**COVID-19 Update, November 20, 2020**
By God’s grace, we continue to be able to hold our weekly public worship service at Frank Wills Hall, each Sunday at 10 AM.
The Province of Alberta and the Town of Cochrane have announced new restrictions, some of which impact our services. The most significant change is mandatory masks; until the Town gives further notice, those attending our Sunday services, children's Sunday School, and weeknight Youth, Men's, and Women's studies will need to wear a mask in accordance with the Town bylaw (unless they are under 5 years old or prevented by a medical condition).
We are closely monitoring our attendance, but have not yet reached the 1/3 capacity of our space that is now mandated as our limit by the provincial government since Cochrane's case count has risen above 50 per 100,000 people (i.e., it is purple on this map). We have plans in place should our attendance reach that level on a Sunday morning. In a letter further explaining the new enhanced measures sent to faith communities from Dr. Deena Hinshaw November 12, singing in religious services was neither prohibited nor grouped in with the new enhanced measures, and so we will continue to sing in our worship services. Other than having now to wear masks, there are no new restrictions on our Children's Sunday School ministry or other discipleship activities such as our Men's and Women's studies or baptism and membership classes, and so these will continue.
Now, we fully understand that some of our dear brothers and sisters and their families will not yet be able to join our in-person gatherings and that certain brothers and sisters are at an especially higher risk due to age or pre-existing health conditions. Furthermore, we also must actively encourage any who are feeling sick, especially those having cold/flu-like symptoms to remain home. Therefore, we continue to stream the service via Zoom, for the benefit of those who are not yet able to join us in person. Please contact us to join the Zoom stream.
What To Do Prior To, and While, Attending Our Public Services During COVID-19
We ask that everyone who plans to attend the in-person service to do the following:
* Take Alberta Health’s self-assessment tool, found here: https://myhealth.alberta.ca/journey/covid-19/Pages/COVID-Self-Assessment.aspx
* Again, please stay home and participate via Zoom if you are not well
* Please maintain “physical distancing” of 6 feet/2m from those outside of your immediate/cohort family at all times
* Please keep small children with you at all times and ensure they remain physically distanced from others
* Please wear a mask (except for those under 5 and those unable to do so for medical reasons)
We need to stress the necessity of observing these guidelines both because of the need to minimize the risk of disease transmission and because of the obligations placed upon us by public health orders.
Changes to our Public Service During COVID-19
In order to honor our Lord’s command that we respect those civil authorities placed over us, and in order to love our neighbor by minimizing the risk of viral transmission, our service will be a bit different than usual, as follows:
* The front door will be used as an entrance only. The exit will be the west-facing door to the parking lot from the main hall.
* There will be hand sanitizing stations at the entrance and exit. We ask everyone to sanitize upon entrance and exit, and after using the restrooms.
* The management of Frank Wills Hall has requested that only two people be in each restroom at any one time (obviously, parents assisting young children are an exception to that).
* The seating rows are spaced further apart and staggered from each other.
* While not required, masks and gloves will be available at the entrance for anyone who wishes to wear them.
* We are not yet able to offer a nursery area, and so young children must remain with their parents.
* We cannot as of yet offer coffee or other refreshments after the service.
* We are serving the Lord’s Supper most weeks in accordance with Alberta Health’s guidelines for service of food and drink in religious services.
While Alberta Health still discourages congregational singing, it no longer prohibits it, and so, in light of the centrality of singing in Christian worship, we have prayerfully decided to include congregational singing as part of our service. We have made several changes to increase safety and minimize the risk of disease transmission while singing: in addition to staggered seating and physical distancing, we have suspended the use of hymnals and we are keeping the Hall's circulation and exhaust fans running for better ventilation.
Alberta Health has asked churches to make available to attendees the opportunity to leave contact information in case of an outbreak traced to their services. This is not mandatory; out of respect for their request, we will leave a clipboard aside for those attendees who wish to leave that information.
What To Expect During Our Services
As a newly formed local congregation, our Sunday morning worship is simple. We're just a group of ordinary Christians gathered to worship, hear the Word preached, and to enjoy fellowship together!
Kids are welcome in our service (we don't mind the noise!). Dress trends are generally fairly casual to business-casual, though you can find anything from jeans and shorts to suits. People are friendly, so don't be afraid to introduce yourself!
Our main service formally begins at 10:00am, led by one of our pastors and typically ends around 11:30am. During this time, we sing songs, offer prayers of praise and confession to God, then hear God's Word preached.
We begin our main worship service with all of our deliberate attention focused upon the living God! After an opening greeting and a few announcements, one of our pastors will begin the worship service by reading from a Scripture text as a summons for us to turn our hearts Godward. This opening meditation is followed by songs and hymns of praise sung to guitar and/or piano accompaniment. Most of the songs and hymns we sing are from the Hymns of Grace hymnal (though we are temporarily suspending the use of the physical books during COVID-19), and we use a PowerPoint projector for the lyrics.
After a few hymns, a pastor will lead us in turning our attention to a time of corporate confession and assurance of pardon. This involves reading a Scripture text, a short time of quiet confession and prayer, then another Scripture text before singing another hymn.
Then a expository message from the Scriptures is given--that is, one that aims to expose, or unpack, what the passage is saying and to present the Gospel ("good news") of salvation through Christ.
Our tradition is to "proclaim the Lord's death until he comes" (1 Cor 11:23-26) by partaking in the Lord's Supper, remembering the Lord together each week following the preaching of the Word. All believers who do believe and trust in Jesus Christ, partake in the Lord's Supper.
We conclude the service with a final hymn and a parting benediction.
An easy transition toward informal conversation rounds out our time together with time to mingle and fellowship.