March 12 – COVID – 19 Update from Archbishop Anne

“I will be standing before you there, upon the rock of Horeb.” (Ex. 17.6)

 

Note to the clergy and people of Algoma and Moosonee

I wanted to update you on what is happening with respect to COVID 19 and the church response thus far, as well as some additional changes that I am instituting. I had a Zoom meeting  with the Primate and the other Metropolitans yesterday where a great deal of the time was spent discussing COVID-19 and how we are doing with the precautionary measures that are presently in place. There is a great difference across the country in terms of numbers of confirmed cases and therefore the responses are all different. BC is a high risk area whereas New Brunswick just reported its first case and measures are hardly in place. The BC Health Minister called together 120 faith leaders for a Zoom meeting yesterday and said while the situation is urgent that people should not live in fear.

I am trying to reach out to the Provincial Ministry of Health in case there is something new or different we should be doing at this time. Earlier today I spoke with someone from the Health Unit in Sudbury and they are happy with all the practices we have put into place.  Hand washing, ensuring that the facilities are clean, hand over mouth when coughing and sneezing, and “social distancing” – meaning – 2-5 feet away from someone who has a cold continue to be what they are recommending at this time.

This afternoon I will be having a Zoom meeting with the Provincial House of Bishops so that we can confer together on various strategies. I will keep you posted on the results of that meeting.

In the meantime, in Algoma and Moosonee I am adding the following precautionary measures:

  1. Only the celebrant will drink from the common cup.
  2. Please place the offering plate at the back of the church and invite people to place their offering in it on their way into church. People should be encouraged to use EOP if possible.
  3. Coffee hour is suspended.

In Sudbury all ‘Out of the Cold’ dinners have been cancelled until further notice and the university has gone online. Each church should decide on its own about cancelling fundraising or other social events.  I am very conscious of the social isolation that so many in our pews already face and what cancelling such events would mean to them.

We should begin planning for ways to share the gospel ‘virtually’ in the event that we do need to go into isolation.

This morning the Rev. Rhonda Hirst, Lead Chaplain at Health Sciences North forwarded the attached article to me on the Pandemic of Fear which has gripped so many people.

Fear is not a gospel value.

The readings for this week, particularly the Exodus passage are perfect fodder for a sermon on fear.

The Israelites are on their long trek in the wilderness and have been witnesses to miracles. But 40 years is a long journey and they begin to wonder what God has in mind and whether the great promises of life in a new land will actually be fulfilled. The straw that breaks the camel’s back happens – there is no water. And suddenly all their fear and frustration, doubt and uncertainty come flooding back and they cry out. “Give us water to drink!”.

When my kids were small and they had a bad dream they would cry out. As a mum I always went to them with a glass of water. They usually took one sip and then tucked back under their covers and went to sleep. It wasn’t really the water that made the difference, it was me going to them and assuring them that I was there and that everything would be alright.

In the wilderness of sin and doubt it is often too scary to ask the more difficult question – “Is God really here with us?”

Well….is God here?

God tells Moses and the leaders – “Go on ahead of the people and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will be standing there in front of you at the rock at Horeb…….strike the rock and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.” (Ex. 7:5-6). God is always with us, providing just what we need when we reach the corner and it looks scary on the other side.

“God of the journey, prompt us to lift our eyes – especially now, and to remember that you are with us and will help us make our way through the wilderness of COVID – 19”

Philippians 4.6 – “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

In the peace and love of Christ,

+Anne