Provincial Pastoral Letter Invites a Summer Sabbath Rest
In-person worship remains suspended while parishes retool for ministry
Posted June 1, 2020
Anglican churches across the ecclesiastical province of Ontario will remain closed for in-person worship services until at least September, observing a sacred sabbath rest over the summer months while the pandemic continues.
“The well-being and safety of all our parishioners and the communities we serve is uppermost in our hearts and minds,” says Archbishop Anne Germond, metropolitan on Ontario and archbishop of Algoma and Moosonee.
The decision was made by the provincial house of Anglican bishops, which includes Bishop Susan Bell, and shared in a pastoral letter by Archbishop Germond.
“A time of sabbath rest invites our clergy and lay leaders, as well as the whole Church, to take time apart from our usual patterns in order to bring renewed energy and knowledge and skill to the practice of ministry,” says the letter signed by Archbishop Germond on behalf of the bishops.
The letter notes that regardless of where the Government of Ontario is with its reopening plan, Anglican churches will not be reopening for the next three months, a decision made in consultation with public health experts and other diocesan officials.
Online worship services, food security and other essential outreach and community ministries taking place in church buildings will continue, as they have been in recent months.
"This sabbath time of rest, reflection and renewal, while we wait to be back in our cherished and familiar sacred spaces, offers us an opportunity to discern what our worship patterns, stewardship practices, and parish ministries might look like going forward."
The pastoral letter also expresses the bishops' gratitude for "the generosity, innovation and faithfulness that has been so richly demonstrated across our province."
Resources related to the coronavirus pandemic and ministry during this time can be found on the online diocesan COVID-19 resource hub.