11 March 2020
A Pastoral Letter to the Members of the Pacific Mountain Regional Council
At the invitation of Premier Horgan, Treena and I joined with other United Church, ecumenical and interfaith leaders for a call today with government officials. The purpose was to provide an update regarding the COVID-19 virus and to respond to questions from participants.
We are deeply grateful to Premier Horgan, Minister Adrian Dix and Dr. Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer, for taking the initiative and then giving their time to connect with Faith Communities for the purpose of working together to keep people rightly informed and protected. It was clear that they understand and respect the role that communities of faith play in the lives of their constituents, and they see us as partners with them in protecting the most vulnerable ones among us. The science shows that the most vulnerable to infection are senior citizens and those with pre-existing medical conditions.
Their message to us all was clear – be cautious and stay connected.
Be Cautious – This is a time for each Community of Faith to review communal practises and rituals for the purpose of preventing the transmission of COVID-19. Reconsidering how we do the ritual sharing of communion, taking offering, community meals and coffee times after Sunday services to avoid the spread of the virus is one way we can do our part.
The same cautions apply in this or any flu season:
- Don’t panic.
- Stay home if you show or feel any symptoms of illness.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
- Sneeze or cough into your sleeve.
- Keep some physical distance from others.
Stay Connected – This means that we need to find more ways to stay connected to one another this season without always meeting together in the same place. We can help each other, especially our elderly members, stay connected by calling them on the phone and checking in.
Additional up to date information can be found at: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/coronavirus-(novel)
Officials are not asking that we not meet at this time, however, they are asking us to consider the question when planning events: do we need to hold this event right now?
We trust that each Community of Faith will continue to live life and take precautions based on the needs of the wider community. Our interfaith and ecumenical neighbours are dealing with particular challenges so let us support them in prayer and in whatever ways we can as they exercise their faiths.
“We are called to be the church…to love and serve others…” (A New Creed, United Church of Canada). This is who we are, and this is who we are called to be. Let us be cautious and stay connected so that we will indeed be Christ’s compassion for others.
May the peace which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God especially today.
The Rev. Jay P. Olson, President and Treena Duncan, Regional Executive Minister