Dear members of the Metropolitan community,
Last week, the Official Board of Metropolitan United Church had a lengthy discussion about the best ways to keep people safe while on church grounds in this ongoing time of pandemic. To this end, the Board voted to implement a proof of vaccine policy for most activities within the building - the exceptions being pastoral care by ministers and services offered by Met’s Community Services Team. This was a hard decision and will be revisited as the nature of the pandemic changes over time. Metropolitan strongly encourages all eligible individuals to get a vaccination.
Proof of full vaccination (two doses plus 14 days) is required for the following within the church building: staff (anyone paid by Met), adult music groups, volunteers, contractors, attendees at Met events/meetings/concerts, and attendees at rental events/meetings/concerts. Exemptions are children who are not currently eligible for vaccination and any individual producing proof of a medical exemption. Individuals producing proof of a medical exemption must produce a negative COVID test taken within 72hrs.
Effective November 1st, 2021:
Proof of full vaccination (two doses plus 14 days) is required for those attending in-person worship services. This will include Sunday worship, weddings, funerals and any other special services in the church. Exemptions are children who are not currently eligible for vaccination and any individual producing proof of a medical exemption. Individuals producing proof of a medical exemption must produce a negative COVID test taken within 72hrs.
Special notes on in-person worship:
• Starting 30 minutes prior to the service, someone will be at the front doors of the church checking vaccine certificates and government issued photo IDs.
• If you do not have your certificate and ID (or proof of exemption and negative test result), you will not be allowed in the building.
• Once you show your certificate and ID (or proof of exemption and negative test result), you will then enter the church doors for sign-in and COVID screening.
• An usher will then show you to an open seat marked with green tape. Please always sit in an appropriately sized seat for your party, i.e. a couple should sit in a two-person space.
• While in worship, you must wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth, keep two metres from others not of your household, refrain from conversation closer than two metres with those outside your household, and refrain from congregational singing, which is not currently permitted.
• As you leave the church building, please continue to observe the masking and social distancing requirements.
The staff and lay-leadership of our church are working diligently to keep up with shifting government requirements and societal expectations. Your patience and understanding are appreciated in following the protocols designed to keep everyone safe. We hope that all members of the Met community will continue to hold each other in their prayers as we navigate this ongoing time of uncertainty together. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the chair of Met’s Official Board, Kenneth Younie at email@example.com.
Covid related updates are provided here as they occur. Subscribe to Met Connect via the home page for email updates.
Metropolitan will reopen for in-person worship on July 4, 2021. Learn more, including how you can register to attend service, here.
Stay tuned for our re-opening plans moving forward into the summer.
We are currently livestreaming Sunday worship from the Sanctuary with no in-person congregation, and most programs and meetings are beind held online. Please note that Taddle Creek Wild Church will take place on Sunday, June 20 in our Park, with safety precautions in place. The weekly Met Farmers' Market is also adhering to strict Covid-19 protocols. We look forward to welcoming you back; please stay tuned for our reopening plans.
Although there has been a renewed lockdown in Ontario, the rules for worship services have not changed. We will continue to livestream on Sunday mornings with the liturgical leadership, one singer and technical and care staff, while continuing to integrate recorded parts of the service allowing for virtual choir anthems, congregation involvement and occasional videos.
Our Community Services staff continues to serve the community and our Community Meals continued to be served as they are deemed essential services.
The message from the Province has and continues to be to stay home except for medical appointments, work you cannot do from home, exercise or food shopping. This has not changed. Where it is possible, staff are working from home. Care staff will be on site weekdays for drop-offs, but the church remains closed otherwise. Staff can be reached by phone or email.
It goes without saying that we all look forward to being together in-person. In the meantime, we continue to monitor the situation and will report back to you when there is substantial change.
The government of Ontario announced today that Toronto and Peel Region will go into "lockdown" starting this coming Monday at 12:01 a.m. The new restrictions limit indoor religious services to 10 people. Met’s Pandemic Response Team spoke this afternoon and made the following decisions:
Our community is resilient, caring and we will weather the storm of this ongoing health crisis. The church has never been a building; it is a people bound to a vision of a love that can overcome every challenge. God is with us. We are not alone. Thanks be to God.
In accordance with new 'enhanced measures' for the Red-Control level of the Province of Ontario’s COVID-19 Response Framework, Met will now be at a 50 person capacity on Sunday mornings. You must still register to attend worship. Approximately 30 spots will be available, allowing for staff, volunteers and some drop-in attendees. After we have reached capacity online, there will be a wait list you can join by email, in case of cancellations. You can also leave a message at the church office if you do not have access to online registration. Please advise us if you have registered and will not be attending, even if that very morning. It is important to stay home if you are feeling at all unwell. Masks must be worn over nose and mouth within the building.
As we prepare to re-open for in-person Worship on August 30th, we have made guidelines and registration info available to the congregation. Registration for worship services is required - more info here, and the links to do so will be made available well ahead of time in MET Connect and on the site.
In a letter to the congregation yesterday, The Rev. Jason Meyers announced plans for resumption of in-person Worship, beginning Sunday August 30th at 11am. We will continue to offer an online service later in the day at 7pm starting that Sunday. Further details will be made available soon.
Met's Pandemic Coordination Team (PCT) is continuing to meet regularly to discuss our ongoing response to the pandemic. As was mentioned at our Annual General Meeting, our discussions are now more focused on how to safely re-open our Sanctuary and again begin worshipping together in person. For the month of July we will continue with online worship only. The board intends to meet for a special meeting in July at which time a decision will be made about whether to reopen in August. In the meantime, the PCT is focused on the procedures and protocols which must be in place in order to gather safely. We will continue to make worship services available online for those who will not be comfortable attending in person. We look forward to seeing many of you again in person in the near future.
A Letter from the Pandemic Coordination Team
We continue to meet regularly to formulate Met's response to Covid-19. We still do not know when physical meetings and worship may resume but are hopeful that some restrictions will be lifted in the near future.
Worship continues to be successfully live-streamed on Sunday mornings, filmed remotely from our minsters' and musicians' homes without using the physical space at Met. Staff are for the most part working remotely and are available by phone and email. The work of committees and programs continues virtually.
Representatives from St. Michael's Hospital have visited Met and reviewed our space for possible use by the hospital; we are continuing this discussion.
We hope everyone is staying safe, healthy and positive. We look forward to a time when we can all meet in person again.
- Kenneth Younie, Dr. Linn Holness, Jane Tuomi and Rev. Karen Bowles
MET Congregational Care
A group of dedicated folks is keeping in touch with all those in our community and are continuing to reach out offering help where needed. Tech help is being provided.
The Outreach team continues to respond to the needs of our community physically and spiritually. We are following a model that provides income to small businesses in the downtown core while meeting the needs of the community: 400 prepared meals/week to the drop-in at All Saints Church prepared by two catering companies, take-out meals accessible by funded chits from three restaurants in our community, and soon we will introduce a similar chit system at local laundromats. Additionally, our community service workers, Megan and Stephanie, are buying and delivering groceries, providing grocery cards and meeting with folks, taking appropriate precautions.
If you would like to support this work, donations to the Good Samaritan Fund are welcome.
Join Met for a live Worship broadcast from our Sanctuary, as well as the home of Rev. Jason Meyers, this Sunday, March 29 at 11:00 a.m. on Facebook (click the link through on our homepage). This service will be posted at metunited.ca later in the day, a podcast version will be available, and the sermon will additionally be posted.
Met has implemented a Pandemic Emergency Plan to protect the interests of our leadership, volunteers, staff, the congregation and the general public. We are responding to this ongoing and fast-moving situation. Met will continue to follow the recommendations of our public health officials as well as those of other federal, provincial and municipal leaders.
The church building is closed to the public until further notice. All in-person programming, services and meetings, including Sunday worship, are now formally cancelled up to and including April 5, 2020 (Palm Sunday).
We are looking forward to Worship this Sunday at 11:00 a.m. streamed live on Facebook from the home of Rev. Jason Meyers in East Gwillimbury, together with Rev. Karen Bowles and Dr. Patricia Wright leading from the Sanctuary of Metropolitan. We will make the video available in the afternoon, and a podcast version will also be posted on our site.
If you require assistance with technology, whether navigating metunited.ca, or signing up for a podcast source (e.g. Spotify), please don't hesitate to contact Charlie Davidson, communications specialist, via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone at 416-939-2135.
The work of Metropolitan continues. While we cannot collect offerings in person, there remain easy ways to contribute - through our Canada Helps page, or by mailing in envelopes and/or cheques to the church. We are grateful for your on-going support through this difficult situation. If you have any questions, please contact Elena Pejcinovska, Financial Manager at email@example.com or 416-363-0331 ext. 229.
Rev. Bowles and Rev. Meyers are connecting with many members and are determining the needs of our community in this challenging time. If you would like a pastoral phone call you can contact Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org (416-363-0331 ext. 227) or Jason at email@example.com (416-363-0331 ext. 224).
Committees continue to meet via Zoom teleconference. If you are having difficulty joining, please contact Rev. Jason Meyers or Charlie Davidson (info above).
Programs & Events
See below for several new and modified programs underway, including Virtual Coffee Time, Zoom Bible Study, and the Big Questions Course. We are saddened to postpone our Good Friday concert, but are hopeful to reschedule this great program as soon as possible!
Community Services Ministry
Megan Carver, our Outreach and Housing Worker, and Stephanie Cunti, our Community Service Worker, are continuing the important work of outreach, communicating with clients via text, email and phone, and are in the community on a case-by-case basis. Many of the city's most vulnerable are at further risk with a lack of safe and familiar spaces to seek shelter and access supports.
Administrative staff are working remotely but are still available by phone and email, so don't hesitate to be in touch.
As you are all no doubt aware, the WHO has declared the coronavirus a pandemic. We have been following the situation closely and have been instituting preventative and precautionary measures to keep congregation, staff and community safe.
Though we are not as impacted yet as other areas of the world, we have made the decision, in consultation with the Official Board and staff, to cancel in-person public worship services and civic and community meetings at Metropolitan, including Sunday March 15. We will offer worship via technology.
One of the foundations of Christian life is to offer and receive community and companionship. We also know that many who come through our doors are looking for support, particularly in times of crisis. We must balance this with the reality that it is communal gatherings that increase the risk of this infection spreading.
The following measures are effective immediately:
We do not take this decision lightly, as weekly worship is a core part of Christian practice and ministry. However, we recognize that as a cathedral we have a particular voice within and commitment to the community we serve. Folks worship here from many places. The message from public officials to cancel gatherings for a time in order to slow or stop transmission of this virus will alleviate the strain on our health care system and allow those who are suffering to receive timely treatment.
One of the marvels of this age is that we can do much via email, phone and other forms of electronic communication. Sharing joys and sorrows, providing comfort and a listening ear, and sharing together in worship can still happen, albeit in a different way. Please be and stay in touch with one another and the clergy.
We are closely following the situation and updates will be provided as the situation unfolds. If you have questions or comments please contact Rev. Karen Bowles (firstname.lastname@example.org), Rev. Jason Meyers (email@example.com) Kenneth Younie, chair of the Official Board (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Jane Tuomi, Director of Administration (email@example.com).
Rev. Karen Bowles, Rev. Jason Meyers and Dr. Patricia Wright
There is plenty of information out there regarding precautions to be taken to keep yourself, your family and community healthy. Here is a link to the City of Toronto coronavirus information site.