March 14, 2020
Dear Friends in Christ in the Parish of the Valley,
On Friday March 13th the Ontario House of Bishops convened a teleconference to discuss ongoing developments relating to COVID-19. Following that teleconference, and on the recommendation of the Provincial Metropolitan, Archbishop Anne Germond, Bishop John Chapman suspended public worship in the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa effective Sunday March 15th, until at least Saturday, April 4th. This decision was made concurrently with fellow bishops throughout the province and affects all Anglicans in the Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario. Links to letters from our Bishop and from the Metropolitan are available below.
A letter with further directives will be coming from the Bishop’s Office later this week with details about what this will mean for all of our weekday gatherings and pastoral offices, such as funerals. But, until further notice, all services of worship, including all Sunday services, mid-week services, weddings, and all other events in the parish (book studies, Bible studies, prayer meetings, men’s and ladies groups, etc.) are suspended.
While we know that this is a huge adjustment to how we live together as a Christian community, it is being done at the request of Ontario public health officials who have asked us to avoid congregating in groups for the coming weeks so as to slow the potential spread of the COVID-19 virus.
But just because our in-person worship and gathering is closed, that does not mean that your church community is closed. Please make a point of calling each other and verbally checking in with each other during the coming days and weeks. Please send friends an email or Facebook message; find other ways to stay in touch with each other; and most of all, continue to pray for each other, and surround each other with God’s love.
In the coming days, your clergy team will compile a list of resources for prayer at home that we will circulate and are considering how we might – through Internet and telephone – virtually gather for prayer.
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to us as your clergy if you have any questions or concerns. We are all here for each other.
We want to leave you with this prayer, adapted from the New Zealand Prayer Book:
God of the present moment,
God who in Jesus stills the storm
And sooths the frantic heart
Bring hope and courage to us
As we wait in uncertainty.
Bring hope that you will make us the equal of whatever lies ahead.
Bring us courage to endure what cannot be avoided,
For your will is health and wholeness;
You are God, and we need you.
May God’s love and peace be with you.
Bishop Michael, Canon Susan, Rev. Matthew, and Rev. Gillian
PS – We recognize that not everyone in our Parish is on email. Please take a moment to call friends in our congregations who may not be receiving this email. We would rather that they hear it more than once than not at all!