with several seats in between. Given the room, this should not be too difficult to accomplish. Also, because of social distancing requirements, and out of genuine concern for our neighbor, we would ask you to refrain from handshakes and hugs, and keep a distance of at least two meters between yourself and other individuals. At the end of the service, everyone will be asked to immediately leave the building,
and not remain inside for personal fellowship. The time will come when this will no longer be necessary, but until that time, we would ask you all to willingly and joyfully comply.
2.3 The Church will not be providing masks or gloves for those who decide to attend our services. If, however, you feel that you should wear these items, please bring them with you, and feel free to wear them the entire time that you are here.
2.4 The Church will not be providing nursery or SHINE ministries for the children in the immediate future. As a result, parents with small children may decide to stay at home. This decision we leave entirely in your hands.
2.5 The services will continue to be visually recorded. If, for whatever reason you are not able to attend, you will still be able access the service from the Church’s website, or from our YouTube channel. This will be especially important for those families who, depending on the week it is, may not be able to physically attend the service due to alphabetic restrictions, or for those who do not yet feel comfortable enough to attend the building. We desire to make sure that you continue to have this resource for your spiritual edification and encouragement.
2.6 Collection baskets will be placed at the back of the auditorium following the service for those who desire to give their tithes and offerings in that manner. A collection will not be taken during the service.
2.7 If you have any health issues, such as a fever or cough, please do not attend the service. We want to make sure that everyone who does attend feels entirely safe.
I understand that these restrictions are difficult to deal with, especially in light of how things have always been, but they will only be temporary, by the grace of God. The rationale for not opening the doors this coming Sunday, June 14, is purely logistical- we do not want to put excessive strain on our audio / visual ministry team; they need the time to make the necessary preparations. Please respect one another’s thoughts and convictions about these matters. Not everyone is of the same opinion regarding the current situation that we are facing due to COVID-19. But that’s okay. Unity never means uniformity. We each have the right to come to our own conclusions, but regardless of what those conclusions may be, we are still one body in Christ, standing under one banner, yielding ourselves to only one Lord, Master and King, Jesus Christ. And we are all called to love one another, and respect one another, and put another person’s interests far above our very own, following the footsteps of our faithful Saviour who, even though He was in the form of God, didn’t consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a Servant, and humbled Himself, and became obedient to death, even death on a Cross. May His mind be our very own.
We love you dearly, with all our hearts, and pray that you will continue to find encouragement, strength and hope in your walk with Jesus and in the faithful fellowship of the saints here at NFBC. May God have mercy on us, and direct our hearts to love, trust, fear, and serve Him, all the days of our lives.
Sincerely and respectfully, on behalf of the elders,