August 7, 2020
Dear Grace friends,
CHURCH RE-OPENING UPDATE:
We are happy to share with you that the Diocese has given permission for us to begin a gradual re-opening of our building for worship, starting on September 13th. You will be hearing from us next week to ask if you see yourself coming back to the church building for worship or preferring to stay home for worship. We will of course continue to offer recorded services/livestreams, and will find other ways to gather safely. The phone survey will help us to work out what we need to provide in order to meet your spiritual needs.
In-person worship will be a little different to usual. Masks will be mandatory and there will be no singing, but we are working on making it a worthwhile experience. Outdoor worship will also be a possibility and a way that we can socially distance and enjoy fellowship. Brush off your comfiest lawn chair!
New protocols are being sent to us mid-August and we will update you on our plans.
The other update we would like to share with you is that the relationship with Grace Church Markham Nursery School has come to end after over 50 years. The realities that we have had to face as a parish during the pandemic are significant. The COVID‑19 protocols that we must comply with include those of the Diocese of Toronto, the Ontario Government’s Public Health regulations, and also the Ministry of Education, with many ramifications for us of safety and liability. As a Church we are unable to deliver the many regulations and changes to our building that would be required.
It is our understanding that Markham Missionary Church’s preschool (the only other nursery school in Markham) has just dissolved due to COVID‑19 requirements. As a recent survey of our rental groups revealed, many parents are hesitant to send their children to programs. After much prayerful consideration, the Wardens and I sought legal and Diocesan advice. Since we were in a position of trying to represent both the interests of the nursery school and the interests of the church, we took counsel and tendered our resignation from the GCMNS Board due to the conflict of interest.
Furthermore, we can see that over the years the nursery has naturally evolved from a church-based child socialization program to one which is so regulated by the Ministry that it has been increasingly difficult for the nursery to share space with a Church. An example I will share with you is that I was asked not to hold funerals in the mornings whilst the nursery school was in the building.
I wish to make it clear that we appreciate and celebrate the fine job that the nursery school staff have done for 57 years, and for the many happy children who have passed through the doors. We wish the nursery all the very best as they grapple with the realities of operating in 2020.
GCMNS began as an outreach project of Grace Church, and we look forward to working out where God may be leading us to do outreach during these interesting and often difficult times.
REPAIRS AND RENOVATIONS:
Whilst we have all been at home, David Shearer and Peter Castle have been working hard and safely, doing necessary maintenance. The fire escape stairs and stairwell have been resurfaced and rebuilt. The Sanctuary wall has been repaired and painted where the paint was peeling. Also, the electrical panels have all been upgraded to code – long overdue, and new LED lights have been fitted in the Lounge and the back of the Sanctuary. At the Rectory, the furnace and air conditioning unit were replaced.
This was our assigned year to have a full building inspection of the church and home inspection of the Rectory. Both have been completed.
Finally, the office is being re-fitted to be COVID-19 compliant, with new desks and dividers. Jean Hoover will be joining Maria in the office, with the new curate going into what has been Jean’s office. We needed to create safe work spaces for all our staff and to comply with the new Diocesan protocols.
At the moment our new garden is still mainly a pile of mulch and wood chips due to more COVID related hold-ups, but plans are in place to do more work on it in the coming weeks, so that we can be up and running in 2021.
The Garden will involve beds being planted by our youth, the younger classes at Franklin St P.S., the Scouts and others who may be interested. It will mainly be a flower/herb garden to attract bees and butterflies, but there will also be some vegetables. Benches will be added so that you may relax and enjoy!
FORWARD DAY-BY-DAY BOOKLETS:
If you would like one, please email Nicola or the office and we will get one to you.
As always, please contact me if you have any pastoral concerns or needs. God bless you as we all get through this together. May you know the peace of Christ to reign in your hearts.
The Rev Canon Nicola Skinner,
A letter from Archbishop Anne Germond, Metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario: "The well-being and safety of all our parishioners and the communities we serve is uppermost in our hearts and minds as we carefully plan for the eventual reopening of Ontario’s many Anglican churches."