To the members and adherents, guests and visitors to Lakeview United Church:
I write to you to advise that effective immediately, Lakeview has suspended in-person worship services. This will continue to apply until at least the end of December and may continue as circumstances require.
Our streaming services will continue on YouTube live, accessible from our website homepage by clicking “Streaming Services”. What you see on the screen would be what you'd see if you were attending in-person — it's not quite the same, but we hope to make the virtual experience as close to the real thing as possible.
Visitors to the YouTube recorded broadcast — after live streaming — will also have access to closed captioning, which is usually available within a day or so of the live stream.
This is what has transpired to lead us to this present decision:
- The accelerating rate of COVID-19 infection has not shown any sign of abatement. Our church membership includes the most at-risk demographic.
- The science of the disease universally supports the idea that we reduce the opportunity for close contact, wherever and whenever possible, so the disease cannot be transmitted.
- Public health guidelines try and balance the interests of health and the economy. As a church, we are not driven by financial concerns — our most important concern is protecting the health of our members and those who directly support us (staff, worship leaders, tenants, and suppliers).
- It's not fair to ask staff, worship leaders, or volunteers who may not be comfortable with our decision to remain open, to participate in circumstances they feel are unsafe.
- Every other United Church congregation in Regina has refrained from re-opening for in-person services at all or has returned to offering virtual services only. For us to soldier on in these circumstances, and put at risk our membership, is difficult to rationalize. While we have good volunteer support and a high level of confidence that we can deliver in-person services that are low risk for COVID-19, to keep doing so just feels out of step and not worth the risk. For our members, contracting COVID does not mean getting sick and staying home for a few days — sick means “life-threatening." This is not a good idea and it's not necessary for us to survive as a congregation.
- A decision to suspend in-person services will have an effect on our colleagues with Jesus the Anointed — a congregation who shares our sanctuary on Sundays. It had suspended in-person services and we are likely to hold back its return until we decide to re-open for in-person services once more.
- Our decision to suspend services may or may not impact our tenants, user groups, and other users of our premises which we need to discuss. We will meet as a Board next week to address this.
I trust that all of you will understand and support this decision. We hope that all of you will continue to be safe and that you will be able to participate in worship from a distance knowing that this is only a curve in the road. The destination has not changed.
Chair, Lakeview Visionary Board