Revised COVID-19 restrictions

To: Clergy, wardens, lay readers, and lay pastoral visitors From: Bishop Bruce Myers

The Quebec government has announced further revisions to its COVID-19 restrictions, some of which relate to places of worship. These new restrictions are in effect as of February 8 and may be revised as soon as February 22.

SUNDAY SERVICES – Churches in a red zone are restricted to no more than 10 people attending a Sunday service. This number does not include clergy, lay readers, or musicians. Churches in an orange zone are restricted to no more than 25 people attending a Sunday service. This number also does not include clergy, lay readers, or musicians. The other provisions outlined in the Protocols for the Reopening of Church Buildings to Public Worship document issued last August (and available at quebec.anglican.ca) must also be respected.

FUNERALS – Funerals may still take place in church buildings, but with a maximum of 25 people in the congregation, whether the church is in a red zone or an orange zone. This number does not include clergy, funeral home workers, or others assisting with the service. Masks should be worn throughout the service and individuals from different households should maintain a distance of two metres from each other. The names and contact details of everyone who attends a funeral must be recorded for the purposes of contact tracing. Food and beverages must not be served after the funeral service. Families of the deceased may also receive condolences at the church before the funeral service, so long as these same guidelines are observed.

As has been the case since our diocese’s churches began reopening to in-person worship last September, the choice to offer in-person services under these conditions is left up to each local corporation, ideally in consultation with members of the congregation.

PASTORAL VISITING – Most in-person pastoral visiting—whether at a hospital, care home, or an individual’s residence—remains prohibited during this lockdown period. The government has, however, made two important exceptions: 1) A one-on-one pastoral visit may take place in a church building, so long as the usual precautions (i.e. hand sanitizing, physical distancing, mask wearing) are observed; 2) A dying individual may receive a pastoral visit at their home. If necessary, such a visit may take place during curfew hours, and a letter of authorization to show authorities is available from the Synod Office. In other cases, you are encouraged to use other means, such as the internet and telephone, to keep in touch with the members of your community during this new and intensified period of physical isolation.

HALL RENTALS – The rental of parish halls and other such spaces remains prohibited during this lockdown period, unless the organization renting the space falls under one of the categories for which the provincial government has made an exception, such as community organizations.

TRAVEL BETWEEN REGIONS – Travelling between regions of Quebec—particularly from a red zone to an orange zone—continues to be discouraged. For this reason I will continue to delay any in-person pastoral visits to the congregations of the diocese until the overall situation in the province improves further.

I share your fatigue at these restrictions, and like you I long for our collective emergence from this pandemic. However, as our public health leaders have reminded us, it’s by respecting these restrictions that we will arrive at the pandemic’s end more quickly and with less loss of life. As a church, we continue to do our part in the collective effort of sacrifice for the sake of protecting others, and in so doing we are following Jesus’ call to love our neighbours.

As ever, if you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to be in touch with either myself or Archdeacon Edward Simonton. Stay safe and well, and be assured of my prayers.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

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Updated COVID-19 restrictions

TO:   Clergy, wardens, lay readers, and lay pastoral visitors
FROM:   Bishop Bruce Myers
DATE:   Thursday 7 January 2021
RE:   Updated COVID-19 restrictions

On January 6 the Quebec government announced a new set of measures aimed at stemming the ongoing spread of COVID-19 in the province. Some of these measures will have a direct impact on the activities of our churches.

WORSHIP SERVICES - 
In-person worship services in all churches of the diocese are suspended between January 9 and February 8. Congregations are encouraged to provide online services during this time, or to invite worshippers to join the service of home prayers offered on the diocesan Facebook page each Sunday morning at 10:30 a.m. EST.

FUNERALS – The government is making an exception for funeral services, which may still take place in church buildings, but with a maximum of 25 people in the congregation. This number does not include clergy, funeral home workers, or others assisting with the service. Masks should be worn throughout the service and individuals from different households should maintain a distance of two metres from each other. The names and contact details of everyone who attends a funeral must be recorded for the purposes of contact tracing. Food and beverages must not be served after the funeral service.

PASTORAL VISITING – In-person pastoral visiting—whether at a hospital, care home, or an individual’s residence—is prohibited during this lockdown period. However, you are encouraged to use other means, such as the internet and telephone, to keep in touch with the members of your community during this new and intensified period of physical isolation.

HALL RENTALS – The rental of parish halls and other such spaces is prohibited during this lockdown period, unless the organization renting the space falls under one of the categories for which the provincial government has made an exception, such as community organizations.

As ever, if you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to be in touch with either myself (bmyers@quebec.anglican.ca) or Archdeacon Edward Simonton (esimonton@quebec.anglican.ca). Stay safe and well, and pray that these measures may have their desired effect.

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A pastoral letter on reopening our church buildings

Friday, June 12, 2020
Feast of Saint Barnabas the Apostle
Dear friends,

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.
The pandemic and its consequences have had a predictably negative impact on the finances of all of our congregations and, as a result, on the diocese as a whole. Our financial state is fragile at the best of times. This global crisis has made it only more febrile.

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:
  1. 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.

  2. 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 (info@quebec.anglican.ca 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.

  3. 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.
The church, of course, is not alone in needing extra financial help in the midst of this pandemic. So I would also invite you to consider also making a charitable donation to an organization that helps support the least, the last, and the lost in your local community. You can also contribute to meaningful and effective projects across Canada and around the world through the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (https://pwrdf.org/world-of-gifts/).

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

Click here to download a pdf version of this letter.
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COVID-19 and weddings

TO: Holders 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 etatcivil@dec.gouv.qc.ca.

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 (esimonton@quebec.anglican.ca or 819 679-9957).

Sincerely yours in Christ,

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COVID-19 and congregational finances

TO:                  Parish 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 (msgaudreau@quebec.anglican.ca 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.

Sincerely yours in Christ,


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Updated guidelines with respect to funerals and COVID-19

TO: Clergy, 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 bmyers@quebec.anglican.ca. Be assured of my continued prayers and support during this challenging time.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

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Church Life During the COVID-19 Pandemic

TO:  Clergy, wardens, lay readers, and lay pastoral visitors

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 info@quebec.anglican.ca. 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,

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Suspension of liturgical celebrations in the Diocese of Quebec

[ Download a PDF of this letter ]

Dear friends,

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 of the present moment,
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.
A New Zealand Prayer Book

The Rt. Rev. Bruce Myers OGS
Bishop of Quebec

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Updated Directives in Response to COVID-19

[ Download a PDF of this letter ]

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 Myers
Bishop of Quebec
The Rt. Rev. Mary Irwin-Gibson
Bishop of Montreal

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Statement on COVID-19 in Quebec

Dear friends in Christ,
This evening we heard the news that the COVID-19 virus has now spread into Quebec. Although only one case has been reported, many of us remember the SARS crisis and the precautions that were needed during that health crisis.
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:  
https://www.quebec.ca/en/health/health-issues/a-z/2019-coronavirus/.
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.
Here are some areas to consider in your parish:
  • 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:
      1. Receive in one kind only (bread)
      2. Touching the base of the cup as it is presented but not consuming
      3. 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.
We pray that our common life in worship and pastoral care will be rooted in the compassion of Christ and appropriate care for one another in a time of uncertainty.  
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.
The Venerable Dr Edward Simonton OGS
Commissary & Vicar General
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