Dear Friends in Christ,
What a change two weeks makes! Following the letter sent earlier this month conditions have changed in our province to the point where the city of Toronto has entered the lockdown phase of our battle to contain COVID-19 – included in this lockdown are renewed limitations on places of worship in an effort to curb the spread of the virus. This means that for at least the next 4-weeks we will be suspending in-person Sunday morning worship and moving all of our services online. Please consider providing us with your email address so we can continue to remain in touch and email the livestream links to you directly.
While I am certainly saddened that we have progressed to this state as a city and a province, and that we will be missing in-person worship for the entirety of the Advent season, I also believe that this is the right decision for the time that we live in. Our city and our province have not taken the threat of COVID-19 seriously through our individual and governmental actions and the most vulnerable among us are paying the price. We need only look to the recent deadly outbreaks at two of the nursing homes that our congregation serves – Kennedy Lodge and Craig Lee Nursing Home – to see the devastating impact that COVID-19 still has.
And so we undertake this shutdown with the faith, hope, peace and love of Advent in our midst secure in the knowledge that God is with us and that Advent and Christmas will come even if we aren’t able to worship in person.
While we have made the decision to suspend all in-person worship on Sunday mornings we still plan to offer alternatives so that you can either follow along on Sunday morning or even worship in small groups in-person (10 people or less). Sunday worship will continue to be livestreamed from the sanctuary at 11 am. You can find the livestream link on our website and on our Facebook page.
Additionally, beginning on Tuesday December 1st we will be offering two in-person worship opportunities per week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays at noon. Registration will be required to attend these services as they will be limited to a maximum of 10 people, per provincial law. To register you can call or email the office by 10 am the day of the service. These services will be an opportunity to immerse ourselves in the Advent season so I commend them to you.
Lastly, we will once again be offering our video reflection series – Dwelling in the Word and Thursdays in Song. They will be posted to our Facebook page on their respective days.
While we await official word from the Diocese and the Provincial government on whether we will be allowed to worship in-person for Christmas Eve services, we will be making plans assuming that we are. Please contact the office by phone or email to let us know if you plan on attending Christmas Eve services and if so how many people will attend with you. Currently we envision offering up to 3 Christmas Eve services: 5pm, 8pm, 11pm on December 24th. Each of the services will be exactly the same and have restricted capacity so please let us multiple times you might be willing to come so that we can accommodate everyone.
Community Lunch – December 12th, 12-2pm
While the government has mandated the limitation on worship, we are still permitted to run vital outreach ministries that serve vulnerable populations. I believe that it is essential that we continue this ministry even in this challenging time, as it is a reflection of our faith in Jesus and God’s ability to bring life amidst death and brokenness in the world. If you are able to assist on the day of or provide food for this ministry please contact the office and we will put you in touch with Nadia Murray the ministry coordinator.
Thank you again for your continued faith and perseverance as we take these harsh but necessary steps to protect and love our neighbours. May you and your families be blessed over the coming weeks and may you know the hope, peace, love and joy of God this Advent and Christmas Season.
Rev. Graham McCaffrey