Dear Parishioners, Please read the directive form Archbishop Melissa below. I have further announcements regarding St John’s after her message.
Dear People of the Diocese of New Westminster Greetings, beloved in Christ. Based on the latest COVID-19 related updates from the Prime Minister and the BC Health Minister, and based on feedback from many of you, I am directing the suspension of all Sunday and weekday in-person worship in our parishes until May 3.
Likewise, I am directing the suspension of all other in-person parish activities beginning tomorrow, Wednesday, March 18 through Sunday, May 3. Also, please know that beginning Wednesday, March 18 the Synod Office itself will be closed to all visitors. We will still be working either in the office or from home, so we will be able to speak with you and meet with you via ZOOM or conference call.
About other matters let me say this: Other Parish Activities The suspension of all other parish activity includes: all classes, all meetings, most weddings, and all outreach programs including community meals. If you have a question about a parish activity, please be in touch with your Regional Archdeacon. We are taking this step to decrease the possibility of one of our parishes contributing to the spread of COVID-19. It’s just not worth the risk at this point, even if our events are under the 50-person threshold that the BC Health Minister has specified for now. Know that I am sad to have to do this but feel that this is the best way to enact the caring love of God in our parishes and communities.
Weddings To accommodate those who have already made arrangements to be married and to go forward in a more limited way, the liturgy would only involve the priest, the couple and two witnesses.
Funerals This essential component of our ministry deserves some special attention at this time. We want to remain available and present to provide comfort and care to the bereaved. Funerals and memorials, therefore, will be addressed on an ad hoc basis. Please contact your Regional Archdeacon for more information about gathering and liturgical advice.
Parish Offices I strongly recommend that Responsible Persons (trustees) close church offices in order to protect the health of those who may from time to time need to work in your office space. If employees go to the office space rather than work exclusively from home, you must sanitize the space, wash hands (before entering the office, during the day, and at the end of the day), maintain the 2-metre distancing norm between people and engage in all the other practices to safeguard health.
User Groups User Groups fall under the same direction above for “Other Parish Activities,” that is, their activity is on pause through May 3rd . A Communication of a Different Kind from Me Please find linked here thoughts I have as we deal with COVID-19.
All of you are in my heart and in my prayers as we daily adjust to new information and do our best to enact our Baptismal identity and purpose at this uncertain time In Christ Melissa, Archbishop, Diocese of New Westminster, Tuesday, March 17, 2020
My Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
I am terribly saddened by this development, but I and Parish Council agree with Archbishop Melissa that it is our Christian and civil duty to do all that we can to aid in the safety of all our parishioners and the wider community.
While St John’s will be closed I am very pleased to announce we will still be with you in a number of important ways. Starting tomorrow we will launch our new Telephone Ministry. Every parishioner will be getting a phone call from one of the Telephone Ministry Team Members once a week. The Telephone Ministry Team will rotate, so you will be getting a new member calling you the following week. There are nine Telephone Ministry Team Members, including myself. They will be calling to see how you are doing and if there is anything the Church can do to help you. Myself and the whole Telephone Ministry Team are looking forward to talking with you.
I would also like to remind all of you that should you need pastoral support or guidance, for whatever reason, you can always call me. My contact number is 778-989-7176. If I don’t answer, please leave a message and I will get back to you as promptly as I can. You can also email me and let me know how you are doing at [email protected] You may still call the Church Office regarding Church business and leave a message for myself or Leeann, but for the time being I would prefer you call my number above or Leeann at 778-985-7176.
I am also excited to announce that we will in the very near future be filming a shortened Church Service each week and you will be able to access and see it from the Church website. I am hoping this can in fact be in place for this coming Sunday. You will be able to tune in and watch the service that will include music, prayers and a sermon. The Church may be closed, but we will be able to worship together in the comfort of your own Livingroom. We are also planning a special Easter service that we will broadcast on Easter Sunday. We will still worship together!
I also intend to set up a Zoom account. Zoom is a website that allows people to have a meeting; that is to say to be together like a meeting but on our computers or tablets or smart phones at home. I am new to Zoom so I will in the near future be sending out more detailed information. My plan at first would be to have a Zoom meeting with anyone would like to join in and we can talk and see how everyone is doing. If this works well I would also like to start a Bible Study using zoom meetings as well. I may also start a morning Prayer Group. Please let me know if you are interested in any of these. As I say, I’ll have more information on this in the very near future.
During this time of temporary closure, which will last a number of weeks, I kindly ask that your financial offerings continue for the ongoing administration of St John’s. Please note if you have or will temporarily lose income because of the virus we do of course understand. If you have been physically placing your gift in the plate I am suggesting a few alternatives for you to consider. Leeann can help you set up payment by PAD (Pre Authorized Deposit). Mailing posted dated cheques can of course also be an easier option. Or you could go for a walk on these lovely early spring days and drop off a cheque in the Church’s mailing box outside of the office door. I am usually shy talking about financial giving to the Church, but given these extraordinary circumstances I feel it necessary to mention the importance of remembering the church. I sincerely thank you for your understanding.
Last Sunday I did suggest we take a deep breath and keep all things in perspective. Let us continue to do this. I am so very proud and profoundly grateful to be your Priest. We will of course get through this, and I am hoping some of the positive changes we have just announced will continue and help St John’s to thrive and to Do God’s Love for a very long time to come.
Let us pray. Holy and loving God, help us all get through this difficult time of trial. Help us and guide us to see the light of Christ in all that we do and in all whom we meet. Show us the way to help keep ourselves and those we love and care for safe, and give us more than enough courage and faith to sustain us in the days ahead. Above all, we thank you for the sustaining and life-giving love of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, in whose name we pray and in whose risen life we trust. Amen.
The Reverend Patrick Blaney