There are growing concerns around an outbreak of respiratory infections caused by a new coronavirus known as COVID-19. It is understandable that you may feel anxious about the situation.
For the time being, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has assessed the public health risk associated with COVID-19 as low for Canada. Moreover, while B.C. has confirmed cases of COVID-19, the latest assessment from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control is that the risk of transmission continues to remain low for residents of British Columbia.
As a community following Jesus Christ, we must not be driven by fear. In all circumstances, what drives us is the call to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind; and to love our neighbours. Let us pray for those who are infected, suffering, and grieving. Let us pray for the medical professionals who are on the front lines. Let us pray for the institutional leaders and specialists who are seeking to find ways to monitor, contain, and address the outbreak.
In order to protect those who are vulnerable, particularly our children, seniors, and those with pre-existing medical conditions, we encourage you to regularly and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and hot water or clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub. If you are feeling sick or exhibiting reported signs and symptoms, we encourage you to remain at home and contact your health care provider.
In consultation with a number of medical professionals, we assessed the risks and developed a number of risk reduction strategies. When it comes to our communal practices, starting from this Sunday, we will proceed with the following adjustments:
- Passing of Peace: While handshakes have been our norm, for the time being, we ask you to refrain from it. We encourage you to pass the peace verbally. Bowing or nodding is also another way to express our commitment to each other.
- Lord’s Supper: We will administer the Lord’s Supper in a way that combines the best practices from the two forms (intinction and trays). We encourage you to line up as you would for intinction. The server with the bread will tear it and place it in your hands. The server with the wine will hand out individual cups. There will be two rovers to serve bread and wine for those with limited mobility. We have asked our servers and rovers to abide by a set of health guidelines.
For families with children, we will continue to observe the Wellness Policy in order to ensure the health and safety of all.
It is unfortunate that the spread of misinformation has fueled fears, rumours, stigmas, and prejudices. As a community following Jesus Christ, may this be our prayer and practice:
"Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life."
May the Peace of Christ rule in your hearts.