This article will appear in the March print issue of Anglican Life and is written by Canon Paulette Bugden of the Parish of Deer Lake, NL.
To say this has been a difficult year for the church as we have known it, is a huge understatement. Change was forced upon the Church. Change in the Church normally comes slowly unless an event forces change!
One day in March 2020 it was business as usual, and the next day our church buildings were closed, and visiting people in their homes and in health care facilities was prohibited.
Our buildings were closed during our busiest seasons: Lent and Easter! That’s the time of many special worship services.
Most congregations and parishes started reaching out using online worship through different platforms. In the Parish of Deer Lake, we started using the platform Zoom, something I had not even heard about before COVID-19. We could not gather for worship or for meetings, and could not physically visit each other, so as leaders in the Church we were scrambling for another way to reach people. Zoom, along with Facebook Live, Go ToMeeting, and other online platforms helped to somewhat fill the void.
In the Diocese of Western Newfoundland, our Bishop initiated weekly clergy meetings which helped us stay in contact, and stay informed. This gave us an opportunity to discuss how we were feeling and what we were doing to help us and the parishioners get through, while all the time thinking it would only be for a few months.
The Parish of Deer Lake started offering online worship twice a week, with midweek Evening Prayer on Wednesdays, and Morning Prayer on Sundays, all by Zoom.
As the rector of the parish, I originally started midweek Evening Prayer because it was the season of Lent, and then continued after Easter Sunday because I felt that it may help fill a void left from not being able to gather for worship or have pastoral visiting.
Normally during Holy Week at St. Michael and All Angels’ church in Deer Lake, there is worship every day, including an Easter Vigil on Saturday evening. At the Ascension in Howley, there is worship on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
It was challenging to hold an Easter Vigil worship online and make it meaningful for people. Good Friday and Easter Sunday were also a challenge. Because there were no musicians to call on, we decided to do the music through YouTube videos, putting links in the email and Facebook posts. Unfortunately, this seemed to only work well for those people who are a little tech savvy.
As a clergy person, I feel it is easy to become too confident about the impact of online worship. Everyone who is posting worship is getting a lot of views and interactions, however that does not mean that online worship is a transformative experience for all those watching! But, I do think even a click on a link can be an indicator! It’s an indicator that people are looking for something different than, or something to complement, what we normally offer in a building on a Sunday. I would hope that this indicator would encourage leaders to discern what they may keep, change, or let go of when the pandemic is past.
Hopefully, with all the negativity and frustration of a lockdown and a world pandemic, there will come some good for ministry and the Church.
Where has all of this left us as followers of Jesus, as disciples?
It was, and still is, a time of lamenting, because even though most of our buildings are now open with limited capacity, nothing is the same. We may be feeling like the psalmist in Psalm 22 asking, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
However, as followers of Jesus, as disciples, we are people of hope, people of the good news, the good news of the Gospel. Psalm 39:7 says, “And now, O Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in you.” We are people of hope, builders of the kingdom. At this time, the same as any time, as followers of Jesus, hopefully we continue to be rooted in prayer and the good news of the Gospel.
Online worship has been a positive experience for me with the exception of missing energy from the people in the pews. However, the energy level is increased by having others involved in the online worship.
The most difficult for me in this pandemic has been pastoral situations. At least now we can visit people, have funerals, and be there: physically present for those who need us.
A couple of months ago, we were again locked down in Deer Lake with our church buildings closed and visitations stopped. It was a reminder of how quickly things can change. This pandemic has shown us that we cannot take anything for granted. We cannot be complacent; we need to take care of one another by being diligent about safety in our buildings and outside. Jesus left us the commandment to love one another and one way we live out that commandment is by keeping each other safe, whatever that looks like now and in the future.
This story will appear in the February print issue of Anglican Life,
submitted by The Rev’d Eli Cross
Recently, the Rt. Rev’d John Watton, Bishop of the Central Diocese announced that Glenn Freake of Port Union has been granted Licenses in Lay-Ministry and Eucharistic Assistant-Ministry in the Parish of Catalina.
On the Third Sunday of Advent, December 13, 2020 the Rev’d Eli Cross presided at an Induction Worship for Glenn at St Peter’s Anglican Church, Catalina. On behalf of the Diocese, Glenn received his two licenses from his wife, Roxanne and mother, Doris both of whom were a motivational force in his vocation.
A side note: Glenn’s mother, Doris was the organist for the service. She takes her regular turn (alternating weeks) at this musical ministry, and shows no sign of slowing down: she is in her mid-eighties!
On Christmas Eve, Vera Payne and Bonnie Wheeler presented St. Paul’s Church in Summerside with a patchwork shirt. Each patch contained an amount of money, totalling $1035. This project was started by their mother, June Wheeler, many many years ago. Their mom has since passed on, but the family carried on her legacy. Many thanks from the congregation of St. Paul’s for this wonderful gesture and monetary donation. God Bless!
This story and photograph, submitted by The Rev’d Kay Osmond, will appear in the February print issue of Anglican Life.
Story by Archdeacon Julie Brace; photograph by Harvey Hiscock
A picture of the Anglican Parish of St. Philip’s, gathered to participate in the livestream of the consecration and installation of our new bishop, The Right Reverend Samuel Rose. Sharing the reserved sacrament at the same time as those gathered at the cathedral were receiving the sacrament, the Holy Spirit was felt to connect everyone in a very real and powerful way.
This story will appear in the January print issue of Anglican Life and was written and submitted by Jack Morgan (photo by Ruth Crews).
Everyone has suffered in one form or another during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the days since. However, no one has felt the ill effects more than seniors and other vulnerable persons. Many had, and some continue to be, the victims of obligatory and extended home isolation and have not dared to venture outside even for the bare necessities of life.
St. Peter’s recognized this unease early on as the pandemic began to emerge. They immediately formed a small committee to assist seniors and other vulnerable people gain access to necessities by running errands to the drug store, food marts, or any other amenity required for their security. All support was offered, given, and accepted in accordance with COVID-19 protocols, where no one served was subject to any risk to their health.
In late spring, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced a program called “Students Supporting Communities.”, whereby they offered a grant for 8 weeks, to qualifying organizations, to hire a student to aid seniors in a variety of ways during these trying times. The government recognized that physical distancing and isolating can take a toll on mental health, especially for seniors and vulnerable members of our community who are already at heightened risk of loneliness and feelings of depression. Government Cabinet Minister Christopher Mitchelmore stated: “The Students Supporting Communities Program will facilitate those connections by mobilizing students to help individuals connect with and access vital supports and services.”
Enter 17-year-old Darcy Scott, a grade 12 student at Queen Elizabeth Regional High, and an accomplished musician. Darcy was hired in late June, and became St. Peter’s “Student Supporting our Community.” He began by forging a plan to reach as many seniors and vulnerable persons as possible, by letter, by telephone, by email, and through social media. He offered several services, including running errands, grass cutting, technology training, his gift of music, and simple safe distance visits. A more than anticipated number took advantage of his services and were delighted with their success.
One of Darcy’s main duties was to bring his newfound friends up to date on computer literacy, helping them to navigat through the nuisances of the iPad, personal computer, and smart phone. Most yearned for the ability to view St. Peter’s weekly Sunday service and Rev’d Bill’s Wednesday evening Bible study on their electronic devices. And some also learned or built on their skills of email and even face timing. Darcy and his benefactors surprised each other with the significant amount of progress achieved. Said Darcy, “I had a great summer; I met great people, mostly seniors, many of whom have become friends.”
St. Peter’s Rector, the Rev’d Bill Strong, says Darcy’s work with seniors has been amazing. “We are happy and incredibly pleased that he joined St. Peter’s this past summer, spreading his knowledge and personality around the community—especially with our seniors during this difficult time. He truly made a difference,” said Strong.
And the good deeds of this program will continue throughout the winter. Darcy has agreed to continue with St. Peter’s in his work with seniors on a part time basis for the next few months. St. Peter’s is grateful for his service, and so are the seniors of our community.