The protocols are available here.
Feast of Saint Barnabas the Apostle
When COVID-19 prompted the closure of our church buildings on March 13, we did not know how long this pandemic and its consequences would last. As we enter the summer, there remain many unknowns about the coronavirus and the potentially deadly disease it causes. As of this week more than 5,000 Quebecers have died of COVID-19.
The decision in March to close the church buildings across the diocese and to suspend in-person worship until further notice was made before any such request by public health officials. As I wrote at the time, the diocese chose to do so out of an abundance of caution and in the interests of not only our own members but of the common good, particularly those whose age or health makes them more vulnerable during this pandemic.
It is for these same reasons that our church buildings will remain closed for worship until at least September. A similar decision has already been made by all of the Anglican dioceses in Ontario, the Anglican Diocese of Montreal, and the Eastern Synod of our full communion partner, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.
The government of Quebec has included places of worship as a part of its deconfinement plan, although an exact timetable for reopening has yet to be established. I have been part of a group of religious leaders in the province that has worked fruitfully with public health authorities to develop protocols for the reopening of churches, synagogues, and mosques. However, even after a green light is received from the provincial government to reopen places of worship, these protocols will place significant restrictions on things like regulating attendance, physical distancing, disinfecting, ventilation, singing, sacramental practices, offerings, books, bulletins, and fellowship time.
Many of our congregations—particularly small churches—would be severely challenged to meet all of the provisions of these protocols. Even those congregations with such capacity would find worship significantly inhibited by these hygienic restrictions. Therefore, regardless of any forthcoming government announcement with respect to the reopening of places of worship in Quebec, the church buildings of our diocese will remain closed to liturgical services until further notice.
Many of us—myself included—deeply miss gathering in our church buildings for worship and community. At the same time, we have been blessed by the discovery of new ways of gathering as a diocesan and congregational families in prayer and fellowship through services offered via the internet (or by telephone), online fellowship and discipleship groups, phone calls and even letter writing.
These are no permanent substitute for the people of God physically gathered together in each place around the eucharistic table, nourished by word and sacrament. Nevertheless, these virtual gatherings have fed many of us in various ways. Jesus’ promise is that wherever two or three are gathered in his name, he is in their midst. That can be as true for an online gathering as for one in person.
The church has not been closed these past few months—only the buildings. And so even though worship services in the church buildings of the diocese will not be authorized this summer, our life and work will continue. Here are some of the ways that can still happen:
- OUTDOOR GATHERINGS – Public health authorities have currently authorized outdoor gatherings of 10 or fewer people from no more than three different households, with the two-meter distancing rule being respected. Clergy and congregations may wish to take advantage of this provision to have such small outdoor gatherings for pastoral care, teaching, and/or fellowship. The current limitations on the size of such gatherings may make outdoor worship services impractical, but those limits may increase according to the directives of public health authorities. Any outdoor worship should be a service of the word rather than a celebration of holy communion.
- ONLINE SERVICES – Weekly worship services, Bible studies, fellowship and discipleship groups will continue to be provided (likely in a slightly reduced form) during the summer, via the internet.
- FUNERALS – Funerals and interments may take place, but only at the graveside, and respecting the public health authorities’ guidelines on outdoor gatherings. If the deceased’s family so desires, a more fulsome liturgy, such as a requiem or memorial service, can still take place at a later date. Communities without access to a mortuary may continue to use their church buildings as a temporary resting place for an individual’s remains prior to burial.
- BAPTISMS – Since baptisms normally take place within the context of a worshipping community’s main service, they should be delayed until a usual pattern of worship resumes. In the case of an emergency, any Christian can baptize the individual and a celebration and recognition of the baptism can take place at church at a later date.
- WEDDINGS – Couples seeking marriage in the church should consider postponing their wedding until our return to our church buildings. If a couple nevertheless wishes to proceed, a dispensation for an outdoor wedding can be granted, provided that the stipulations of public health authorities regarding outdoor gatherings are respected.
- HALL RENTALS – The use of parish halls/basements by church groups or short-term renters continues to be suspended until further notice.
I am therefore deeply grateful for those of you who have continued to contribute financially to your local congregation during this challenging time. I would ask you to continue to be generous, and to invite those of you who have not yet made a regular offering to do so. I recognize that COVID-19 has created economic hardship for some of you, and so my request is only that “all shall give as they are able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God that he has given you” (Deuteronomy 16:17). Every congregation with a stipended minister has benefited from the federal government’s COVID-19 wage subsidy program, but that financial aid is scheduled to end in August. Your individual contributions will therefore help support, among other things, our faithful clergy and diocesan staff, who have been working diligently—if often in unseen ways—throughout these months of confinement.
There are at least three ways you can give:
- ONLINE – Visit https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/church-society-of-the-diocese-of-quebec/ and use a credit card to donate to your local congregation, or the diocese directly, or both. To donate to a specific congregation, use the pull-down menu labelled “APPLY YOUR DONATION TO A SPECIFIC FUND SET UP BY THIS CHARITY” to find the name of the local church you wish to support.
- CONTACT YOUR CONGREGATION’S TREASURER – You can mail to or drop off a cheque to your local congregation’s treasurer. If you’re not sure who that is, you can contact Church House (firstname.lastname@example.org or 418 692 3858) and we can probably tell you. You can also mail a cheque directly to the diocesan office: 31 rue des Jardins, Québec, QC G1R 4L6.
- ORGANIZE A COMMUNITY COLLECTION – In the current circumstances, going door to door to collect offerings is not advisable. However, members of the community can be invited to drop off their donations at an appointed time and place outdoors (perhaps the front door of the church), with two people designated by the parish corporation present to receive the donations.
We will continue to monitor the evolving situation with respect to COVID-19 during the course of the summer months, so that when the time comes we will be able to return to our church buildings in as safe, responsible, and joyful manner as possible.
This is not the letter I hoped I would be writing at the cusp of summer. As our gospel reading this past Sunday reminds us, Jesus promised that he would be with us always— “until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). He did not promise that our life’s journey would be without obstacles or hardship. We continue to be the church in this challenging and unsettling time, confident that Jesus journeys with us through it, trusting that Christ is as we speak redeeming it.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Bruce Myers
Bishop of Quebec
As I write, in France we enter our 19th day of “confinement,” the term used here.
It is Palm Sunday. I tried to find a church that would be open for private worship for just two people. But the one near us, and therefore within the range of travel permitted, is inside the grounds and behind the walls and ramparts of Chateau Montréal, a classified historic, semi-public site and therefore closed. We shall celebrate here, outside, with pine branches rather than palms, birdsong as our music, the forest creatures our shy parishioners.
Palm Sunday. A pivotal time, when joy and tragedy, life and death stand side by side, bleeding into one another.
The woods slope to meadows, tell-tale signs of ancient water-courses, then roll up to ridges where Atlantic pines pierce the heavens. I am not confined to an apartment or a house or even the 2-km permitted to walk oneself or one’s dog. I can walk as far as I am able without running into anyone. What a blessing, to be confined with silence, solitude, and the land. All of which nurture me.
As I walk, I am surrounded by clouds of witnesses. They are not noisy. Their presence is soft like summer rain. My family. My parishioners. Friends and colleagues. The clouds of witnesses do not sift through the living and the dead. All are there. And of course, the central presence is Jesus.
How can you be confined when Jesus walks the path with you?
A couple of months ago I received an email announcing that “N… is in the presence of Jesus.” I could not figure out the message. Only after reading it three times did I understand that this was a death notice. I know we will live with Jesus following the demise of our physical selves. But are we not already and always in the presence of Jesus? Even in confinement. Especially in those times and places where the world aches.
Joy and tragedy, bleeding into one another. The woodland paths produce almost daily a fresh species of wildflowers. The fruit trees, wild and cultivated, are luminous with blossoms. One—I call her Angel—reaches wide her arms when I greet her every morning. Life burgeoning, while the numbers of COVID-19 deaths and infections also burgeon. Outside, life. Inside, copies of Le Monde left by our neighbour, graphs and charts mapping death, the only growth to be found in the obituary columns.
Another witness has recently joined the walk. His is a heavy presence with which I struggle. Bernard Mandeville, a Dutch-Anglo medical doctor, philosopher, political economist and a writer, mainly of a satirical bent. He lived from 1670 to 1733, managing frequently to offend polite society with his pamphlets and books. He pushed himself beyond the pale with his publication of The Fable of the Bees. Simply put, Mandeville did not believe humans to be altruistic or benevolent. A cynic, he saw evidence everywhere of hypocrisy and self-deception. The supposed virtues were not useful, in fact, probably harmful, he wrote, as behaviours thereby motivated fell far from the intended targets of alleviation of misery and promotion of the good. Mandeville argued that the best way to improve society was to model and implement systems that acknowledged the vices and engage directly with those vices by appealing to self-interest. To Mandeville, self-interest is the way to get things done. You want a better society, forget the soft touch of virtue—go for the hard edge of self-interest.
Mandeville emerged out of shadows where I had left him after debates with friends in Ireland 40 years ago, and strode along the trail with the firm step of a man confident his time has come.
Has it? Could Mandeville be right? Or at least partly?
The world is in turmoil. Yet beneath the concrete of lonely deaths and exhausted care-givers, surprising shoots and blossoms are pushing through. How can this be?
The air pollution rate over the world is visibly shrinking as satellite images from space make clear.
In Paris and environs, noise levels have fallen by 50% to 80% (from 5 to 7 decibels) during the day and by 90% (9 decibels) at night.
Wildlife are walking into abnormally empty, quiet city streets in many parts of the world.
The soaring jobless rate in every country is pushing into public discourse the critical need for guaranteed annual income policies in a way no election ever has. Traditional capitalism becomes hourly harder to defend when the gap between the haves and have-nots is exposed in ever starker terms.
Individuals and governments did not decide to cut fossil fuel production, yet oil has dropped to less than $20/barrel.
During this tragedy, it is likely more advances are being made toward the Kyoto Accord targets for reduction of greenhouse gases than have been achieved in years of international consultations and agreements.
Creation needs these startling, shocking changes. But we (and I certainly include myself, air travel being among my many sins) have never accepted the level of change required, nor the rapidity of the transition. We have never taken responsibility to make the sacrifices required for the salvation of our maimed planet. These changes pushing through the crust of apathy and greed, are, Mandeville would say, resulting from desperate self-interest. Interest in life. Interest in being alive and staying alive. We might be saved in spite of ourselves. And at huge human cost.
I say to Mandeville, during our walks, “You never make room for God. You persist in seeing everything through a single lens. Yes, most of us are motivated primarily by self-interest. But God is not. Read Romans 8, Bernard. And read John Donne. I know he was before your time. No matter. Read it. And the ‘Golden Rule’, to love your neighbour as yourself, a version of that commandment exists in faith traditions the world over and in labour movements (an injury to one is an injury to all). Read current material. How about The Secret Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben? We are all connected. We are all community members. Even in confinement. Especially in confinement.” Mandeville takes out his pipe. I say he should not be smoking in the forest. He goes his own way. We will probably run into one another again.
Already, when most countries have not yet hit the peak of COVID-19, policymakers are being pushed to think about the “sortie.” What are they thinking of doing? Some governments are opening online discussions to receive input from their citizens. Will anyone be reading them?
This “crash” should have all of us shaking in our boots. What will we do? Try to hit reset? That won’t work. The status quo has been shattered.
These are pivotal times. Tragedy and joy bleeding into one another.
The choices we make now and in the coming months and years are likely to affect us as individuals and in our collectivity more than any decisions made since the time of World War II.
Will we, as Christians, “hope for what we do not see,” firm in our knowledge that “all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” Will our faith be strong enough? Will we have enough courage? Enough spirit-filled vision?
Will we hoard and divert shipments of masks or will we love our neighbour as ourselves?
In the aftermath of the 1916 Easter Uprising in Ireland and World War I, William Butler Yeats wrote in 1920 “The Second Coming.” He concludes his poem about the tumultuous, disorderly times, when “the centre will not hold,” by asking: “And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”
We are the rough beast. We are the waiting cradle. We are people of faith and hope.
What will be born out of our confinement?
- Bishop Bruce's Eastertide letter
- Columnist Louisa Blair reflects on prayer, gratitude, and community in the time of COVID-19
- The Rev. Cynthia Patterson writes from rural France, where she and husband Bishop Dennis Drainville remain stranded
- Diocesan Historian Meb Reisner Wright helps us remember another pandemic in the life of Quebec—the 1832 cholera outbreak.
of marriage licenses in the diocese
FROM: Bishop Bruce Myers
As usual, a number of weddings have been planned for the approaching summer. What is unusual, of course, are the complications created for weddings and other typically large gatherings by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Because it remains unclear how long social distancing directives will remain in place, what their degree might be, and in which regions of Quebec they might apply, my recommendation is that any weddings currently scheduled for this summer be postponed until such time as social distancing measures are relaxed by civil authorities.
If an upcoming wedding is postponed but has already been published with the Quebec Registrar of Civil Status, that office will need to be informed as soon as possible of the change. They can be reached at 877 644-4545 or by email at email@example.com.
If it is pastorally appropriate that a wedding take place on a date already arranged this summer, it may still be celebrated, but only in the presence of the presider, the couple, and two witnesses, each maintaining the physical distances indicated by public health authorities. In such an instance one of the witnesses could record the ceremony for the benefit of those unable to attend in person. Please inform me if a couple wishes to proceed in this manner.
Whether a wedding is delayed or not, marriage preparation with couples can and should proceed, either by telephone or videoconferencing.
These guidelines will be revisited as the situation evolves, guided as always by the advice of public health authorities, care for the common good, and out of a particular concern for the most vulnerable in our midst. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to be in touch with me or with Vicar General Edward Simonton (firstname.lastname@example.org or 819 679-9957).
Sincerely yours in Christ,
- A moving reflection by Rev. Francie Keats (Lower North Shore) on the miraculous love of organ donation.
- A theological reflection on the empty tomb from Ven. Dr. Edward Simonton OGS, Vicar General
- In Focus: Gaspé & Magdalen Islands: Rev. Cynthia Patterson on mental health issues; Hospitality, memory and seafarers, by the Rev. Joshua Paetkau.
- Louisa Blair offers an addition to mealtime grace to help us remember injustices that occur from farm to fork.
- Should we give up the Gazette? A question pondered by the Diocese in the year 1920; events re-told in Gleanings.
- Vestry letter from Bishop Bruce Myers
- Rev. Guiseppe Gagliano fills in for the Bishop with an Eastertide reflection.
- Notices, details of a community celebration, and more
Quebec City, Easter 2020
Beloved in Christ,
This is an Easter like none other we have ever experienced.
Most of us won’t be gathering around tables for traditional Easter feasts with family and friends because most of us are in isolation, some because we are ill with COVID-19. Easter lilies will go unpurchased and Easter eggs unhunted. None of us will be gathering in our churches to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In many ways, Easter this year will simply feel like an uninvited and unwelcome extension of Lent.
We are living through a defining moment in human history. This pandemic is testing our individual and collective assumptions, resolve, and capacities. For some of us, it may also be testing our faith.
The faith of Jesus’ disciples was tested as they witnessed the painful and unjust death of their friend, who in the end died in isolation. Jesus didn’t admonish his friends’ very human lack of faith, but restored it with his victory of life over death.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the defining moment in human history. Through the resurrection, God in Christ declares that death is not the end of our story and that all things will be redeemed. Our Easter hope is that even as we journey together through this valley of the shadow of death, God travels with us, and is even now helping redeem this calamity for God’s good purposes in the world God loves.
Seeing signs of redemption when we’re in the midst of disaster can be difficult. The disciples had trouble recognizing the resurrected Jesus after the disaster that was his execution. But God’s redeeming love is still at work, even if our troubled circumstances make it difficult for us to see.
This is why, in the words of an ancient hymn often sung or said at Christian
funerals, “even at the grave we make our song: Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.”
This is why, even in the midst of an Eastertide that still outwardly feels like
Lent, we still proclaim with confidence: “Alleluia! Christ is risen!” This is
why, even in the midst of the fear and uncertainty of this pandemic, we reply
with sure and certain hope: “The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!”
The Rt. Rev. Bruce Myers OGS
corporations and treasurers
FROM: Bishop Bruce Myers
Across Quebec we are preparing to enter our fourth week of self-isolation, and churches all across our diocese will be closed for a fourth consecutive Sunday.
These collective efforts have so far been successful in helping stifle the spread of COVID-19 and in saving lives. I am deeply grateful for the way that Quebec’s Anglicans have answered the call to take the difficult but necessary measures required to combat this pandemic.
These measures have also had a significant and widespread economic impact, with many businesses temporarily closing and thousands of people being laid off, having their wages reduced or their livelihoods imperiled.
The church is not immune to the economic effects of the pandemic. For their financial health and sustainability, the congregations of our diocese depend primarily on two sources of revenue: the generous contributions of parishioners and income generated from investments. The financial landscape has changed, and I know that many of our congregations—some of which were already financially fragile—are concerned about the future.
Diocesan Treasurer Michael Boden, Director General Marie-Sol Gaudreau, and Vicar General Edward Simonton have been tirelessly monitoring and evaluating the financial impacts on our church since this pandemic began, and together we have been attempting to discern the best financial path forward for our church in an unprecedented situation that is changing almost daily.
Our goal is to do everything we can to keep our congregations—and the diocese as a whole—financially viable during this challenging time, and to safeguard the livelihoods of our clergy and lay employees who rely on a stipend or wages from our church. They have all been finding creative and meaningful ways to fulfill their vocations and serve the church in this extraordinary set of circumstances.
To that end, we are taking the following approaches concerning finances:
1. DIOCESAN POOLED FUNDS – Many congregations have entrusted their financial investments with the diocesan Pooled Funds, which are managed by the Church Society of the Diocese of Quebec. First-quarter distribution cheques will be issued in the coming days. The massive turbulence of the financial markets will necessarily be reflected in the amounts that will be received. Congregations receiving first-quarter distributions are strongly encouraged to make a priority of using those funds to support their pastor and pay any stipend and benefits invoices. Fulfilling our payroll obligations in the coming weeks will be one of our key financial challenges. Congregations without stipend obligations are encouraged to reinvest their first-quarter distributions with the Pooled Funds to contribute to our collective portfolio’s long-term sustainability. Because of the extreme volatility of the overall economic situation, and uncertainty about how long this pandemic will last, Pooled Funds distributions will need to be assessed on a quarter-by-quarter basis. Although distribution policies may change in the short term, the Pooled Funds remain a sound investment in the long term.
2. STIPENDS AND BENEFITS – A week ago the federal government announced a temporary 75 per cent wage subsidy aimed at helping qualified businesses and non-profit organizations avoid laying off their personnel during the pandemic. The diocese and its churches are eligible for this important short-term financial support, which will temporarily relieve many congregations of a significant financial burden at a critical time. This will mean that congregations with stipend agreements in place will still be responsible for providing 25 per cent of what they would normally contribute to their pastor’s stipend and benefits package. If any congregation has concerns about its capacity to fulfill its financial obligations during this time, please do not hesitate to contact Director General Marie-Sol Gaudreau (email@example.com or 418 692 3858) to discuss what alternative arrangements might be made.
3. OFFERINGS – Even though our congregations aren’t meeting for worship in person during this time—which means offering envelopes aren’t getting filled or collections taken up—we are still able to receive donations in other ways. Those who are still able to make a financial contribution to their congregation at this time can mail a donation to their church’s treasurer. You are also invited to make a tax-deductible contribution to the Church Society as a way of supporting the life and work of the wider Diocese of Quebec during this especially challenging time. You can do so by mailing a cheque to the address above or donate online by visiting CanadaHelps.org and finding the “Church Society of the Diocese of Quebec.” You can also make an online contribution to any congregation of the diocese in the same way; just indicate the name of the specific church you’d like to support and the funds will be credited to them.
God promises that we will be provided with everything we need, if we stay focused on God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness. With God’s help—and with our trust in God’s providence—our church will emerge on the other side of this time of trial, giving expression to God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness all along the way.
wardens, and lay readers
FROM: Bishop Bruce Myers
DATE: Friday 27 March 2020
Last Friday guidelines were issued for the conduct of funerals in the Diocese of Quebec, aimed at respecting the health authorities’ directives concerning COVID-19. In light of the rapidly changing situation on the ground, I am offering some updated directives.
That government decree prohibits practically all indoor and outdoor gatherings. As a result, no funeral services may be held in church buildings. Where cremation is not an option and a burial cannot be delayed, a brief graveside service may take place in the presence of a presider and no more than 10 other people, each respecting the two-meter personal distance recommended by health authorities.
Even though funeral homes remain in operation, because of the high risk of transmission, clergy and lay readers of the diocese may not preside at funerals in funeral homes at this time. It is worth noting that 44 new cases of COVID-19 this week have been traced to individuals who all recently attended funerals at the same funeral home in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
These provisions, as well as the overall suspension of public liturgies and all other physical church-related gatherings, remain in effect until further notice. Like all of these efforts, they are aimed at protecting public health and especially the most vulnerable among us.
If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me at 418 692 3858 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be assured of my continued prayers and support during this challenging time.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
FROM: Bishop Bruce Myers
DATE: Friday 20 March 2020
RE: Church life during the COVID-19 pandemic
It has been exactly one week since all public liturgies and other church-related gatherings across the Diocese of Quebec were suspended, until further notice, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. I would like to thank all of you for how quickly and compliantly each of your communities responded to this directive, which is part of a wider collective effort for the common good and especially those most vulnerable to this disease.
It seems likely that some form of this disruption in our common lives as congregations and as a diocese will continue for some time to come, and so I’d like to offer some further guidance about how we journey together through this time of trial.
All public liturgies and church gatherings remain suspended, including public funerals. Other temporary options are available.
During this suspension of public worship, I am inviting the Anglicans of our diocese to join me in a different form of prayer on Sunday mornings: a webcast of prayers from my home in Quebec City starting at 10:30 a.m. EDT. Details on how to access these services are available on the Anglican Diocese of Quebec Facebook page and on the diocesan website (www.quebec.anglican.ca), where you’ll find other resources to help you pray at home. Please widely circulate this invitation to worship as a diocesan family in a new and different way. We are exploring ways to expand our fellowship options, including ways to reach people without internet access.
The suspension of public worship services also includes pastoral liturgies, such as funerals. Earlier this week, Quebec’s director of public health specifically identified funerals as high-risk gatherings for transmitting the COVID-19 virus. Until this passes, clergy and lay readers are instructed to refrain from presiding at funerals in church buildings or funeral homes. Three other options are possible at this time: 1) If possible (for example, if the remains of the departed have been cremated), delay the funeral until the suspension of public liturgical services is lifted; 2) Conduct a form of the entire funeral liturgy at the graveside, with a small enough number of people that respects public health authorities’ most up-to-date instructions (www.quebec.ca/coronavirus); or 3) Hold a small private gathering of family members and close friends at the home of the deceased, with prayers for the dead being offered by the family, followed immediately by the committal of the body in the cemetery led by a priest, deacon, or lay reader. When things return to normal, a fuller requiem or memorial service could be held at the church, at which the wider community could gather as usual.
I recognize that the death of a loved one is difficult enough without the additional complications created by this pandemic. However, these measures are in place so that we might avoid the exponential wave of deaths and funerals that we have witnessed in other parts of the world as a result of COVID-19.
Please be reminded that all other public church gatherings such as study groups, annual vestry meetings, and social events are also suspended until further notice. Concerts and other gatherings that involve outside groups using church property must also be put on hold.
Because of the way COVID-19 spreads, great caution is required in providing pastoral care. Consider team approaches to staying in touch by phone or email, and collaborative ways to meet material needs.
Among the many challenges posed by this pandemic is how to provide pastoral care to our members when many are in self-imposed quarantine or are in hospitals or long-term care facilities where visiting has been prohibited.
Congregations with up-to-date membership lists should use these as a way of checking in with people by telephone or email, while also exercising discretion in how widely individuals’ private contact information is distributed. Clergy, lay readers, wardens, and lay pastoral visitors could, for example, divide up a congregational membership list and reach out to everyone relatively quickly.
Because so many different groups of people are now homebound because of COVID-19, it is worth asking the individuals you contact whether—in addition to spiritual or companionship needs—they have any essential material needs, such as food or toiletries. Consider whether your congregation can be mobilized to assist with these, or see if you can partner with other community organizations to help.
Church House is closed, but we are answering incoming voicemails and emails. Please be patient with us as we cope with this unusual time.
Church House, the administrative office of the diocese located in Quebec City, is effectively closed until further notice. Our small but diligent staff is working mostly from home, which means it may take longer than usual to respond to messages and enquiries. You may call 418 692 3858 and leave a message on voicemail or email general enquiries to email@example.com. Someone will respond as soon as we are able. Thank you for your patience.
Be attentive to your own physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing.
For many of us, respecting the directive to physically distance ourselves from others without overly isolating ourselves socially can be a challenge. Even as you reach out to others, I’d invite you to also be attentive to caring for yourself. This can be especially important for those of us who are in self-imposed isolation. Consider things like structuring your consumption of news, finding ways of remaining physically active, and eating and sleeping as well as you can. As leaders in our communities we are called to model good behaviour for the people we serve, and to stay as healthy as possible so that we might continue to serve.
These are unusual and unsettling times, but they are not unprecedented. A century ago our churches were closed for several weeks during the 1918 influenza pandemic, and we emerged intact on the other side of that. However, I would invite us to view this as not simply a crisis to endure or a challenging time to get through. Instead let it be an opportunity for us to renew our purpose as a church in this time and place. Let us be the attentive ears and helping hands of the body of Christ in our communities. In the face of darkness, fear, and death, we can be small but luminous beacons of resurrection and hope.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
As we have all been experiencing, the situation regarding COVID-19 is changing by the day. The government of Quebec has put in place a series of aggressive measures aimed at slowing the pace of virus’ spread. These include cancelling indoor gatherings of more than 250 people.
Although Anglican churches in our diocese rarely see such numbers, it nevertheless seems prudent to take whatever measures we can to assist in the collective effort to slow the advance of COVID-19. This seems especially wise given that many of our faithful are over the age of 65, one of the groups most at risk of contracting the disease.
Therefore, effective immediately and until further notice, all public liturgical celebrations in the Diocese of Quebec are suspended. This includes regular Sunday services and any midweek liturgies. Other church-related gatherings—such as educational groups, annual vestry meetings, Anglican Church Women or guild get-togethers—should also suspend meeting in person during this time. I would also encourage parish corporations to find ways for outside groups using church facilities like parish halls to temporarily make other arrangements.
These measures are being taken out of an abundance of caution and in the interests of the common good, particularly those whose age or health makes them more vulnerable during this pandemic.
One of the ways the catechism in the Book of Common Prayer describes the church is as “the family of God.” Even though, temporarily, we will not gather as the church in our usual buildings, we nevertheless all remain members of God’s family. We remain the church. I therefore invite you to find other ways to stay connected with your sisters and brothers in Christ during this pandemic. Social distancing need not lead to social isolation.
Even as we pray separately, our prayers join those of all the faithful and the whole communion of saints across time and space. Look in the days ahead for some resources to aid in your prayers during this unusual time, and for further updates. In the meantime, I offer you my prayers and this:
God who in Jesus stills the storm
and soothes the frantic heart;
bring us hope and courage
as we wait in uncertainty.
Bring hope that you will make us the equal
of whatever lies ahead.
Bring us courage to endure what cannot be avoided,
for your will is health and wholeness;
you are God, and we need you.
The Rt. Rev. Bruce Myers OGS
Bishop of Quebec
Dear friends in the Dioceses of Quebec and Montreal,
On March 11 the World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic. On that same day the first case of coronavirus was diagnosed within the boundaries of the Diocese of Quebec.
Out of an abundance of caution and a particular desire to protect those most vulnerable to the spread of this virus, the following liturgical measures are to be implemented in all congregations of the Diocese of Quebec and the Diocese of Montreal, effective immediately and until further notice:
- The sharing of the common cup is to be suspended at celebrations of the eucharist. The presiding priest is to consecrate both the bread and the wine, consume in both kinds, but administer only the consecrated bread to the congregation. Similarly, when holy communion is distributed from the reserved sacrament, only the bread will be offered. Although cherished Anglican practice is that all communicants normally receive both the bread and wine at the eucharist, the church also teaches that we still fully participate in holy communion in receiving “in one kind.” Small, individual communion cups are not to be used as an alternative to the common cup during this time.
- Avoid physical contact during the exchange of the peace and the offertory. Normally during the liturgy members of the congregation are invited to exchange a sign of Christ’s peace, which typically takes the form of a handshake or an embrace. For now, please exchange a simple bow instead and continue to bid one another Christ’s peace verbally. Similarly, the offering should be taken up in such a way that avoids multiple people touching the collection plate
Please also continue to follow the other hygienic recommendations provided in the diocesan statements distributed in February. These include ensuring that hand sanitizer is available in each church, presiders washing or sanitizing their hands before distributing communion, and staying home if you are ill.
Also be attentive to the advice of provincial and federal public health officials, particularly with respect to practices like social distancing. We would invite you to be especially mindful of any members of our communities—especially elderly ones—who may feel especially isolated and vulnerable during this time and might require assistance or even just a telephone call.
Finally, we bid your prayers for those afflicted by this
disease, for caregivers, medical professionals, public health officials, and
those researching a treatment and cure for COVID-19. Pray also for those whose
livelihoods are threatened by the economic impact of this pandemic. May all
that we say and do during this uncertain time be grounded in faith and hope in
God’s providence, and be a reflection of Christ’s compassion and love.
The Rt. Rev. Bruce
Bishop of Quebec
The Rt. Rev. Mary
Bishop of Montreal
- The Rev. Canon Giuseppe Gagliano gives a pep talk in anticipation of the Lenten season
- An update on the "illumination" of the Church of St. Paul the Apostle, St. Paul's River
- A satirical take on the challenges of reading the Bible by Louisa Blair
- Bishop's Reflection: the Church Society and the importance of membership
- A humble dispatch from a missionary in Japan — from Diocesan Historian Meb Reisner's Gleanings
First, our prayers are extended to those who are ill with this virus and those who are caring for them, especially those at the epicentres of this outbreak in China, Iran, and Italy. The provincial public health officials are monitoring this issue and provide updated information on their website:
It is prudent to ensure that we have reviewed our practices in pastoral care and public worship to keep everyone, especially the most vulnerable due to age or infirmity, safe and to allay fears that may arise.
- Hygiene practices in pastoral care and worship:
- Availability of hand sanitizer in the worship space for parishioners and those serving in the liturgy
- Celebrants washing their hands before administering communion
- Congregations sharing the peace in a manner that avoids physical contact
- Pastoral care workers taking all precautions in personal hygiene before and after pastoral visits in hospital and homes
- Reminding parishioners who are ill, or suspect they may be, to stay at home to recover and to request home communion or a pastoral visit as desired.
- If concern about the common cup is expressed:
- Refresh teaching regarding our theology of the fullness of communion in one kind (bread or wine only)
- Sharing the national information re; Eucharistic Practice and the Risk of Infection: https://www.anglican.ca/faith/worship/pir/euc-practice-infection/.
- Alternatives to the common cup:
- Receive in one kind only (bread)
- Touching the base of the cup as it is presented but not consuming
- Intinction by the celebrant – if a communicant wishes to intinct they may indicate this to the celebrant who will intinct the host for them and place it on their tongue.
Clergy and lay leaders should stay abreast of their local news, the provincial government’s website, and be diligent in checking for emails from the Synod Office on this issue. This communiqué is based on that of
our Primate dated the 27th of January 2020.
Commissary & Vicar General
- Reporting on the St Francis Regional Ministry's first combined Christmas service
- A reflection on communications from Matthew Townsend, editor
- Snapshots from Christmas in the Diocese of Quebec
- A theological reflection from Louisa Blair on "offensive hope"
- Diocesan Historian Meb Reisner Wright looks back—to the Forward Movement
- Bilingual coverage of November’s Synod meeting, including a review of canonical amendments, the bishop’s charge, and a recap of Primate Linda Nicholl’s address.
- “The Good News:” Stories shared by Synod delegates and guests about signs of growth, change, and hope in their corners of the diocese.
- Election results.
- Highlights from Synod guest speakers.
- A note about Irène Brisson receiving the Order of the Diocese of Quebec.
- Updates from the Saguenay area and the Eastern Townships.
- A post-Christmas reflection by Louisa Blair
- A look back at January 1920.
- An interview with the Rev. Canon Jeffrey Metcalfe, canon theologian of the Diocese of Quebec
- German Christmas Eve in Quebec City
- Bishop's Reflection: Great Expectations of Advent
- Thoughts on faith and the environment from the Rev. Cynthia Patterson
- Spiritual reflection from columnist Louisa Blair
- Gleanings from the past...
Since being called to serve as your bishop (four years ago next week!) this has become what you might call my “go-to” prayer, and you should each have a copy of it on a little bookmark that was hopefully waiting for you. If not, there’s other copies. It goes like this:
O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go forward with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
One of the reasons I love this prayer is because it’s realistic but encouraging, honest but hopeful. It doesn’t deny difficult truths, but neither does it succumb to sterile pessimism. It was written in the first part of the twentieth century by a Church of England priest named Eric Milner-White, who among other things was one of the founders of the religious community to which I belong, the Oratory of the Good Shepherd. Like many good prayers from another time and place, it sounds like it was tailor made for us here and now.
This prayer begins by acknowledging that we have been called “to ventures of which we cannot see the ending.” However, you may have read recently about some statistics that suggest we can, in fact, see the ending of the venture that is the Anglican Church of Canada. Recently compiled numbers reveal that nationwide our denomination has lost 50 per cent of its members in the past 25 years. If that trend continues, it’s projected that there won’t be any Anglicans left in Canada by the year 2040.
I don’t know where you’re going to be 20 years from now, but—God willing—I’ll still be around and presumably still be an Anglican, so there will be at least one of us left! I suspect there will be others, too. In fact, one of the recent responses to that statistical projection has been a number of younger Canadian Anglicans publicly declaring, “I’m not going anywhere!” And as one of my fellow bishops helpfully wrote just last week about these grim-sounding statistics, “The Christian church has always been one generation away from extinction, and so our situation is not unique.”
That we’ve grown smaller as a church shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone here. It’s what we see each Sunday as we gather in congregations across this vast diocese, or as we drive by deconsecrated church buildings that at one time were home to active worshipping Anglican communities. In fact, we’ve been consistently growing smaller in number since the early 1960s. That’s when membership in the Anglican Church of Canada and a number of other Christian denominations in this country hit its peak—60 years ago.
The Diocese of Quebec feels the effects of this numerical decline more sharply because we’re an historically English-speaking church in an overwhelmingly French-speaking (and historically Roman Catholic) land, often located in communities that are demographically skewed older, and we’re in a part of the world where the turn away from religious practice of all kinds has been particularly intense. So we’re small in number, and probably going to get smaller still. But we know we’re not alone, and in any case that’s not the end of our story.
One of the first things I did in setting up my office at Church House a few years ago was to put up on the wall a big map of the Diocese of Quebec—all 720,000 square kilometres of it. And on that map I placed a little coloured pin for each of the diocese’s congregations—all 68 of them.
After I’d put in the last of the pins, I stepped back and looked at the map with a mixture of awe and panic: awe at how Anglican Christianity had over more than two centuries spread across so vast and diverse an expanse, and panic at wondering how in the world I was going to help support these scattered communities, all of which are small. Our own statistics tell us that there are now just over 3,000 Anglicans who belong to one of our diocese’s congregations, and that on an average Sunday about 800 of us are in church.
The other thing I realized when I stepped back and looked at the map was that the colour I had unconsciously chosen for the pins marking the congregations was yellow, and my instant thought was that they looked like a bunch of scattered mustard seeds. A clump in the Eastern Townships (I say “clump” with affection) around the U.S. border; and then kind of hugging both sides of the mighty St. Lawrence; and then up the North Shore out to the coast; up to Kawawachikamach, little one got blown up there; and up to the Gaspé Peninsula; and a couple more got blown out to the Gulf of St. Lawrence on the Magdalen Islands.
In the gospels, Jesus calls mustard seeds “the smallest of seeds.” But he also says that when sown, they have the potential to grow into something great and good. And faith the size of a mustard seed, says Jesus, can move mountains.
What I’ve encountered in my travels across the length and breadth of this diocese over the past few years are many examples of just that: small but faithful communities, small but faithful efforts that each in their own way have been offered up to and blessed by God, and are revealing something of the kingdom of God here among us. As another fellow bishop recently said, a bishop named Stephen Conway, who’s the Bishop of Ely, a very historic and significant diocese in the Church of England, “The church does not let its small attendance prevent it from being a light to the community and a place to which people turn for support and encouragement.” So even great, historic dioceses of the Church of England are facing something of the same challenges we are.
I’m not going to name any specific examples now of those points of light, of those mustard seeds, because over the next couple of days together we’re going to be hearing a sampling of some of those stories of support and encouragement from fellow members of our diocesan family. We’ll also be hearing from a number of special guests about some of the mustard seeds they’ve encountered in the patches of the church they serve.
We of course want our mustard seeds to grow, but there’s more to growth than numbers. We know that’s a cliché. It’s easy to say, in a diminishing church numerically, but I believe it. At one point in Luke’s gospel the disciples come pleading to Jesus, saying, “Increase our faith!” They don’t come to see Jesus, saying, “Increase our attendance!” or, “Increase our dividends!”—however nice both of those might be. Because bigger numbers, whether they’re in the “communicants” column of our parish vestry books or on the “positive” side of our parish ledger, are really only meaningful if we’re also growing in our Christian discipleship.
That’s something else I’ve regularly encountered in my visits with Anglicans across our diocese: a desire expressed by many, pretty much everywhere I go, to better understand the Christian faith they profess, to grow spiritually, and to apply their faith in Jesus Christ in concrete ways, both as individual Christians and as congregations.
As Christians, we claim to be a people who, though living in the world, “do not belong to the world.” As we’ll be reminded on Sunday, the feast of Christ the King, our primary allegiance is not to crown, country, tribe, political party, family, or even church. Rather our first and foremost loyalty is to God as revealed in Jesus Christ and to the heavenly kingdom his incarnation has inaugurated and which we, his disciples of today, are commissioned to reveal on earth.
To live into this radical and counter-cultural claim and mission, we necessarily need to conduct ourselves differently from the dominant culture—“the world”—that we inhabit. And helping Christians do that is one of the roles of the church, described by American theologian Stanley Hauerwas as an institution “calling people to be an alternative to the world,” so that we can become “a different people with different habits and practices from that of the world.”
What’s supposed to set us apart as followers of Jesus Christ is not so much our buildings, our rituals, or even our doctrines. What’s supposed to set us apart as followers of Jesus Christ is that we do things differently, according to a different ethic—whether it’s how we deal with people, how we make decisions, how we manage our money, how we treat the environment. The church is not primarily, as Hauerwas has said, “about providing for greater participation; it’s about being a people in a hostile environment capable of sustaining the witness to Jesus of Nazareth, who has brought to us a way of life that we know to be life giving.”
That’s why the first term used in the New Testament to describe Christians is “followers of the Way.” Because, as Anglican monk Brother Geoffrey Tristram once put it, “Christianity has never been a static body of doctrine, but rather is a dynamic way of life.” That’s what growing in our Christian discipleship means: being equipped to more effectively live and speak the gospel of Jesus Christ in our everyday lives, and to serve as Christ’s ambassadors whenever and wherever with whomever.
For our diocesan church, the task of making and equipping disciples is, in the words of that opening prayer, one of those “paths as yet untrodden”—or at least it’s a path that hasn’t seen much traffic for some time. A lot of our collective time and energy over the years has been channelled into managing decline. And while we’ll need to continue to be good stewards of the buildings, cemeteries, and investments with which we’ve been entrusted—and helping congregations wishing to remain open to do so as long as they can—we also need to be reminded that surviving just as we are isn’t enough. God calls us to so much more, and our communities and the world need us to be so much more. We need to remember that the church’s primary task remains making and equipping disciples of Jesus Christ to participate in God’s redeeming work in the world.
And it’s an opportune time to remember this because not only do we already have many people in our diocese who want to become better equipped as disciples of Jesus, but the means to help do that equipping are already at hand. We have wonderful teachers of faith among our clergy and laity. We’re developing new partnerships with centres of Christian formation here in Quebec and beyond. Even the necessary communications technology (like high-speed internet access) is now available to almost every Anglican in the diocese, wherever they might live—even on the Lower North Shore, hallelujah. We already have everything we need for our mustard seeds to grow.
Some of this discipleship work has already begun, and my hope is that it will broaden and deepen in the years ahead. In doing so, we may find that being attentive to our spiritual growth also positively impacts our numerical growth, as others are drawn by our Christ-like love for one another and to the world, because those are among the fruits of Christian discipleship.
Another path “as yet untrodden” is this very gathering. The last time our diocesan Synod met was in 2015, it was decided to make significant changes to its size and composition. So this Synod is about half the size of the last one; lay representation is based on deaneries and regions, not individual congregations; and a cross-section of the diocesan clergy (10 in total) are members of Synod, rather than the entire active clericus. This is a new way of meeting for all of us, and we’ll be seeking your feedback on what you think works well, what works not so well, and what may need changing in the future.
This Synod is also a little different in that it’s relatively light on legislation. Canons and the constitution are important for the ordering of our common life as a diocesan church, but so too are prayer, Bible study, fellowship, and encouraging and building up one another—and that’s how I hope we’ll be spending most of our time together in this place: a space consecrated for four centuries now to prayer, Bible study, and Christian fellowship.
Part of the process in choosing a new bishop for this diocese four years ago included each of the candidates describing what kind of leadership we might bring to the diocese in 500 words or less. I wrote (in part) the following: “I would seek to offer a kind of leadership that is chiefly characterized by hope. These are challenging times for our church, and in the midst of these difficulties, it can be easy to succumb to what Pope Francis calls ‘sterile pessimism’ or the ‘evil spirit of defeatism.’ Yet as Christians we are called to be a people of hope—the sure and certain hope of Christ’s resurrection and the redemption of all things, including the church.”
In the four years since I wrote that, I confess that pessimism and defeatism against which Pope Francis warned have at times been real temptations—but they’ve always been fleeting. They’ve always, always given way to hope.
- in the faithful and dedicated clergy of this diocese, who are a gift to call colleagues in ministry. You’ve really got great priests serving you;
- in the diligent and committed staff and officers of the Synod, who it’s a joy to work with on a daily and weekly basis, who love the diocese and serving it;
- in the lay leaders of this diocese, whether they serve as lay readers, wardens, secretaries, treasurers, Synod members, deanery council or diocesan executive council members, musicians, servers, Sunday school teachers or youth group leaders, in ACWs or altar guilds;
- in the faithful people who hold no particular office or position, but who form the faithful backbone, week after week, that is the body of Christ in the Anglican Diocese of Quebec.
You are all not only living, breathing signs of hope, but you also have my profound thanks for all that you do, and it is my privilege to serve you and to serve with you.
It seems fitting, in this particular holy place, to quote the Bishop of Rome a bit more, because Pope Francis spends a lot of time talking about hope. He’s a pretty hopeful guy. The Christian hope, Pope Francis says, “is not being afraid to see reality for what it is and accept the contradictions. [...] This hope invites us to enter the darkness of an uncertain future and to walk into the light.” Christian hope isn’t some vague, optimistic wish that things might turn out okay. “Christian hope,” says Pope Francis, “is the expectation of something that has already been fulfilled.”
What’s been fulfilled is the victory of Christ over the powers of evil—including even death—through Jesus’ own life, death, resurrection, and ascension. What’s been fulfilled is Christ’s promise that not even the gates of hell will prevail against his church. Isn’t that liberating? We of course care about the church’s future, but we don’t have to feel guilty or anxious about the church’s future, because in Christ the church’s future—indeed, all creation’s future—has already been secured in an ultimate way.
So when your starting point is that Christ has already won the victory over the forces of evil, including death itself, then we’re liberated. We’re freed to channel our energy and resources into staying true to the church’s mission, which is helping make present God’s future. So whether the church as we know it has 20 years left or 20 centuries left doesn’t really matter, because our Christian hope and our Christian calling don’t change.
We’ve together been called to this “venture of which we cannot see the ending.” One dictionary definition of “venture” is “a risky or daring journey or undertaking.” So rather than playing it safe, what risks can we undertake for Christ’s sake? Rather than exhausting ourselves trying to maintain a way of being the church that doesn’t fit our reality anymore, what new and daring journeys can we embark on for the sake of the world?
If you add two letters to the beginning of “venture” you get “adventure,” and that’s how Christianity has sometimes been described—as an adventure. It doesn’t feel that way a lot of the time, eh? It feels like an obligation or a downer, ponderous, but Christianity, the Christian faith at its best is an adventure, and that’s defined as “an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.” What experience or activity could be more unusual, exciting, or potentially hazardous than making and equipping disciples of Jesus Christ to be his witnesses, to be Good News, to challenge the forces of evil and darkness and death in the world that surround us, and instead to reveal God’s kingdom of peace, justice, and reconciliation in every corner of the diocese where we are still present?
I cannot see the ending of this venture (or adventure) to which God has called us. I do not know the path we have to trod, or how we will navigate the many perils still unknown. But I do have faith—faith that even though I do not know, I don’t have to know, because there is one whose hand is leading us, whose love is supporting us, as we journey through the unknown together and in sure and certain hope.
Secretary of Synod provides an overview of the meeting, which will offer time for reflection on mission, ministry
By Matthew Townsend
Delegates to the Diocese of Quebec’s upcoming Synod, to be held Nov. 21-24 at the Monastère des Augustines in Quebec City, are set to experience a gathering that differs from past Synods in both membership and agenda. A number of honoured guests, including the newly elected primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, will greet the delegates, as well.
Synod is the diocese’s governance meeting held every few years to make policy decisions, elect leadership and gather members of the diocese around worship and prayer. This Synod—the 85th Ordinary Session of the Synod of the Diocese of Quebec—marks the first time the diocese will meet under revised guidelines approved in 2015, the last time the body gathered.
“At our last Synod, we voted to change the canon on how delegates are elected to Synod,” Canon Stephen Kohner, secretary of Synod, told the Gazette in an interview prior to the meeting. “We are a shrinking diocese, and it was felt that we could also look at reducing Synod for a variety of reasons, including financial ones.”
The view at the time, he said, was that a smaller Synod logically followed the diocese’s smaller population.
“The way of electing people who serve as delegates has changed significantly,” Kohner says. In the past, delegates were elected by each congregation in the diocese. All licensed clergy were invited to participate at Synod, as well.
For this Synod, delegates have been elected by each deanery in the diocese; 10 total clerics have been elected, representing the various deaneries and one region.
In a conversation with the Gazette in August, Bishop Bruce Myers said he is keeping an open mind to the revised synodical membership structure, adding that he views this as a trial run on something still evolving. Kohner agreed.
“Have there been growing pains? Absolutely,” Kohner said. “However, we want to give it a try. We want to see how this reduced-size Synod actually works—and if necessary, we’ll look at maybe changing our electoral process.”
Kohner said the election process has been “very smooth” and that it has worked. The “growing pains,” he explained, centred around concerns that large congregations might have disproportional representation within their deaneries. “It didn’t happen,” he said. “When we look at the delegates coming to Synod, there’s a really fair representation. It’s actually worked out.”
The secretary said he thinks the body of delegates offers a mix of newcomers and those with solid experience in church governance.
‘Where do we want to be?’
In addition to the new election process developed in 2015, Myers has brought a different vision to Synod, increasing emphasis on worship and storytelling—delegates to Synod will hear stories of mission and ministry from around the diocese.
Invited guests include the Most Rev. Linda Nicholls, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada; the Rt. Rev. Mary Irwin-Gibson, bishop of Montreal; Mgr Pierre Goudreault, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sainte-Anne-de-La-Pocatière; the Rev. Dr. Jesse Zink, principal of Montreal Diocesan Theological College; and Mr. Robert Jordan, vice president, central and national accounts, Ecclesiastical Insurance. These guests, the secretary said, are expected to add to a mood of contemplation, reflection, and perspective of the wider church.
“I believe it’s going to be a breath of fresh air, just looking at the invited guests that are coming,” Kohner said. “They’re wonderful people who have a wealth of experience.”
The guests and delegates, he added, will “flesh out our orientations, our trepidations—but also, at the same time, help us consider, ‘Where do we want to be as a diocese? What directions do we want to take?’”
Part of what will allow for a reflective atmosphere, Kohner said, is a lighter legislative agenda than previous years. Only 11 canonical amendments were slated for discussion at Synod, he said, and he anticipated none of them to be particularly controversial. By contrast, past synods devoted more time to legislative discussion.
“When Bishop Bruce says he has a desire to ensure there is time for this reflection, prayer and fellowship, that’s being reflected in these proposed canonical amendments,” he noted.
Kohner said the move towards more pensive synodical gatherings began under the leadership of Bishop Dennis Drainville, who “challenged us to be the church” and to not view church buildings as monuments “but rather, to look at our communities. Bishop Bruce has taken that up, and he’s going to push it even further.”
“We’re making more room for pastoral matters.”
Four years since gathering
Kohner, who is from Montreal and works as a principal and teacher at a small English school in Baie-Comeau, was first elected to the secretary role in 1999. He told the Gazette that the diocese had not gathered in Synod over the last four years for a variety of reasons.
“One is Bishop Bruce wanted to ensure he had a full portrait of the diocese before calling a Synod—the time to meet with people, to examine the issues, to have a sense of where the diocese might want to be headed,” he said. “What are the priorities? What might the mission look like?”
This, he explained, has taken time to develop. “It’s a process, not an end product.”
The other reason is financial. “We simply have not had the necessary funds to call a Synod,” the secretary said. “They cost anywhere from $40,000 to $60,000, so that’s a huge chunk of the budget.”
He said the length of time since the last meeting served as encouragement to incorporate more pastoral and reflective discussion, acknowledging that the diocese’s constitution and canons would eventually need updating. “There are quite a few inconsistencies,” he said, noting that the DEC will form a subcommittee to explore resolutions to those problems.
“We felt that this Synod was not the time to go into the nitty gritty work of unpacking the constitution and canons to get them absolutely picture-perfect,” Kohner explained. Some of that work will be easy, but some “might take years. We’re talking about legislation that goes back to Queen Victoria. How do you change it? It’s very complex and could be very expensive.”
Thus, he said, this Synod would provide more of an opportunity for long-time members of the diocese and new arrivals to unite—and since the last meeting was held in 2015, a number of staff and clergy have never been to the Diocese of Quebec’s Synod.
“There’s been a lot of change, new people coming in,” he said. “For new clergy who have been here three years, we haven’t met them yet.
“This is a great opportunity. When you talk to people on the phone or communicate via email, it’s one thing—but face-to-face conversation is wonderful. It’s very empowering for people to connect with each other and see how much we have in common. And at the same time, to understand the regional differences.”
At the time this article was being written, the agenda for Synod was still being finalized. Kohner said in addition to legislative discussions and reflection on the life of the diocese, Synod would also include time for social events. “Those are always something people do look forward to, though one has to be careful how late one stays up at Synod. Bible study comes awfully early!”
Kohner said he was “ever hopeful” that the changes brought to this Synod, along with the fellowship and prayer in the meeting, would spark new ideas within the diocese. “It’s also a time for synergy. We’ve got a lot of wonderful people out there, and Synod is probably one of the few times, if the only time, when we can put all the energy and the ideas and the missions together in one place. That’s pretty exciting. That’s wonderful.”
The challenge, said Kohner, will be to ensure that the members of Synod feel empowered to return to their congregations, their deaneries and their communities with a “bold sense of mission and ministry.”
When Synod gathers on Nov. 21-24, it will consider two kinds of motions: those brought to the floor and canonical amendments that have been reviewed by the Diocesan Executive Council (D.E.C.).
Canon Stephen Kohner, secretary to Synod, said the 11 proposed canonical amendments had been received by the D.E.C. 60 days prior to Synod and have been forwarded to delegates. “When Synod convenes, there will be times in the schedule to deal with proposed canonical amendments,” he said.
Each resolution must be moved and seconded, with discussion to follow. After discussion, a yay-or-nay vote occurs. “There has to be a majority,” Kohner said. When the vote is tight and the result unclear, anyone can request a vote by orders, in which laity and clerics vote separately—though the result is still determined by simple majority of the whole. The purpose is to give a sense where each group stands and to “figure out how many votes are actually cast.”
In addition to proposed canonical amendments, delegates can write resolutions at Synod and forward to the resolutions committee formed to ensure motions neither conflict with diocese’s constitution and canons nor impact negatively on the diocese’s budget. “So there’s a team at Synod working quite diligently to come up with the proper wording.”
Once a motion of any kind is approved or defeated, Kohner explained, individual delegates are expected to respect the decision and move to the next legislative item.
As a technical point, the secretary said, the diocesan bishop must sign the “schedule of enactments”—the list of all motions that passed at Synod—before the gathering adjourns. This puts the passed motions into effect. The bishop, he says, is entitled to withhold assent from any motion on the list. The secretary said a decision to withhold assent would be quite unusual but noted the diocese’s constitution stipulates the possibility.
In addition to legislative matters, Synod will also vote on nominations. Nomination forms must be submitted to Kohner by 5 p.m. ET on Nov. 14; they then go to the Nominations Committee for review and creation of slates.
Kohner said Synod will consider nominations for the D.E.C., delegates to provincial synod, assistant secretary of Synod, registrar, and a lay member of the Cathedral Centenary Endowment Fund. Clergy will be voting for the Board of Triers.
Documents related to nominations, including the form and frequently asked questions, are available on the diocesan website. Kohner suggested delegates keep an eye on the website, as documents will be posted there as they become available.
For newcomers to Synod unfamiliar with any or all of these voting procedures, the bishop will hold an hour-long newcomers’ meeting before the official start of business so people can “get a sense of what to expect from Synod,” Kohner said. That review will cover, he said, “how motions work, how to vote, what happens if you want to make a resolution, and who to complain to when the coffee is cold.”
By the Rt. Rev. Bruce Myers OGS
Last month a few of us from the Diocese of Quebec had the wonderful opportunity to pay a short visit to the Diocese of Moray, Ross and Caithness in the Scottish Episcopal Church.
Between 2009 and 2015 our two dioceses, along with the Diocese of Bujumbura in Burundi, were in an official companionship agreement bound by a covenant signed by the diocesan bishops of the day. Even though that formal relationship concluded a few years ago, the bonds of affection between our dioceses remain, and this was my first opportunity to visit our Scottish Anglican brothers and sisters. What I encountered was a diocesan family and a context ministry very much like our own in Quebec.
Moray, Ross and Caithness is—by British standards—a geographically vast diocese, covering the northern quarter of mainland Scotland (which itself would fit within the territory of the Diocese of Quebec nine times). The diocese’s nearly 40 congregations are strewn across the expansive Scottish Highlands, served by about 20 clergy, fewer than half of whom are full time, and most of whom serve multiple congregations. A typical church service would see between 10 and 20 people in the pews, in part because Anglicans are a tiny minority in Scotland, which though historically Christian is a rapidly secularizing society. Sound familiar?
Among my discoveries in Scotland was that what the Anglicans of Moray, Ross and Caithness may lack in numbers, they more than compensate for in terms of faithfulness—another similarity between our dioceses. The people who make up the body of Christ in our respective dioceses are extraordinarily committed and deeply faithful, even if their numbers are small.A few weeks ago, the Sunday gospel reminded us that faith the size of a mustard seed (“the smallest of seeds”) can accomplish meaningful and important things for the revealing of God’s kingdom in our midst.
In that same gospel reading, Jesus’ disciples pleaded with him to “increase our faith!” They did not say, “Increase our attendance!” We would of course welcome more people to join our churches. However, we also seek to cultivate the faith of those who already form a part of our local churches, and to live out that faith daily, however few in number they may be.
Jesus encourages us when he says that smallness does not limit our potential to do great things for the sake of God’s kingdom. And this is good news for Anglicans in places like Quebec and the Scottish Highlands. As Stephen Conway, a bishop in the Church of England, recently put it, “The church does not let its small attendance prevent it from being a light to the community and a place to which people turn for support and encouragement.”
As our own diocesan family in Quebec gathers for Synod later this month, we’ll hear stories about how some of our own small congregations across eastern and central Quebec have been places of support and encouragement in their communities. I hope that we in turn be encouraged as a diocese that the smallest of faithful efforts will be blessed by God and can bear fruit for God’s kingdom.
- Canon Stephen Kohner, secretary of Synod, offers an overview of the Diocese of Quebec's upcoming Synod, including format and structural changes.
- Bishop Bruce Myers reflects on a recent trip to Scotland—where a small church thrives in a large diocese.
- Louisa Blair considers the relationship of the physical world to the spiritual one.
- Cathedral Dean Christian Schreiner shares details of his carpentry-focused sabbatical.
- Diocesan Historian Meb Resiner Wright looks back to 1919's synodical gathering.
- Updates from the Deanery of St Francis, snapshots, and more.
By the Rt. Rev. Bruce Myers OGSLater this month Canadian citizens will have another opportunity to decide who will represent us in the federal House of Commons, and what kind of government will be charged with making important decisions about our common life as a country.
As you discern which candidate will receive your vote, I’d invite you to try doing so through the lens of our baptismal covenant, which is one of the guideposts for our life in Christ.
For example, when you’re looking at a political party’s platform or listening to a candidate’s declarations, ask whether they advocate policies that will promote “justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.” Do they advance an agenda that strives to “safeguard the integrity of God’s creation, and respect, sustain and renew the life of the earth”?
The Anglican Communion’s Five Marks of Mission, which flow from our baptismal promises, can also provide some good questions to ask. Do any candidates propose to “respond to human need by loving service” or do they “seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation”?
When we vote, Christians do so as dual citizens. It’s our citizenship in a particular earthly jurisdiction—in this case, the federation that is Canada—that entitles us to exercise our franchise on October 21. But when we mark (or spoil) our ballot, we do so while also acknowledging that our “citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20).
This means our decisions as electors will necessarily be informed and guided by our faith. We don’t leave our Christian convictions at the door of the polling station. Rather we try to live in the uncomfortable tension of being dual citizens of both an earthly country and a heavenly kingdom—always acknowledging that our primary allegiance is not to a state, but to Christ the King.
- The Rev. Cynthia Patterson writes about Archbishop Fred Hiltz's visit to the Parish of Gaspé, the parish's milestone anniversary, and its plans for the future.
- Matthew Townsend reports on Holy Trinity Cathedral's efforts to raise funds for improvements to the cathedral close and completion of organ restoration.
- Katrina O'Neill, who visited the Diocese of Quebec from the Scottish Episcopal Church as part of preparation for ordination, reflects on her time in our diocese.
- In "Voting by Faith," Bishop Bruce Myers offers thoughts on how to approach voting as a follower of Christ.
- Louisa Blair considers the nature of sin—and admitting our sin.
- Snapshots from around the diocese
- Gleanings: Loss felt after the first world war
Citizenship officials flank the Rev. Thomas Ntilivamunda (left) along with his wife and daughter, Yaël and Gemimah (centre and right), at their citizenship ceremony. Ntilivamunda has started a new intercultural ministry in Quebec City. Photo: Contributed
By Matthew Townsend
The Diocese of Quebec has as a new intercultural ministry—and it’s being organized by one of Canada’s newest citizens.
Earlier this year, the Rev. Thomas Ntilivamunda was named bishop’s missioner, a role that tasks him with two different but related challenges in the diocese: forming an intercultural ministry for newcomers to Quebec and offering the diocese’s parishes counsel on missional outreach.
The intercultural ministry officially launched on July 7, with about a dozen worshippers joining Ntilivamunda. Hosted at All Saints’ Chapel (adjacent to the bishop’s residence) on Sundays at 3:30 p.m., the ministry, the priest says, was launched to serve newcomers not presently connected with a church in Quebec City. It also diversifies the diocese’s services, both in style and time, allowing people who work late on Saturday night to more easily attend church.
“It went well, with a few logistical challenges here and there, but we had a good service,” he says.
Ntilivamunda began the project by reaching out to five people he knew to be “same-minded about mission and evangelism”—people who appreciate the difficulty immigrants can face integrating into a place of worship in Quebec. Ntilivamunda knows the experience of immigrants firsthand. From Rwanda, the priest and his family came to Quebec as asylum seekers.
He, his wife Yaël, and their daughter Gemimah became Canadian citizens a few months ago.
After meeting, the group decided the ministry was worth a try. So far, the participants are, like Ntilivamunda, African—Burundians and Rwandans, he says. Thus, one of the ministry’s major purposes is to integrate “various aspects of the Anglican church from all over the world,” giving people who come “an opportunity to express their way of worship.”
This includes musical diversity, too. At the first gathering, a few people brought guitars. The internet, Ntilivamunda says, was also a helpful instrument—they put up a screen to project hymns.
“My philosophy is the people are the ones to determine the music they want. The important thing is to check the theology in the music, that is the role of a priest,” he explains. “But whether it is American music, African music, Jamaican, whatever, that is their culture—if they are there, we have to offer some opportunity for them to express themselves, to feel at home and sing in their regional mode.”
As the mission moves forward, the priest hopes to provide more translation and diversity of instruments. For now, he says, he is inviting people to pray for the intercultural ministry and is reaching out to others who have yet to find a church home.
The intercultural ministry isn’t Ntilivamunda’s only new venture—the priest, with support from Bishop Bruce Myers and Canon Theologian Jeffrey Metcalfe, is also offering consultation with parishes on how to expand their own missions.
While some congregations are involved in feeding ministries, Ntilivamunda says he hopes to help Anglicans consider new ways of “making human contact.” The priest thinks that the church’s survival and its commitment to mission are intertwined. “The church, at its beginning, is a missionary church,” he says. “When Jesus called the disciples, then he sent them out…. Mission is the backbone of the church. Without mission, the church does not stand.”
Part of this work, he says, involves looking at how the church can serve people outside of political systems which confine the church to buildings that only pull people inward and send financial assistance outward.
For Anglicans who want to have this discussion—and brainstorm ways to get involved in mission and evangelism—Ntilivamunda can be contacted at the diocesan office at (418) 692-3858.
By the Rt. Rev. Bruce Myers OGS
For one week in July, hundreds of people from across the country assembled in Vancouver for the 42nd General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada.
National church gatherings like the General Synod have been described as “part legislative assembly, part revival, part marketplace, and part family reunion”—and all of those aspects were in evidence during our long and jam-packed days together in Vancouver.
Some important milestones were reached. Our church offered a formal apology for spiritual harm inflicted on First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples during the era of colonial expansion, particularly through the Indian residential school system. New structures were approved to help advance Indigenous self-determination within our church. We chose a fine new primate, Archbishop Linda Nicholls. Our commitment to the church’s unity was reaffirmed, particularly in our relationships with Lutherans and with the United Church of Canada. Important interreligious bonds were strengthened with Jews and Muslims.
The General Synod also continued its conversations about whether to change our church’s canon law on marriage to include same-sex couples. Although the proposal to approve same-sex marriage in our church received the support of more than 70 per cent of the members of the General Synod—including all of the members from the Diocese of Quebec—it failed to receive the required number of votes among the bishops, and so the motion was defeated.
This decision was heartbreaking for many people in our church, particularly the significant number of LGBTQ2S+ Christians who have been faithful members and leaders in every expression of the Anglican Church of Canada, including the Diocese of Quebec.
Following the General Synod’s decision, my fellow bishops and I offered a statement acknowledging that while we are not of one mind on the specific matter of same-sex marriage, we are nevertheless “walking together in a way which leaves room for individual dioceses and jurisdictions of our church to proceed with same-sex marriage according to their contexts and convictions, sometimes described as ‘local option.’”
The Diocese of Quebec will have an opportunity to discuss the implications of the General Synod’s deliberations about same-sex marriage when we gather for our own Synod in November. This won’t be the first time we’ve talked about these matters as a diocesan church. In 2007 the Quebec Diocesan Task Force on Human Sexuality held a wide consultation touching specifically on same-sex marriage, and in 2012 our diocesan Synod authorized the blessing of same-sex unions.
In the midst of these discussions, the General Synod overwhelmingly agreed on some important affirmations. One accepts that there currently exists “a diversity of understandings and teachings about marriage in the Anglican Church of Canada, and we affirm the prayerful integrity with which those understandings and teachings are held.” At the same time, we affirm “our commitment to presume good faith among those who hold diverse understandings and teachings, and hold dear their continued presence in this church.”
My prayer is that these affirmations might guide us in whatever conversations our diocesan Synod may have about same-sex marriage, such that we will treat one another “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2-3).
- A new intercultural ministry
- Bishop Drainville's Green Party run
- Ties with the church in Japan
- Thoughts on General Synod
- Updates on lay reader training
- A theological reflection from the Rev. Joshua Paetkau
- And more...
Bishop Bruce Myers is pleased to announce the appointment of four new gifted and committed individuals who will be contributing the ministries of communications and administration in the Diocese of Quebec.
Missioner for Communications
As Missioner for Communications, Matthew Townsend will serve as editor of the Quebec Diocesan Gazette, manage the diocese’s web and social media presence, and support the diocesan leadership and congregations in sharing stories about their life and work. A journalism graduate of the University of South Florida, Matthew has worked in editorial, journalistic, and web development roles with a variety of organizations, including The Living Church, the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester, and the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida. Currently based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, he is also the editorial supervisor of the Anglican Journal and a member of St. Paul’s Church. Matthew can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jody Robinson, Archivist
The diocesan archives, based at Bishop’s University in Lennoxville, will be under the care of Judy Robinson. After earning a bachelor of arts degree at Bishop’s, she continued master-level studies in history at the Univeristé de Sherbrooke. She has also worked as the archivist for the Eastern Townships Resource Centre, an organization committed to the preservation of the heritage of the Eastern Townships. For more than a decade, Jody has worked with many heritage organizations on special projects as well as an archival consultant. Jody has also served on the board of directors for a variety of heritage and community organizations and is presently vice-president of the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network. Jody can be reached at email@example.com.
Sean Otto, Registrar pro tempore
As diocesan Registrar, Sean Otto will be responsible for ensuring that all of the diocese’s official records—from land registers to parish registers—are properly completed, recorded, and stored. Currently registrar of the Institut national de la recherche scientifique in Quebec City, he previously served as assistant registrar of Wycliffe College at the University of Toronto. Sean earned a doctorate in history and theology at the University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto, and also holds degrees from Wycliffe College and Dalhousie University. He is a parishioner of the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. As Registrar pro tempore, Sean’s appointment is initially on an interim basis until the diocesan Synod makes a permanent appointment in November. Sean can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Day-to-day administration at the Synod Office in Quebec City will be overseen by Isabelle Morin, who will serve as Executive Assistant on a part-time basis. She has a degree in business administration from the Université du Québec à Montréal, and spent several years as an administrator in the hotel industry. More recently Isabelle has pursued a vocation as an interior designer. She can be contacted at email@example.com.
The Secretary of Synod, Canon Stephen Kohner, has released
the results of the elections determining the lay and clergy delegates to the 85th
Ordinary Session of the Synod of the Diocese of Quebec, which will be held
21-24 November 2019 at the Monastère des Augustines in Quebec City.
LAY DELEGATES (in alphabetical order):
DEANERY OF GASPÉ
Bethany Fehr Paetkau
Margaret Ann Major
DEANERY OF THE NORTH SHORE
DEANERY OF SAINT FRANCIS
Spencer Nadeau (youth)
DOYENÉE DU SAINT-LAURENT
DEANERY OF QUEBEC
Lucas Demers (youth)
Meb Reisneer Wright
(The Region of Kawawachikamach will select its two lay
delegates in a separate process.)
CLERGY DELEGATES (in
The Rev. Jesse Dymond
The Rev. Canon Giuseppe Gagliano
The Rev. Francie Keats
The Rev. Canon Jeffrey Metcalfe
The Rev. Deacon Silas Nabinicaboo
The Rev. Joshua Paetkau
The Rev. Cynthia Patterson
The Very Rev. Christian Schreiner
The Ven. Dr. Edward Simonton
Le vén. Pierre Voyer
Premier of Quebec
Édifice Honoré-Mercier, 3e étage
835, boul. René-Lévesque Est
Québec, QC G1A 1B4
Dear Premier Legault,
As representatives of the Anglican Church, which has been present and active in Quebec for more than 250 years, we feel compelled to respond to your open letter, published in several of Quebec’s daily newspapers on Monday, April 1.
We share your conviction that “in a secular society—which we have been since the Quiet Revolution—common sense dictates that religion must not interfere with the affairs of the state. Nor the reverse.” We also agree with your observation that “state laicity respects freedom of religion and freedom of conscience. Everyone is free to practice the religion of his or her choice, and is also free not to practice a religion.”
However, rather than maintaining a religiously neutral state, Bill 21, An Act Respecting the Laicity of the State, would in fact legislate the very kind of governmental interference in religion that you claim to oppose.
As Christians, we believe that the earth and its creatures have an abiding relationship to their Creator. Seeking to participate and give expression to this relationship in some form is a part of being human. For some this will mean wearing religious symbols and attire—such as a hijab, yarmulke, or cross—objects that can be intrinsic to the practice of one’s faith, and which cannot be removed at a whim.
We therefore embrace the vision of Quebec as a secular state that is pluralistic, privileging no particular religion, yet creating the space in which Quebecers of whatever (or no) religious tradition can fully participate in public life and contribute to the common good, including as public servants.
We appreciate your recent call for the debate around this proposed legislation to be conducted in a manner that is respectful and not divisive. However, we know too well that proposed laws such as Bill 21 risk contributing to a climate of suspicion and fear of others—especially Muslim Quebecers—at a time when we need our government to help protect, rather than further and needlessly target, our neighbours. The horrific mass murder at the Grand Mosque in Quebec City in 2017 calls us to be mindful of how our debates might stoke the fires of fear, and put people’s lives at risk.
We agree with you, Premier, that it is time for Quebec society to move forward on this matter. However, our own experience has taught us there is another way to do so.
One of our church’s principles of dialogue with people of other religions is to “meet the people themselves and get to know their traditions.” This too is common sense, and has helped us change attitudes, challenge stereotypes, and build new relationships with people of other faith communities.
We have been enriched and blessed, not impoverished or threatened, by face-to-face exchanges with these neighbours who have now become friends. It is only in encountering our differences honestly and openly—rather than hiding or suppressing those differences—that we can hope to build a truly secular and pluralistic Quebec that provides all of its citizens with the opportunity to flourish.
The Rt. Rev. Mary Irwin-Gibson
Bishop of Montreal
The Rt. Rev. Bruce Myers
Bishop of Quebec