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Oct. 29, 2020 | Thursday
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Sunday services resume at Redbrick Church, many other NOTL churches to resume service soon
Redbrick Church. (Jessica Maxwell/Niagara Now)

Sunday services have resumed at Niagara United Mennonite's Redbrick Church in Niagara-on-the-Lake and lead pastor Daniel Janzen said it's been going well so far.

The church has put strict COVID procedures in place since services resumed Sept. 13, with members having to enter, take a prescreening and wear a mask for service.

About 40 people showed up for the first service since the church's closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Normally about 120 people attend a regular English service, Janzen said.

The church also offers services in German.

"It's not the same as it was before," Janzen said, adding he doesn't think things are the same for most organizations.

People attending need to register in advance online for the service, but there is some walk-in space available. When they arrive, the church checks them off or signs them up. They're then taken to a station with personal protective equipment like masks and santitizer, he said.

"If they didn't bring their own masks one is made available for them," Janzen said.

"And then we have some ushers there to receive them and to direct them to be spaced out according to bubble or family units. That akes care of some of the logistics of getting in and getting out."

When people leave the church, they're directed out in a "staggered" way that keeps groups together.

The service itself, he said, is "a mixture of live and pre-recorded elements," Janzen said, adding he's glad to be back to leading the service, but that it's definitely not the same.

"It felt good. I mean, it also felt strange being in a space that's familiar but sort of also unfamiliar," he said.

One big difference that will take some adjustment is he can't see people's faces.

"You look out and you don't receive a lot of facial expression and that's a different experience," he said.

While not everyone has returned, there was a "sense of joy" among people who were ready.

"We have a mixed congregation with some people that were, I guess, ready to return earlier and some that are not ready yet," he said.

"I think that was a great joy to them, to be able to come into the space and to be physically in the space together to worship as opposed to maybe in their homes or in their small family bubbles or online."

He said while he was there for the Sept. 13 service, he wasn't there for the German service Sept. 20, but he heard people were even more joyful as they start to get used to the new procedures.

With the province tightening restrictions on private, unstaffed gatherings, the church will be keeping an eye on what happens next and whether the church will have to close again.

"It's something that I think everybody in leadership, as they heard the announcement sort of said, 'OK, this may be a possibility,' " Janzen said.

"If the provincial guidelines recommend or say that we need to make smaller gatherings or that we cannot be open, then we will continue to worship the way that we have been doing the last six months. And so we're geared up to do that."

During the time the church was closed, services were hosted online on various platforms, including YouTube and through ChurchOnlinePlatform.com, as well as on Cogeco on channel 10.

The church also continues to stream services to Pleasant Manor retirement home, "as was our custom before COVID," Janzen said.

SERVICES AT OTHER CHURCHES:

Bethany Mennonite Church resumes in-person services Oct. 4.

St. Mark’s Anglican Church resumes in-person services on Oct. 11.

Christ Church McNab resumes in-person services on Oct. 18.

Cornerstone Community Church resumed service outdoors only on July 5.

St. Vincent de Paul Roman Catholic Church resumed in-person services June 21.

St. Davids-Queenston United Church remains closed, along with St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Grace United Church.

Other churches could not be reached by press time to confirm service schedules.

 

 

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