Our COVID-19 Response
In response to the ongoing developments of the COVID-19 pandemic, St. John's is continuing to take the necessary precautions to ensure the health and safety of the people in our congregation, friends, family, and broader community. Although at times the virus may prevent us from gathering together in-person for worship, or from participating in programs and events, it cannot at any time keep us from fulfilling the mission of our church through prayer, financial givings, and virtual community.
On this page you will find a timeline of events, updates, and notices outlining St. John's response to COVID-19, current guidelines for church activities and programs, as well as any announcements regarding the closure or reopening of St. John's for in-person worship.
December 24th, 2020
A notice from our Wardens
On Monday Premier Ford announced that the entire province will go into lockdown beginning Boxing Day. The directions from the Diocese are that: only those helping with the livestreaming and those leading parts of the service (readers, leaders of the prayers, musicians, Children’s Focus presenters, preachers – 10 maximum) are permitted to be present for the church service.
For the next four Sundays we will have Morning Prayer. We expect that this lockdown will last 28 days after which time we can return to the pattern we have had since September 13th.
Please continue to pray for each other as we go through this trusting in Emmanuel, God with us, Jesus Christ our Lord.
September 10th, 2020
An update from Rev. Peter...
As we look forward to in-person worship on Sunday, September 13th, I want you to be aware of what to expect.
The first thing you will notice is that everyone will be directed to enter the church through the Hall-door. You are required to wear a mask while in the church. (We will provide disposable masks as needed). As you enter the Hallway you will be greeted and asked some COVID-19 screening questions and asked to use hand sanitizer.
Once screened, make your way into the church and sit in any empty pew. (Please avoid any cordoned off pew).
Please note that, for now, we will not have Sunday School and that children are asked to stay in the pew with their family.
During the service please join in all spoken parts, however, we ask you to refrain from singing. Please keep 2 metres distance from other worshippers.
The offering plate will not be passed during the service, but will be available on the table at the back of the church for those who wish to give their offering in this way. We are grateful for the number of people who, in these past months, have used electronic means of contributing (PAG, the website, electronic transfers) to the ministry of St. John’s, Ida.
For the time being, the service of Holy Communion (1st, 3rd and 5th of the month) will include the reception of bread only. Instructions will be given on protocols for receiving communion.
At the end of the worship service, please exit via the church door. If the stairs present a problem, other arrangements can be made.
For the time being, there will be no coffee hour and socializing will be kept to a minimum.
If you plan to join us for in-person worship, please email Marilyn at email@example.com or call the church (705 944 5350) so that we can make the proper preparations.
Please know that we will continue to livestream the service for those who do not feel able, at this time, to return to in-person worship. We look forward to the day when we can all join together to worship the Triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit but in the meantime, we appreciate you joining us in whatever way you can.
Grace and Peace,
September 5th, 2020
Our new tech setup for St. John's
online livestream broadcast!
We will continue to livestream the service for those who do not feel able, at this time, to return to in-person worship. Our technology team is working to ensure a livestream service, so that those who are not attending are able to worship with us together in real time.
Missed a service? No problem! All of our past online services are available for viewing on our website.
Be sure to check out St. John's Online Service Archive!
August 28th, 2020
A notice from our Wardens
For St. John’s, Ida:
The Wardens met the other night to discuss a number of issues, including a policy as it relates to the use of the Church Hall.
We have decided that in the interests of safety and consistency there will be no mid-week use for outside groups until the end of 2020.
If there is a request to use the hall from an inside group, this can be managed as along as we ensure we schedule cleaning after use. Additionally a sign-in at the door will be required for all entering for use. This is consistent with contact tracing practices implemented during the pandemic.
This policy will be revisited by the Wardens as we prepare for the 2021 year, but for now, this seems to be a prudent decision in the best interest for our community.
Kim (on behalf of the Wardens)
August 26th, 2020
A message from the Diocese
July 31st, 2020
A notice from our Wardens
To all our St. John’s, Ida Parishioners,
As we look forward to worshiping together in person again come September, and more specifically Sunday September 13th, 2020, we want to reassure you that as Wardens, we have spent a great deal of time working together reviewing and planning for our safe return to worship time. The Province of Ontario as well as our Diocese have provided direction and protocols that we are working through to allow for all of us to feel safe coming together once again.
The Diocesan guidelines for in-person worship are in the form of a checklist so that nothing is missed. As Wardens we are going to ensure that a checklist is made available so that tasks are monitored for completion and compliance. This includes enhanced cleaning of frequent touch point like door handles,
light switches and faucets. All things that have become a new normal in the world.
Those attending will see a few changes to our worship gatherings which will include:
New information posters around the church to communicate educational information about COVID-19 and prevention.
Signs by photocopiers and phones to alert users to wash their hands after use. These devices are part of the regular cleaning, but personal attention is required as well.
No water fountains will be available.
Hand sanitizers will be available throughout the church.
Facemasks are required. We will provide disposable facemasks for those who don’t have one and a place to dispose of them at the exit.
A defined separate entrance and separate exit. But as always – those with accessibility concerns will be assisted.
Pews blocked off to ensure physical distancing. These have been measured to ensure compliance with the recommended 2 meters.
Meeting rooms will be closed, as will the kitchen. Unfortunately, we are not permitted to serve coffee, tea or food.
Washroom will have limits and require cleaning per use. We are anticipating providing a cleaning option at the entrance for users.
We will be using fresh outdoor air to our best advantage – opening windows where possible. We are not to use fans during this phase.
Another area of change for parishioners will be the mandated screening of all those attending. You will be asked a number of questions, all of which we are sure you are becoming more familiar with, but all with the intention of keeping our community safe and healthy. A temperature check will be done on each person attending, and a name and contact information logged. This is in the event the Regional Health Department contacts us because of a COVID-19 case.
There will also be some changes during the Service. Unfortunately, we are not able to sing together, but music has always been important to our worship, so innovative ideas are being worked on to ensure we can enjoy and worship with music. The offering will not be taken during the service and we encourage the continuation of electronic offerings as you are comfortable. The Peace will be shared with a gesture from the pew, and The Eucharist will be celebrated with bread only.
It is with sadness that Sunday School cannot be offered at this stage of re-opening, but when authorization is given, we will move forward with Sunday School plans as well. Our children are so important to our church family, and always welcome.
Our technology team is working to ensure a livestream service, so that those who are not attending are able to worship with us together in real time.
With the current phase of re-opening, we are only permitted to have a 30% occupancy. With this in mind, we are considering an RSVP process to ensure we are compliant with the guideline. As we move forward together, as phases of re-opening may be adjusted and the maximum numbers in a gathering may change, we will continue to provide direction and information together. Safety and wellness are the priority of everyone in our community. We are thankful we will have the option to gather again and worship.
If there are questions or concerns, please reach out to us.
Your Team of Wardens
Kim Bagg, Donna Morrison, Adrian Olle & Don Winslow
June 17th, 2020
An update from Rev. Peter...
On June 8th, the Ontario Provincial Government announced that places of worship would be able to start to gather again, albeit with some modifications. This is welcome news as we look to one day meeting together for worship.
However, for the time being, all the Anglican Bishops in Ontario have determined that “in person” worship services will not resume until September, at the earliest. This decision was made, in consultation with public health experts, with the well-being and safety of all parishioners being of utmost importance. We will follow the guidelines laid out by our Bishops.
I realize that some of us are hankering to return to “in-person” worship. I completely understand and share that desire. By the end of June, the diocese will publish protocols for reopening for public worship. The Wardens and I will use these to prepare for reopening in the fall.
In the meantime, we will continue to livestream our church services on Sunday mornings at 10:30. I hope you know that if you miss it on Sunday morning, you can still watch it at any time on our website.
We also plan to continue the Zoom Coffee Hour on Sunday evenings from 7 to 8 p.m. We have had some wonderful Men’s Fellowship Breakfasts (without the breakfast) in May and June, on Zoom. Stay tuned for further gatherings of this kind.
Thank you for your ongoing support of our ministry in Ida and Omemee. Your financial support, prayers and encouragement mean a great deal as we journey together through these challenging days.
Please be in touch anytime with any questions or concerns etc. I plan to be on holiday from mid-July to mid-August. Rev. Bill will be available for pastoral care during this time.
Grace and Peace,
June 9th, 2020
A notice from the Diocese of Toronto
Dear St. John’s and Christ Church,
Perhaps you have heard that the provincial government has given the green light for churches to resume worship services but that they are to have no more than 30% capacity at any one time.
I received an email yesterday (see below) stating that, along with all the other dioceses in Ontario, the diocese of Toronto will continue to suspend worship services for at least another 3 months (taking us up to the end of August).
In the meantime we will continue to have online services here on the St. John’s Website and Zoom coffee Hour every Sunday night at 7 p.m.
Hope you are all keeping well during these challenging days.
Grace and Peace,
On June 1, the Ontario House of Bishops announced that in-person worship in the Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario, including the Diocese of Toronto, will be suspended until at least September. Please see our Metropolitan’s pastoral letter here.
The College of Bishops in the Diocese of Toronto upholds this decision, which was made in consultation with public health experts and other diocesan officials.
Although a link to the pastoral letter was posted on the Diocese’s website and shared on the Diocese’s social media, it was not emailed to clergy and lay leaders due to an oversight. We regret the delay and any confusion this may have caused.
Canon Stuart Mann
Director of Communications
Diocese of Toronto
April 10th, 2020
Excerpts from our Easter Newsletter
Good Friday Cross-Walk
It has become a Good Friday tradition at St. John’s to do an early morning Cross-Walk along one of the township roads. People gather in the church parking lot for a short introductory service and then drive to the starting point for the walk. The group carries a large wooden cross. At intersections along the way, prayers are offered up for the families that live along or near that road. The needs of the community, the country and the world are also prayed for. A verse from a familiar hymn is sung and the group moves on to the next intersection.
This year the pandemic has caused us to cancel our Cross-Walk.. However, it is still possible to continue our Walk but in a different form and at any time. Many of us try to walk each day, through our neighbourhood, a parking lot, or around our yard. Consider incorporating prayer into your walk. Pray for the homes you pass, the people in our congregation, friends, family, the needs of the community, the mission of our church, the COVID crisis, the sick, health care workers and essential service providers. Pray too, for those who find the necessary isolation imposed upon us debilitating.
Some of us are not able to go for a walk. However, we can still do a virtual one. Using our mind’s eye we can move through our neighbourhood praying for each home and family. We can picture our Sunday congregation and pray for each person that comes to mind. We can take a parish list and pray our way through, a few persons each day.
The virus has stopped us gathering for our traditional Cross-Walk. But it cannot in any way keep us from fulfilling its intent- praying for the needs of our church, our community, our world, our families and our friends. And, as we pray in faith, Christ’s victory over death is confirmed in us.
Easter update from Rev. Peter...
Dear St. John’s Family,
These past few weeks of dealing with COVID-19 have been a time of disruption and disorientation. It is also a confusing time because there are so many questions.
The doctors and scientists are still trying to figure the virus out. There is still much that is unknown. How long will we need to practice social distancing? On a personal note, will I get the virus, what about my friends and family? And if we do, will it be mild or severe? Not being able to gather at St. John’s and Christ Church has been weird. If someone had told me back in February that the church doors were going to be closed by mid-March and remain closed for a few months, I would have thought they were deluded. I miss seeing you. I hope you are well, and I look forward to the day when we can once again join together.
There is no doubt about it. We are in an anxious time. Jesus tells us in his Sermon on the Mount not to worry. “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:25-27).
Jesus commands us not to be anxious because there is no point in being anxious – it does nothing for us (doesn’t even add a single hour to our life).
If anyone else commanded us not to be anxious we might respond, “that is easy for you to say”. But when Jesus tells us not to be anxious, we take his word to heart because we know that he backs up his word with his complete and utter commitment to us as the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. In Jesus our anxieties are finally set aside, and we find our rest, peace and hope in him.
Grace and Peace,
COVID-19 Prevention Tips
Here are steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones and prevent the spread of coronavirus:
Clean your hands often. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds,* says HealthLink BC. If soap and water aren’t readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cleaning your hands often helps to lower your risk of infection and reduce the spread of infection to others.
Avoid touching your face. Take special care not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands, since these are the most likely ways for the virus to enter your body,* advises the World Health Organization.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces. Potentially contaminated surfaces may include tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets and sinks,* says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Keep a safe distance from sick people. Maintain a safe distance of at least two metres between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing since the virus is thought to spread between people who are within that distance.*
Avoid sharing personal items with others. Don’t share food, drinks, glasses, utensils, towels and other household items with others.*
Practice good respiratory hygiene. Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of the used tissue and immediately wash your hands for at least 20 seconds,* advises Mayo Clinic.
Greet without physical contact. Greet people with a friendly wave, smile, nod, or bow.
Stay in, if you feel sick. Avoid close contact with others if you feel unwell. If you have a cough or fever, seek medical attention.*
March 15th, 2020
Important update for St. John's, Ida & Christ Church, Omeemee:
Due to the ongoing developments with the COVID-19 pandemic, we are moving our services online.
March 13th, 2020 - 9:30 p.m.
Cessation of Worship Letter from the Bishop of Toronto
To the Clergy and People of the Diocese of Toronto -
Beloved in Christ:
It is an indication of how quickly things are changing regarding the Covid-19 pandemic that we need to update our message of earlier today.
Since this morning, the Ministry of Health of the Province of Ontario has issued directives that recommend “the immediate suspension of all large events and public gatherings of over 250 people.” In response to this, the Provincial House of Bishops has decided that the time has come to suspend public worship in the Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario, including the Diocese of Toronto. Please see our Metropolitan’s letter here.
Until further notice, and starting Sunday, March 15, 2020, the College of Bishops is cancelling all corporate worship and all other gatherings in our churches. Ministries of service to marginalized and disadvantaged communities may continue using the utmost care, acting consistent with the Ministry of Health directives. (Those licensees and other outside groups who do not fall under our authority may continue to utilise our spaces as agreed, provided that they too are acting consistent with the Ministry of Health directives.)
We make this decision with a heavy heart, not out of a sense of fear but in confidence that it is the right, safe and caring decision to make for the Church, and for the world, at this time.
Although we cannot gather for corporate worship, it has never been more important that we lift our prayers and praises to a merciful God, and to exercise care and charity for ourselves and our neighbours. Please continue in your personal devotions, privately and with your family, particularly on Sunday. Pray for this situation and for those most affected by it, especially the sick. Check in by telephone or email with others, particularly the isolated and vulnerable. I urge the clergy of the Diocese to provide pastoral care and support as best as you are able, using the guidelines already shared earlier.
Finally, we urge the clergy and lay leaders to facilitate worship as much as you are able using the technology available to you. There are many fine worship resources available online, and all of our liturgical texts are posted on the Anglican Church of Canada website. Please help every Anglican to feel connected to their parish family. I am planning to offer a short online service on Sunday morning; a link will be provided soon.
This has been a remarkable time in our life together. I am inspired by the caring response of all who are engaged in ministry at this time. Please continue to work to uphold the Light of Christ as we journey through this Season of Lent.
The Provincial House of Bishops and the College of Bishops for the Diocese of Toronto are continually monitoring the situation and will be communicating with you frequently in the days to come. Please keep us in your prayers.
Yours in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto
March 13th, 2020 - 5:02 p.m.
An update from Rev. Peter...
Dear St. John’s family,
As many of you know by now our diocesan leadership has directed us to suspend all social non-essential gatherings. This morning I witnessed something I will never forget as long as I live. It was equivalent to seeing a speeding locomotive come to a complete stop in 100 feet. At about 10 a.m. this morning at least four people were here in the hall, on their cell phones, informing those who had bought tickets that the supper was cancelled. It was, as people say, “surreal”.
In addition to the Irish Supper we have cancelled, for the time being, coffee hour, the Lenten Series, Tuesday Night Live Suppers and Bible Study, confirmation class, rural connections, and Messy Church. Stay tuned for information about the Women’s Monday night Bible Study, choir and youth group.
We will continue to gather for worship on Sunday mornings, and since we are well under the 250-person limit for public gatherings set by our government, we feel safe in doing so.
On Holy Communion Sundays we will “Pass the Peace” without any physical contact. We will discontinue anointing and we will receive only the bread at communion (no wine).
This is an anxious time for everyone. Of course, God’s Word has something to say about that. As St. Paul writes: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6).
But wash your hands too! And as a colleague has said, “wash your hands and wash your neighbour’s feet too.” In other words, look after yourself but also keep in mind those who might feel particularly isolated at this time. Perhaps you could give them a phone call, an email or even a note via Canada Post.
We give thanks and pray for the front-line workers in the medical field, public health officials, research scientists and the cashiers at our local stores who
are dealing with the crowds stocking up on food and other items.
Grace and Peace,