Greetings brothers and sisters in Christ in the Anglican Diocese of Calgary.
On this the eve of the third Sunday in Lent, I'm currently on sabbatical but thought it was important to provide this message in light of the COVID 19 virus.
Before I begin that, however, I'd like to take a moment to say thank you to Dean Leighton Lee and Executive Archdeacon Pilar Gateman for their good work and for providing leadership during my absence. I also want to express my confidence in them to give that leadership in the Diocese in the midst of this difficult time.
Many of you will have heard by now that we've taken the extraordinary step of suspending worship services in the Diocese of Calgary from now until the end of March. This decision was taken in conversation with Bishops from the rest of the Ecclesiastical Province of Rupert's Land, in light of decisions made across the Anglican Church of Canada and of course in light of the guidelines of AHS in Alberta.
While it may seem that there are a modest number of cases of COVID 19 at the moment in our province, nonetheless, it is incumbent upon us that we consider those who are frail and those who are vulnerable in our midst — the elderly, and those with various conditions that would make them more prone to serious illness, if they were to catch COVID 19. Also, it's important for us to do our part as we seek to slow the spread of, or perhaps even stop the spread of, the COVID 19 virus.
While services are suspended church is not. Our clergy and our lay leaders will be available to provide pastoral care and ministry and prayer. I'm hoping that many of our churches can be open for people to come in and pray as they need. While we are being encouraged to practice social distancing, in a physical sense during this time, it's important for us to remember as members of the Body of Christ that we are never to be distant from one another.
And so I want to remind us to encourage us, that as members of the Body of Christ, we need to look out for one another, to be in contact with those perhaps, who already experienced isolation and loneliness, to be able to give them a call to provide a word by which they can feel that they are not alone, in this time.
I also ask that we take extra time in our daily prayers, to remember those in the civil world who are dealing with the COVID 19 environments for those who are doing research, to look for ways to address it and perhaps to find vaccines and cures. And I also ask your special prayers for those who work in hospitals and care for those who have contracted this virus. And of course, I ask that you keep in prayer, especially those who are sick, the vulnerable and the elderly.
I am at this moment in the State of Louisiana in the United States as a part of my sabbatical. I'll be returning back to Calgary this coming Monday, at which point I will have to go into self-isolation of 14 days. I'll be using that time to continue my sabbatical but also to pray for all of us as we go through this difficult time.
I'll be praying that by the gift and strength of the Holy Spirit, we may conduct ourselves in the midst of this challenge, in a way that bears witness to the love and the mercy of Jesus Christ, and helps us to grow more fully and be conformed to His image.
I pray that God's grace and peace may be with you all.