Alecia Greenfield
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There is a lot of news in our world these days on the development of Covid-19. The challenge before us is how to understand what we are hearing, as the news broadcasters continue to sensationalize the unknown reality we now live in. The scope of this disease is still unknown, the fear is high in some regions of our city, and communities like ours are poised to respond in times like this- but how? In order to respond, however,  we first must take appropriate safeguards ourselves so that we can continue to offer a safe and welcoming space for people during this outbreak.

Our Bishop has written to her clergy twice regarding the practice of worship, giving us some teaching around how we are to respond given the circumstances. Her grace has now expanded that teaching and has laid out some requirements for us to abide by while our city wades through this challenge.

  • We will be suspending the use of the common cup, for a time. Eucharist will be received in bread alone, no wine will be served. It is understood that reception of the Eucharist in one kind (bread only) is the fullness of the sacrament.
    • You may also come forward for a blessing, by crossing your hands across your chest at the communion rail.
  • We will be emptying our font of water, for a time, to lower the risk of contact and dispersal of the virus, if present.
  • We will be suspending coffee hour, for a time, to lower the risk of cross contamination via food and drinks.
  • During the peace, we will greet one another in Christ with hands in the prayer position only. Please refrain from offering your hand or hugging during the peace as this is a way in which transmission can occur. 
    • Please consider using hand sanitizer (at the back of church) or washing your hands before coming for communion.
  • During the offertory, we ask that you please refrain from touching the offertory plate as you offer your gift to God for the work of our shared ministry in this place. The sidespeople will offer the plate as normal, but it will not be passed between people.

There is a lot of misinformation going around at the moment and it's important for us to be aware of what is real and what is not regarding what we read or hear. I commend to you all the Government of Canada’s Health page related to this outbreak for information about what is happening. Remember, the Government will not call you with health advice. There are, however, some steps for us to take individually to help keep this parish a safe space for everyone.

  • If you feel unwell, for any reason, stay home and call 811 (health screening services) for guidance on what to do next. Avoid contact with other people as much as possible. Please refrain from attending services if you feel unwell, but call me and I will schedule home communion with you as is helpful.
  • Wash your hands regularly and often, for at least 20 seconds (sing happy birthday, or the Hail Mary, to yourself twice) with soap and warm water.
  • Avoid contact with your face.
  • Use hand sanitizers when appropriate.

All is not lost, and rules and requirements are not the only answer to this challenge. There is good news in the midst of this too, because parishes like ours exist. Often when the world doesn't make sense, I fall to my knees in prayer, prayer which is both for my own needs and those of the world I'm struggling to understand. Our good news in this is Jesus and the power of prayer for ourselves and our neighbour that Jesus teaches us as we seek to be present for the community in which we live and work.

As long as it is safe for us to do, I promise that our parish will remain an open center of worship and community for all peoples- and all means all- and I invite you to continue with me in the work of being an active and welcoming presence to all people during this virus. Isolation, fear, and racism are bringing out the worst of our society in the midst of this challenge, which is anathema to us as Christians because the faith of Christ tells us these dark powers have no dominion over us. The cross obliterated all of this darkness forever, which calls us as followers of Christ to be beacons of his light in the midst of this darkness around us. Keep connected via phone with those who are unwell. Pray for each other. Smile at a stranger on the street and say good morning. Continue to help people feel welcome and seen in a world which is isolating and fearful.

Over the next season of life together in the midst of this virus, the unknown, and our fears, I invite you to join me in prayer for those affected and for those serving the affected. For our leaders and their councils, and for our world. May the healing power of Christ’s presence in our world bring us to newness of health and life.  My door remains open to all of you to pray with this letter, with you and your concerns, and wrestle with what it means to be a community in the midst of social challenges like this.

Know of my prayers, with thanksgiving, for each and everyone of you.