As our province begins to loosen restrictions on public gatherings, including gatherings of faith communities, we are offering the following protocols to parishes of our diocese of islands and inlets. They are designed to help us cover the bases and to protect us from unwitting errors or omissions that could cost us dearly. At the same time, our buildings and circumstances vary considerably, and so the attempt here is to outline basic non-negotiables, and to encourage parishes to determine for themselves how best to implement them in their own context.
In order to give time for adequate preparation, the earliest date parishes may re-open for in-person worship in the Diocese of British Columbia is Sunday, July 12, 2020.
We recognize that other faith communities and dioceses may be moving more quickly than this. Our objective is to act with an abundance of caution.
In this regard, for some parishes this timeline would be inadvisable or impossible: please note that no parish is required to reopen for public worship on July 12.
Process for Re-opening
On June 8, 2020, a package was distributed by email to all clergy and wardens of the diocese that contained all the information encompassed in this section of the website. A full copy of that package in pdf. is available for download on the Re-opening Resources page.
The materials provided were divided as follows:
Section 1 was a series of general protocols and recommendations related to (1) the opening of our spaces, (2) liturgical considerations, and (3) the expected conduct of different user groups. This section is encompassed and divided into the five sub-menus on the left of this webpage for quick reference. Each section also has a downloadable pdf. of the information at the bottom of each page.
Section 2 was a fillable questionnaire / safety plan which is to be completed and returned to the territorial archdeacon for approval prior to re-opening. Parishes in Nimpkish region are to return their materials to the executive archdeacon, Barry Foster. This form is also available under Re-opening Resources.
The safety plan is to be submitted by the incumbent and wardens. To allow for a thoughtful response to each parish’s submission—and time for the parish to make needed modifications—the deadline for submission is a minimum of 10 days prior to the proposed date for re-opening. Thus, parishes wishing to re-open July 12 must submit their responses no later than July 2.
Section 3 was a series of posters from the BC Center for Disease Control that must be posted throughout all church buildings. The posters can be downloaded from Re-opening Resouces.
To Open or Not to Open?
Each parish will want to take into account several issues in making its decisions about when and how to re-open for worship. These include:
- its capacity to comply with the protocols set out below
- the vulnerability of its parishioners, due to such factors as age or underlying health conditions
- the vulnerability of its staff—please note that no staff member who is unwilling to lead in-person worship on account of personal vulnerability to COVID-19 can be required to do so
- the general views and feelings of parishioners concerning their own safety
- whether people will actually want to attend a service that complies with the required restrictions
- attentiveness to inclusion—how we will continue to meet the needs of those who are uncomfortable attending in person
The information on these pages has been gathered on the basis of current knowledge and direction from our public health authorities. Parishes must be prepared to respond quickly to new public health orders or diocesan directives, in the event of changing circumstances or spikes in infection.