St. Nicholas Birch Cliff

Anglican Church

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Message from Archbishop Germond & The Ontario House of Bishops- Anglican Churches to remain closed until at least September

Bishop orders cessation of Worship Services - March 13 at 9:30 p.m.

Bishop announces cessation of worship services

Posted on March 13, 2020 at 9:30 p.m.

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


Covid- 19 Updates and Changes- March 13 

The Diocese of Toronto’s directives in respect to Covid-19 (for the full text, please click here)
From Bishop Andrew Asbil "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."

  • The Diocese of Toronto has suspended 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. (please see the rubric in the Book of Common Prayer, top of page 584)
  • During the Exchange of the Peace, people are advised to share words and smiles only, not handshakes or hugs.
  • But in those places where healing ministries are normative during services, we encourage those who desire it to come forward only for the laying on of hands (on the shoulder or arm) with prayers for healing (ministry of anointing with oil has been suspended)
  • The person-to-person passing of collection plates is suspended. Now is a good time to consider alternative ways of donating in your parish by Pre-Authorized Giving -PAR or via CanadaHelps (for links to both, please click here).     
  • 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.  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. Updates in respect to changes for our Adult Community Lunch will be provided.

Please also see the City of Toronto Public Health Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) webpage. 

For the Safety of all, please:

  • Practice diligent hand washing and use hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your cough and use a tissue if you sneeze
  • Practice safe “social distancing” a minimum of one metre distance between you and your neighbour.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, face…
  • If you have been out of the country, please follow the guidelines and self-quarantine for 14 days.
  • If you are feeling unwell, please look after yourself, and others, and stay safe at home.

As the Covid 19 virus increasingly affects all aspects of our life - industry, supply of medicines, travel, gatherings, especially high risk groups….
We pray for those on the margins of our society, we remember the millions in the world already living in overcrowded, unsanitary conditions, with little access to clean water or to health care. We give thanks for all who care for the sick and for those researching how best to combat and defeat disease. Give us compassion Lord that we may treat one another with love and respect and share our resources to bring relief and aid.     From St Philp’s Anglican Church in Milford