I recently wrote the following letter to the churches of the Presbytery of West Toronto to encourage them to consider resuming Virtual Worship solely as we face a disturbing number of new cases of COVID-19 , and the prospect of increased restrictions within the city of Toronto.
As much as the specifics of the letter apply to churches within the City of Toronto, I am also deeply aware that these concerns equally apply to Peel Region, as well as other regions of Ontario and other provinces in Canada, including Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Even though the language of this letter might be local, the issues are not. Thus I would invite you to use this letter as a resource for your session as you consider in-person worship in your own community.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As we finish this stretch of wonderful weather, we are aware of a disturbing increase in cases of COVID-19 throughout the province and especially in the City of Toronto. On November 9, 2020 there were 533 new cases recorded within the city, the highest number of new cases we have experienced in one day throughout this pandemic.
Because of this, Toronto will move into a new ‘Red Level’ of restriction starting Saturday, November 14, 2020. This is the highest level prior to a complete lockdown.
In his news conference of November 10, 2020, Mayor John Tory strongly urged churches to resume virtual worship during this time. (A video link to the news conference can be found below).
It does not yet appear that churches are required to cease in-person worship. However, I would suggest in the strongest terms that we do so. This is not only to ensure the safety of our members (remembering that they are typically among the most vulnerable), but also to serve as a witness to the community that we take our Christian and Civic responsibilities seriously as we seek to ensure the wellbeing of those around us.
It is also worth remembering that our Christmas activities will likely hinge on the actions that are taken now.
Please take the mayor’s call seriously as you consider the state of worship in your congregations these days.
The news conference is here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=py2UgAJdgcw&feature=emb_logo and the references to worship are at minute 5:54.