Important news regarding Covid-19 and coming to Church

Updated: March 13, 2020

Dear People of Christ Church Deer Park,

The clergy and Churchwardens of the Diocese of Toronto received a letter from Bishop Andrew Asbil on Friday evening (see below) asking us to discontinue Sunday and other weekly worship services while the province and country are in the midst of efforts to contain COVID-19.

We will be in touch with you as soon as we resume our regular liturgical life. Please check our website for any news, including ways that we may worship together in unconventionally. In the meantime please pray for the city and indeed, our world, in these trying times.

Keep us Good Lord under the shadow of your mercy in this time of uncertainty and distress.
Sustain and support the anxious and fearful and lift up all who suffer, that we may rejoice in your comfort knowing that nothing can separate us from your love.
This we pray in your name. Amen.

Blessings

The Revered Canon Cheryl Palmer


Updated: March 13, 2020

To the Clergy and People of the Diocese of Toronto –


Beloved in Christ:

It is an indication of how quickly things are changing regarding the Covid-19 pandemic that we need to update our message of earlier today.  

Since this morning, the Ministry of Health of the Province of Ontario has issued directives that recommend “the immediate suspension of all large events and public gatherings of over 250 people.”  In response to this, the Provincial House of Bishops has decided that the time has come to suspend public worship in the Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario, including the Diocese of Toronto.  Please see our Metropolitan’s letter here

Until further notice, and starting Sunday, March 15, 2020, the College of Bishops is cancelling all corporate worship and all other gatherings in our churches. Ministries of service to marginalized and disadvantaged communities may continue using the utmost care, acting consistent with the Ministry of Health directives. (Those licensees and other outside groups who do not fall under our authority may continue to utilise our spaces as agreed, provided that they too are acting consistent with the Ministry of Health directives.)

We make this decision with a heavy heart, not out of a sense of fear but in confidence that it is the right, safe and caring decision to make for the Church, and for the world, at this time. 

Although we cannot gather for corporate worship, it has never been more important that we lift our prayers and praises to a merciful God, and to exercise care and charity for ourselves and our neighbours. Please continue in your personal devotions, privately and with your family, particularly on Sunday. Pray for this situation and for those most affected by it, especially the sick. Check in by telephone or email with others, particularly the isolated and vulnerable. I urge the clergy of the Diocese to provide pastoral care and support as best as you are able, using the guidelines already shared earlier. 

Finally, we urge the clergy and lay leaders to facilitate worship as much as you are able using the technology available to you. There are many fine worship resources available online, and all of our liturgical texts are posted on the Anglican Church of Canada website.  Please help every Anglican to feel connected to their parish family. I am planning to offer a short online service on Sunday morning; a link will be provided soon. 

This has been a remarkable time in our life together. I am inspired by the caring response of all who are engaged in ministry at this time. Please continue to work to uphold the Light of Christ as we journey through this Season of Lent.

The Provincial House of Bishops and the College of Bishops for the Diocese of Toronto are continually monitoring the situation and will be communicating with you frequently in the days to come. Please keep us in your prayers.

Yours in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto


Updated: March 13, 2020

Pastoral Letter to the Clergy and Churchwardens of the Diocese –


Dear Friends in Christ:

I am writing to thank you for the diligent care you have been exhibiting in following the liturgical protocols regarding Covid-19, and for your proactive leadership in examining the practices of your parishes and adapting them as necessary to be especially conscious of health and safety in these anxious times.  As you know, the situation continues to evolve and change by the day. The World Health Organisation has now named the Covid-19 outbreak as a global pandemic.  The need for prayer is more urgent than ever, and our vigilance in caring for each other must remain intentional and strong. 

As the Church, we are the family of God, the body of Christ and the community of the faithful. The very last action we want to take is the cancellation of our worship services. We are determined to continue to gather for worship, as safely as possible, until such time that we are advised or directed by health authorities or the government that it is necessary to suspend public worship. If that time comes, all of us must, of course, immediately follow that direction. We will contact you immediately of new developments.

In the meantime, we are immediately ceasing the practice of coffee hours and all other purely social non-essential gatherings, especially those that involve the serving and sharing of food for social reasons (e.g., potlucks, teas).  Ministries where food is served to hungry and disadvantaged people can, and should, continue, using the most current health and safety guidelines available from public health. All other meetings, study groups and gatherings need to be assessed by parish leaders for their necessity and safety. Many of you continue to have questions about situations specific to your contexts. We trust you and your leadership team to make intelligent, safe decisions based on the information readily available to us all through the health authorities. All directives as they are given from public health and government must be followed immediately. Please confirm with your licensees, tenants and external groups that they will also do the same. In all activities, please continue to practice extreme measures in hygiene. There is no harm in exercising excessive caution, even if that means changing how we do things. People can, and do, understand that these are extraordinary times. 

Even without cancelling our worship services, it is becoming increasingly clear that some people will not be able to join us at church, due to personal risk factors, illness or fear. We want to make it possible to continue to connect pastorally with all of our people, whether they are in our pews or at home. As a Diocese, we will be live streaming the Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday liturgies from St James Cathedral, and we will make that link widely available. It is also relatively easy to offer live streaming of your own services if you wish; tips have been provided here.

For those who wish to receive, and if clergy feel comfortable providing them and are well, home communions may continue. Reserved sacrament (bread only) from the parish is a wonderful way to keep housebound parishioners connected to their church family. Please practice rigorous hygiene both before and after visiting the sick. Please consume all the consecrated bread that you bring into people’s homes and do not return any of it to the church for redistribution. Similarly, visits to hospitals, nursing homes and residences may continue as long as the facility is willing to welcome you. Please respect whatever protocols they need to put into place.

Having said that, some parishioners will not wish a visit, and some cannot safely be visited. Clergy need to exercise good and safe judgement, as well as practice self-care in accordance with their own health and comfort level. Extreme caution is advised. But please maintain contact with all of your parishioners through telephone calls, emails and mailed notes. This is a time when people are feeling particularly isolated and vulnerable. It is vital that the Church continue a pastoral ministry for everyone, even if it is necessarily done from a distance.

Some of you have been concerned about the Diocesan Centre. Rob Saffrey, our Executive Director, has created a plan for staff, and it is our hope that should anyone need to work from home we have the capacity to carry on essential functions for some time. Continue to email or telephone the Synod Office for resourcing as you normally would. You may also want to consider with your own staff and volunteers how duties in the parish can be continued remotely, as best as possible, if it becomes necessary to do so. It is important that we carry on, as much as we are able, during tumultuous times. 

Lastly, I want to express my concern for my fellow clergy of the Diocese. Ministry is front-line work, and risk is a part of that. We recognise that it is likely that some of us will fall ill. I urge you to monitor your own health and err on the side of caution. When you feel in the least bit unwell, practice self-care. Stay home. Ask for help. Call on your colleagues and your capable lay leaders to cover for you, as best as they are able. It is imperative that you keep your Area Bishop and Area Office informed as to your own well-being and the state of your parish. We care for you and are praying for you.

This is a challenging time. We ask that you keep us in your prayers also.

Yours in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto


(To be read at every service on March 8, 2020 and then posted or published in each parish for the duration of the protocol.)

Pastoral Letter to the Clergy and People in the Diocese of Toronto


Dear Friends in Christ:

We continue to monitor the unfolding situation with COVID-19 (Coronavirus). We are aware that many people are anxious about the apparent lack of containment for this disease. We pray for all those who are dealing with this virus: patients and their families, and the health-care workers and scientists who are searching for a cure.

It is the informed opinion of our Bishop’s Committee on the Healing Ministries, chaired by the Rev. Canon Joanne Davies, chaplain at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre’s Bayview Campus and St John’s Rehab, that the time has come to alter our liturgical practices.

As was the case during the SARS epidemic of 2003, here in the Diocese of Toronto we are suspending the sharing of the common cup at celebrations of the Eucharist. Presiding celebrants are to consecrate both the bread and the wine, and to consume in both kinds, but to administer only the bread to the rest of the congregation. The Church’s ancient teaching is that the whole Christ is received whether one receives only consecrated bread or both bread and wine. This protocol is effective today and to be continued until further notice.

Additionally, we are advising people to share words and smiles only, not handshakes or hugs, during the Exchange of the Peace. Those churches that have repositories of still water, for example fonts or stoops, are to refresh the water daily or discontinue their use at this time. We ask every Anglican to practice rigorous handwashing and to self-quarantine at home if feeling unwell.

Together all of us can help mitigate both risk and fear in our communities by exercising this due diligence.

Our normal liturgical customs are important to us, and we hope to reinstate them as soon as we are advised that the risk of transmission has been better contained.

We believe that gathering for corporate worship as the Body of Christ is an integral part of, and not antithetical to, healthy living. We encourage our parishioners and worshipping communities to continue to meet and offer prayers and praise to our merciful God, who in the person of Jesus offers us the gifts of hope and healing for fullness of life.

May God richly bless you all in this Season of Lent.
Yours in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto

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The Story behind our

Tracking Organ

Our magnificent three manual, tracker-action organ was installed in the chancel of the church in the spring of 1982 and dedicated to the Glory of God and in memory of those who died in the First World War and the Second World War.

The organ, built by the Karl Wilhelm Company of Mont St. Hilaire, Quebec, has a classical continental design. The case is made of white oak and the pipe shades are of carved butternut. Voiced in the classic French style, its 36 stops and 50 ranks are capable of interpreting a wide variety of organ literature.

Installation required considerable changes to the chancel including moving the altar forward and arranging choir seating to either side. These renovations prompted the design and production of our award-winning Benedicite Kneelers, done in needlepoint by a dedicated group of church members.