June 9, 2020
My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Last week we received a letter from the bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario that shared their decision that the Anglican churches of the province will not be offering public services before September 2020 in order to protect and care for our most vulnerable neighbours in the church and wider community. Within the letter it stated that regardless of political decisions and developments this would be the policy through the summer. I held off on being in touch with you until I had a chance to be part of a meeting with the bishop and other clergy. On Monday afternoon we had an online meeting and Bishop Todd spoke to that reality among others.
Even though the province announced changes yesterday, we will not be gathering in person for worship before the beginning of September. That said there is some room for social and fellowship gatherings. Those gatherings must be strict in terms of adhering to all provincial and health authority protocols including size, distancing, location and protective measures. We do not have any immediate plans with respect to fellowship gatherings at the moment, but we will be giving it some thought in the days ahead and will be in touch. We can be somewhat thankful that it is summer and so it will be possible to use the outdoor spaces at the church in order to further reduce risk of passing infection among participants. If someone has a thought about a church gathering that they would like to propose, please be in touch with Fr. Rob before moving forward so that we can plan and prepare adequately and in accordance with all protocols.
Since we will not be gathering in person for worship, we will continue to worship via youtube. I am deeply aware of the limitations and shortcomings of that, but I sincerely ask that you continue to attend to your spiritual life in this way. Prayer is vitally important for us as individuals, and it is vitally important to our common life as parish that we pray together as best we can. It is also vitally important for the world. We are living in a very turbulent time and our world is desperately in need of God’s grace, guidance, and love. It is our calling as followers of Jesus to pray for that and praying is one way that we can be of service to the world right now.
I long to be able to see you face to face, to be able to worship almighty God properly, to be together as a community of faith in ways that are satisfying and life-giving. Unfortunately, that is a way’s off yet. In the meantime we are still a parish family and I urge you to pray, to connect in ways that are responsible and safe, and to remember that God is with us so there is hope. If you have questions, thoughts, or wish to talk, please don’t hesitate to be in touch with Fr. Rob at rlemon5@cogeco.ca or 519-956-8338 (hm#).
Wishing you every blessing, I remain,
Yours in Christ,
The Rev’d Canon Robert Lemon,
Rector, St. Mark’s by the Lake