May 15, 2020
On May 13, Dr Bonnie Henry announced that faith communities could begin to gather again for worship in the near future. In so doing, she emphasized the need for strict adherence to current and future public health orders.
It is important to note that she was addressing a broad range of faith traditions who gather in diverse ways. Anglican liturgical practice poses unique challenges related to such things as movement, touch (of people and surfaces), length of exposure to recirculating air, congregational singing, and so on. Further, many active Anglicans—including our clergy and staff—are vulnerable to the coronavirus by reason of age or underlying health conditions.
The health and safety of all concerned is our priority.
Therefore, in this diocese, we will continue to keep our churches closed for a while yet. This includes gathering for worship, and for other ministry activities.
Meanwhile, our synod office staff is researching best practices, and next week we will provide diocesan guidelines for a safe reopening of our churches and ministries. We hope also to provide a target date by which all of us can meet the necessary requirements, so that we can move forward on a similar timeline. Thank you for all that you are doing to breathe life into our shared ministry.
(The Very Reverend) M. Ansley Tucker
dean of Columbia and diocesan administrator
Victoria, May 7, 2019
To all members of the diocese of Islands and Inlets
Yesterday, the premier and provincial health minister held a press briefing announcing the broad brushstrokes of a four-phased plan for moving forward into a new normal for life in BC. It gave us much hope and confidence that all that we have been doing has been worth our collective efforts.
The day is coming when small worship gatherings MAY be possible, but the time is not yet. Yesterday's briefing by the premier was not detailed enough for us as a diocese to make policy decisions. We are awaiting further detailed proposals from the government about religious community gatherings, that are also authorized by the provincial health officer. Our churches will remain closed for the time being.
As a faith community, we always live between the already and the not yet. Our current reality is that churches are closed to support our commitment to public health and safety. Many of the members of our congregations fall into the population the provincial health officer describes as vulnerable. We remain committed to protecting their health and wellbeing by temporarily sacrificing our desire to gather for worship. We have demonstrated over the last two months that we are able to worship virtually and this will be our continuing reality for a while. When we are able to gather again it will be with a detailed protocol about how to do so safely. In the meantime, we are called to persevere in the face of what is and has been challenging for us.
The Lord be with you.
J Barry Foster