When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came among them and said, “Peace be with you.” John 20:19
I can’t help but think that the disciples must have wondered, “what next…” They had gathered on that first evening, on the first day of the week, and what a week it was. It had begun on a high note with the joyful entry into Jerusalem, where they and Jesus were welcomed and acclaimed, but things changed quickly, with the shouts of praise giving way to those haunting words, “Crucify Him”. And what would follow was beyond their wildest imagination… the arrest in the garden, the trial in Pilate’s palace and that awful walk to Golgotha where their Master, the one who had called them to follow, would be crucified. As they huddled in that small upper room, afraid of the future, unsure of the future, perhaps the only thing they knew for sure was that life would never be the same again… and it is into that understanding that Jesus comes among them, in Peace.
As I write this early in September, the one thing that we know to be true for us, living 2000+ years after that Easter evening event, is that life will be very different for us as well, as we navigate the effects of Covid19. Our diocesan bishop, the Rt. Rev. Todd Townshend, working with the other Anglican bishops in Ontario, has established an approach not totally dissimilar to the one our Provincial government has established, in that there are 3 stages of re-integration, red- amber- green, each with their own protocols. We are now in the amber stage which allows a mediated approach to live or in-person worship in our church buildings. According to these guidelines, the following is a brief overview of what you can expect in our return to worship at St. Paul’s:
- Our Amber stage guidelines have capped the number of worshippers at 50, including those leading worship. To accommodate as many as possible, we are offering 3 worship times each week: Sunday morning at 10:00 a.m., Wednesday evening at 7:00 p.m., and Saturday afternoon at 5:00 p.m. Please reserve your place for the worship you wish to attend. To make your reservation, simply click on the Eventbrite link (see the “in-person worship” tab) and fill in the necessary information. You can also telephone the Church office (519) 434-3225 to reserve your place, if necessary. Masks will be mandatory at all times during your time in the Cathedral and entry will be through the Great West doors only. The washroom in the Narthex is the only one that will be available for use.
- The three weekly services will all be the same and will use the readings etc. from the Sunday lectionary. In order to allow for as many to gather as possible each week, and in an effort to make it as logistically simple as we can, the regular roster of readers and intercessors will be suspended for the time being, as well as lay-administrants, servers and bell ringers. Our Children’s ministry will not be offered during this worship time. Holy Eucharist will be in one kind, using wafers only. While our St. Paul’s Director of Music, Ian Sadler, will be playing hymns etc. on the organ or piano, there will be no congregational singing, with the exception of one of our choristers who will sing from the ambo at the top of the chancel steps.
- To accommodate those who are not able to gather for worship during the week, we are planning to record the Sunday service and have it available for viewing on our YouTube channel by mid-week.
Your Cathedral leadership team are keenly aware of how drastic some of these changes may seem but are also keenly aware that none of us expected to be worshipping virtually for 6 months this year. The verse I shared at the beginning of this letter reminds us that, as people of faith, God is always calling us into new patterns of being, leaving us with the question of how we will respond. We are grateful for your on-going care and financial support of our Cathedral ministry, especially in these days of pandemic. We pray that you will continue this support and that you will be patient with us as we navigate the uncertainties of this next step. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to be in touch with me or any member of our leadership team. As we have been holding prayerfully all who have been infected and affected by Covid19, we also hold prayerfully our next steps, always in the knowledge that we are not alone in the journey, but rather, are guided by the One who came and shared His peace…
Wishing you every Blessing,