Hamilton Parishes Close Again as COVD-19 Cases Surge

Bishop issues new lockdown ministry guidelines for the city’s parishes

Posted December 15, 2020

Effective December 15, Bishop Susan Bell has suspended all permissions to re-open for in-person worship previously granted to parishes within the City of Hamilton in accordance with the Amber Stage of the ecclesiastical province’s re-opening framework.

“While we have continued confidence in our pandemic protocols, this decision is being made as a sacrificial witness to the wider community that now is a time to stay at home for the love of our neighbours and in order to protect the most vulnerable in our communities,” wrote Archdeacon Bill Mous, diocesan executive officer, in an email message to clergy and lay leaders.

Local case numbers have continued to increase, despite the current Government’s red-level restrictions in place. In recent days, the City of Hamilton has reported weekly cases of more than 90 per 100,000, with a reproduction value >1.0, and a positivity rate close to 4%. 

New lockdown ministry guidelines have been issued by the Bishop for parishes within the City of Hamilton. These include:

  • church buildings generally being closed to the public, except for the operation of licensed day care centres;
  • occasional and time-limited access to church buildings being permitted only in limited circumstances;
  • pastoral care being provided primarily by remote means for all but essential visits and/or emergency care;
  • in-person worship, except for the purposes of produced online worship services, not being permitted; and
  • weddings, funerals, and baptisms being postponed until further notice, unless exceptional permission is granted by the regional archdeacon to conduct a pastoral office for which the extraordinary pastoral needs are such that postponing the service is not possible.

The new measures will be in effect through the Christmas season and remain in effect until further notice, meaning many Anglicans in Hamilton will celebrate the Feast of the Nativity virtually this year.

Hamilton parishioners are being invited to visit the diocesan Facebook Page and/or YouTube channel for worship, if online parish services are not available. A special virtual Christmas Eve service with Bishop Bell will be livestreamed at 6pm from Christ’s Church Cathedral in Hamilton.

“We continue to closely monitor the situation as case numbers trend upwards across the diocese,” said Archdeacon Mous. “We will advise of any further changes to our ministry guidelines, providing as much notice as practically possible.”