The situation we face is extremely fluid and, in most of our lifetimes, unprecedented. We have the need to balance pastoral concern with our role within civic society.
The pandemic does not affect the Church as the Body of Christ, but it has an impact on the way we do things.
I issued a directive last week laying out expectations for services yesterday. In the light of further developments, and after consultation today, it saddens me to announce the SUSPENSION OF GATHERINGS FOR PUBLIC WORSHIP UNTIL PALM SUNDAY at the earliest. There should also be NO UNNECESSARY MEETINGS. Further information will follow later in the week.
In doing this, I encourage us all to maintain contact with each other. We should endeavour to at least contact people by telephone or other means. As I write there are no health guidelines about visiting others as long as they are not quarantined or self-isolating. If we visit, “social distance” should be maintained.
There are a number of our parishes and programs which provide meals and services for others. Several foodbanks and kitchens across the province have decided to give food packages to those who need them. Others are providing gift cards. I suggest we follow a similar method.
Some of our parishes have the ability to livestream their worship services and did so on Sunday. We will be seeking ways of making those available to a wider audience as well as trying to create a diocesan-wide act of worship. There will be more on this later in the week.
In addition, I would ask that we all pray and encourage prayer in this situation. There is a great deal of fear and disruption among us and in our communities at present. To that end I make two further points.
If practical, churches should be open for people to pray individually. Secondly, later in the week there will be prayers and meditations shared by me and others via social media.
Please ensure that all provincial and federal restrictions are followed. The links are below.
Once again, I am sorry that this action is necessary, but I believe it is the prudent course at this time.
May God bless you,
Gracious God thank you that you are over all, in all and through all. We lift our world before you as we face the advent of the COVID-19 virus. We pray for those who are suffering its effects, the medical personnel who are caring for them and those who are seeking a vaccine or cure.
We are grateful for the lives of people who have died and pray for their families and friends in their bereavement. We ask that you enable us to know your love for all and give us your peace which passes all understanding.
In the name of Christ. Amen.