From the Diocese of British Columbia
On May 13, Dr Bonnie Henry announced that faith communities could begin to gather again for worship in the near future. In so doing, she emphasized the need for strict adherence to current and future public health orders.
It is important to note that she was addressing a broad range of faith traditions who gather in diverse ways. Anglican liturgical practice poses unique challenges related to such things as movement, touch (of people and surfaces), length of exposure to recirculating air, congregational singing, and so on. Further, many active Anglicans—including our clergy and staff—are vulnerable to the coronavirus by reason of age or underlying health conditions.
The health and safety of all concerned is our priority.
Therefore, in this diocese, we will continue to keep our churches closed for a while yet. This includes gathering for worship, and for other ministry activities.
Meanwhile, our synod office staff is researching best practices, and next week we will provide diocesan guidelines for a safe reopening of our churches and ministries. We hope also to provide a target date by which all of us can meet the necessary requirements so that we can move forward on a similar timeline. Thank you for all that you are doing to breathe life into our shared ministry.
(The Very Reverend) M. Ansley Tucker
dean of Columbia and diocesan administrator
From the Executive Leadership of the Pacific Mountain Region United Church
COVID-19 is far from over. While our physical distancing has flattened the curve, there are still infections and even deaths occurring. Those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19 are in the majority in our congregations, and as such, we need to approach our return to in-person worship with caution. Dr Henry, our chief medical officer, has given us the opportunity for small gatherings, but has reminded us that we have a significant duty of care, and advocates that we do not take unnecessary risks. We are a people of faith, and like the disciples, we are called to trust that God is leading us as we make decisions about how to gather as the Body of Christ.
In this document: PMRC Reopening Churches During COVID-19 Discernment and Guidelines (PDF), you will find both concrete steps for safety and health, as well as critical questions to help you consider what ministry in the next phase of COVID-19 will look like. Thanks to Kathy Davies and Tressa Brotsky for their work on this project. We will continue to update this document as new information becomes available. Presently, I am seeking further clarification on the topic of singing safely.
In the words of Bishop Karen P. Oliveto of the United Methodist Church: "I do not want one single case of COVID-19 traced to one of our churches because we did not care for those whom Jesus loves."
As always, your Regional Council staff are available for consultation and support.
Treena Duncan, Executive Minister