Important Message from AUC Council - May 14, 2020
Dear AUC Friends,
The Covid-19 emergency is unprecedented and is forcing us to look at how we operate as a church and to take extraordinary measures to ensure our viability. We see a combination of reduced work loads for some of our lay staff as well as a need for financial belt-tightening. Therefore, Aurora United Church Council been forced to make the difficult but necessary decision to temporarily lay off three of our lay staff.
The three staff are our Church Secretary, our Music Coordinator and our Handbell Choir Director.
The staff members in these positions have been, and continue to be, important and valued members of our AUC family. Please know that this decision was not based upon how they are valued by our church, but rather on the need to be realistic, reasonable and fiscally responsible at this challenging time.
Their actual last date of work will be May 29th. We intend for this to be a temporary layoff; however, it will be for an indefinite period of time as it is uncertain when the current restrictions on access to buildings and gatherings will be lifted. Decisions on recalls will be made on a one-by-one basis based upon how the situation evolves.
We appreciate the hard work and dedication of all our employees. We look forward to having everyone working together again in the future. Please continue to be supportive to the staff involved, as they adjust to this news and to their new situation.
We pray for them and for all during these difficult and stressful times, and we look forward with hope to a time when we can be together again in the same sanctuary.
Chair, AUC Council
AUC Council News – April 2020
Terms such as “social distancing”, “self-isolating”, “shelter-in-place” and “Zoom meetings”, which up until a month or so ago, would have prompted quizzical looks from us, have now become commonplace language. The COVID-19 health emergency has dramatically altered our daily lives and infused itself in our psyches. It likewise has affected our church life causing us to find new ways to worship, to hold our meetings and to stay in touch.
Unable to gather around the table, Council has been holding its meetings via the Zoom videoconferencing platform and did so again on the evening of April 6. The bulk of the meeting discussion continued to focus on putting measures in place to protect AUC’s financial and operational stability through the emergency. In this regard, Council passed a number of motions authorizing AUC to apply for the emergency support programmes recently announced by the Federal Government, including:
The 10% emergency wage subsidy;
The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy of 75% of monthly salaries up to specified amounts; and
The Canada Emergency Business Account providing interest-free loans up to $40,000, subject to term limits and repayment provisions.
Applications are now being made for the 10% and 75% wage subsidies with the hope that they will be accepted. The financial assistance will provide AUC with sufficient funding to compensate for the decline in givings and in turn to retain its staff and ministry to the congregation and community. Unfortunately, AUC will not be applying for a Canada Emergency Business Account as the Federal Government has since announced that charities and churches are not eligible for the programme.
The COVID-19 emergency has also had implications for the finalization of the settlement of our claim against Servicemaster and the roofing companies for damages from the 2014 fire. The court hearing to decide Aviva Insurance’s claim against a portion of the settlement proceeds was originally scheduled for June but has been adjourned indefinitely until the emergency is lifted. With the settlement proceeds frozen in escrow until the courts have decided, Council passed a motion directing the Trustees to apply to the Toronto United Church Council for a bridging loan to enable AUC to demonstrate to its development partners that in the meantime, it has access to sufficient funds to finance the construction of our new church.
The EDGE Property Committee continues to move ahead with the design of the new building by holding videoconferences with our architect and consultants for the security, IT and kitchen components of the design. Unfortunately, the health emergency has slowed the finalization of the legal documentation to close the deal with Succession and Amica, necessitating a further deferral of the closing date to the first part of May. Both parties assure us, however, that they remain fully committed to the development.
The closure of Trinity Anglican and the provincial ban on gatherings resulted in the cancellation of AUC’s Annual General Meeting on March 22. Further guidance on the holding of this year’s AGM is being awaited from Shining Waters Regional Council. The cancellation of the AGM meant that the appointments of Joyce Hagarty and Andrea Drost to AUC Council could not be approved by the Congregation. Until that eventually occurs, Andrea and Joyce are participating in Council meetings as “corresponding members”. Welcome to Council, Joyce and Andrea, and thank you for offering your time and talents in the service of AUC.
I would like to express my gratitude to the members of Council for the additional time and effort being asked of them during this extraordinary period. Your support and teamwork are greatly appreciated.
Council is scheduled to meet next on May 11. I would welcome any questions or comments from you about anything in this news update or on matters of concern to you. In the meantime, please stay healthy and stay safe.
Chair, AUC Council
AUC Council News – March 2020
If we are looking for evidence that events in our world can radically change at shocking speed, we need look no further than the way our community, province, country and indeed the entire world have changed in the last several weeks in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. When Council met on March 9 for its scheduled monthly meeting, the plan was to continue worship, albeit in a downscaled way, committee and group meetings, the Rise n’ Shine Breakfasts and the Annual General Meeting on March 22. These plans were outlined in the update that I was set to give to the Congregation on March 15 (copy posted below).
Between March 9 and 15, our plans were turned upside down as preventive measures to stem the spread of COVID-19 were rapidly scaled up by the various levels of government. The decision was made to cancel worship services on March 15 to coincide with a similar decision by Trinity Anglican out of concern for the health and peace of mind of our congregants.
Council then held a special meeting via a videoconference link on the evening of Monday, March 16. In light of the growing public concern and the expanding control measures, Council decided to:
· Suspend all face-to-face meetings of Council, committees and groups for the time being;
· Cancel AUC worship services at Trinity Anglican and arrange for Revs. Andy and Lorraine to pre-record worship at their home for online broadcast;
· Cancel the Easter Services at the Aurora High School;
· Postpone the Annual General Meeting until a later date;
· Limit the Rise n’ Shine Breakfasts to takeout only as long as Trinity Anglican remained accessible;
· Make preparatory arrangements for the staff to work from home;
· Enhance communications to the Congregation through the AUC web site and social media;
· Have the Finance Committee review AUC’s financial position and consider measures to protect our finances through the emergency.
Later that same week, the decision was made to cancel the takeout service for the Rise n’ Shine Breakfasts and to discontinue the breakfasts until further notice out of concern for the health and safety of the volunteers.
Apart from discussing contingencies to preserve AUC’s activities as far as possible during the COVID-19 emergency, Council approved Jane Taylor’s appointment to the Interfaith Refugee Resettlers (IRR) Committee. In so doing, Council expressed its appreciation to Jane for offering her time and talents to this humanitarian cause. Thank you, Jane.
Until current restrictions on meetings and gatherings have been lifted, Council will continue to meet by videoconference. The next scheduled meeting of Council is April 6 but the changing nature of the emergency may require a special meeting to be called at any time.
In this time of uncertainty and dislocation, there is a need for spiritual support and a thirst for information. Revs. Lorraine and Andy provided us with an uplifting home worship on March 22 and are set to do the same on future Sundays. I also offered a video update on behalf of Council and plan to do so again on a periodic basis through the emergency. We will be sure to keep you updated on new developments. If you have any questions or concerns, however, feel free to contact me at any time.
Stay safe; stay healthy and stay in touch as we work our way through the COVID-19 public health emergency together.
Bill Newman Chair, AUC Council
AUC COUNCIL NEWS February 2020
These items discussed at Council’s meeting on February 10 might be of interest to you:
· Interfaith Refugee Resettlers (IRR):
The members of IRR have been working diligently to find rental accommodations for our recently arrived second refugee family. To support IRR in its efforts, Council voted to issue a letter of guarantee for the payment of rent and utilities on a one-year lease to prospective landlords. Luckily, IRR has been successful in locating two basement apartments in Aurora for the extended family. Our appreciation is expressed to the members of IRR for all their efforts to help the family get settled in as quickly as possible.
· Affirming Congregation Committee:
Council took a moment to reflect on the outcome of the Congregational Meeting held on January 26 to approve the Affirming Vision Statement prepared by the members of the Affirming Congregation Committee. The personal statements made by several of the Committee members were very heart felt and moving and provided the Congregation with a deeper and fuller understanding of the importance of becoming an Affirming Congregation. The unanimous outcome of the vote and the Congregation’s resounding applause marked a seminal point in time for AUC. The members of the Affirming Congregation Committee are to be commended for their leadership, their passion and their commitment.
· Claim for Damages:
A court date of June 19, 2020 has been set for the hearing of Aviva’s claim for a portion of the monies received by AUC from the settlement of its claim for damages against Servicemaster and the roofing contractors.
· Bell Fibre Optic Cable Relocation:
A partial refund has been received from Bell Canada for the costs of the work to relocate Bell’s fibre optic cable to make way for the construction of the new church. The actual costs of the relocation work turned out to be lower than the estimated costs resulting in the refund. Receipt of the cheque by the Trustees came as a pleasant surprise.
· Annual General Meeting (AGM):
A Soup Lunch will precede this year’s AGM on March 22. Committee reports for inclusion in the Annual Report are to be submitted to Cathy Hiltz by February 21.
· AUC Office Hours:
Council considered and approved a request from the Church Secretary to reduce her weekly work hours by 1.5 hours. The reduction will result in a closure of the Church Office at 2:00 pm on Thursdays. No impact on current service levels is anticipated as Thursday afternoons are a very quiet period around the church building.
As always, I am available to answer any questions that you might have about this particular meeting or the activities of Council in general.
Bill Newman Chair, AUC Council
AUC COUNCIL NEWS January 2020
AUC Council held its first meeting of the new decade on January 13. Highlights from the meeting discussion included:
- EDGE Property Committee Update: Brian North reported the good news that the Church properties at Yonge and Tyler have been consolidated as a single parcel under the name of the Trustees. The final report (Stage 4) on the removal and relocation of the remains from the old Methodist burial ground has been submitted to the Ontario Government for approval. Negotiations to finalize the legal agreements among AUC, Succession and Amica are continuing with a planned closing date of March 2, 2020. Site testing to confirm the technical feasibility of geothermal heating and cooling for the new church is being conducted. Our architect is proceeding with the interior design of the church. All of these developments bring us ever closer to the start of construction.
- Affirming Vision Statement: A congregational meeting will be held on January 26 to consider and approve the Affirming Vision Statement recommended by the Affirming Congregation Committee. The members of the Committee worked with passion and commitment to develop the Vision Statement. By adopting the Vision Statement and voting to become an Affirming Congregation, Aurora United will be stating to the community that it “offers a safe space in which all persons are welcome into the fullness of community”. It is all about accepting and embracing differences.
- Damage Claim Update: The payment of $7 million in settlement of AUC’s claim for damages resulting from the 2014 file has been received from Servicemaster and the roofing contractors and is being held in trust by our solicitors until Aviva’s claim for a claw back of a portion of the settlement has been resolved. A court hearing to consider Aviva’s claim is scheduled for June of this year.
- Annual General Meeting: AUC’s Annual General Meeting will take place on March 22. A Nominating Committee comprised of Peter Drost and Jackie Catto has been formed to identify nominees for two members of Council and up to four representatives to the meetings of the Shining Waters Regional Council. Expressions of interest in both positions are being accepted until February 14. 2020 holds great promise for AUC as we anticipate the start of construction on our new church, vote to officially become an Affirming Congregation and prepare for the arrival of our second refugee family through the Interfaith Refugee Resettlers. Let’s welcome the new year with faith and optimism as the beginning of our bright new future.
Bill Newman Chair, AUC Council