Anglican churches suspend all services until further notice
All services at Anglican churches in the Diocese of the Windward Islands have been suspended until further notice, as a response to the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Rt Reverend C Leopold Friday, the Bishop of the Diocese declared in a letter to clergy dated April 1, that following a meeting with clergy members on Monday, March 30, and listening to the information of reliable sources such as the World Health Organization, he decided “it is not sufficient for us to simply adhere to the instructions given by the Authorities in the three Archdeaconries, but to go beyond that and promote practices to safeguard the health of our people, nations, ourselves and our families.”
The Coronavirus, he emphasized, is very silent, invisible, highly contagious and easily spread.
“The record has shown that in places where there are no random testing and people continue to carry on life as normal, they came in for big shocks and unwelcomed surprises, days or weeks later,” he contemplated.
The best method used to reduce the spread of the virus, the Bishop indicated, has shown to be persons staying at home, and the situation calls for a change in normal habits, social and cultural practices.
Despite an advisory from the Ministry of Health, and the Bishop’s insistence of the importance of adhering to the advisory, Friday revealed that last Sunday, March 29, “the congregations in several churches in the archdeaconry were over the stipulated amount and in some cases far in excess.”
“We cannot give people the impression that things are normal, my heart hurts me to think that indirectly we may be exposing people, ourselves and our families to being infected,” he continued.
The clergyman acknowledged that it is “hard to not be able to celebrate the Holy Eucharist”, especially at during the time of Holy Week, and Easter, and because the Eucharist is central to the lives of Anglicans.
However, he asked that this loss be suffered for the protection of others.
Therefore, for funerals, Friday asks that the guidelines issued by the authorities be adhered to, so that the attendance is restricted to only family members.
He indicated that he will address weddings and baptisms after Easter Day.
However, the clergyman reassured that for Holy week and Easter, he is in the process of finalizing the details to have services for Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday pre-recorded and relayed via radio, television and social media platforms on the respective days. More information will be forthcoming on the specifics.
The Bishop indicated that on Palm Sunday “you may have Palm branches in your homes.”
However, the service of the Renewal of the vows and the Blessing of the oils “will be postponed until an appropriate time after COVID-19.
The Bishop encouraged that in facing the current situation, “Let us see this as an opportunity to reflect on what we can learn through this experience, as difficult and agonizing as it may be. We may not recognize how helpful this may be until COVID-19 is over.”
He asked persons to place their trust in the Lord.