JRCC's Coronavirus Response

    03.12.20 | by Brad Sumner

    Church Family:

    As many of you are aware, on March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. Distressing news such as this causes public anxiety and fear to rise. Many people are wondering about how this impacts the ministry of Jericho Ridge as a publicly-facing entity.

    On Wednesday, the Premier, Minister of Health and Provincial Medical Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry hosted an hour-long conference call regarding what Faith Groups can and should be doing. 

    On Thursday, the province banned public gathers of over 250 people to prevent community transmission of the virus.      

    Our team has been keeping up to date with these developments and in response to the information available to us at this time and in consultation with Fraser Health, we wanted to let you know the following things:   

    1. The short-term service and learning trip to Guatemala has been cancelled

    This morning, our in-country partner, Bethel Miniseries informed us the government of Guatemala blocked entry from Europe and Asia. Mexico was quickly added to the list (we travel through Mexico City). It was unclear if Canadians would be denied entry but the Guatemalan government representative said people from countries/areas with Coronavirus would be quarantined in a designated hospital. 

    Sadly, there has been a confirmed death in the Vancouver region (connected to a long-term Care Home in North Vancouver) and that heightens the uncertainty for our team. In fact, Bethel specifically mentioned the “Surrey region”. 

    There are further factors we had to consider, including the health of those we might meet in country, those with suppressed immune systems, the sick, elderly, each of you, and our friends at Bethel. Not only do we need to consider people beyond our borders but also the well-being of family, JRCC members & fellow Canadians when we return. 

    With governments making decisions to protect their citizens we couldn’t guarantee our team would be able to return in a timely manner. What we’ve found in the last 48 hrs is that scenarios are changing by the hour, (mostly tightening and restricting travel) and these are beyond our control.

    We anticipate that the projects will move forward under local leadership – houses will still be built and wheelchairs will still be distributed. We will update you with more information as we have it.  

    2. We are continuing with our public worship gatherings

    at present but conducting continuous assessment to see what course of action is wise and prudent.

    3. We are postponing our planned Open House

    (previously scheduled for April 5). The heightened levels of uncertainty conflict with our desire to offer warm hospitality, including food service, and so we are going to wait to invite our neighbours into the building until such time as public safety aligns with public confidence.    

    Beyond the headlines and 24/7 news cycle, I wanted to reach out and communicate a few things to you that are on my heart.   

    We are here for you...

    As fear and anxiety grow, our responses to the community will always be pastoral: calming and comforting. We are here to offer a clear message of hope. We are here to remind people that they are loved and cared for, and they are a valued part of the church community if they choose not to attend or not attend at this time.  This is a time for prayer and a time for thoughtful engagement (online and in person).  This is not a time for fear-mongering or for speculation.  This is a time for us to love our neighbours well, to care for those who are immunocompromised and to take practical steps to support others who are more impacted than us.   

    We care for you...

    We are taking proactive steps to ensure the safety of people who come in contact with Jericho’s ministry through our public events and Sunday gatherings.    

    • Fraser Health wants us to help get the message out that if you are sick, please do not attend a worship gathering (or youth or your small group, etc.)
    • Fraser Health encouraged us to be ready to offer online services (we are taking delivery of a live streaming system tomorrow and hope to have it operational soon).
    • They asked us to remind people to refrain from shaking hands, hugging. (You will notice a reminder sign when you come on Sunday near the exterior doors as well as protocol changes for our greeters and ushers)
    • They continue to encourage frequent hand washing and to be careful of using ‘shared items’ (You will notice a shift in how we are doing coffee service this coming Sunday. Until further notice, all coffee bar items are served, single use only.  What this means is that our team members will sanitize, wear gloves and will pour your coffee for you and offer you sugar packets & individual creamers to avoid contamination)    

    We have implemented a rigorous cleaning routine of the facility by our maintenance company, who are fully appraised of and compliant with the requirements outlined by Fraser Health for churches and schools.     

    What About Offering and Communion?

    We are implementing a new offering protocol where, at the start of Coffee and Connection time, ushers will stand by the two main double door entrances to the auditorium with the offering bags and should you wish to make a cash or cheque contribution to the ministry of JRCC, you can drop that into an offering bag at that point.  This prevents passing the bags from person to person. 

    We have been planning to do communion on this weekend and at this point, we anticipate that will continue with the following modifications:

    • Servers will sanitize and then don gloves
    • Before you approach the table, we will have a person with hand sanitizer who will squirt into every persons’ hand
    • The bread will be handed out with tongs
    • The individual cup will be placed from the platter onto the table in front for you to pick up. (This prevents the contamination of hand-to-hand touching between server and the person and prevent contamination from the server to each person if someone in line contaminates the server’s hand.)
    What About my Kids? 

    We are committed to creating a safe environment for you and your children.  To that end, we are putting the following protocols in place:

    1. Hand Washing – We have sinks in each of the classrooms and we will be instructing volunteers and kids to wash their hands as they enter the classroom.
    2. Share a Smile, Keep Your Hands to Yourself – We will be encouraging kids to share a smile and to not hug, shake or hold hands, high-five, of lean against each other.

    Please remember that as part of our plan to protect we do not allow kids with runny-noses, fevers, or coughs to enter the classrooms. If you or your child are not feeling well, then we would encourage you to stay home.

    There is also a good resource for talking to your children about a pandemic.  It’s called “Don’t Be Afraid: Stories of Christians in Times of Trouble”. You can download it for FREE at https://www.commonword.ca/ResourceView/2/11695

    What Can I Do?

    Pray.  This is not a trite platitude or blind ignorance but rather a gentle reminder that our “pray first” culture will continue in the face of global pandemics.   

    Please receive this invitation to pray for those who have been affected physically, emotionally and financially. It is in difficult circumstances that we are made even more aware of the call to be the church in the world today, and to take the love of Christ to the sick, the hurting, and the afraid.

    “Jesus, our Lord, you are the light of the world. You are our beacon of hope. Lord God, remember your church in Canada, we are yours. Lord, in your mercy and grace, give us confidence in you and resilience in the face of turmoil. Give peace and hope to those who fear. Draw near to those who are sick among us, lead them to health. Holy Spirit compel us to extend help and care to those in need. May we be salt and light in this time of crisis. May we hear from the heart and voice of Jesus, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:27) 

    Loving and serving together,

    Pastor Brad