Sooner than anticipated, but in keeping with Alberta Health guidelines, Edmonton diocese is moving ahead with Phase 3 of its “Meeting Together Plan.” This has meant the gradual re-opening of churches this summer, which will continue into the fall, albeit with safety measures in place.
In a letter to clergy, dated June 10, Bishop Jane Alexander wrote: “We have all tried so hard to keep one another safe and we must not undo the good work that has been done in slowing the impact of the (COVID-19) virus.
“There are still parts of the liturgy that look very different and, yet, we are seeing hope for a resumption of more usual styles of worship.
“Even with the lifting of so many restrictions you will note that two-metre physical distancing is still the norm for worship, meetings and study groups.” (An Edmonton City by-law enacted August 1 also made it mandatory for people to wear a mask, with some exceptions, in all indoor public places, including places of worship.)
Each parish must develop a plan to meet all safety requirements. When that plan for meeting together again has met with Bishop Jane’s approval, the parish may proceed with re-opening. Nearly 30 parishes are doing this in some form as of mid-August. Some have begun offering in-person mid-week prayer services, while continuing to offer Morning Prayer and Sunday worship online; others are offering in-person Sunday worship. The first of these services were held in Edmonton and Westlock on June 21.
Please share photos and stories about your parish’s resumption of in-person services by sending them to email@example.com, and watch for a feature story on the re-opening of parishes in the September edition of The Messenger.