GSC and COVID-19

IMPORTANT MESSAGE

Re: Good Shepherd response to COVID-19/Coronavirus Pandemic

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”   (Ps 27.1)

As Christians, we are not to fear or worry.  Our Almighty Father works for our good and for His glory.  But we are called to be wise stewards of our bodies and commanded to love and care for one another.  And as Christians in the world, it sets a good example for others to listen to our government authorities, discourage panic, and prevent the spreading of disease.

I want to address the Coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19), how it might influence our worship together, and how we can calmly help one another through this crisis.

What is happening?

As you may be aware, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization this week.  A pandemic is not reflective of the severity of a disease; rather it relates to how and where a disease or virus is spreading.  This is why the World Health Organization, as well as federal, provincial and regional health authorities, are asking the public to take appropriate action and precautions.  The aim of these precautions is to protect ourselves from contracting the virus, prevent the spread of the virus, and to protect our health system from becoming over burdened all at once. 

Can we gather on Sundays to Worship?

At the moment, yes.  According to Niagara Regional Public Health (at time of writing), the risk remains LOW despite the recent regional case, and we land far below the government numbers for recommended event cancellation.  We will allow these parameters, along with directions from the Diocese, to shape what we can and cannot do.   So… until further notice, we will continue Sunday Worship Services while taking necessary precautions regarding the Communion and the sharing of the Peace.   

Common sense dictates, however, that it is prudent to suspend our post-service Coffee Hour until further notice. 

What is the Coronavirus and how is it spread?

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) human coronaviruses cause infections of the nose, throat and lungs. They are most commonly spread from an infected person through:

  • respiratory droplets generated when you cough or sneeze
  • close, prolonged personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • touching something with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands

What can we do about preventing the spread of the virus on Sundays?

We will use all reasonable measures to help prevent the risk of spreading the flu or COVID-19 in our gatherings, including; 

  • the use of individual disposable cups for the communion wine
  • refraining from close contact, touching, hugging, or shaking hands during the Peace.  A friendly wave or pleasant verbal exchange will do before, during and after the service.
  • Ensure all those administering communion are not showing symptoms of illness. 
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer before and after administering or receiving the elements.
  • We have always discouraged the practice of intinction (dipping the bread in the wine), which has been found to present a higher risk of spreading contagion.
  • Until further notice, we will suspend our post-service coffee-hour fellowship.

What can you do to help and protect yourself and others?

These are recommended ways they suggest to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including COVID-19:

  • wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  • stay home if you are sick, have come in close contact with someone who is sick, or have come in close contact to someone who has travelled within the last 14 days.
  • when coughing or sneezing:
    • cover your mouth and nose with your arm or tissues to reduce the spread of germs
    • immediately dispose of any tissues you have used into the garbage as soon as possible and wash your hands afterwards
  • avoid visiting people in hospitals or long-term care centres if you are sick, have come in close contact with someone who is sick, or have come in close contact to someone who has travelled within the last 14 days.
  • avoid large gatherings of 250 people or more (concerts, festivals, events)

What can you do to help Good Shepherd Church?

We encourage you to take whatever precautionary measures you must.  Watch out for one another, make phone calls and check in on each other, especially the most vulnerable among us.  If your are sick or you decide to stay away from Sunday worship because of any risk, please remember your offertory.  Even in times like these, we need the cash flow to pay our bills and maintain our ministries.  You may continue to give to GSC by mailing a cheque to: 

Good Shepherd Church

677 Niagara Street,

St. Catharines, ON

L2M 3R4

If you have Church Envelops, place your offering in that, and then place it into another envelop for mailing.  

The Executive Council will meet this weekend to decide how we will move forward with our future scheduled events and develop a response should the circumstances change.   

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer (Rom. 12.12)

We trust in God and lean on Jesus in times of crisis and despair.  God walks with us even in the shadow of pandemic diseases.   So, please PRAY with HOPE.  Pray for those who now suffer from the virus, pray for the protection of those who do not.  Pray for a complete turn-around in the spread of COVID-19.  Pray for the doctors, nurses, and other medical staff.  Pray for the researchers around the world in their search for a vaccine/cure, that their work will be prosperous.  Pray for the staff, residents and patients in nursing homes in Niagara and elsewhere.  Pray for your leadership as they seek God’s wisdom and face the pressures of managing the Parish at this time.  

We will keep you posted of any changes on this Website, via email, or on our Facebook Page.

For up to date, trusted COVID-19 information please visit:

https://www.niagararegion.ca/health/COVID-19/default.aspx

and

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

In Him,

Rev. Jim Carriere+