March 23, 2020

Resulting for measures taken to keep everyone safe… Woodlawn United Church will no longer know if anyone is in hospital unless you tell us! So please let us know so we can reach out, if even only by phone!

Rev. Mary Lynne Whyte 902-441-5185

Office (Shelley/Ruth) 902-434-8302

This is due to new directives which can be read in a letter WUC received from Patricia O’Halloran, Spiritual Care Coordinator of the Nova Scotia Health Authority, as follows:

“NSHA recognizes that spiritual and religious care is an important aspect of providing holistic healthcare.  Community Clergy and Faith Leaders are key partners in the provision of that care.  However, in light of the necessary precautions around Covid 19, the following measures are being put in place to ensure the health and well-being of all Nova Scotians:

  • Visitors are no longer allowed in any NSHA facilities.  Community based clergy and faith leaders who are registered with us (have a valid NSHA ID) will be permitted to visit only patients/families who have specifically requested their visit, and only for emergency or end of life religious care.  Please do not visit for any other reason. 

  • To facilitate this, we will not be printing patient lists until further notice.  We ask that you go directly to the patient room, and then directly out of the building. Please do not go from unit to unit, or around common areas of the hospital. …

  • Do not visit the hospital if you or anyone in your household feels unwell, have cold or flu symptoms, or have travelled outside of the country in the past two weeks.


If you have any questions or concerns with respect to this email, please do not hesitate to contact the office or the Ministry team.

March 19, 2020

Dear Woodlawn Family,

May the Peace of Christ be with you. 

We announced on Sunday that Woodlawn United Church (WUC) Council would keep you informed on what we are doing to address the pandemic. Things continue to change at a rapid pace. We had a letter prepared to go out to you yesterday when a letter from our Executive minister and Regional Council arrived giving us new directives.

We are living through an experience unlike anything we have ever seen before. The interconnectedness of the world has never been so evident in this time of the covid-19 epidemic. Working together as a GLOBAL community is the way we will minimize the number of people affected by this novel virus. If we take a moment to see beyond the fear, panic and anxiety that most of us are feeling, it is amazing to see almost all the countries in the world working together for this same purpose, and that is what we at WUC are trying to do right now.

The Church has a great responsibility to the least of these, those who are on the margins. Your Council had an emergency meeting on Monday night to decide how we can best balance our commitment to the spiritual, emotional, physical needs of our church family and the wider community and the safety of the same people. We too are responsible for flattening the curve.

Here is what we decided: HOW WE WILL DO CHURCH TOGETHER:

We will continue to worship together… just not in person! We will be using Facebook LIVE and perhaps some other ways of continuing to worship as a community as much as possible. In-person worship will NOT HAPPEN AT WUC but will move online for at least the next three Sundays: March 22nd, 29th and April 5th as well as Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. We will do the best to find ways of using technology to continue to have worshipful moments together!

We will postpone gathering for funerals and celebrations of life until we are able to gather together again in person. This was a difficult decision for us and we know the heartache this will cause for some, but our ministers are always available to speak with anyone about what CAN be done.

We encourage ALL WUC groups to find innovative ways to stay connected as they may NOT meet in person. Phone calls, group chats, even video conference calls are all possible. Should you require help setting this up, please call the office. For now, none of our programs will be running out of the church building. The following are cancelled: Bible study, TGiT, Youth Group, Coffee House, T’weens, UCW, committee meetings etc. Also all “events” are cancelled or postponed until April 10th and then will be discussed further, this includes chowder lunches, concerts, pot luck (accessibility celebration) dinner, etc. In addition, all rental groups have been suspended, with the exception of essential groups that provide a necessary support mechanism (Alcoholics Anonymous, AlAnon and Canadian Blood Services).

The ministry team’s priority will be pastoral care during these uncertain times. Please know that you are encouraged to reach out by phone or email if you want to talk about anything. They will also be making many phone calls out to the congregation.

This is a time when our community is called to do our best to support each other. If you are selfquarantined after travel, ill, or have mobility issues but need supplies: CALL US! Together we can meet each other’s needs. If you know someone is vulnerable or lonely or anxious … CALL, TEXT or eMAIL US! Let us know so we can make regular calls. We will likely also be setting up a phone tree so please know WE ARE NOT ALONE… WE LIVE IN GOD’S WORLD and we have each other!

Rev. Mary Lynne Whyte 902-441-5185

Office (Shelley/Ruth) 902-434-8302

On Tuesday afternoon we received a letter from Region 15s Executive Minister Faith March-MacCuish. She wrote many words of comfort and also shared the strategy of the General Council and the Region.

“Our objective is to protect the health and well-being of our Communities of Faith, its members, our volunteers, our ministry personnel, our staff and our wider communities. Another objective is to make sure that our Regions continue with its services and remain connected with one another.”

“I realize that as a United Church, we have a conciliar system and we allow the governing bodies of our local Communities of Faith to make their own decisions. Please know I continue to respect that. However, these are unprecedented times and I feel it calls for unprecedented actions. After hearing from our Prime Minister who asked us to “stay home” and in conversation with the Presidents of our three Regional Councils, I am advising that it is time to close our churches for public worship and gatherings from today, March 17, 2020, to March 30, 2020. The situation will be assessed and new communication will be circulated as we get closer to March 30.”

Therefore all Ministerial staff will be working from home.

The church buildings will not be open to the public or to church members and volunteers at any time. With her blessing and permission, Shelley our Office Administrator will be answering the phones and monitoring emails during normal office hours to help support our Ministerial Team and congregation. Signs will be prominently placed on all doors to also advise anyone who shows up at our doors that they are to contact the church office by phone or email only and no one can enter the church without authorization.

We will continue to monitor the situation as more information becomes available and will be in close contact through email and social media with all of you as decisions are made. If you need help setting up a Facebook account, let us know.

We have all been called (and in some cases, ordered) to do our part in stopping the spread of covid-19. You hear again and again that we need to flatten the curve. Flattening the curve means slowing down the transmission so that our health care system is able to better provide care for those few people who will have critical symptoms from the virus. It is important to note that most of us will not likely get the virus, and of those who do will feel miserable for a few days (like with any flu) and then move on. It is the elderly, particularly those with serious medical conditions, who are at greatest risk of getting very sick from this virus.

It is easy to feel helpless and anxious in these times. Researchers, health organizations and medical professionals are all working endlessly to end this pandemic and they are empowering us by making sure we have the information and the knowledge we need to ALL BE PART OF THE SOLUTION!

  • Keep in mind that as of yesterday there were 132,758 cases and 4,955 deaths globally. Those are big numbers, but there are over 7 BILLION people!
  • The reason this has remained so low thus far is because of EXTREME and unprecedented actions being taken by governments and citizens across the world.
  • SOCIAL DISTANCING means staying more than two meters away from anyone. We have heard our provincial and federal political leaders, scientists and health professionals say that if at all possible…. STAY HOME! It is by staying home that we can hopefully prevent the spread of this virus and for sure, flatten the curve.
  • WASH YOUR HANDS… anytime you go anywhere, the first thing you should do is wash your hands, when you touch anything, wash your hands… you get the idea. Use warm-hot water, make sure not to miss your nails, between your fingers and sing your ABCs (20 seconds).
  • For those interested in understanding how these measures work, please look at the online article by the Washington Post which includes interactive graphs to demonstrate these things.

The ministry we do in our church community, the wider community and the world are not stopping… it is just moving off-site. Last Sunday the scripture was John 4:5-42 and in his sermon, Phillip reminded us: “The Samaritan woman asks Jesus where people should worship - by Jacobs well (where they were) or in the Jerusalem temple (which would have been destroyed by the time of the writing of John’s gospel). In the story, Jesus answers her: “neither”,those who worship God don’t need any building.

I THINK THAT IS WORTH REPEATING (especially in the times we are in)…those who worship God - don’t need any building but worship “in spirit and in truth”.

If anything, this is a time when our ministry is even more important, it will just look differently. Our financial costs continue. We are asking that if you are not currently on PAR, please consider this means of offering now. Our envelope steward, Joan Mikkelsen, would be happy to help you. You may also drop your offerings in the brown mail box located outside the front glass doors. Or finally, you can donate online through our website

These are not easy steps to take, but together, with God’s help, we’re learning new ways of being the church. In times when gathering is restricted, we learn that what unites us transcends social distance. And when society at-large is under duress, we are reminded with great clarity that our primary ministry is to serve others and the common good. We appreciate your understanding as we do our part to mitigate the spread of the virus in our community.

May the Peace of Christ be with you,

Woodlawn United Church Ministers, Staff and Church Council.