(This note was sent out to all ministry personnel by Tracy Murton, Pastoral Relations Minister,
It is a further update to this November 10 notice.)
Once again, I am writing to all ministry personnel, pastoral charge supervisors and licensed lay worship leaders. These are challenging and Spirit-filled times.
The provincial government has announced additional mask requirements for communities outside of the three major centres. Any community with a population over 5000 is required to wear a mask indoors, beginning on Monday, November 16.
For clarity, here are the implications for communities of faith again:
- Masks are required at all times, for all people, in places of worship.
- Private gatherings held in a private dwelling on behalf of church communities (family weddings, baptisms, funerals, study groups, etc.) have a maximum of 10 participants, including ministry personnel.
As always, the Regional Council staff and leadership cannot mandate the policy within the local context. We would strongly recommend that masks be required in all of the communities of faith within Living Skies Regional Council, but as of Monday, they are only required in communities over 5000 people.
Here are some further words of clarification from the Faith Leaders group that Tricia Gerhard participates in on our behalf:
- For residents in other communities, health officials strongly recommend wearing a non-medical mask anywhere outside the home.
- It is important to note that masks are recommended for outdoor areas (sidewalks and parking lots) as well if two-metre physical distancing cannot be maintained or is unpredictable.
- Wearing a mask in public can be considered an additional line of defence, but does not replace the need for other public health measures that are proven to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (distancing, hand hygiene, stay home when sick, cough or sneeze into your elbow).
- Masks must be worn by music leaders (singers, choirs, soloists, etc…)
- Participants in religious services must wear their masks throughout the service even when seated.
Note: an exemption from wearing a mask has been issued for “Clergy members or religious leaders who are leading a service or ceremony while speaking from a podium, lectern, platform, stage, desk or other standing or seating area dedicated to speaking.” Physical distancing and other restrictions remain in effect.
You can find a further description of the mandate, including a list of communities affected, here. These measures are in place for the next 28 days, which takes us to December 14, or past Advent 3. A reminder that following the public health guidelines is not optional, and that fines have been levied on people for not complying. At the present time, it does not appear that churches will be required to go back into lockdown, but you may have seen in the news a call for that from other leaders (doctors and other health professionals) so please stay connected to the changing guidelines.
Again, if there is anything further that the Regional Council can assist with, please let me know. I recognize the stress of the ever-changing criteria and the anxiety for the physical and spiritual health of those we minister with. As we move toward Advent, I pray that there will be opportunities for you to experience some of the faith-filled wonder of the season, in spite of COVID-19. These are challenging and difficult times and we need to continue to work together and support one another.
Peace and blessings,
Pastoral Relations Minister, Living Skies Regional Council