Dear friends in Christ,
Grace and peace be to you from God our father and from our Lord and savior Jesus Christ!
In recent weeks many of us have been contemplating how and when our congregations might return to in-person worship. Some of us have already begun to physically gather. Others are contemplating a return during Holy Week. And many of us are, as yet, unsure as to when we might be able to return to our sanctuaries.
It seems timely, therefore, to reiterate some of the basic principles that I have shared with you in previous communications.
- It is vitally important that we rigorously abide by the counsel and guidance of our respective regional health authorities.
- When returning to in-person worship it is imperative that we do everything possible to ensure the continued health, safety and well-being of those who gather. Attached, please find an updated Checklist for the Safe Resumption of In-Person Worship.
- The decision of whether or not to return to in-person worship is one that needs to be shared by both the rostered leaders serving under call and the elected Congregational Council. Please review the attached Covenant for the Safe Resumption of In-Person Worship
- The fact that you “may” gather for some form of in-person worship, does not mean that you necessarily “should” or “must.” Regardless of whatever public health restrictions may have eased, or what St. Something’s down the road may be doing; you need to plan based on what seems most prudent and responsible for your particular context.
With you, I long to be able to regularly and faithfully gather for worship and fellowship with my fellow believers. I am grateful and heartened to witness the steady ramping-up of our vaccination efforts and I am hopeful that we will experience a much less restricted life in the foreseeable future.
That time, however, is not yet here, and we need to maintain the vigilance and care that has been expressed throughout the course of this long and difficult year. We who love God need to continue to regulate our behaviour in ways that also give faithful expression to our love of neighbour.
While our current worshipping practices may leave us longing for the in-person aspect of our life together, I am deeply encouraged by the faithful and fulsome ways in which our congregations have continued to offer vibrant ministry throughout this pandemic. It is urgent for us to embrace this opportunity to reflect deeply on the questions as outlined in the checklist document: What is God calling us to do; how have our ministries been enhanced; what new needs have been discovered; and how will we maintain connection with those who cannot and/or choose not to return to in-person worship.
Dear siblings in faith, may you experience a blessed and a safe Holy Week. May God grant you generous gifts of patience, forbearance and hope. Hang in there. We will, indeed, get through this.
Easter is, indeed, coming!
Bishop Michael Pryse