14 March, 2020
My Dear Friends,
I am writing to inform you that earlier today, I had a conference call with the
bishops of the Province of Rupert’s Land and a call with the Archbishop concerning
worship in the Diocese. The upshot of these conversations is that, effective
immediately, all public services in the Diocese of Calgary, are suspended until
March 31, 2020. This also means that all services for Sunday, March 15, are
to be cancelled.
I know this is a very sudden development, and that plans that are already in place
must be abandoned with very short notice. Please understand that this decision
hasn’t been arrived at lightly. But given the fact that as of this writing, the number
of cases in Alberta has gone from 29 to 39 and that many members of our
congregations are part of the vulnerable sector, the only prudent response is to
suspend services of worship. We have a duty to protect them.
What’s more, we have a duty to be part of the effort to flatten the curve in the
hopes that we can stop this virus from gaining a terrible foothold here as it has
done in other places.
What I am not asking you to do is go dark like the Broadway theatres. Be in
constant touch with your people. Reach out using all of the wonderful digital tools
at our disposal. And, if you are able, live-stream services. There is no template for
how individual parishes should respond to this extraordinary circumstance – please
be creative! This is not the time for liturgical scrupulosity.
The Archbishop is most concerned that we keep one another in prayer, and do so
with a particular seriousness on Sunday mornings when we would all otherwise be
in church. Parishes with the ability to live-stream services are encouraged to do so.
Our churches are not closed for business – far from it. But we are not gathering
publicly for worship for the present moment.
This is a rapidly developing situation and we’re all doing our best to keep abreast of
things as they emerge. Please bear in mind that situation changes from day to day,
and as leaders, it is incumbent upon us to be nimble and adaptive in carrying out
our mission and ministry.
We are living the Lenten wilderness experience in real time this year. But we are a
resurrection people and so we look with confidence and hope to the day when we
all be able to gather together in the flesh. In the meantime, pray without ceasing
for the vulnerable, the sick, the anxious, the caregivers, and the complacent. Pray
for the leadership of the Primate and the Anglican Church of Canada, our Diocese,
and each of our parishes.
I realize that there are a number of views on the wisdom of taking this action.
Know it has not been taken lightly. It has been taken out of an abundance of
caution and with an understanding that we are doing our best to address this
situation in ways that are reasonable and pastoral. Please receive this will
generosity and in the spirit it is intended.
With prayers, love, and deep friendship,
The Very Rev’d Leighton Lee
Monday through Friday; 9AM - 1PM