Covid Update

Dear Westlife Family,
Even as we read this, the provincial government stands poised to remove many of the remaining pandemic protocols that have been in place for a large portion of the past two years, including the requirement to wear masks in public places. For many, this is a welcome - and perhaps long overdue - development. For others, however, this decision seems rushed, even foolhardy. The purpose of this letter is not to argue the merits of the government’s plan, but rather to express plainly how we might want to respond in yet another season of transition for our church and our society.
Jesus tells us that “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
These words of Jesus are short on specifics, but I would like to lay out a few ways I feel we can love one another in the way of Jesus and show our respect for those who have concerns and reason to pause as we follow the government’s reduction of restrictions:
1.    While capacity limits have been removed for under 500 people, we are going to leave our sanctuary set up, and the two service format largely unchanged for the next few weeks to allow for a little extra elbow room and personal distance. We will adjust as attendance demands and the congregation’s comfort increases.
2.    We will continue to stream our services as a ministry to those in our congregation who are not yet ready to gather in person, who have to work on Sunday mornings, or are shut in and unable to attend in person. If you are feeling unwell, I would ask you to please stay home and participate online - and then join us in person as soon as you feel better.
3.    One of the best ways we can demonstrate love for one another is by showing respect and making space for those not yet ready to hug, shake hands, or remove their mask. This expression of hospitality lines up with the Apostle Paul’s encouragement to all believers in Romans 12. The hospitality described in scripture has less to do with entertaining friends in your home and more to do with making space for and meeting the need of the other, whether they be stranger, family, or friend.
4.    On the other hand, for those who have been waiting to hug, shake hands, or remove their mask, we will be open to that as well. The key is that we will always act in love towards one another, and life circumstances do not separate us a Westlife Church Family. We have been saying since the beginning of this pandemic that we will find room for you, and that hasn’t changed.
5.    We are committed to work hard to understand and be gracious towards one another. And we will also work hard to make you feel welcome to come a be present in person whenever you are ready.
Jesus, knowing what lay in store for his followers, urged them to love as he had loved them - sacrificially, and with humility. Though he was ‘the master’, he modelled a selflessness and a concern for the other that was uncommon in their time - and remains uncommon in ours. While our angst in this season will not be as high as that surrounding Jesus’ death and resurrection, the coming weeks do afford us a fresh opportunity to live out Christ’s call to love one another in front of a world that most certainly will be watching. Let’s be sure to reflect well the Kingdom of our Father as best as we can - for the sake of the gospel and the good of our faith community.

Grace and peace to you all,
Your Westlife Staff and leadership.