Church Council met by Zoom Tuesday September 28 in keeping with the traditional fourth-Tuesday-of-the-month meeting schedule. This was the first meeting of what will be a busy year in the life of Bloor Street United Church.
We welcomed our new minister Russ Daye, and welcomed back Eric Heath after his extended leave in his new role as Member-at-Large.
The agenda was a full and busy one that began with Russ leading Council through an opening spiritual practice. Russ then followed with a discussion focussing on planning for our future. There is an acknowledgement that many questions are still open for us in terms of timing of departure from the building and how our relationship with St. Andrews will emerge. As a reminder, we are to hear from the developer by the end of October regarding the move date from the building. It is currently February 28, 2022. Condo sales are now well underway which will allow the developer to better define timing for the actual redevelopment of the property.
We can expect to see opportunities to shape how these questions are answered through an adaptive conversation approach that will engage all members and those who are connected to the church, either through participation in our services and programs or who live and work around 300 Bloor Street West. Our time on the “camping trip,” when the church building is transformed, gives us a while to thoughtfully and fully engage in this journey. Russ will lead a small group to design a process that will help all congregation members define our emerging values and vision. Much more will be shared in the coming weeks.
With this introduction, a presentation from Ellen Schwartzel on behalf of the Design Advisory Committee (DAC) certainly whet the excitement for Council members. DAC had no fewer than 19 meetings between April and September to address significant items related to how the new church building will look and operate, and the relationships that need to be built in order to properly maintain the new premises. Ellen was able to cover the look and feel of the new sanctuary and related spaces and will return to Council with details on the other two important areas. Everyone can expect to updated later this fall.
And, of course, on everyone’s mind is “When can we worship again in our building?” Much work has been done to understand the health and safety issues and related logistics of moving to some form of in-person worship. Jennifer Gordon, Chair of Worship, outlined the Committee’s recommendation to move to a hybrid worship that will allow those who wish to participate in-person do so while the service continues to be offered via Zoom. The recommendation was enthusiastically supported by Council although there are many logistical questions that need to be addressed. The target is to move towards a hybrid service for some or perhaps even all of the Advent and Christmas services following a test service sometime in later October or early November. More to come soon.
For those who are wondering about where BSUC stands on the issue of staff vaccinations, the Ministry and Personnel Committee has worked quickly to address this and presented a staff Covid policy which was approved by Council. In keeping with developments in both the public and private sector and recent guidance from the United Church the policy specifies that staff must be fully vaccinated, provide proof of this, wear a mask and practise physical distancing while in the building. As a reminder, masks are required in all publicly-accessible indoor environments. BSUC will continue to follow all Public Health regulations and provincial law with respect to Covid safety requirements. The building remains closed on a day-to-day basis.
Other items for discussion included the progress on finalizing an alternative office location. The Redevelopment Task Group noted this is still under consideration but progress has been made. As well, Church Social is almost ready to function as our directory and committee calendar source. More to come on this soon.
The next meeting of Council is scheduled for Tuesday October 26 at 7 p.m. via Zoom. Please remember that anyone is welcome to attend the meeting as an observer.