With the declaration by the World Health Organization that COVID-19 is now officially a pandemic, we face the urgent need for everyone to be actively engaged in protecting themselves and those around them. Bishops across Canada are putting in place best practices for that protection in their communities in regular announcements based on local risks. These include:
- no contact versions of sharing the Peace;
- reduced or no passing of the collection plates;
- communion in one kind only;
- increased availability of hand sanitizer;
- increased attention to hygiene for all worshippers and worship leaders;
- limitations on pastoral and community activities; and
- some are preparing for the possibility that parishes may be closed to all public gatherings for a period of time, when required by health authorities.
We are committed to keeping our church communities safe for everyone.
Every Anglican is urged to be diligent in personal practices for ourselves and to protect those around us who may be vulnerable—cough or sneeze into a tissue or sleeve only; stay home if you are sick; self-quarantine if you have been advised to do so; avoid large gatherings if you are elderly or have underlying medical concerns; and avoid touching your eyes, mouth or nose.
As a faith community we are also a people of hope and compassion. The Canadian Council of Churches offers this reminder to all its churches:
We urge our member churches to reflect a compassionate, peace-seeking response to COVID-19 by:
- Recognizing through prayer the human dimension of grief and suffering COVID-19 has brought to communities both near and far;
- Being mindful of the needs of shut-ins and other vulnerable groups who may require additional help accessing medical services and basic amenities;
- Actively repudiating the racism and xenophobia that has shaped certain reactions to COVID-19;
- Using this as an opportunity to embody hospitality and kindness with creativity and hope;
- Giving thanks for the many professionals who continue to risk their own health to treat the sick, be near to the dying, contain the virus, and protect their communities.
Finally we are a people of prayer! The Diocese of New Westminster has gathered resources for prayer with the wonderful title: COVID19 Can’t Stop Us from Praying!
May God’s peace hold us in the midst of the fears that swirl around our communities and at time within our own hearts. May we find courage to compassionately care for one another and find strength in community. May we find comfort in the knowledge that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:38-39)
The Most Rev. Linda Nicholls
Archbishop and Primate
Anglican Church of Canada
Anglican Church of Canada, March 12, 2020