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Bishops reaffirm local option for in-person worship

Dear Friends,

The College of Bishops met today and discussed the ongoing concerns around COVID-19 and its new highly transmissible Omicron variant. We know that some other dioceses in Ontario have decided to suspend in-person worship effective immediately.

The bishops in the Diocese of Toronto are agreed that we will continue to offer local option:  each congregation’s leadership team should make the right decision for their own context in strict alignment with the Amber Stage Guidelines and their local health authorities.

We are aware that some parishes have already decided to close to in-person worship this weekend, and we support their decision. We are also aware that some parishes wish to continue to worship in-person using our Amber Stage Guidelines, and we support their decision. We know that individual parishioners will decide for themselves whether to attend in-person services or to stay home and worship online. We support each Christian in making the right choice for themselves.

For every parish offering in-person worship, consider voluntarily reducing your seating capacity in order to increase spacing between households, limit the amount of singing in the service, and increase the air flow and ventilation however possible. Please note: the permission to remove one’s mask for liturgical speaking has been rescinded; masks are mandatory for everyone present, regardless of role.

For every parish not offering in-person worship, please advertise your online offerings widely, and/or direct worshippers to the online services being livestreamed from St. James Cathedral on the diocesan YouTube channel:

  • Lessons & Carols on Christmas Eve at 4:30 p.m.
  • Eucharist on Christmas Eve at 7:30 p.m.
  • Eucharist on Christmas Day at 11 a.m.

This situation continues to be an evolving one, and we will abide by the directives of the Province of Ontario and local health authorities as they are announced. Until such time as we are directed otherwise, however, we will continue to allow parishes to offer in-person worship as their comfort level allows.

For those who are struggling to make decisions, your bishops are available to talk to you about the options. Feel free to contact them in the coming days: Bishop Andrew Asbil, Bishop Riscylla Shaw, Bishop Kevin Robertson.

May God give us faithful hearts as we seek to celebrate the birth of our Saviour.

The College of Bishops