Online Worship for TOMORROW SUNDAY 3/15/20 and other information
March 14, 2020
Dear Parishioners of St. John’s,
As you read yesterday, after much prayerful deliberation, Wardens Geri and Ruby, Deacon Anne, and I – with the consent of Archbishop Melissa – have made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend in-person worship services and group meetings at St. John’s, beginning tomorrow, Sunday March 15. Tomorrow we will begin to have opportunities for online worship – see more information below.
(Please help us spread the word by calling anyone you know who may not have email or who may not have read their email yet.)
The current safety guidelines to stop the spread of Covid-19 in group gatherings from our diocese and provincial health officials* suggest that people maintain a distance of 2m from each other. We see our decision as the best and most responsible choice for our parish, given our connections as Christians to the greater whole – to our parish family (especially those who are the most vulnerable to illness) and to the wider society which we are a member of. By not meeting physically in groups, we can do our part to help slow the spread of the virus in our communities and better support the health of many more people (you may have heard of the concept of “flattening the curve”**).
At its core, our church is of course the people – the Body of Christ – rather than just the church building. So even as I am disappointed that we will not be able to gather physically for a time, I look forward to how God will work in the midst of our creativity in deepening our connections with each other in other ways.
Here are a few ways we will begin to experiment together in this regard:
1. Tomorrow, Sunday, March 15, we will offer worship online at our regular service times of 8:30am and 10am. We’ll be doing Morning Prayer together via Zoom. A service leaflet will be available later this evening at https://www.stja.ca/2020/program-updates/.
For those of you new to Zoom video conferencing – it is really simple to use. Download the free app from your app store to any device and once you have the app, click on the link directly below to “Join Zoom meeting” at the time of worship. (You can also download and find out more info on the app at https://zoom.us/). You can sign up for a free account if you wish, but it is not necessary to access the link. I would suggest downloading the app now, so that you can join in at the time of the service without any delays.
Join Zoom Meeting: https://zoom.us/j/542312325?pwd=R3FKTnZ4WUU1YUFveCtzOUljM2FLZz09
Meeting ID: 542 312 325
2. I will be staying on immediately following each worship service, for any who would like to take part in a condensed, virtual version of our weekly Sunday Lenten “Dive Deeper: Loving Neighbour” coffee-hour gatherings.
3. Our Tuesday Lenten “Dive Deeper: Loving God” prayer workshops will both be held online via Zoom too. More information on this, as well as other updates on programs will be posted at https://www.stja.ca/2020/program-updates/
As for other aspects of church life:
4. We will work with ministry leaders this week on how to proceed re: all other regular programming going forward, and updates will be posted at https://www.stja.ca/2020/program-updates/.
5. The parish office will be on modified hours for the time being, but voicemails and emails will be regularly checked from Tuesday through Friday as normal.
6. We will be working on different resources in this time for prayer, fellowship and community-building, and pastoral care for each other in the next little while, and will keep you informed as they take shape. If anyone has ideas for any of these, please do not hesitate to reach out to me (firstname.lastname@example.org), Geri (email@example.com) , Ruby (firstname.lastname@example.org), or Anne (email@example.com).
All of this, of course, is very new, uncharted territory for us as a church and as a society. “Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9). I appreciate your patience, grace, and good humour as we walk this journey together. I am so grateful for each and every one of you who makes up this incredible community of faith here at St. John’s, and am thankful that God is with us each step of the way, giving us the strength and courage to move forward into whatever lies ahead for us.
*Please see Archbishop Melissa’s most recent March 12 letter and other updates from the diocese at https://www.stja.ca/2020/updates-re-coronavirus/.
**For more information on “flattening the curve” see https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-whos-flattening-the-curve-on-the-coronavirus-and-who-isnt-a/ and https://www.wired.com/story/whats-social-distancing-flattening-curve-covid-19-questions/
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