Do worshippers need to be vaccinated if the parish is worshipping outdoors?

No, everyone is welcome to outdoor services, with COVID protocols in place, regardless of vaccination status.

When do parishes need to ask for proof of vaccinations and identification?

It is mandatory to ensure all participants present are vaccinated for indoor gatherings of 50 people or more.  For smaller groups,  use your best judgement. For example, for a weekly ten-person bible study held in the parish hall, simply remind participants that they are asked not to attend if they're not vaccinated. If you are hosting a group of 40 to discuss community matters, and some of those people are parishioners and some are neighbours or guests, please formally check vaccination cards. Worship is an exception; people are asked to worship via an online option if they are unvaccinated, but we are not checking proof of vaccination at worship services. 

How do vaccine requirements apply to third-party groups (i.e. groups that are renting the hall, etc.)?

All third-party user groups must abide by provincial health orders while using our buildings. Additionally, as per diocesan guidelines, all participants must be vaccinated and provide proof of vaccination to their group organizer to enter our buildings. There is an exception for participants of essential services such as drug and alcohol support groups, food distribution services, etc. (a full list of exceptions can be found on Item L of the September 10th Provincial Order on Gatherings and Events).

Can the Anglican church offer a "religious exemption" to being vaccinated?

No. Chancellors across the country have examined this question and responded: "There is neither legal nor doctrinal authority within the Anglican Church of Canada or any of its ministers to issue the requested religious vaccination exemption." No clergy is authorized to give an exemption to vaccination on religious grounds. Vaccination exceptions given on medical grounds by a physician (proof provided) will be respected.

Worship and Communion

What are the capacity limits for indoor events/worship?

We encourage all parishes to limit capacity to a maximum of 50% (with respectful distancing), using all available space. Although "respectful distancing" is not clearly defined by the order, 2m is still considered the safest distance when outside the home, and what we are recommending.

Why don’t we all just move our church services outside?  

For some communities, as long as all protocols are observed, this could be an ideal solution.  However, other parishes may find that the complications of being outside do not suit the needs of their community. Considerations include: that the set-up and sanitizing of chairs is too labour-intensive; that parishioners are too cold; there is a lot of ambient noise outdoors and those with hearing loss may find it difficult to focus and hear what is going on; the labour of transporting and setting up sound systems; etc.

Are people required to wear a mask during indoor worship?  

The use of masks by members of the congregation during an indoor liturgy is required. (December 2021).

What are the protocols regarding singing?

Groups may sing indoors if all participants are wearing masks. Outdoor singing may be unmasked with social distancing.

What are the protocols regarding eating and drinking?

Food and drink may be consumed outside only and should not be shared. Each parishioner should bring their own beverage or food.

Can we use single-use communion cups?  

No. The passing and sharing of the “common cup” is embedded in Anglican practice and theology. We are re-enacting the scriptural account of the Last Supper where, “when supper was ended, Jesus took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them…”  This was an additional single cup, saved till the end of the meal, and shared by all. Our practice is rooted first in Christ’s own example.

Additionally, our use of a single chalice (and where possible, a single loaf) is rooted in our theological understanding that “we who are many are one Body for we all participate in the one bread” (one cup). Bishop John Baycroft, in his book The Eucharistic Way, adds, “We are also reminded by the one cup that we cannot drink it alone. We drink from a common cup as a strong symbol of unity and our willingness to accept each other…”    

There is also a very practical reason, which is the risk involved to the person performing the ablutions: this person would have to handle and drink from every single cup which was used during the distribution of the sacrament.  

For a fuller explanation click here.  

Can people bring their own bread and wine?  

No. An important component of our eucharistic liturgy is the “breaking of the bread” for distribution to the people.  This act has two meanings. First, as the “body of Christ,” the breaking of the consecrated bread symbolizes Christ’s own brokenness for our sake. Similarly, there is one cup, the cup of Christ’s own life, which is poured out for us.  Second, the fact that all of us share from the same bread, and the same cup is powerful symbol of the way in which “we being many are one body” in Christ. We are literally united by taking the same food and drink into ourselves.  

Why are we not permitted to use baked bread? Why must we use wafers only?  

There are two reasons: one is that wafers come to us factory-sealed; bread, however, comes from someone’s kitchen—and thus its use falls under the same rubric as not sharing food prepared elsewhere. It is as much about where the bread has been, as it is about who touches it. Secondly, it is much easier to administer a wafer without touching the hands of the communicant than it is to administer a piece of bread. In other words, it isn’t the adminstrant’s hands one worries about—if they’ve been sanitized—it is the communicants’ hands and their potential to re-contaminate the hands of the administrant as they move to the next person.

Will the church be continuing with virtual worship when we start to gather in-person again?  

Yes. We have recommended that, where possible, parishes currently offering virtual worship continue to do so for those who do not yet feel comfortable attending in-person services. The nature of the virtual worship experience may change. First, some parishes will be migrating to eucharistic worship, rather than Services of the Word.  Second, several parishes are hoping to livestream Sunday worship. In this case, the service would be available in “real time,” in addition to being posted on the parish’s website for viewing later. Please be in touch with your local parish for more information.