I want to fill you in on where we’re at as we continue to plan for the fall and navigate the challenges of meeting during this time. I know for many of us we would love to get back to meeting together like we used to, and yet we know there are a lot of hurdles we need to clear before that can happen. Meeting in large groups, indoors and doing things like singing are among the more risky behaviours as we continue to deal with COVID-19. The current restrictions also make it very difficult to meet like we were used to. However, we are working on solutions to make sure that we can meet in the safest and most effective way that we can.
So, as we head towards the fall, our vision is this: To make A BIG IMPACT in SMALL GROUPS.
We’re spending significant time planning to improve our Life Group experience, and we’ll be offering a number of options to help everyone get into a group. There will be virtual options, and in-person gatherings, utilizing the large spaces in the church building to accommodate small groups. Some groups will gather as watch parties for the Sunday services.
We want to utilize these groups to provide community and to serve the community. You’re probably already aware that we partner with Food4Kids to help feed children throughout our city. We’re looking to add 2 more community partners to take opportunities to serve Hamilton, Ancaster and Dundas. Our groups will be a place for us to work together to make an impact in the community around us.
We also recently polled our parents. We know that many of you are concerned about how school is going to go this September and aren’t ready to send your kids to a program. We’re planning to be ready to launch kids’ programming in safe group sizes and with the best health practices in October. Assuming that things go well, we’ll be ready.
Of course, we have learned to hold our plans lightly. Our commitment is to continue to improve the online content and options that we can provide, and allow for in-person gatherings only when it is safe to do so.
I want to ask you to do 4 things for me, as we foster a strong community over the coming weeks and months:
Let’s join together to make a BIG IMPACT in SMALL GROUPS.
Pastor Dave Stimers
How We Respond to COVID-19 (June 12, 2020)
Earlier this week (June 8) you may have heard that churches in Ontario have been allowed to open their buildings, up to 30% capacity. We are excited that we are seeing some positive news and progress in our province!
What does this mean for Westside as we head into the summer months?
Over the past 3 months, we have seen a great response to our online Sunday services. We’ve actually increased the number of people who are engaging with us, and we’ve been able to reach people not only here in Hamilton, but in many other cities. It’s been a learning experience and we’ve seen that the Church really is adaptive and able to handle many challenges in creative ways.
When it comes to reopening our building for Sunday services, our top priorities are the health and safety of our people, as well as creating high-quality environments for our people and those we want to invite to join us. With that in mind, we believe that right now we can provide a better Sunday morning environment online than we can in-person at our building.
The current regulations limit us to 30% of capacity. Once we factor in the number of volunteers that it takes to run a safe and engaging service on Sunday, this would only leave a very small number of spots for attenders. Additionally, current social distancing guidelines and requirements will limit our programming significantly. Providing a safe children’s ministry environment remains a large challenge, and we have been asked at this time not to attempt it. We also know that many people continue to have reservations about attending large group events at this time.
In my view, and that of our leadership team, we do not believe that this allows us to offer a great Sunday morning experience at this time.
So what can we expect this summer?
I know that not being able to meet in person for a Sunday service is disappointing to many, but we are encouraged that we’re moving in the right direction and that horizon is in sight!
We know that lives are continuing to be changed. I am so thankful for those of you who have stayed engaged in our mission. Let us continue to think and pray about how we can encourage one another and reach the people around us! We are committed to working hard to provide the best possible environments to do this, and we appreciate your prayers for wisdom and guidance as we move forward.
How We Respond to COVID-19 (March 28, 2020)
To offer some clarity as we all make adjustments to our lives, we wanted to share our plans for what life at Westside will look like in the coming weeks. We believe these are the most loving and proactive steps we can take to care for our church family, our neighbours, and our community.
Thank you for your continued support and prayers as we navigate the changing circumstances in this current reality. Please continue to pray for our entire church family as we lean into our vision and continue to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus.
How We Respond to COVID-19 (March 18, 2020)
Lastly, it’s always our aim to be transparent with you when we talk about money and finances. Based on our history, we know that cancelling Sunday services has a significant impact on the donations we receive and need to fuel our ministry. Thank you in advance for your continued generosity. To set up recurring giving, or give today, head to our giving page on our website.
Thank you all for your understanding as we navigate through this current reality. We want you to know that we are here for you. If you have any prayer requests or special needs in this season, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. We want to help and bring hope during this time.
How We Respond to COVID-19 (March 13, 2020)
Hi Westside Family,
I’m sure by now you’ve seen so much news regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19). This is a situation that none of us have been in before and is constantly changing. As followers of Jesus, we do not live in a spirit of fear, but we do want to exercise wisdom. There is no need to panic, but we do want to have a proactive plan to ensure that we do what we can to keep people safe and healthy.
At this point in Hamilton, we have seen some organizations close, while others are staying open. Both are options and there are many factors that go into making these kinds of decisions for different kinds of environments.
In light of the nature of our gatherings, which have large groups of people meeting in close proximity to one another, we have decided to suspend our Sunday morning services, kids programs, and youth programs at this time. We’ve made this decision because we want to ensure that we are not putting anyone at risk unnecessarily. It is so important for us to take the necessary precautions so that we can promote the health of our people and our community.
While we are unable to meet we will be providing video messages, updates, and devotionals. We want to invite you to join us online to stay connected during this time.
For families, we will provide kids video lessons and resources to parents (subscribe to our Parent Newsletter).
Throughout the week we will keep you informed about what’s going on through email, our website, and our social media channels. This is a great time to follow us on Facebook and Instagram if you don’t already.
You can continue to support and fuel our ministry by giving online. Thank you for your generosity and continued support.
We want to keep connected even when we can’t meet as a large group! As things change, we’ll make sure you stay up to date on our plans and when we can safely meet together again. If you’re part of a Life Group, your leader will contact you soon to discuss how you can stay connected during this time as well.
We know this situation isn’t going to last forever. At a time where many will be highlighting our challenges or feeling anxious, we have a great opportunity to model and share the peace of Christ that reminds us that God is in control and will show up in our times of need.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We will be monitoring the situation daily and keep you updated regularly.