Dear Friends in Christ,
On June 30, the Diocese of Toronto has issued statement on the reopening of churches, and I think it is important that you are all kept up to date on the procedures we need to undertake on the journey towards reopening. The protocols associated with reopening are contained in a 17-page checklist of reopening protocols. The document is long and complicated, and your Churchwardens and Deacons Elect will be meeting with me to produce a simplified version for all of us here at All Saints.
At this stage, however, I feel that I should warn you that things will be vastly different to start with in our reopening, which will take place “on an undetermined date in September” – a quote from page 14 of the document. Here are the opening 2 paragraphs of the document, which sum up my feelings and hopes for us all as we go forward into this new era of church worship:
We anticipate that this is likely to be a long and graduated process. We offer these guidelines as our best effort to care for God’s world and all people, as society battles against a global pandemic. We rest secure in the knowledge of God’s love for us and God’s desire for the health and wellness of every person – physically, spiritually, and emotionally – as demonstrated through the life and ministry, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. As we continue to learn together about Covid-19, we are trying to act in ways that are honourable and creative. We will be adapting our directives responsibly and responsively, at each new phase, and with any change that may arise as the situation unfolds.
There is much to be done to provide a gradual, careful, and inviting reopening. To support this work, we require each parish to recruit an individual or team of volunteers who can implement the protocols and monitor the checklists provided, and to plan for how the congregation can begin to gather again, within the guidelines of size and social distancing, in ways that are welcoming, pastoral, missional and cautious.
I am asking, therefore, that you pray earnestly for your leadership team at All Saints (Gary Gannon, Joanne Warman, Tim Ralph, Sheila Robson, Karen Carter and Roy Allam) as we seek to make plans to return the church, safely and cautiously, to its normal routine and pattern of public worship. Let us all commit ourselves to this purpose and pray together this great prayer from St. Ignatius of Loyola:
Lord teach me to be generous; Teach me to serve you as you deserve; To give and not to count the cost; To fight and not to heed the wounds; To toil, and not seek for rest; To labour, and not to ask for reward – except to know that I am doing your will. Amen.
I remain your friend, Geoff