Spring Forward: A Pastoral Letter from our Rector
Updated: Apr 20
This past week, we buried a lifelong member of our parish and we baptised a child of more recent members. Simple sacraments made all the more profound because we’ve been prohibited from performing them for much of the past two years.
Lent means “spring,” even if it doesn’t always feel like it. This coming Sunday - the Second Sunday of Lent - marks the two year anniversary of the closing of our church building to public worship. Two years since we’ve worshipped in a way that felt “normal.”
As I write to you, the Province of Ontario has announced it will soon be lifting its longstanding mask mandate. The Diocese of Toronto has eliminated capacity limits and contact tracing in our churches. Even through the remnants of ice and snow, I saw some crocuses today - popping up their curious green heads above the soil. Tentative or confident? I’m not sure which. But spring is here, and it almost feels like it.
As a parish, we’re popping up our heads too. Testing out what life might look like beyond winter’s long hibernation. What it might feel like to spring forward after so much standing still. Some feeling tentative, others confident, many of us a healthy dose of both.
In the two weeks since our vestry meeting, I’ve spoken with a number of parishioners regarding their hopes for the future. I am hearing the desire to know a more detailed timeline for next steps in reopening; the longing for more face-to-face connection; the opportunity to feel seen and heard; the excitement to volunteer and serve once again.
With an eye to our evolving Diocesan guidelines, this is what I am seeing as I look ahead:
Survey and Consultation: We will survey our entire parish list to gain first-person feedback re: service times, readiness to return in-person, willingness to serve, etc. The survey will be sent out via email the week of March 28, with responses due within the week. On April 6, I will gather Parish Council - plus a select group of key volunteers - to review the survey results and to determine next steps within each of our 5 strategic plan opportunities (e.g., The Worship Experience, Deepening Relationships, etc.). Sometime after Holy Week, we will communicate the survey results and strategic next steps to the parish. This will include a decision re: dates and details for returning to two in-person Sunday services.
In-Person Services: We will return to 2 in-person Sunday morning services, both accessible remotely via zoom and/or livestream. This will happen after Holy Week and in consultation with the community. We will maintain the unique musical style and tone of each (e.g. ‘relaxed’ vs. ‘classic’ vibe). We will settle upon service times that foster the widest possible participation of people from across our neighbourhood and city.
Children and Youth: We will develop a transition plan for children’s and youth ministry that honours parents’ and families’ varying comfort levels with in-person gatherings, while targeting where we wish to go as a community.
Hospitality and Safety: We are in the process of tidying, rearranging, and cleaning our building (inside and out) to be as welcoming as possible to all. Effective immediately, we no longer require pre-registration for services; contact tracing will not be taken; screening for covid symptoms is done passively via posted entrance signage; capacity limits have been lifted and all may sit where they feel most comfortable; those leading readings, prayers, or preaching are allowed to remove their mask for the purposes of liturgical speaking (when stationary and at a 4m distance from others); all others must remain masked for the time being.
Coffee Hour: Once the weather improves and restrictions ease further, we will begin coffee hour fellowship outside on the terrace following each Sunday morning service. We intend to continue this practice as long as possible into the Fall.
Holy Week: Holy Week services will be a combination of in-person and online as follows:
9:30am Church at Home
11am In-person & Live-streamed
8:30 am Morning Prayer online
Maundy Thursday & Youth Vigil
7pm In-person & Live-streamed or zoom
(Youth Vigil continues in-person until 12am)
10am In-person & Live-streamed
Service of the Easter Light
7pm In-person & Live-streamed
9:30 Church at Home
11am In-person & Live-streamed
It is Lent. It is Spring. And it’s beautiful to catch a glimpse of resurrection on the horizon.
Yours Truly in Christ,
The Rev. Andrew Federle
St. Clement’s Church, Toronto
For the full Anchor, click here.