Update from Executive Minister Treena Duncan, Chinook Winds Region- Friday, March 13, 2020
We continue to witness the unfolding of the COVID-19 reality across our world, across our nation, and in our Chinook Winds Region. We continue also in prayer for those who are vulnerable and afflicted, and for those who are charged with making decisions and taking care of people across Canada.
For many in our faith communities, regular public worship is a key part of their spiritual journey. At this time, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Deena Hinshaw has not asked churches to close for worship.
However, Dr Hinshaw has given instructions that the following events be cancelled:
• events with more than 250 attendees but this direction has excluded places of worship.
• events with more than 50 attendees that involve international participants, critical infrastructure staff, seniors, or other high-risk populations.
Dr Hinshaw has asked churches to follow guidelines for keeping attendees safe and we have circulated suggested guidelines. These are the same guidelines that she outlined again today: hand hygiene; sanitizers visibly available; distancing and that those who have travelled outside Canada in the past 14 days not attend.
We know that:
• several churches are choosing to have worship on Sunday morning following guidelines.
• Some churches are choosing to not have worship on Sunday morning, citing that worship involves seniors and other high-risk populations. In some cases, these churches already have live-streaming capabilities or are planning to offer live-streaming.
• We also know that some churchgoers may choose not to attend on Sunday even if their church will be open.
At this time, Communities of Faith in Chinook Winds Region may decide whether or not to hold public worship.
If your congregation is unable to offer live-streaming, you may want to direct worshipers remaining in their homes to online worship experiences offered by the following:
- Bashaw- Ponoka (AB) United Churches — Rising Spirit 10:30 am MT.
- McKillop United Church, Lethbridge, Alberta 10:30 am
- St. Thomas United Church, Calgary
- Hillhurst United Church, Calgary
- Symons Valley United Church, Calgary
If your community of faith is not on this list but you offer live streaming, please email Shelley Den Haan a link to your live streaming service so it can be included.
The National Church’s Communications Team has put together a helpful series of webpages called Faith Communities and COVID-19. What may be particularly helpful is the how-to instructions on Worship Online during COVID-19. Also on this page is how Moderator Richard Bott will be offering online worship beginning Sunday, March 22 and people can get involved in that service next week.
We also hope that Communities of Faith, as they are able, seek to maintain contact with ministry participants, particularly those who are sick or those who may be isolated. May we help our fellow participants in Christ’s Body here in Alberta to continue to feel connected to Christ’s Body.
May we continue in prayer for the healing grace of God for one another, and offer our prayers and our active support for our front-line health practitioners in local communities, the Province of Alberta and across Canada and in our World.
Executive Minister, Chinook Winds and Pacific Mountain Region