In-Person Worship Services Resume for Lent
Services resume March 1 as fifth wave recedes
Posted February 28, 2022
Bishop Susan Bell has announced that in-person public worship will resume at all churches in the diocese as of March 1.
“By Ash Wednesday, every parish will be open across the diocese so that we can begin our pilgrimage of grace through Lent and toward Easter in person, together at last,” wrote Bishop Bell in a pastoral letter to the diocese.
Thanks to the collective sacrifices of Ontarians who have adhered to pandemic protocols and stood in line for their booster doses, the fifth wave of the pandemic is now waning.
“Niagara has been an absolute model in faithfully being the Church in hard and divisive times,” said the bishop, who acknowledged that this has been a difficult time. “The sacrifice has been hard, but the result has been the loving care of the vulnerable.”
Capacity limits for services will vary by church, based on the number of people that can maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from every other person in the worship space. Masking and physical distancing will still be required for all ministry activities. With vaccination available to children over the age of five, more programming for children, youth, and families will be permitted to resume.
“Thank you for your extraordinary compliance and the extraordinary forbearance you’ve all shown for the last two years with all the guidelines and protocols we’ve had to put in place to work our way through the pandemic,” said Bishop Bell to the people of the diocese.
Recognizing that the virus which causes COVID-19 continues to circulate in Ontario, the updated ministry guidelines continue to stipulate that no one should feel obligated to attend worship in-person while the pandemic continues.
In the face of the Omicron-driven fifth wave of the pandemic, churches were closed for in-person public worship services just prior to Christmas. It is estimated that more than 2,300 people died with COVID-19 in Ontario during January and February, with more than 3,000 people hospitalized at the peak of the wave.