Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates

Below are the most up to date resources that have been created by our Return to Church Building Committee (RCB) to support you during this time. They outline our progress to date and answer your Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

Returning to the Church Building Congregation Update

When will we able to attend in person worship services at Westminster?

Will the worship services continue to be taped for viewing at home?

When will the Montessori Day Care, committee meetings and other activities be held in the church?

These are questions that Westminster United Church (WUC) congregants have asked.   The purpose of this note is to update all members on the status of our return to our church building.  

On July 28th the East Central Ontario Region Council (ECORC) enthusiastically approved WUC’s plan for returning to in-person worship services and other activities within the church. This is testament to the dedication and quality work that has been put into our returning plan.

Secondly, we are excited about the arrival of new technology that will provide us with the opportunity to live stream the worship services. Members will be able to worship in real time from home.

We are working on the implementation of a reservation process for those who want to and are able to attend in-person worship services. Due to government and health regulations, the maximum number of individuals that can attend service at WUC is 90. This includes congregants, individuals managing the technology, ushers and worship leadership.  With this safety guideline, we require a fair and simple process to manage reserved seating.  We will be providing more detail on the reservation process in the upcoming weeksstay tuned!

The first in-person worship service is being planned for Sunday September 13th, 2020— “Welcome Back Sunday.”  For two weeks prior we will be holding in-person worship with a smaller group of people to test the technology and run through the process of reserving seats, entering the facility, seating in the sanctuary, exiting and departure. The ushering team, choir members and the WUC Council will be invited to participate as our “test congregation” for these two services. These sessions will be live streamed so you may see familiar faces in the seats during the worship service!

The Montessori Day Care will be returning to their classes at the end of the month under firm guidelines.   WUC committees and other groups who meet at the church will be kept posted on when we might able to resume activities in the fall.  We are taking things step-by-step and reassessing as we go.

Finally, we have created a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page which you can find on the Westminster website.   If your question is not answered there please contact Tom McNown, Chair of the Returning to the Church Building Committee, tom.mcnown@gmail.com.


We are excited about our return plan and being back together again to worship God in our church building.

God bless and see you soon!                                                              

Returning to the Church Building Committee
Westminster United Church

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)

Westminster United Church (WUC) – Returning to the Church Building

Frequently Asked Questions

Focus AreaFAQResponse
GeneralHas the church been closed during the pandemic?Yes, the church is closed to the public during the pandemic
 What guidelines have been used to develop WUC’s plan for returning to the church?The Return to the Church Building Committee (RCB) has developed a plan with different phases in order to follow the United Church of Canada and all levels of Government.
 When will we return to the “normal” state at WUC?At this time, there is no date set due to the current Government guidelines etc.
 Is there a plan for when and how we return to using the church facilities?The RCB Committee has developed a phased plan that has been approved by the United Church’s Eastern Regional Council. WUC will be returning to in-person worship following health and government guidelines on September 13, 2020.
CleaningIs the cleaning of the church being done?Yes. Our custodian has continued to clean the church since March and will continue to do so following proper procedure and protocols.
 Will sanitizing solutions be available?Yes. We have wall mounted stations available located in the church entrances and washrooms. We also have a supply of smaller containers that will be available around the church.
 Are the sanitizing/cleaning solutions government approved?Yes. The cleaning/disinfecting products which have been purchased are approved by Health Canada for COVID-19 cleaning. These are in use on touch surfaces and floors.
 How often is cleaning of the church happening?The spaces that are occupied are cleaned daily. This includes high touch surfaces such as door handles, push plates and key pads. As the number of visitors increase, the frequency of cleaning will increase.
 Will garbage bins be available for used Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?Yes. Lined garbage bins are available in all rooms. Extra disposal stations will be located around the church e.g. church entrance.    
SafetyWhat measures will be in place to ensure safety when in the church?Guidelines issued by the province and health authorities are being followed. Signage at the front door and washrooms will remind visitors to physically distance, wear a mask, wash hands and to use sanitizers and stay home if you are unwell.
 Will masks be required when we return to the church?Yes, masks are mandatory in the Region of Durham.
 Will social distancing be required when we return to the church?Definitely, based on the guidelines of the Region of Durham and other government bodies including the Ministry of Health.
SecurityWhat measures are being taken to ensure the security of WUC staff and others who may enter the church?Church use is currently limited to staff and those with specific church business (i.e. building repairs, paying bills, food bank). All visitors must sanitize, sign in and identify the area of church visited. This helps to focus cleaning needs and provides visitor ID for contact tracing. Our custodian continues to secure the church each afternoon and volunteers perform weekend security checks.
 Can I enter the church at any time?Please make an appointment with the church office. All those that enter must follow health and church protocol.
PPEAre masks required now and when we return to live services?Yes, masks are mandatory in the Region of Durham.
 Will WUC be providing masks?Individuals are asked to provide their own masks. Disposable masks are currently available at the entrance should a visitor require one.
Worship ServicesWhen will we be returning to in-person worship services?WUC will be returning to in-person worship services on September 13, 2020. Attendance will be by reservation only (reserve on our website) and numbers will be limited to 80 attendees including all who are participating and leading the service.
 Will the on-line services continue?Yes. On-line services will continue and we will be live streaming and recording all services.
 How many individuals will be able to attend each live service?80 individuals. This number allows for social distancing.
 Will I be able to attend every Sunday service?We recognize that the limit of 80 individuals per service does not allow everyone to attend every week. Attendance at each Sunday service will be by reservation, online or by calling the office.
 Will there be more than one service each Sunday?No not at this time. The service will be live streamed and recorded for future viewing.
 Will I be able to sit with my friends during the service?We will be practicing physical distancing. We ask that you sit only with members of your immediate household.
 Will I be able to meet and talk to my friends before and/or after the serviceWhen attending a service in person, please maintain physical distancing using the floor markers as a reminder.  Please enter the sanctuary and sit where directed by the usher. At the end of the service, you will be directed to leave the sanctuary by the ushers.  Please do not congregate in the Narthex but proceed directly to your vehicle.  Please do not socialize in the parking lot.  This will seem strange as we are a very social congregation. Please know that this is for the safety of all of us. 
 What new things will I notice when returning to worship at the church?You will see signage and floor markings to remind you of the steps that we each need to take.  In the sanctuary, you will notice that the pew chairs have been placed in physically distanced groups.  All paper materials, hymn books and bibles have been removed as they cannot be properly sanitized.  We will not be able to sing hymns but we are planning on maintaining our musical component of the service.  The ushers will take an active role in directing you to your seat and in helping you leave the sanctuary.  We will also all wear masks.
OfferingsWill there be offering plates passed around during each live service?Offering plates will be available just inside the sanctuary doors so that congregants may place their offering either on their way in or out of the sanctuary. 
Choir, SingingWill I or the choir be singing at the live worship services?No. Singing is considered to be high risk for the spread of COVID-19.  Our music program will continue in new and innovative ways. 
Communion, BaptismWill there be Communion and Baptism? How will it be different?Both baptism and communion are currently suspended during in-person worship.     
Funerals and WeddingsWill funerals be conducted at WUC?Yes. Funerals will be conducted at WUC while adhering to all current protocols i.e. maximum attendance, wearing of masks, social distancing etc.
 Will weddings be conducted at WUC?Yes. Weddings will be conducted at WUC while adhering to all current protocols i.e. maximum attendance, wearing of masks, social distancing etc.
J.a.M.When will J.a.M return to live sessions?J.a.M will continue to be offered online. Nursery will not be available until further notice. Please note that registration for J.a.M is required. Contact the office for more information.
Youth GroupWhat’s happening with Youth Group?The youth group will continue to meet online on Thursday evenings.  
Pastoral Care, Congregational CareWill pastoral and/or congregational care be available? If yes, how?Yes. It will be by appointment only. Please call or email the office. When there are in-person meetings, all proper protocols will be followed.
Church Members ResponsibilitiesWhen I attend a live worship service at WUC, what will I be required to do?Congregants will need to reserve seats in advance in order to attend an in-person Sunday worship service. This will ensure that capacity meets provincial guidelines and will also facilitate contact tracing, if needed.  Reservations will be handled through an on-line program with the ability for phone reservations. -We’ll ask you to allow extra time for arrival at church to move through the new protocols in place: -Follow the traffic flow arrows and other signage throughout the Narthex. -No physical contact will be made with the greeters including handshakes, fist or elbow bumps or hugs. Members are encouraged to give a warm verbal greeting, accompanied by a smile. -Use hand sanitizer at the stations provided.Wear a mask.  Please bring your own mask. The church will only have a limited supply.-Follow social distancing at all times (in the church building and in the parking lot).-Follow proper respiratory etiquette practices at all times including coughing and sneezing into the elbow or a tissue, discarding tissues into a lined garbage bin, and washing hands afterwards.-Use hand sanitizer when leaving the sanctuary.-Leave church building and parking lot immediately after service.
 Where can I find a self-assessment for COVID?A COVID-19 health self-assessment form will be available when you register online for a Sunday in-person worship service. Additionally, a self-assessment tool can be found at www.covid-19.ontario.ca.
WashroomsWill all the washrooms be available for use?Yes. All washrooms are available for use but to support physical distancing and disinfecting, the capacity of the washrooms has been reduced. Visitors continue to wear masks in these spaces.
 Will the washrooms be continually cleaned?Yes. A protocol is in place for cleaning/disinfecting of the church building, including the washrooms. Frequency of cleaning will depend upon the numbers of visitors in the church. 
Parking LotWill the complete parking lot be available?Yes. When arriving, please take note of others and maintain physical distancing when you exit your vehicle.
Church AmenitiesWill the gym or other rooms be open?At this point only the sanctuary, Narthex and washrooms will be open on Sundays.
 Will the kitchen be open?No. At this point, there will be no food or drink being served so there will be no need for the kitchen to be open.
Food BankIs the Food Bank still operating?Our foodbank continues to operate every Tuesday between 10am and 12pm
 How can I donate food or money to the Food Bank?Yes, please contact the office to arrange.
Renters/External UsersHow and what has WUC done in communicating to our renters and external users?A letter has been sent to each user/renter of our Westminster facility. The purpose is to provide an update on the status of opening WUC and to inquire what their plans are for the future.
 When will renters and external users return to WUC?Users will be permitted to return to the church ONLY when allowed to do so under provincial re-opening laws AND with WUC’s agreement. Each user will be asked to agree to a COVID-19 Return to Westminster agreement which outlines responsibilities of both parties.
Montessori Day CareWhen will Montessori return to WUC?The Province has mandated the re-opening of day care facilities provided they comply with new requirements. The Montessori Day Care has been preparing for re-opening and anticipates hosting clients in late August.
 How will Montessori operate when they return?Day care facilities must provide an attestation to the Province that they comply with re-opening requirements. In addition, an agreement between Montessori Day Care and WUC has been signed which outlines respective responsibilities of both parties.
Financial ImpactWhat has the financial impact of the pandemic had on WUC’s finances?All fundraising activities which involve social gathering have been cancelled or put on hold. There are no renters or external users paying to use our building. Westminster is currently utilizing the federal government’s wage subsidy program and rent subsidy program to lessen costs throughout this pandemic period. Congregants continue to make offerings via PAR (pre-authorized remittance), electronically or by mail. For further information on how to make a contribution please contact the Church Office at 905-723-6442 or wuc@westminster-uc.ca.
Connecting with WUC staff and leadership teamHow can I connect with Rev. Michelle or Cathy Shaw?Rev. Michelle Robinson rev.m.robinson@gmail.com Cathy Shaw, Minister of Faith Formation westminster.cathy@gmail.com Church office 905-723-6442 wuc@westminster-uc.ca
 Who can I connect with if I have questions concerning the returning to our church?There is a Returning to the Church Building Committee that has been meeting online weekly to prepare a comprehensive plan. The Chair of this Committee is Tom McNown who can be reached at tom.mcnown@gmail.com or 289-927-4666
HealthIf someone becomes ill with COVID what is the protocol?We will be following the protocol as required by the Region of Durham.

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