Latest Updates Regarding COVID-19
As we’ve officially shifted from Grey Zone Lockdown to the Red Control Zone in the Niagara Region, some of us may be wondering what shifts this means as a Southridge community.
What’s most interesting AND most challenging about the Red Zone is that the spirit of the parameters that says “limit social interaction as much as possible” for the sake of the most vulnerable and not to overwhelm our health care system doesn’t change all that much, while technical permissions for religious services do change significantly.
For us though, both as a leadership and based on the ongoing input of our community, we’ve consistently sought to fulfill the spirit of the parameters—meaning our activities in the Red Zone won’t change all that much either.
For some deeper reflection and conversation on how we’re processing this, check out this week’s Southridge member podcast episode.
In short: out of cautiousness around emerging variants, potential third waves, and an ongoing commitment to protect the most vulnerable, most of our activities will remain online for the time being. However, with new outdoor permissions and improving weather we’ll seek to take advantage of potential outdoor in-person gathering opportunities for our student ministries and Life Groups.
As we discussed and began experimenting with last fall, in-person indoor activities—like Life Group gatherings, short-term group experiences, and even our planned experiment of a pastorally-supported, in-person experience of our online service—will be activated should we improve to the Orange Restrict Zone. And, like you, we can’t wait till it’s deemed safe for us to be there!
Looking further ahead, we’re excited by the prospect of increased vaccinations and are eager to enjoy being together in-person as a community in more ways in the coming months. We believe we’re starting to see the horizon of the other side of pandemic life and want to stay faithful to what Jesus wants to do in us and through us until we get there.
In the meantime, we appreciate your continued commitment to making the kind of sacrifices to serve others that embodies the heart of Jesus whom we follow!
A couple weeks ago, we asked you to share your opinions regarding COVID-19 and re-opening, in a church-wide survey. So many of you responded and we are thankful for your input!
You can read more about the learnings and resulting decisions stemming from those surveys in this communique from Jeff.
To comply with new regulations from Public Health, our friends from the Caribbean on certain farms will need to section-off their sleeping areas, which will in turn limit air flow and make the dorms extremely hot. In an effort to help increase the comfort for these workers, we are seeking donations of fans. Ideally these would be desk-sized (or similar), in order to make them practical for these small sleeping areas.
If you can help out with this need, please contact Nate Dirks at email@example.com.
First, we want to express a huge “THANK YOU” for the support we’ve already received through your kind donations to our shelter community. We are truly inspired by the outpouring of love and generosity.
Second, we’re excited to share that we’re scaling up our outreach services. As of April 1st, we’ve received approval and funding from the Niagara Region to begin an Assertive Outreach Team. This team, made up of seasoned shelter staff, will go directly into the community to provide care and services to those who currently find themselves sleeping on the streets. Beyond trying to secure housing or shelter for those this team will serve, we’re hoping to provide much needed practical supplies as well.
This is where you come in!
We have been blown away by the support you’ve given our shelter community during this time, but are also asking for help with these practical supply and outreach needs. Here are two lists with the updated and current needs for both programs
Thanks in advance for considering what you can contribute!
While our programs are geared towards ending cycles of poverty by providing community and cooking training, the risks of getting numerous people together in one place, even in a ‘takeaway’ format are too great at the moment. Since local food banks are adequately supplied, in conjunction with our partners the wisest course of action has been to temporarily suspend the current forms of both Harvest and Collective Kitchen programs at Southridge until Public Health loosens social distancing restrictions.
As a community we’re operating in a modified format to both socially support our Harvest and Collective Kitchen guests, as well as continue to provide necessary meal supports, while responsibly honouring the best Public Health-instructed practices.
So, how can you be a part of this?:
So many of you have reached out to inquire about specific ways you can support the Shelter at this time – and we are so thankful for that.
Due to some increased demands in this season, here is a list of some of our most urgently felt practical needs. If you see anything here you could help with, please feel free to stop by the Shelter at 201 Glenridge Ave (we have a donation bin set up outside to ensure proper distancing protocols).
If you’re able to give financially, please visit here. Your continued generosity will ensure that we can continue supporting those who are feeling the effects of our current pandemic crisis in very significant ways.
As we strive to keep you updated, and in a spirit of being a proactive community that is seeking to love others by prioritizing the health and safety of all, especially the vulnerable and all our front-line workers, we are strongly encouraging as much self-isolation and social distancing as possible, avoiding all non-essential or emergency-related contact with people outside of your household.
To that end, we are asking that all Southridge-related groups refrain from meeting together in physical spaces and instead continue to work toward digital forms of connection like group texts and video-based chats. Thanks for working together for the well-being of all.
As we find ourselves in a season that’s rapidly changing, we want to take every opportunity to be the church and leverage the life and power of Jesus in this unusual time. Here’s a brief summary of our ministry’s approach and challenges in the coming weeks:
As always, we’d love to hear from you about how we can better be the church in a season where people need Jesus more than ever. Feel free to share ideas with us here (firstname.lastname@example.org). And look back here for ongoing updates on ministry needs and initiatives in this unprecedented season. We love you and love being the church together with you!