Denominational Responses to COVID-19

Information, Advice, and Comfort

Credit: Image by Jacqueline Macou from Pixabay

All three of our denominations have provided a variety of responses as we, our communities, and the world grapple with the affects of the COVID-19 pandemic.  This post provides snippets of these responses and the links so you may access the responses in their entirety.

The Anglican Church of Canada

“Socially-, yet never spiritually-distanced” by General Synod Communications on March 16, 2020

In the midst of countless service and activity suspensions in Anglican churches across the country this weekend, Canadian Anglicans demonstrated their resilience, love for God and love for one another as they forged new pathways of prayer and community through online worship and gathering. While several parishes had previous expertise with livestreaming and digital publishing, many took on new technological challenges with humour and grace.

“Primate’s update regarding COVID-19” by Linda Nicholls on March 12, 2020

Archbishop Linda Nicholls, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada
Credit: Michael Hudson/Anglican Church of Canada

As a faith community we are also a people of hope and compassion. The Canadian Council of Churches offers this reminder to all its churches:

We urge our member churches to reflect a compassionate, peace-seeking response to COVID-19 by:

    • Recognizing through prayer the human dimension of grief and suffering COVID-19 has brought to communities both near and far;
    • Being mindful of the needs of shut-ins and other vulnerable groups who may require additional help accessing medical services and basic amenities;
    • Actively repudiating the racism and xenophobia that has shaped certain reactions to COVID-19;
    • Using this as an opportunity to embody hospitality and kindness with creativity and hope;
    • Giving thanks for the many professionals who continue to risk their own health to treat the sick, be near to the dying, contain the virus, and protect their communities.

May God’s peace hold us in the midst of the fears that swirl around our communities and at time within our own hearts. May we find courage to compassionately care for one another and find strength in community. May we find comfort in the knowledge that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:38-39)

March 12 – Corona Virus Update For all Parishes” from Bishop Barbara Andrews, Territory of the People

Further to my communication last week on the COVID 19 or corona virus, I wish to update you today. Yesterday I joined Premiere Hogan, Minister of Health Adrian Dix, and Dr Bonnie Henry, the Provincial Health Officer and over 100 faith leaders from around the province. For over one hour we heard good information, and shared in a conversation promoting best health practices for our faith communities. We were asked to give leadership in spreading good information, and hope within our communities.

Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

The Rev. Susan C. Johnson, National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

An update from ELCIC National and Synod Bishops on COVID-19 and communities of the ELCIC” dated March 13, 2020

Even as this pandemic presents a challenge to gathering, we hope and pray that our communities will stay strong and supportive of each other in the name of Christ. This is an excellent opportunity for the whole community to engage in ministering to each other.

During this time, we encourage the entire community to be in more regular contact by phone or personal visits (when appropriate). We encourage healthy members to take an active role in ensuring that our more senior members have adequate support to stay home. Pray for each other.

Through these challenges, we hope and pray that each of our communities will continue to be faithful and public witnesses to the grace and love of God through Christ. We continue to pray for our leaders and members, asking for God to give us courage, faith, and compassion. Blessings in your ministry during this time.

March 16 letter on COVID-19 and communities of the ELCIC

With the information we have today, we feel it is both prudent and responsible that our congregations suspend all public worship services and other gatherings effective immediately. Some of you have already made this decision. It is our hope that we will all be strongly encouraged to do likewise.

We understand how difficult some of these unprecedented decisions may feel. These important considerations reflect a deep concern for those most vulnerable – particularly elderly and those with compromised immune systems.

Please continue to be vigilant in your prayerful support of those who are ill and those who are most fully engaged in the public health efforts that are underway across the country and around the world. May God grant us generous gifts of courage, faith, and compassion.

In their Lenten on-line devotions Reimagining Justice, Lutherans Connect have chosen to substitute their planned devotions with ones relating specifically to COVID-19.

Sabbath Days in a Time of Pandemic: Special devotions in response to COVID-19

    • Saturday, March 14th
      – includes a video of the corona virus cat rescuer of Wuhan
    • Sunday, March 15th
      – includes a video about singing and solidarity in Italy
    • Monday, March 16th
      – The story of the struggles Moses and the Israelites have with God about having sufficient food while in the wilderness is used as the basis for a reflection on responding in a time of pandemic.  A story of kindness is included.
    • Tuesday, March 17th
      – includes a reflection on hand washing and a dance video from Vietnam created to encourage correct hand washing
    • Wednesday, March 18th
      – The reflection is based on Matthew 8: 23-27 in which the disciples wake Jesus because the storm was swamping their boat and Jesus calms the sea.  The music is the “Iona Boat Song”.

The United Church of Canada

COVID-19:  United Church Statement” originally published March 5, 2020; last modified on March 13, 2020

As a church, we seek a compassionate response that acknowledges the personhood attached to each statistic. We know that the people affected include not only those infected by the COVID-19 virus but also their families, friends, co-workers, and community members. We mourn with people whose loved ones have died, who have lost their livelihood through the growing economic impact, who have lost community through self-isolation and limited travel, and, who have lost a sense of security through fear of contamination or racial discrimination.

We also offer our prayers of thanksgiving for the professionals who are providing leadership in the treatment and containment of the virus, and our prayers of concern for those who put at risk their personal health to serve and support others, especially those who are most vulnerable.

Moderator:  God Is with Us” published March 13, 2020

The Right Rev. Dr. Richard Bott, 43rd Moderator of The United Church of Canada
The United Church of Canada

Scripture talks a lot about fear—often in the form of “Don’t be afraid!” I know that can be hard to do, but I think there is an important call to us as people of God and followers of Jesus. In those moments when fear gets huge, we have the opportunity to love even more and, in that love, to help one another.

As we build in “social distance,” where people aren’t able to spend time in each other’s presence in the ways we’re used to, it becomes even more important to reach out in creative ways—by telephone and video-chat, for example. For those who are staying home from church because of health concerns, or as we face the possibility that communities of faith may need to suspend regular gathering for worship at some point, there is the possibility of joining a worshipping community through livestream on the computer, or downloading audio or text versions (if that’s possible in your area) until we are able to return to our more traditional practices. And if you are offering services online, let people in the wider community know via social media. At times like this, people turn to the church for comfort, and we can still offer strong and reassuring pastoral care online and through telephone and text.

God is with us in this, and we are with each other—even when we aren’t able to be together. We are not alone.

Christ’s peace is with you.

Update Regarding COVID-19 Worship Services across the Pacific Mountain Regional Council

We continue to witness the unfolding of the COVID-19 reality across our world, across our nation, and in our Pacific Mountain Regional Council. 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.

The latest from the Pacific Mountain Regional Council:  “March 16 Update from Treena and Jay – recommend halting gathering for services

Beloved, continue to lean into the power of prayer and spiritual and mindfulness practices, as well as the physical distancing and cleanliness precautions required of us now, in caring for yourself and one another. Please also remember to keep up givings, and ways for people to give, when not gathering for worship. We invite you to please also place a phone call to our elderly ones who may be the most isolated of all. Hearing a friendly voice can be as healing as anything – for generations, these beautiful ones carried us; it’s up to us now to gently carry them.

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