As you have heard from the Premier, the city of Toronto is going into lockdown, effective 12:01 AM on Monday, November 23. In addition, Bishop Andrew Asbil and the College of Bishops provided an update on guidelines that require churches in Toronto and Peel region to follow diocesan red stage guidelines. While these new restrictions allow for in-person worship with fewer than 10 people, we believe it is best for the health and safety of everyone that we discontinue in-person worship until the lockdown has been lifted and COVID-19 case counts have fallen to the level where we feel comfortable regathering. Therefore, after this Sunday, the 8 AM and 10:30 AM in-person worship services are cancelled until further notice.
Whether or not you were one who attended these services, I’m sure you will join me in my sadness and regret for those who will struggle with this decision. We will continue to worship via Zoom and offer pre-recorded liturgies that glorify God and speak to the spiritual needs of our community and beyond.
Regarding the Common Table and its crucial ministry to our community, we trust that it will continue, ensuring the most rigorous safety standards for guests, volunteers, and staff.
The pastoral needs of our community will be even more pronounced, not just because we are approaching Christmas, but because we hoped we would not have to return to the isolation and challenge of lockdown as we experienced it in the first wave.
I want you to know that I will be working with staff, parish leadership, and volunteers to ensue that we remain connected. We will take the lessons learned from the first wave and strive to be even more present and engaged with one another.
This is not the news we would have wanted to hear, but we know that caring for one another by staying home, wearing a mask when we do need to be with others, praying for those who are on the frontlines teaching the youngest members of our city, caring for the sick, and working toward a cure for the virus, and for those who are ill with COVID-19 are all things we can do to help bring us to a time when we can be together in person again.
As we prepare for the beginning of Advent, we do so knowing this will be a season different from previous years but will be just as meaningful. There are opportunities for you to actively share in the season and those will be shared through eNews, the website and social media.
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts and concerns. I plan to have a discussion about what this new lockdown will mean for us at our next Staying Connected Meeting on Sunday, November 29, at 10:30am.
I ask your prayers for all who will be affected by these new measures – and know that I am praying for you, always.
Affectionately yours in Christ,
Prayers for community at this time:
We are not people of fear: we are people of courage. We are not people who protect our own safety: we are people who protect our neighbours’ safety. We are not people of greed: we are people of generosity. We are your people God, giving and loving, wherever we are, whatever it costs. For as long as it takes wherever you call us. Amen.
Spirit of compassion, fill our hearts and give us peace. Give us strength to care for those around us even as we may be physically separated. Deepen our sense of compassion even in the midst of our anxiety. Keep us mindful of the many other needs in the world – conflicts, refugees, poverty, and many other illnesses besides the coronavirus – and all other concerns we name before you now. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.