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21 March 2020

My Dear Friends,

We are ending our first week of living in this strange wilderness. It has already proved to be a disorienting and stressful experience. Now we know that it is likely to last far longer than any of us could have ever imagined. Therefore I regret to tell you that all public worship in the Diocese of Calgary is suspended until further notice.

It is now time to prepare ourselves and our parishioners for the fact that we won’t be publically celebrating the great solemnities of Holy Week and Easter Day. To even write such a thing is incredible, but this is where we find ourselves at this present moment. But let us remember that we are an Easter People; the victory of the cross and empty tomb are assured.

The good news is that Holy Week and Easter won’t go by unnoticed. There are many parishes around the Diocese who have plans to provide worship in a variety of formats. We will make sure everyone in the Diocese has access to these resources. And never forget that no matter how we mark the central mystery of our faith, God will be praised, the Gospel will be preached, and the World will be healed.

I have been so touched by the stories I’ve heard of how we are all reaching out and supporting one another these days. From small, online prayer groups, to people helping out the elderly and vulnerable in our midst by going to the grocery store, to the small gestures of compassion that are so meaningful, we are putting our faith into action. We are witnessing to the love of God in Christ by loving our neighbour as ourselves.

Please do not neglect yourselves at this time. Take time to read, to listen to music, to cook. Try not to brood over the news. Remember that we are not the first generation of Christians to live in anxious times. We now doing what a memorable inscription in a London church says many better Christians have done before us. Draw strength from that great cloud of witnesses and wait with longing and expectant hearts for the day when this will all be behind us, when we can again celebrate together the Eucharist. What a day that will be!

I ask your prayers especially for our Diocesan leadership, particularly Archbishop Kerr-Wilson (who returned from the United States on Monday and therefore is currently in isolation at home for two weeks), Archdeacon Gateman, and the Synod Office staff. They are all working diligently and faithfully to keep this ship of faith sailing even in turbulent waters. I am privileged to be able to serve alongside them.

O God our King, who by the resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ on the first day of the week, conquered sin, put death to flight, and gave to us the hope of everlasting life: Redeem all our days by this victory; forgive our sins, banish our fears, make us bold to praise you and do your will; and steel us to wait for the consummation of your kingdom on the last great Day; through the same, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thank you again for the opportunity to serve you over the past three months. Thank you for your support. Thank you for your prayers.

Faithfully yours,

The Very Rev’d Leighton Lee