In light of the increasing case counts of COVID-19 throughout our diocese, Bishop Townshend, out of care for the health of our parishioners and communities, has made the decision that the Diocese will reinstitute the Diocese of Huron’s Loving Our Neighbour Red Stage guidelines, effective immediately. No in-person worship is permitted in any of our churches until further notice. The Red Stage Guidelines may be found here.
While the lockdown ordered by the provincial government does not start until Boxing Day, this decision is being made following the advice of medical professionals and epidemiologists who have stated that “the earlier work starts, the lower the case numbers will be.“ All of us staying home may help prevent cases of COVID from further spreading in our communities. While it will be extremely difficult for us not to worship in-person at this most holy time, we are comforted by the belief that the Christ Child still comes to each of us as he came first to a dark and difficult world.
There have been some modifications to our Red Stage guidelines since the summer, including:
- Live-streaming or recording the Eucharist (as well as Services of the Word) is permitted with no more than five (5) persons present including those running the video equipment. Care must be taken not to show those present receiving the Eucharist as this is an extremely personal moment for most. The bishop asks that parishes refrain from offering prayers for spiritual communion or sending out such prayers for those at home to use during that time in the service. Currently, there is no settled teaching in our church on the meaning of spiritual communion in a digital liturgical medium. For now, we can simply trust the Holy Spirit to do what the Spirit wills as we are open to the Spirit
- All persons must wear facemasks except when assisting in leading the service when face masks may be removed if no closer than 12 feet (4m) to others. Facemasks should be worn during the celebration of the Eucharist.
- Any soloists/singers used in the live-stream or recorded worship must be masked as well as maintaining a 12 feet (4pm) distance between them and any other person unless the only other persons present are of the same household.
- Funerals or weddings, whether indoor or outdoor, may only have a maximum of 10 persons present.
- At this time, in accordance with the province’s directives that all non-essential businesses be closed, parish staff should only be in the building when absolutely necessary.
- Any permissions previously given for outdoor services with greater than 10 people or other exceptions to our guidelines are rescinded until this current state of lockdown is lifted.
Please do not hesitate to be in touch if you have any questions.
May Christ’s Peace be with you,
The Venerable Tanya Phibbs
Archdeacon of Huron