Updated: Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Below you can reference our  previous communication from March 12 – 24, as the COVID-19 crises unfolded in our country, province and city. 

NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER FOR CANADA

Updated: Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Join people of all faiths across Canada as we join together at 3 pm ET for a time of prayer. We will recite this prayer together. Please join us and share this invitation with others. You can also join us on Facebook live at 3 pm. (You do not need a Facebook account.)

Updated: Tuesday, March 24, 2020

The Ontario Provincial government and the City of Toronto announced several new developments in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. Premier Ford has called for all non-essential business to close their premises as of tonight, Tuesday, March 24, at 11:59 pm. In addition Premier Ford has announced that schools will not reopen on April 6. Mayor Tory has announced a State of Emergency for the City of Toronto effective immediately.

These new announcements will affect Islington United.

As of 11:59 March 24, our building will be closed to everyone other than to the construction company working on the kitchen renovation.

All GIST activity in the building will conclude by end of day today. This is a 14-day closure.

Thinking of heading into the church . . . ?

Today Rev. Maya Landell and select members of the music team will record services up to and including April 12. These pre-recorded services will replace live-streamed services on Sundays. The Good Friday service will be broadcast using the 2019 archived service. Please check the website for these postings.

Videoconferencing activities will continue.

As has been the constant of the past week and a half, we can anticipate more change in the coming days and weeks ahead. We will keep you up to date as information becomes available.

Updated: Thursday, March 19, 2020

As of Thursday, March 19, 2020, in keeping with public health directives, Islington United Church remains closed until further notice.

Much like the frontline health care workers in our hospitals, we at Islington United are committed to continuing to care for those in our community. In light of COVID-19, those needs are changing and evolving day by day, and sometimes hour by hour.

Here is what we are doing to ensure the well-being of the most at-risk members of our community:

  1. Pastoral care visits — Our pastoral care team is responding by phone to anyone in need. Whether you need someone to talk to, someone to pray with you, someone to keep you up to date on what is happening, our team is here for you. To book a pastoral care call, please call the church office at 416-239-1131 or email office@islingtonunited.org.
  1. Doorstep deliveries — A team of volunteers is in place to pick up and deliver groceries or prescriptions directly to your doorstep. If you are in need of a food or personal care delivery, please call the church office at 416-239-1131 or email office@islingtonunited.org.
  1. Porch pickups — A team of volunteers is in place to pick up your donations and make sure they get to the right place. If you would like to make a financial gift to the church, or a donation of shelf stable food to the Emergency Food Pantry, please call the church office at 416-239-1131 or email office@islingtonunited.org.

If you know of anyone in need of support that does not receive these communications, please put us in touch.

An Important Reminder:  YOU have the personal power to stop the spread of COVID-19. People who stay home as urged by the federal government have a near-zero percent chance of infecting other people. Those who go out into the community put others else at risk. Please refer to the graphic below. 

Social distancing means no in-person dinners or visits with friends and no playdates for your children. It means keeping 2 metres (or 6 feet) between you and other people.  It is our social responsibility to protect one another, and to support our health-care workers, by preventing the spread of this disease.

Updated: Tuesday, March 17, 2020

As of Tuesday, March 17, 2020, Premier Doug Ford has declared a state of emergency for the province of Ontario effective immediately. Note that this is not a provincial shutdown, as all essential services will continue (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies remain open).

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continues to urge Canadians to stay at home to help contain the spread of COVID-19. In keeping with public health directives, Islington United Church remains closed until further notice.

We must all care for family members, friends and neighbours, and most especially the elderly and those with underlying health conditions. We must also ease the burden on our health care system by doing everything we can to keep ourselves and others from contracting the virus.

At Islington we continue to follow the recommendations of Canada’s Chief Medical Officer of Health as well as those of other federal, provincial and municipal leaders.

Worship and Music
We are pleased that so many people joined us for our live streamed service last Sunday. We had 420 playbacks, which amounts to many more people given couples and families were watching together. We have heard that those without streaming opportunities in their home churches and others beyond the immediate Islington community are joining us online. We encourage you to invite others to tune in this coming Sunday. We continue to explore other ways of reaching out to our congregation and community.

Your Gifts Are Needed
Even when the church is closed, our expenses continue. While you cannot put your gift into the offering plate, we encourage you to give directly through e-transfer to office@islingtonunited.org, through Canada Helps, or by mailing a cheque to the church. We have a mailbox on the outside of the building where mail will be delivered.

Pastoral Care
We continue to work closely with our congregation and the community regarding pastoral care needs. A team of volunteers has created a database of people who do not access electronic communications. These people are being contacted by phone to ensure they are apprised of the latest information.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Nar-Anon have elected to follow the lead of their respective organizations and will not be meeting at Islington until further notice.

Anyone who comes to the church to access The Emergency Food Pantry will find a sign posted on all doors to the church directing them to call the Facilities number. Facilities staff will distribute pre-assembled pantry bags to those in need.

The Mabelle Food Program is waiting on a final decision from the Toronto Community Housing Corporation regarding whether the gym at Mabelle Avenue will be allowed to open for food distribution. This decision will impact our options for providing food to a vulnerable and high-risk community. More information will follow tomorrow.

Committee Meetings
The church remains closed and we are grateful to all for respecting this urgent request to protect one another from the spread of the virus.

Committees are to meet via teleconferencing. Committee chairs have been given the tools to arrange these meetings by phone. It is easy to join and participate in one of these calls, allowing us to stay connected while in our respective locations.

Each of the following committees has its own teleconference code:

• Mabelle Food Bank
• Kitchen Construction
• Emergency Response Team
• Pastoral Care
• M&P
• Finance

Videoconferencing using Zoom is also available to those who wish to use it.

Kitchen Construction
The Stewart East Hall kitchen is now a construction site and will only be available for access by the Project Manager and contracted trade professionals.

Communication
The Communications Committee continues its work to keep you updated with accurate, timely information as it becomes available. Watch for updates and new offerings on the website as we continue to move through this crisis in community.

Staff
Staff continue to carry out their duties from home offices and are reachable by phone and email.

Updated: Monday, March 16, 2020

The reason for this message is two-fold:
• To inform you that the church is closed and entry is not permitted.
• To provide you with the latest credible information on COVID-19 so we all can work together to protect one another from infection.

The Church Is CLOSED
Until further notice, the church is closed. For everyone’s protection, we ask that you do not come to the church for any reason. We are asking everyone to follow this request as a duty of care.

Scientists have made it absolutely clear that individuals without any symptoms can and are passing the virus on to others. Some studies have even found that those without symptoms can be more highly contagious than those with symptoms.

We ask that you protect our community, and refrain from putting others at risk, by NOT coming to the church. While all of us are at risk of contracting this virus, many in our congregation are at even greater risk due to age and/or underlying medical conditions.

The Latest Recommendations
Everyone must do their part to respond to this growing public health threat:

• Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today asked that everyone stay home to help contain the spread of this virus.

• Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health, has asked restaurants, bars, nightclubs and theatres to close as of midnight (some restaurant takeout and delivery will still be available). She noted, “Every opportunity to avoid interactions with others helps to prevent the spread of disease.”

• Community transmission has been identified in the City of Toronto. This means that COVID-19 infections are happening with people who have no link to travel.

• Social distancing (one to two metres) — even outdoors — must be practiced. This is crucial to slowing the spread of the virus.

• Infectious disease and epidemiological experts are calling for aggressive containment measures. Each of us is responsible for doing our part as individuals to protect our families, neighbours and friends, as well as our health care workers and first responders.

• Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds (sing Happy Birthday twice). Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. And avoid touching your face.

• Older people (70 years+) and people with severe chronic conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, and immunosuppressive conditions, are at even greater risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness. Please protect these and other individuals by staying home.

Updated: Saturday, March 14, 2020

As of today — Saturday, March 14 — Islington United Church is closed until further notice.

For additional updates and information on what is happening at Islington, please continue to visit our website: islingtonunited.org. The website is our main vehicle for news and communication. We are updating the site regularly to ensure everyone has accurate information as soon as it becomes available.

1. Worship and Music

•  As of Sunday, March 15, 2020, in-person worship services will not be offered until further notice. Instead, there will be a live-streamed service every Sunday at 10:30 am. The service can be viewed in real time on our website (islingtonunited.org) or you can watch the recording at your leisure.

Rev Maya Landell, Jason Locke, James Aitchison and staff singers will lead the worship service while adhering to all public health guidelines issued in response to COVID-19.

Please join us online as we continue to worship together.

•  As we work through these uncertain times together, Rev. Maya Landell will be on Facebook live at 5:00 pm daily with a message. Watch live on the Islington United Facebook page (@islingtonunited), or visit the website later that day to view the video.

•  Further, James Aitchison will be on Facebook live at 3:00 pm daily to lead meditation. Watch live on the Islington United Facebook page (@islingtonunited), or visit the website later that day to view the video.

•  Lenten devotionals will continue to be posted on the website daily, along with Rev. Maya’s Facebook message to accompany the devotional.

•  During this critical time, we urge everyone to continue giving generously. There are several ways to give: via e-transfer to office@islingtonunited.org; PAR; Canada Helps; or mailing a cheque to the church. Your help is always appreciated.

2. Pastoral Care 

Pastoral care teams are being assembled to respond to pastoral care needs by phone or email.

Working in partnership with Toronto Community Housing Corporation, we are putting plans in place to ensure we continue to support our neighbours in need through the Mabelle Food Program. Further updates will be shared as arrangements are finalized.

We are committed to continuing our benevolent work in ways that help to ensure everyone’s safety. If you know of anyone who is in need of food or personal care items including prescriptions, call the church office at 416-239-1131 ext. 221.

3. Church Building and Meetings

All doors to the building will be locked and a notice posted at each entrance noting the closure due to COVID-19. Islington staff will continue working, either from home or onsite. Church telephone and email accounts will continue to be monitored.

Those working on the GIST and kitchen renovation projects will be granted access to the building to complete their work. Bob Shirer and Ian Reece will work directly with these teams to help ensure safe practices.

All scheduled meetings will be held via teleconference, videoconference or email. To make it easier for groups to meet remotely, Islington is in the process of setting up its own videoconferencing account on Zoom.

The church building is closed to all meetings and events, with three exceptions: Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and Nar-Anon. We have been in touch with these groups directly to support them in following safe practices during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Updated March 12, 2020

Islington United Church is actively keeping up to date on the latest news regarding the coronavirus. Guided by the recommendations of the World Health Organization and protocols outlined by the United Church of Canada, we will provide updates on our website for any changes in our ongoing practices. Please visit this page regularly for the latest information.

Status

On March 11, 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic. “Pandemic” describes an epidemic that has spread worldwide. The term has nothing to do with the severity of the disease itself, but refers solely to its distribution.

While discussions and decisions regarding preparedness were previously ongoing at Islington, following the WHO announcement we are taking an increased pro-active approach and are instituting protective measures. As circumstances develop, we will keep the congregation apprised of any updates.

Three Areas of Action

  • Changes in Practices and Protocols
  • Emergency Preparedness Committee
  • Requests of our Community

Changes in Practices and Protocols

The Ministerial Team and pastoral care members are aware of local health protocols and following the direction of local public health units and health institutions. As of March 12, the following decisions have been taken:

  • Offering plates – will be placed at the entrances to the Sanctuary (entrance near Reception Room; entrance near the Minister of Music’s office and The Meeting Place; entrance in the Narthex – front door of the church near the middle aisle).
  • Greeters and ushers – will not make physical contact with anyone in the church and will keep a social distance (1 metre) from anyone arriving at the church.
  • Congregation members – are asked to keep a social distance (1 metre) from all other congregants.
  • Hand sanitizers – are stocked with sanitizer containing 72% alcohol (a minimum 60% is recommended to disinfect adequately).
  • Church building – is being cleaned with disinfectant wipes on an ongoing basis, including between services (especially door handles and knobs, the tops of pews, and any other surfaces that are frequently touched).
  • Hymn books – have been removed from use at this time.
  • Conference calls – will be held daily by the Emergency Preparedness Committee to review the current status of COVID-19 protocols and recommendations.
  • Passing the peace and communion – have been suspended for the time being.
  • Pastoral care teams – are being assembled to respond to pastoral care needs by phone or email.
  • March Break GO Camps – have been cancelled.
  • The work of the Growing Forward Reference Group – will be temporarily suspended following the March 20 survey deadline.

We will continue to stay connected through streaming worship, meditation and online invitations to prayer; continue to visit this page for updates.

Emergency Preparedness Committee

On March 11, 2020, Church Council of Islington United Church unanimously agreed to form the Emergency Preparedness Committee to work with Islington stakeholders in ensuring we are acting with the greatest care and compassion to ensure the well-being of all those in our community.

In consultation with the Pastoral Care Team, the Emergency Preparedness Committee will

  • decide on precautionary measures to be taken at Islington regarding ongoing practices and protocols.
  • assemble pastoral care teams to respond to pastoral care needs by phone or email, including providing support and prayer for those who are fearful or otherwise distressed. Confidentiality will be strictly maintained at all times.
  • compile a confidential pastoral care list of individuals at particular risk, such as those having health concerns and/or living alone.
  • create a backup leadership plan to address how decisions will be made and key functions carried out in the event that administrative practices cannot be completed. This will include a plan for drawing on the services of our existing Voluntary Associate Minister network.
  • enact a plan for ensuring emergency contact information for congregants is brought up to date.

Decisions and recommendations made by the committee will be communicated to the congregation and wider community via the Islington website, direct email messages, and Rev. Maya’s Friday Message. (If you know someone who does not receive electronic messages and would like information about Islington’s Response of Care, please contact the office by calling 416-239-1131 ext. 221.)

Requests of Our Community

To prevent the potential spread of infection between the ministerial team and congregation members and between members, we ask that you refrain from engaging in the following at-risk activities:

  • physical contact (e.g., shaking hands, hugging)
  • touching your face, especially your nose, eyes and mouth

We encourage you to

  • maintain a social distance of one metre between you and other people
  • wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds (sing “Happy Birthday” twice)
  • if soap is not readily available, use hand sanitizer provided at various locations within the church building (additional stations have been installed)
  • sneeze or cough into your arm or sleeve
  • consider a wave or elbow bump in place of a handshake, a hug or kiss
  • clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces for example: tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks and cell phones) using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe
  • reduce your exposure to crowded places by shopping or using transit during non-peak hours
  • encourage those you know who are sick to stay home until they no longer have symptoms
  • if you become ill, stay home until you are no longer showing symptoms. Phone your health care professional or local public health authority and tell them your symptoms; they will give you advice about what to do next
  • refrain from visiting hospitals, nursing homes and assisted-living locations, for your own protection as well as that of your family, facility staff and the residents within