Beginning in-person worship

Beginning in-person worship
Christ Church Cathedral, Fredericton NB
19 June 2020

A joke has gone somewhat “viral” on social media in Christian circles over the last few weeks. The Dean’s version follows.

A young Christian man, relatively new to the faith, was approached by the “father of lies,” Satan himself, just after the onset of the announcement of a pandemic caused by the nova coronavirus leading to lock down in early 2020. “Take that!” said the devil. “I’ve singlehandedly closed all of your churches with one tiny virus!” “On the contrary,” replied the young man. “You’ve singlehandedly opened churches in every home of every one who calls themselves a Christian!”

Many are asking, “When can we return?” All of us long for what was. We took our normal all too much for granted when it was ours and we suddenly find ourselves in a different world. That’s not to suggest with any certainty that “things” won’t one day return to what we remember. But we have been called to alert. The possibility and even likelihood of pandemic has always been nearer than most are willing to admit. With the particular illness of the current pandemic our health, especially the health of our most vulnerable, is at stake and that we need to continue to take it very seriously.

A Cathedral task group has been hard at work to examine information available to us including from public health officials and our own local situation to determine our best and safest response to the current circumstance. We need to minimize risk while at the same time be conscious of the spiritual needs of the Cathedral and the wider community and continue to be who we are. We can not officially be out of step with what is recommended and required by public health, knowingly or unthinkingly puting any at risk.

We have lots of advice and good information about how we can begin to gather safely. Initially there is no suggestion that, nor can we, simply return to what most of us consider “normal.”

As of this writing, the Bishop and Chapter has concurred with recommendations of the Task Group that we begin with celebrations of the Holy Eucharist, every other Wednesday, beginning on 24 June (The Feast of St. John the Baptist). This or any future gatherings will need to adhere to direction found in the then current “Operational Plan.” The Plan is a requirement of the NB Department of Health and will guide us as we gather safely. Modifications to it will be made as appropriate and necessary.

We all need to be aware – in-person worship is not going to look or feel like what we remember, at least not initially. What will be different?

•  anyone with a symptom of any illness needs to stay home
•  total participant limits assured by a system of reservation for worship
•  face masks will be worn by members of the congregation at all times
•  strict screening before entry
•  physical distancing (2 metres) maintained at all times
•  frequent hand washing, use of hand sanitizer and not touching surfaces unnecessarily
•  strict protocols in the administration of the Sacrament
•  no food or refreshments served or shared
•  socializing only from a distance and preferably outside

Hoping to offer as much clarity as possible, the following step by step guide may be of help. If your wish and intention is to attend worship at Christ Church Cathedral, these are 10 things you need to know:

1.     Self-monitor. If you have any reason whatsoever to believe that you have an illness, stay at home, even if you have successfully reserved as a participant

2.     Reserve. Visit the Cathedral Worship Sign-up (Cathedral website – top right corner “Cathedral Signups” Signup as “Worship Participant” for the desired event. If you haven’t signed up before you’ll be asked for your email address. If you’re signing up for more than one person, please leave a comment with the details. There is a maximum number.

OR telephone (506) 406-2548 and leave a voicemail message indicating:
1) your name 2) your telephone number 3) the service you wish to attend
Reservations should be made before 8:00 p.m. on the previous day and telephone requests will be confirmed by phone.
Reservations are on a first-come, first-served basis. Consideration will be given to those who have not been able to attend due to limitations

3.     Enter. Greeters will answer questions and instruct you about what you need to know

4.     Face mask. If at all possible, it is preferred that you bring your own non-medical face mask and begin wearing it before you enter the Cathedral. Face masks cannot be worn by some. Be accommodating of those without them

5.     Screening. Read the posted screening questions. If you answer “yes” to any of the questions, please do not enter. A greeter will ask for confirmation

6.     Seating. Follow the direction of Greeters regarding seating beginning to fill pews from the front

7.     Materials. There will be no prayer books or hymn books in the pews. If materials are considered required, they will be available for pickup upon entry. Please take them home with you

8.     Communion. At Communion, approach in one line in the centre aisle, observing physical distance markings. Return to your pew by way of the side aisles. The host will be safely delivered in your hands

9.     Exit. After worship, Greeters will direct exit beginning from pews at the back

10.   Socializing. Outdoors only and observe physical distancing (2 metres)

As we make our first attempts to organize in-person gatherings, we’ll continue to monitor public health protocols, what works and what does not and adjust our Plan and processes accordingly.

At least some of the volunteer needs we’ll have as we begin are listed here. As we progress, these are likely to increase. Training will be provided. Please contact a member of the Operational Plan Task Group, leave your offer at the worship reservation phone number or watch Cathedral Signups for opportunities to help.

Special tasks
Cleaning and sanitation
Reservation administration

Worship duties
  Reading scripture
Sacristy duties
Greeter duties

                       The Task Group
Wayne Burley                                (506) 440-8663
Thomas Gonder                            (506) 230-4968
Geoffrey Hall                                 (506) 450-7761
Catherine MacDonald                  (506) 209-1226
Kathleen Snow                              (506) 461-8201
Mike Toole                                   (506) 455-4530

View or download the current Operational Plan
(Refresh your browser tab or window to assure you have the latest version)

Cathedral Worship Sign up

Worship Reservation Telephone  (506) 406-2548


2 thoughts on “Beginning in-person worship

  1. Are morning and evening prayer being held in the “real world” of the cathedral…and, if so, to attend does one reserve (Visit the Cathedral Worship Sign-up). Thank you for the information.

    • The Cathedral will not be open on weekdays this summer as usual. While morning and evening prayer are sometimes at the Cathedral, many of the leaders continue to pray where they are. We’ll attempt to clarify that this week.

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