March 1, 2022
We issue this policy statement in response to the Provincial Government’s lifting of almost all COVID-19 restrictions on February 14, 2022 and the lifting of the public masking mandate on March 1, 2022. The policy statement issued by our Bishops Michael Hawkins and Adam Halkett on November 30, 2021 we set aside for now with the possibility that it may be reintroduced should conditions with COVID-19 warrant it.
We continue to be concerned about the pandemic, but with numbers of positive cases seeming to level off and hospitalizations declining in the province we are prepared to follow the Provincial Government’s lead in this for the most part.
We do so not wanting to throw caution to the wind, remembering this pandemic is not over, but we are trying to learn to live with it.
We expect that as brothers and sisters in Christ we can move forward being respectful of each other and showing that love and understanding for each other which is one of the marks of being a Christian. We are all in this together – this pandemic has affected all of us and unfortunately has caused divisions among us, as it has in our nation and indeed worldwide. We must repent of such things, ask the Lord’s forgiveness and in some cases forgiveness of each other as we seek reconciliation and healing. Here are the specifics.
In-person Gatherings: As well as public worship, all meetings, both parish and those of outside groups using church buildings, may be in-person and refreshments and food may be served. Parishes are encouraged to continue online worship broadcasts to accommodate those unable to attend and those not yet comfortable with being in-person. Online worship should be regarded as an opportunity for outreach.
Masks: We recommend their continued use as a safety precaution; however following the province’s lead they will no longer be mandatory with one exception. Clergy will be required to wear masks in public worship when consecrating the elements in Holy Communion and they and those assisting them when administering the same. Otherwise in leading public worship masks will not be required. However, please be respectful of those choosing to wear masks in worship. There should be no judgment or discrimination either way.
Social distance will not be required but please be respectful of people’s boundaries as some may be more comfortable maintaining social distancing.
Sharing the Peace: We recommend that this continue to be done in a manner respectful of everyone’s safety.
Testing: As a precaution and in order to maintain a certain level of comfort and confidence in pastoral relationships we require unvaccinated clergy to continue to test every 84 hours as outlined in the November 30 policy statement. However, this testing may be done using the self-administered take-home rapid antigen tests available free of charge. We also recommend that these rapid antigen tests also be used by all vaccinated clergy and lay readers in advance of Sunday so that, should they test positive they can make other arrangements for the leading of public worship.
Parish Discretion: In light of continued fluctuations in COVID-19 rates, wardens and the priest-in-charge together can decide to maintain certain safety precautions such as: masks, social distancing or closure of the church building to in-person worship. However no church or congregation shall require proof of testing or vaccination to attend public worship. The invitation and welcome of Christ to all shall not be contradicted.
Barring any change in Provincial Government or Municipal Government or SHA policy during the month of March, this policy will be in force until April 1, 2022. At this time it will be reviewed in light of then current numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations and positive tests in the province.
Please continue to uphold Bishop Michael in prayer that he might be fully restored in mind, body and spirit. Pray also for one another, be supportive of each other that together by the grace of God we may continue to move forward through this pandemic and come out stronger in our faith because of it.
Please keep us in your prayers as well.
+Adam S. Halkett Andrew Hoskin+
Bishop of Missinipi Archdeacon of Prince Albert (Emeritus) Diocesan Administrator