COVID-19 Update

June 21, 2020

 

 

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Philemon 3

 

 

Dear Everyone,

 

I hope you all are well. There are several things I want to share with you this week…

 

 

Pastoral Emergencies

 

As most of you know, my wife Nancy and I will be leaving North Bay this coming Wednesday, June 24, returning July 30 – a combination of holidays and a study period. In the event of a pastoral emergency, please contact the Ven. Marie Loewen [705-497-4699; revmarie1952@icloud.com ].

 

    

 

Summer Corporate Worship

Outdoor Services: We are still waiting for directions about outdoor services. If there is provision for outdoor services of Holy Communion while I am away, celebrated by other clergy in the deanery, there will be directions in a future newsletter. We should not be surprised if there will be limitations about how many can gather at one time; people who want to attend might be required to register in advance. Details will follow when they become known.

Archbishop Germond has issued a pastoral letter of encouragement and appreciation:  https://www.dioceseofalgoma.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/A-Pastoral-Letter-to-the-Faithful-in-the-Diocese-of-Algoma-June-2020-web.pdf

A general guideline document for Anglican parishes in Ontario was circulated this past week; please see https://www.dioceseofalgoma.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Loving-Our-Neighbours-Ecclesiastical-Province-of-Ontario-TEMPLATE-FOR-REOPENING-FINAL-2.pdf

 

 

Pregnancy Help Centre

This week we got an update from the local pregnancy help centre. The information is too long to include in this newsletter. However, if you would like more information about this ministry, please leave a message at the parish office, and it will be forwarded to you.

 

 

Tuesday Evening Bible Study

If you would like to participate in the Tuesday evening Bible study, please contact Bill Burton (705-472-2706).

 

 

 

No Upcoming Mid-week Evening Prayer or Sunday Night Compline Services

There will be no services of Evening Prayer on Wednesdays, nor on-line services of Compline (late night prayers) on Sundays, between June 24 and July 30. There will be, however, weekly on-line Deanery services each Sunday, and worship resources, on the St. Brice’s website. (As always, if anyone wants printed resources, please contact the parish office.) Parishioners might want to participate in the short prayer services on Thursday evenings hosted by St. John’s parish – for further information, please contact the Rev. Beth Hewson at 705-472-6070.

 

 

Devotionals, Thank You

 

Thank you to the parishioners who contributed devotional materials, which are on St. Brice’s web-site. As well, several large-print copies of Our Daily Bread devotionals were delivered to St. Brice’s. If you want a copy, please contact the parish office.

 

         

 

Butterfly Release, Hospice Support

More information came into the office this past week, about the annual release of butterflies, as a fund-raiser for the newly-opened local hospice. If you would like more information, please see https://nnpcn.com/live-butterfly-release-a-celebration-of-life/ or contact the hospice.

 

 

St. Alban’s, Restoule

The congregation of St. Alban’s, Restoule, has decided to merge with the other congregations of Trillium parish. The Church building will be deconsecrated this coming month. Please pray for the congregation during this time of transition.

St. Alban’s has decided to share some items and furnishings with other parishes in the deanery and elsewhere in the diocese — including St. Brice’s. Sharp-eyed parishioners will probably notice a few additions to St. Brice’s when we gather again.

 

 

 

God bless you all. Each of you is in my prayers at least daily. In return, I am grateful for your prayers.

 

Most of you know that Nancy and I have a small home in western Nova Scotia. We will be doing some work on it this summer. I will try (I can’t promise) to provide occasional updates on our progress, sent to the parish Facebook page.

 

 

Blessings,

 

Peter Armstrong

 

June 14, 2020

 

“May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ our Lord.”  II Peter 1: 2

 

 

Dear Friends,

 

Once again, there are a number of things I want to share with you this week…

 

Reflection: Waiting

Many of us find ourselves in the position now of waiting – waiting to be able to get a hair cut or style, waiting to see when stores will be open, waiting to see when our regular services of worship will resume. Many of us don’t want to be waiting longer.

There’s a long tradition of “waiting” for people of faith, though:

  • Before the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, the Jewish people were waiting, longing, for the coming of the Messiah

  • Since Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection, all Christians have been waiting, ultimately, for his return – to know fully the glory of God in heaven

  • In the season of Advent, we are waiting for the celebration of Christmas

  • In this season, we are waiting to be able to gather in worship once again.

One of the fruits of the Spirit is “patience,” the gift of being able to wait willingly, until God’s resolution in God’s time (see James 5: 7-11, Galatians 5: 22-23, etc.).

We believe that God’s timing is perfect – not for our agenda, but for our ultimate good. Could it be that God is using the event of this global pandemic to advance his purposes, not only in our care for one another, but even in this famine of common worship, together, for our growth and sanctification as his disciples?  I believe so…

 

Resumption of Regular Worship

As many of us know, the provincial government has given permission for services of worship to be held once again, up to 30% of a building’s capacity. Assuming the capacity is the limit determined by the fire marshal, for St. Brice’s, that would be a maximum of 36 people at a time, or whenever everyone is at least two metres apart from one another (whichever is less).

However, the leaders in the Anglican dioceses of Ontario are taking a cautious approach. Parish clergy got an email this past week, reinforcing the plan that the Church buildings not be used for Sunday worship until the end of August, except for recordings for on-line worship services.

There is more latitude to having common worship outside – such as in St. Brice’s back yard. Plans are still being made, and we are told to expect information later this month.

It looks like we will be allowed to gather, in family groups of a maximum of 10, two metres apart. For example, if there are three people in one household, and two in a second household, people in the same household do not have to be two metres apart from each other, but different households would have to be separated physically.

Parishes would likely need to submit a plan to the deanery (regional) officials, so they are reassured we are taking all the wise and necessary steps to prevent the spread of the virus.

So, while I expect we will be able to come together soon, it will look quite different from how we used to gather, up to mid-March of this year.

In preparation for meeting together in some form, the wardens and I are now preparing a proposal for the deanery officials.

 

George Floyd, Minneapolis

 

In last week’s newsletter, I included a short reflection about George Floyd’s death, and the subsequent “Black Lives Matter” protests. I was mistaken about the place of George’s death – it was in Minneapolis. I’m sorry about that.

 

Tuesday Meals

The Tuesday Meals continue, although they have been delivered during the pandemic, instead of people picking them up, on the first Tuesday of each month. Two changes are coming up: First, Amanda Adams is helping Krista Geden with the administration work, which has grown with the popularity of the meals. Second, the volunteers will be taking holidays in July. This means that meals will be provided on Tuesday, July 7, and Tuesday, September 1, but not in early August.

 

       

                                Confirmation Classes

I already wrote that I will be offering Confirmation classes, for youth and adults. Anyone is welcome to attend, including anyone who wants a refresher. One does not have to be confirmed at the end of the classes, but we are welcome to if we wish, if we haven’t been confirmed previously.

I invited feedback from my Anglican colleagues, and wrote this:

 

Dear Everyone…

What I’ve taught, and how I’ve taught it, has evolved for me. I continue to emphasize core teachings as found in the Anglican Catechism, etc., but I think the Christian life is at least partly about modelling and mentoring – perhaps a bit more like a blacksmith than simply a repository of unified teaching we know by revelation. The outline might look daunting to some, but some points I think can be touched on quite briefly. It’s all about grace.

If you think there are points which need to be added, edited, or eliminated, please bring it up with me.

If you would like to lead a class or two, either with youth or adults, please let me know. If there are youth or adults who have already been confirmed, but want to join in, they’re most welcome…

 

Below is the proposed outline, which might be of interest:

Confirmation Classes Outline

Summer-Fall 2020

Teaching style: Informed conversation.

Different classes for different ages/ needs:

Summary of Sharing with Youth: Material below.

Summary of Sharing with Adults: Reviewing material below, filling in any gaps, with particular teaching about the nature of the Church expressed in Anglicanism, and on-going discipleship – some points in less detail, others more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday Coverage

 

As I mentioned previously, I will be away from St. Brice’s from June 24 to July 30 – a combination of holidays and study leave. In my absence, the Ven. Marie Loewen (705-497-4699; revmarie1952@icloud.com ) is on-call for pastoral emergencies.

If Holy Communion is going to be regularly celebrated, some time ago I arranged for the following clergy to provide coverage at St. Brice’s:

 

          June 28      The Rev. Dr. Derek Neal

          July 5         The Ven. Linda White

          July 19       The Ven. Marie White

 

Layreaders will also be available each week.

I don’t expect there will be regular weekly newsletters while I am away, but the wardens know how to share newsletters if needed.

 

 

Tuesday Bible Studies

 

Bill Burton has offered to host Bible studies while I’m away. This coming Tuesday, we will continue looking at Ephesians 4. To join on June 16 or 23, please contact the parish office. After that, please contact Bill (705-472-2706).

 

 

 

 

Microwave Oven

 

A parishioner has offered to give away a microwave oven. If you want it, please contact the parish office.

 

 

 

Canadian Survey Link

I participated in a recent survey about the global pandemic, and its effect on Canadian charities. If you would like to see the survey results, please go to file:///C:/Email/Information%20for%20the%20Parish%202020,%20Canada/Spiritual%20Development%20or%20Missions/April-June/covid19_final_results_en.pdf

 

It’s clear that a number of Canadian charities have been negatively affected by the current pandemic – with declines in revenue, and sometimes laying off staff. I am grateful, and appreciative, that St. Brice’s has been doing pretty well financially. Typically, our months with the lowest income are January, July and August. For those who are able to support our ministries and outreach financially, we are grateful for your on-going support.

 

Reasons for Church

Someone gave me the link to an article, “Ten Things You Should Know about the Church After COVID-19.” I thought it was a good article, and so am sharing the link with you:

https://www.crossway.org/articles/10-things-you-should-know-about-the-church-after-covid-19/?utm_source=Crossway+Marketing&utm_campaign=682a63a033-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_06_03_03_21_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0275bcaa4b-682a63a033-304714201

 

Obstacles to Reading Scripture

Some Anglicans know their way around the Bible very well; others – not so much. This summer I was asked to undertake a short project, to help Canadian Anglicans learn more about how to read from the Bible, and how to use what we learned responsibly in our everyday lives.

I’m hoping to get some problems or questions from some of you. I don’t really want to hear from people who are very comfortable with the Bible and use it regularly. I want to hear from people who are shy to try reading it (for whatever reason), or tried, and it didn’t go well (for whatever reason). Don’t hold back! Giving me ideas can help everyone.

 

Website Resources

 

Please keep in mind the devotional material which is available on the St. Brice’s website:

https://www.stbriceschurch.com/wordpress/?page_id=920

 

 

 

Layreaders’ Conference

 

Temiskaming Deanery is responsible for hosting a diocesan layreaders’ conference, once every five years (September 2015, September 2020, etc.). Because of the pandemic, the planning committee plans to offer a shorter program, on-line, on Saturday, September 26. You don’t have to be a layreader to check out the talks and workshops. The proposed outline is below:

 

 

 

 

9:30am Start with on-line worship                                                             30 minutes

10am Judy Paulsen talk & discussion: “Responding to the Gospel”             60 minutes

11 Break                                                                                                     10 minutes

11:10 Jay Koyle: “Discerning One’s Gifts”                                                   60 minutes

12:10pm Noon Time Prayer                                                                          5 minutes

Lunch

        1:30pm, 4 workshops in the afternoon (choose 2)                                      45 minutes each

                                         Funerals & pastoral care – Marie Loewen

                                         Prayer – Anne Germond

                                         2:30pm, Morning Prayer, Liturgy – Glen Miller

                                         Preaching – Kelly Baetz

                                         3:30 closing

 

Missions Focus

St. Brice’s (A.C.W.) Anglican Church Women is a key way we support missions here at St. Brice’s. The A.C.W. gets its income three ways – from donations after parish funeral receptions, from their Spring Tea, and from their Fall Lunch.

The good news is that we seem to be a pretty healthy bunch. The not-so-good news is that the number of funerals held recently at St. Brice’s has plummeted. It seems that not so many people are dying; and when they are, families often opt just for a cemetery committal or a gathering at a funeral home. As well, because of the pandemic, the Spring Tea which was planned for Eastertide this year was cancelled.

I’ve realized this will significantly affect how much the A.C.W. members can contribute to missions, around Christmas time this year.

To my knowledge, no plans have been made. However, I hope that the parish might choose to take on a pandemic-friendly fundraiser some time in the next few months.

 

Evening Prayers

On Sunday evenings at 9pm, I have been hosting some short devotions, based on a resource from the website of the National Church. I thought it would be a nice way for people to finish their Sundays. However, there is only one consistent attender, who prefers the late-night service of Compline from the Book of Common Prayer. So, I have been offering the service of B.C.P. Compline instead. I will attach a copy of the devotions I had previously prepared to this document. If you would like to use it on your own, you’re welcome to. (If you’re not able to open the attachment, please leave a message at the parish office.)

 

 

“Virtual” Coffee

I have been hosting a “virtual” coffee gathering – really, a chance for people to say “Hello” to each other, and get caught up on the news – on Sunday mornings. However, I hope to be transitioning to offering in-person worship on Sunday mornings, and then I will be going on vacation. So, the last “virtual” coffee gathering I plan to host will be tomorrow (Sunday, June 14). However, I encourage people to keep in touch with one another. If someone else would like to host these gatherings, please let me know if you would like the Zoom coordinates.

 

Please be assured of my on-going love and prayers for you. I hope you continue to use good health practices. Remember most of all that the God of all creation loves you, and wants all people to know him as his adopted sons and daughters.

 

 

 

In Jesus Christ,

 

 

Peter Armstrong

 

 

 

June 7, 2020

 

 

Dear Friends,

 

“Grace and peace from God the Father and Jesus Christ our Saviour.” Titus 1: 4b

 

I hope you are all doing well. Here are several points I want to share with you this week…

 

 

Forgiveness Teaching

Beginning this coming week, the Ven. Marie Loewen will be teaching a course about forgiveness. She writes:

 

Have you struggled with being able to forgive someone or something – or with even being willing to do so? Does the phrase in the Lord’s Prayer “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”, always give you pause? A gospel-based understanding and practice of forgiveness will be a way forward into the freedom forgiveness brings. 

If this interests you, then join us for a 7 week online consideration of “The Freedom Of Forgiveness”.  This workshop, delivered via Zoom, will look at the barriers and misunderstandings that make forgiveness seem impossible, consider what God’s forgiveness and grace looks like and how we can, in obedience to Jesus’ example, forgive those who have hurt us (including forgiving ourselves sometimes!).  This is not a therapeutic intervention, so you will not be asked to delve into crippling events.  Rather it is an opportunity to understand concepts and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us into an experience of giving and receiving grace using scriptural principles and a mildly bothersome event in our lives as “practice” in applying these. You will need 90 minutes once a week for teaching and discussion, an hour or so a week for reflection, a Bible and perhaps a journal. Sessions will be offered on Wednesday mornings at 10:30, and one evening a week (the particular evening to be determined by the evening participants).

Please feel free to pass this on to others who may be interested. Please contact Rev. Marie at revmarie1952@icloud.com for further information and Zoom coordinates.

     

 

Thank you for Support for the Medical Clinic, Diocese of Tarime

As we know, the Diocese of Algoma is in a companion relationship with the Diocese of Tarime. At this time, about $6000 has been raised for Personal Protective Equipment for the medical clinic where the bishop’s wife works. Thank you to parishioners here and throughout the diocese for your support.

 

 

 

 

Like Rhubarb?

 

There are some wonderful stalks of rhubarb growing in St. Brice’s back yard. Two parishioners have already helped themselves to make desserts or jam. Please help yourself – it’s accessible through the gate in the back alley. First come, first served.

 

 

 

 

Planning for the Eucharist: Desiring to Receive Communion

It is a strange time for clergy and lay people alike, that we are not able to share communion together as we are accustomed. Archbishop Anne and other Ontario bishops circulated a letter to the clergy this past Monday, encouraging us to take a time of rest, and indicating they do not want the Church buildings to be opened for regular worship, before this coming September.

Last week, the St. Brice’s Advisory Board asked me to communicate clearly to Archbishop Anne that there is a strong desire in the parish to be able to receive communion, which I have done. We do not yet have a date, but I would like us to be ready when we can share communion together again.

 

Some of us have a piety in which receiving communion as frequently as we are able is very important to us. For others, sharing communion frequently does not have the same degree of high priority.

 

Planning for the Eucharist: Restrictions

I anticipate that, whenever we will be allowed to gather together physically again, there will be restrictions. We will likely only be allowed to gather in small groups of five or perhaps 10. We will likely be allowed to gather outside before we can gather inside. We will be encouraged or required to wear masks, must sit apart and clean our hands, are asked to avoid touching our faces, and so on. If we cannot meet in the Church building to receive communion, I hope that we can gather in St. Brice’s back yard, when it’s not raining.

 

 

Planning for the Eucharist: Preferences

  • Some of us prefer to use the Book of Common Prayer; others prefer the Book of Alternative Services or the Kenyan Anglican liturgy.

  • A few of us have preferences whether to use the newer Revised Common Lectionary, or the older Prayer Book eucharistic lectionary.

  • Many of us have music which is particularly meaningful to us. We will likely be allowed to listen to recorded music before we will be allowed to sing together – projecting our voices makes it more likely to spread the virus if we have it.

 

When we typically meet on Sunday morning, we can’t all choose to have the liturgy just the way we want it, because there are too many of us. When we are meeting in small groups, then there is more flexibility.

Subject to the canons of this diocese (it should go without saying that Anglicans work within the framework of our common canon law), I am willing to celebrate using whichever liturgy is most devotionally helpful to parishioners at this time.

 

Preparing for the Eucharist: Practical Planning

So, if you would like to be able to receive communion with others as soon as this is allowed, it would be helpful if you identify, say, three others you would like to receive communion with. You need to agree together which order of service you want, and if you have a couple of music preferences (ideally, recorded), then please pass this on to Amanda Adams

AmandaErin_Adams@hotmail.com ; 705-477-8712 within a week – that is, by Sunday, June 14.

 

If it doesn’t matter to you with whom you receive communion, or which liturgy is used, then please contact Amanda and let her know. She might link you with others who feel the same.

 

 

Planning for the Eucharist: Practical Considerations

So, when I can celebrate communion with all of you, I will expect to be celebrating a number of times with a lot of small groups. Believe me, I will be very happy to have the privilege to be able to do so. These services of the Holy Eucharist will likely be a little shorter in time than our regular Sunday morning services.

 

My aim would be to proclaim God’s written word, provide a short homily, consecrate and share the communion element(s), to have a couple of pieces of music if desired, and washing, all within an hour. My thinking at this time is that I could celebrate communion at 8am, 9am, 10am, and so forth. If this appears too ambitious, you might be encouraged to know that in my first parish, I looked after seven congregations, celebrating one service right after another each weekend. This will be just like that, except that I don’t have to keep driving down the road!

 

Summer Holidays

I will be taking summer holidays, and while away, I am also going to be doing a short project to help Canadian Anglicans develop our biblical literacy. My wife Nancy, our cat and I will be leaving North Bay on June 24. The current health directives are than we can drive to our home in Nova Scotia, although we will have to self-isolate for two weeks after we arrive. We will be doing some construction work on the home while we are there, but we will also take time to relax as well. I hope that I can send you some photographs later next month. We will be returning on July 30. I intend to be sure that I am healthy before engaging in ministry here again.

 

While I am away, in the event of a pastoral emergency, the Ven Marie Loewen (705-497-4699; revmarie1952@icloud.com) has agreed to be on-call.

 

Last fall, long before the pandemic, I arranged for the Rev. Marie and two other deanery clergy to take Sunday services at St. Brice’s, as well as having two services of Morning Prayer conducted by layreaders. However, since we cannot gather in the Church building, that is moot. To be clear, I do not expect the Rev. Marie or others to provide communion to a lot of small groups while I am away, although I would leave it to their discretion to administer communion under exceptional circumstances when they are allowed.

 

Devotions

A sincere thank you to a wide number of parishioners who provided some devotions for the parish website. I hope that they will all be posted on the website shortly. It turned out to be a larger project than I had anticipated. There are currently 47 different files. All the glory goes to God (Ephesians 3: 20-21). We all have been given spiritual gifts for the common good (I Corinthians 12: 7); all believers share in Christ’s priesthood within the order of the Church (I Peter 2: 9). The so-so quality of some recordings is entirely my fault (Romans 7: 18b!). As well, I am not particularly technically ept.

 

My hope is that if many people are on-line watching daily videos of cats or waterfalls or whatever interests us, before we turn off our devices to go to lunch or to go to bed, we might take a moment or two to view one of the devotions, which I hope will be spiritually uplifting.

 

There are still a number of paper copies of The Daily Bread devotionals, which I would be happy to distribute to whomever wants them. If you do, please contact the parish office promptly.

 

On-line Worship

For those who have access to a computer or device and the internet, please keep in mind the weekly Deanery services on Sunday mornings, the Evening Prayers for St. Brice’s Sunday nights at 9pm, and the Thursday evening prayer services hosted by the Rev. Beth Hewson of St. John’s – not to mention opportunities to view worship around the world.

 

The ministries of the Church continue – we continue to offer the food bank, the Tuesday Meals, the on-line Alpha course, and so on. The Tuesday evening Bible studies, and the Sunday morning “virtual” coffee gatherings, continue. If you have misplaced the hyperlinks to join any of these gatherings, please contact the parish office.

 

 

Black Lives Matter, Demonstrations and Marches

I expect that all of us are aware of the recent death of George Floyd in Cincinatti, and the protests and demonstrations (and sometimes, the violence) which have been taking place around the world, including here in North Bay.

 

I thought it would be helpful for us to recall a couple of Bible verses:

 

As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.

 

This is the Word of the Lord.

 

God bless and keep you. 

 

 

Peter Armstrong, rector

 

May 31, 2020

 

Dear Everyone,

 

“Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” (I Timothy 1: 2b)

 

I hope you are all doing well. Here are several points I wanted to bring to your attention this week…

 

 

When Will the Church Buildings Fully Re-Open?

Well, none of us knows. This past week I participated in a presentation for Canadian charities, with the chief medical officer for health in NS, Dr. Robert Strang. It was a pretty sobering presentation. From a health perspective, worship services are considered relatively high-risk: There are vulnerable people among us, we spend a relatively long time together, and it’s not easy for everyone to keep two metres apart.

 

There will likely be stages to re-opening: First, up to 10 people gathering together, then perhaps 50, then perhaps up to 100. Coffee hours would likely not be allowed, at least at first; nor singing (we tend to project more air from the bottom of our lungs when we sing), nor playing wind instruments – all these elements increase risk. Keeping two metres apart would be required, people would need to be checked before entering the building, perhaps we would temperature checks before entering, and use of hand high-alcohol-based sanitizer or thorough hand washing would be required. Face masks would be encouraged or required. None of this is certain, but this is the direction that health authorities are thinking – at least until there is a widely-available vaccine, or until after many get ill and recover.

 

The Advisory Board is waiting for directions from health authorities and the diocesan office, and we are actively planning to be able to come together as soon as we can, but safely.

 

Forgiveness

The Ven. Marie Loewen plans to offer a study about “The Power of Forgiveness.” She writes:

 

Have you struggled with being able to forgive someone or something – or with even being willing to do so? Does the phrase in the Lord’s Prayer “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”, always give you pause? A gospel-based understanding and practice of forgiveness will be a way forward into the freedom forgiveness brings. 

If this interests you, then join us for a 7 week online consideration of “The Freedom Of Forgiveness”.  This workshop, delivered via Zoom, will look at the barriers and misunderstandings that make forgiveness seem impossible, consider what God’s forgiveness and grace looks like and how we can, in obedience to Jesus’ example, forgive those who have hurt us (including forgiving ourselves sometimes!).  This is not a therapeutic intervention, so you will not be asked to delve into crippling events.  Rather it is an opportunity to understand concepts and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us into an experience of giving and receiving grace using scriptural principles and a mildly bothersome event in our lives as “practice” in applying these.

You will need 90 minutes once a week for teaching and discussion, an hour or so a week for reflection, a Bible and perhaps a journal. Sessions will be offered on Wednesday mornings at 10:30, and one evening a week (the particular evening to be determined by the evening participants)

Please feel free to pass this on to others who may be interested. Please contact Rev. Marie at revmarie1952@icloud.com for further information and Zoom coordinates.

 

Confirmation

Different people come to Christian commitment in different ways:

  • Some of us were brought to church by our parents, and we baptized as infants or young children

  • some of us have recently discovered faith in Christ as adults

  • others drifted away from the Lord for a time and have returned

  • some of us formerly belonged to another local church, but now have made St. Brice’s our spiritual home.

 

If any of these applies to you, you might want to participate in Confirmation classes. For people who haven’t yet learned all the basics of the gospel,[1] we can help. For those who already have a Christian grounding, there’s the opportunity to learn more about the Church.

 

Later (this fall? the spring of 2021?), Archbishop Anne will visit St. Brice’s and will offer Confirmation. For people who have not been prayed for before by Anne or another bishop, we will all confess together our faith in Christ as summarized in the Apostles’ Creed, and Anne prays that candidates will be strengthened by the Holy Spirit. For those who already have been confirmed, we are welcomed into this fellowship, and might be prayed for as well.

 

If you are interested, or would like more information, please get in touch.

 

Mowing the Lawn

 

This is very practical: When we come to St. Brice’s in late spring, people usually sign up to take turns mowing the front and back lawn, using the lawn mowers here. It takes maybe 45 minutes or so. If you are willing to take a turn one week, please leave a message at the office. We’d really appreciate the help to be spread out among a handful of households.

 

 

[1] The “basics of the gospel” include learning what God is like revealed through Jesus, what people are like, what it means to follow Jesus Christ, learning how to use the Bible, the Ten Commandments, the Creeds, prayer, Baptism, Holy Communion, and belonging to the fellowship of the Church.

 

The Festival of Pentecost

 

Sunday, May 31, 2020, is the Christian Festival of Pentecost, when we remember the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the first followers of Jesus Christ, and upon us. There will be a special on-line service for Anglicans throughout Ontario. We are encouraged to tune in at 2pm or later on Sunday afternoon: https://www.province-ontario.anglican.ca/pentecost.

There will also be a special service at St. Luke’s Cathedral in Sault Ste. Marie:

https://www.dioceseofalgoma.com/2020/05/29/diocesan-pentecost-service-from-st-lukes-cathedral/

There are also worship resources for this season, on the Diocese of Algoma website: https://www.dioceseofalgoma.com/category/resources/liturgical-resources/

 

Please remember that, because of the special service for all of Ontario, the weekly Deanery Sunday morning service is not being offered on May 31.

 

 

Our Daily Bread

There are still a number of paper copies of “Our Daily Bread” daily devotionals at St. Brice’s. If you would like a copy, please leave a message at the parish office.

 

 

 

 

Same-Sex Marriage Statement

Archbishop Anne released a pastoral letter on the subject of “same-sex marriage” for the Diocese of Algoma, this past week. To read her message,  please see, https://www.dioceseofalgoma.com/2020/05/26/archbishop-annes-pastoral-letter-to-algoma-on-same-sex-marriage-in-the-church/ 

 

 

 

Financial Update

Treasurer Don Bonenfant provided me with a brief financial update for up to today: The deficit (Jan. 1-May 31, 2020) is $1982. In 2019 at this time, our deficit was $4651. Our deficit for the month of May 2020 was $1012. Expenses are $1158 less in 2020 compared to 2019 between March 1-May 31, 2020. These figures are preliminary, but very likely will closely reflect the final figures once they’ve all been checked.

 

 

Music & Devotional Resources

 

Thank you to the parishioners who have already recorded short devotions or music. I expect these will be uploaded to the St. Brice’s website. More is to come!

 

Taste & See and The Anglican Planet

At St. Brice’s, we normally receive paper copies of three periodicals: The Anglican Journal, which has a copy of the Algoma Anglican inside it; Taste and See, and The Anglican Planet.

 

 

Copies of the Anglican Journal arrived this past week. If you want a paper copy, please contact the parish office.

 

Taste and See is a periodical produced by Anglican Renewal Ministries.  This month, this journal was produced as a digital copy. If you would like to receive a copy, please contact the parish office.

The last issue of The Anglican Planet is also produced as a digital copy. If you would like to receive a copy of it, please contact the parish office.

 

God bless you all.

In Christ’s love,

 

Peter Armstrong, rector

 

May 24, 2020

 

Dear Everyone,

 

“Grace, mercy and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love.”   (II John 3)

 

I hope you all are well. Here are some more things to share with you this week:

 

Pentecost Sunday

Sunday, May 31, is Pentecost Sunday – the festival when we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit upon all the disciples of Jesus Christ.  There will be a special service for all the Anglicans in Ontario, offered at 2pm. The following link provides more information: https://www.dioceseofalgoma.com/2020/05/22/one-in-the-spirit-2020-provincial-pentecost-celebration/

 

 

 

Our Daily Bread

Some of us use “Our Daily Bread” in our daily devotions. The booklets for the next three months (June-August 2020) have arrived at St. Brice’s. If you would like a copy, please leave a message at the parish office, and we will deliver them to you.

 

 


Music, Readings, Prayers

 

I have been posting some music for shut-ins and people in seniors’ homes on the St. Brice’s website. My intention is to build up the repertoire over the next couple of weeks – not just with me, but with some lay people at St. Brice’s reading short Bible passages, offering brief reflections, prayers, or pieces of music. If we’re on our computers or devices before a meal, or before going to bed, we might want to have something uplifting before we shut them off. I hope these will be enjoyable to you. If you have something you’d like to hear, please let us know and we’ll try to provide it.

 

 

 

Men’s Breakfast Postponed

That darn pandemic! Along with the St. Brice’s Spring Tea being cancelled, we have decided to postpone the June Men’s Breakfast (with a speaker from the O.P.P., talking about fraud) until a later date. Please stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

Prayers for the Alpha Course Retreat

The St. Brice’s on-line Alpha Course will be holding our retreat on Saturday, May 30. We will be learning more about the person and work of God the Holy Spirit. We are grateful for your prayers.

 

 

 

Night Prayers

I will be offering “Night Prayers,” some brief devotions before going to bed, this weekend (Sunday, May 24, 9pm). My plan is for this to be “live,” not pre-recorded, and that we will be able to see each other, through our computer or other devices. Try to join just before 9pm: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84907120768?pwd=SzhzMXdPbmJJOHJubEFpZm8rVnRkZz09  

This is my first time doing worship quite this way – please be patient with me if it takes a moment to bring you into the group! If I really fumble it, I will send an email message with further directions just about 9pm.

 

Abandonments

 Archbishop Anne Germond came across a reflection by a well-known Christian teacher, Walter Brueggerman, and has commended it to the diocese. The Rev. Bruegeerman thinks that, during this time of pandemic, some people might feel abandoned, and has written a reflection about it:

https://churchanew.org/blog/2020/05/21/brueggemanncolumn1

 

 

 

Sean Dayton

Here is a link to pieces of music by Sean Dayton, a well-known local musician, which I hope you will  enjoy: https://www.seandayton.com/liturgies

 

 

 

Virtual Coffee Gatherings

Our virtual coffee gatherings continue on Sunday mornings, shortly after 10am. (We had some problems this past Sunday, but this was an engineering problem with the software, which has since been fixed.)

For security reasons, I don’t post the invitation in this letter, as this is also posted on the St. Brice’s website. However, we hope you will join us. Just let me know you want to visit, by sending me a phone or email message – ideally by about 8:45 on a Sunday morning.

 

 

 

God bless you all,

 

Peter Armstrong, rector

 

 

 

May 17, 2020

 

Dear Everyone,

 

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.”

(Numbers 6: 24-26)

 

I hope you all are well. Here are some more things to share with you this week:

 

Rogation Sunday

In the traditional rhythm of the Church year, the fifth Sunday after Easter Day is called “Rogation Sunday.” “Rogation” comes from a Latin word meaning to ask or to plead. Just as we end the crop-growing season with Harvest Thanksgiving, around the time of planting, we can pray for the harvest, and for the hungry to be fed. In English parishes, the three days following is also a time when people pray around the boundaries of the parish, for the well-being of all people (“Rogation Days”). Perhaps you might want to have St. Brice’s as a prayer focus for a few days this coming week.

Rogation Sunday has often been neglected, but because of our present environmental concerns, some Christians are re-examining the significance of Rogation Sunday.

 

 

Ascension Day

As mentioned last week, Archbishop Anne Germond is having a service on Ascension Day (this year, on Thursday, May 21) on her Facebook page. (I expect details will be posted on the website for the Diocese of Algoma.) On Ascension Day, we consider especially what it means to say that Jesus Christ is our King – that he reigns in heaven, and in our lives.

 

 

 

The Anglican Journal and The Anglican Planet

St. Brice’s subscribes to two Anglican newspapers – the Anglican Journal and The Anglican Planet. We are aware that some people have home subscriptions. We are uncertain how many people read the St. Brice’s copies. We might choose to reduce the number of copies we order if they aren’t used much; or, we might expand the number of copies we order if there is a high demand. If you read the copies of these newspapers in the Church building (before the pandemic!), please take a moment and let us know, by leaving a message at the parish office. Thank you.

 

 

Letter from Quinn & Derinda

 

The following is a thank-you letter from Quinn and Derinda, who are being married on May 16:

 

May 12th, 2020

 

Dear friends and fellow parishioners from St. Brice’s,

“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you.” (Colossians 1:3).

 

As many of you may know, Derinda and I have been planning and preparing for a big celebration over the last several months as we approached our wedding date of May 16th. Unfortunately, Covid-19 has put quite the wrench in our plans and the celebrations that we had hoped to celebrate with all of you, either through Sunday mornings or the wedding itself, has been drastically modified. Not only could we not meet and share our excitement with you as our time spent worshiping on Sundays came closer to that special date but we have also had to painfully restrict virtually everyone from attending our wedding. However, Derinda and I have both chosen to continue with a small ceremony, understanding that the (small “s”) sacrament of matrimony is really about the love Derinda and I share before the loving presence of our Lord, which, God willing, will continue for many many years to come. Although it can feel like sometimes our wedding is increasingly isolated to just Derinda, Rev. Peter, and myself, we have been humbly surprised through the generous and thoughtful gifts that so many of you have sent our way amidst this already difficult time. Thus, Derinda and I would like to express our many thanks and the inconceivable gratefulness that we have for our friends at St. Brice’s and the gifts you have given us as we begin our married life together. Over the last three years, all of you at St. Brice’s have supported us, broken bread with us, and helped serve Christ more fully with us. Derinda and I are thankful for everybody in our church family and those who have shared what they are able, whether it be community, fellowship, food, money, and/or prayer over the course of our time at St. Brice’s. We pray that the Lord will bless you and keep you, that He may show His face to you and have mercy and that He may turn His countenance to you and give you peace (modified from The Blessing of St. Francis).

 

Grace and peace,

Quinn and Derinda

 

Spring Tea Cancelled

The St. Brice’s Spring Tea, which is hosted by the Anglican Church Women, was originally planned for April 18, had been postponed because of the pandemic to June 20. However, it appears that we will still be dealing with physical isolation requirements, at least to some degree, at this time. So the A.C.W. members have decided to cancel this spring tea this year.

The A.C.W. is a key way which St. Brice’s supports missions, both local and international. I hope that we will be able to support the ministry of the A.C.W., and parish missions, in the months ahead.

 

Diocese of Tarimé Update

Last week there was an appeal to provide Personal Protective Equipment to the clinic in the Diocese of Tarimé. (The bishop’s wife oversees this clinic.) No P.P.E. were provided by the government of Tanzania; shipping goods from Canada would not arrive for weeks, and there would be a high chance of theft before it reached its destination. Remarkably, thanks to the generosity of parishioners here and throughout the diocese, over $5000 was raised in a very short time to meet this need, with a turn-around time of less than a day and half from the money being wired and received by clinic staff. The staff and patients now have the equipment they need to help ensure their safety. Thank you!

 

 

Masonry

Some people have likely noticed that there is some minor deterioration in the brickwork and mortar around the front entrance to the parish hall. The Property Committee decided last fall that the work ought to be done in the spring. If you would like to contribute towards this repair, donations would be gratefully appreciated.

 

 

 

Confirmation

As announced late week…

Have some time at home? Would you like to learn more about following Jesus Christ, belonging to St. Brice’s, and the Anglican communion? I plan to offer some teaching about this; if you are interested and would like more information, please contact the parish office. Later (after the pandemic is over), I hope we will celebrate a service of Confirmation – a time to affirm our baptismal vows, or for those already confirmed, a time to celebrate our belonging to the Lord in the Anglican parish of St. Brice’s.

 

Virtual Coffee Gatherings

Our virtual coffee gatherings continue on Sunday mornings, shortly after 10am. These are a regular on-line gathering. For security reasons, I don’t post the invitation in this letter, as this is also posted on the St. Brice’s website. However, we hope you will join us. Just let me know you want to visit, by sending me a phone or email message – ideally by about 8:45 on a Sunday morning.

 

 

 

Study Time

Some of you know that I had planned to attend a conference in early July. However, due to the pandemic, this conference has been postponed to June 2022. I have been asked to do a small project to help make the Bible message more accessible and useful to Anglican laypeople, and I plan do this in early July.

 

 

 

 

 

A message for this time:

 

 

 

So we don’t forget! —

 

 

God bless you all,

 

Peter Armstrong, rector

 

 

May 10, 2020

 

Dear Friends,

 

“Peace be to this house.” (Luke 10: 5)

 

There are several things I want to bring to your attention…

 

Thank You for Your Support for the Diocese of Tarimé

As many of you know, we are within the Diocese of Algoma, which has a close relationship with the Diocese of Tarimé, in Tanzania, a country on the east coast of Africa. The wife of the Anglican bishop there runs a medical clinic, but they have had no personal protective equipment (PPE) provided by their federal government, during this pandemic. (I sent a bulletin around last week about this, for those who receive email.) Thanks to the Ven. Marie Loewen and others, some $4000 worth of donations was recently wired for the purchase of this much-needed medical equipment. The staff and patients now have this equipment, and the staff is continuing to provide medical care there under difficult circumstances. Thank you so much for your support, from St. Brice’s and around the diocese.

 

The Alpha Course

The on-line Alpha course is being offered on Wednesday and Sunday evenings. It considers Life’s Big Questions; it is a pleasant introduction to, or review of, the Christian faith. People can still join for the next week. If you want to check it out, please let me know by phone or email to the parish office (contact information above).

 

 

 

Ascension & Pentecost

Ascension Day is 40 days after Easter, when Christians recall Christ’s ascension into heaven. Pentecost is 10 days later – on Pentecost Sunday, we recall the gift of the Holy Spirit being given to the followers of Jesus Christ. Here in the Diocese of Algoma, there will be two special services: Ascension Day (Thursday, May 21): Morning Prayer with Archbishop Anne at 10:00 a.m. via Facebook livestream. Pentecost Sunday  (May 31): A Provincial service with joint participation from dioceses at 2:00 p.m.

 

 

 

 

 

Morning Prayer

I understand part of my calling is to equip you to carry out ministry. There are a number of different worship resources on the parish website. This week (for folks who want to go a little deeper in their devotions), services of Morning Prayer are being posted. The weekly Deanery Morning Prayer service will also be on the St. Brice’s website.

 

 

 

 

Confirmation

Have some time at home? Would you like to learn more about following Jesus Christ, belonging to St. Brice’s, and the Anglican communion? I plan to offer some teaching about this; if you are interested and would like more information, please contact the parish office. Later (after the pandemic is over), I hope we will celebrate a service of Confirmation – a time to affirm our baptismal vows, or for those already confirmed, a time to celebrate our belonging to the Lord in the Anglican parish of St. Brice’s.

 

 

Virtual Coffee Gatherings

Our virtual coffee gatherings continue on Sunday mornings, shortly after 10am. These are a regular on-line gathering. For security reasons, I don’t post the invitation in this letter, as this is also posted on the St. Brice’s website. However, we hope you will join us. Just let me know you want to visit, by sending me a phone or email message – ideally by about 8:45 on a Sunday morning.

 

 

 

 

Living Church

We understand that the Body of Christ, the Church, is not a building, but a group of disciples. Someone sent me the following graphic from the Anglican Alliance, which I thought was kind of neat:

 

 

 

On-line Music and Teaching Links

Many of us know the gifted local musician Sean Dayton. Sean has offered some of his music on-line for free at this time (donations are welcome). See https://www.seandayton.com/liturgies

 

Another Christian musician is Steve Bell, who I think is based in Winnipeg:

Visit: The Storehouse .

 

 

Just in time for Mother’s Day, a colleague circulated a sermon about Mother’s Day. I haven’t had time to listen to the whole sermon, but I expect it will be worthwhile. Please note this message is provided through Dropbox; it is a very large file:

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/c9rw3pvdrbjsnux/AAAT7aZxRBaDlNwRdtV_WVUVa?dl=0

 

 

God bless you all, Peter Armstrong 

 

P.S. Happy Mother’s Day!

 

 

May 3, 2020

 

Dear Friends,

 

“May grace and peace be multiplied to you.” I Peter 1: 2b

 

You continue to be in my thoughts and prayers. There are several things I want to share with you this week…

 

 

 

Alpha

An on-line version of the Alpha course is being offered at St. Brice’s, beginning this coming Wednesday evening at 7:30pm. It is a pleasant, fresh introduction to, or review of, the Christian faith. If you, or someone you have invited, would like to check out the first video, please contact me by phone or email by Wednesday. I believe it’s very worthwhile.

 

 

 

 

 

Zoom

We have been using the Zoom videoconference platform for a number of parish activities, including the Tuesday evening Bible studies, the Board meetings, and the upcoming Alpha course. If you have not used Zoom before, and need some guidance, there are several volunteers in the parish who can help. Reach out by phone or email, and we’ll get in touch.

Two points to keep in mind: First, when speaking or listening while on a computer or device, it is very helpful to everyone if we can keep background noise to a minimum. Second, when I am the host, I really appreciate when people use their own name to sign on. A few parishioners have learned they can have some fun by calling themselves “Crazy Sally” or “Mysterious George,” or sign on Zoom with a picture of their pet hamster – that kind of thing. As a security precaution, I appreciate if people join using their own names. After you join a call, you can be as creative as you like!

 

 

Anglican Foundation

Some of us are familiar with the Anglican Foundation, which provides grants and loans for church properties and ministries. St. Brice’s received financial support from the Anglican Foundation during the fire code renovations. The Anglican Foundation will be having its annual meeting on-line on May 20 at 5pm. If you would like to attend, or to learn more about the foundation’s work, please see https://www.anglicanfoundation.org/ , or contact the parish office.

 

 

 

Song or Hymn

I have begun singing a song or hymn each week, along with a couple of comments. These are then posted on the parish website. I intended this especially for people who are in nursing and seniors’ homes, whom we cannot visit right now. If you want to check it out, please see “COVID-19 Update” area of the parish website

[ https://www.stbriceschurch.com/wordpress/?page_id=905 ].

 

 

 

 

Evening Prayer & Morning Prayer

Several weeks ago, I recorded short services of Mid-Day Prayer and Compline (for the end of the day) — http://www.stbriceschurch.com/wordpress/?page_id=987 . I figured, if people are surfing on-line, this might be a good focus, before we go make lunch, or go to bed.

A parishioner asked for services of Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer, so I intend to record these. These services are a bit longer and more substantial.

For daily devotions, I recommend that we aim for a bit more than what we have been doing in the recent past – perhaps 2 to 4 minutes more each day. We don’t want to be stagnant and still. On the other hand, if we aim for a wildly ambitious standard, then it’s too easy to become discouraged and to give up.

Have fun! And remember there’s a living God who loves you more than words can say, who wants you to receive and respond to his love.

 

 

 

 

 

The Mitford Series

The Mitford book series is written by Jan Karon. The books are mostly about characters in a small mid-east American town called Mitford, and the Episcopal (Anglican) parish priest, Fr. Tim. If your taste runs to James Bond movies, these books will be too slow-paced for you. If you’re looking for some pleasant reading material, which sometimes reflects life and faith, these books are worth checking out. Some copies are in circulation in the parish; others are in the Reading Room. If you’d like a copy, please contact the parish office.

 

 

 

 

 

What If I Want Something Really Deep – or If I Am Really, Really Bored?

Dante Alighieri was an Italian poet who died in 1321. His most famous work is called The Divine Comedy (three long poems about hell, purgatory and heaven).

Different Christian churches have different views about exactly what happens to us, right after we die. I myself don’t believe that we are all perfect just before death. Yet, I am uncomfortable any suggestion that we need to earn our salvation – any idea that Jesus’ death on the cross isn’t enough to bring us to heaven by faith. So, I don’t have exactly the same views about purgatory as Dante did. But I see he has great insights about God, and what it is to be human.

 

 

 

 

The Rev. Dr. Robert Crouse (d. 2011) taught for many years at King’s College, Halifax. A painfully shy Anglican clergyman, who struggled to understand all the rapid changes in our society and the Church in recent years; still, his heart was aflame with his love for Jesus Christ. Fr. Crouse was extremely patient with me as a scrawny teenager (yes; I was scrawny once!), and has influenced dozens or perhaps hundreds of men and women, lay and ordained, in North America and beyond. Fr. Crouse’s lectures on Dante’s famous poem are now available as audio files. If you want to check them out, it’s best to begin with a mug of tea and a very comfortable armchair

[https://soundcloud.com/user-931999084/dantes-divine-comedy-inferno;    https://soundcloud.com/user-931999084/dantes-divine-comedy-purgatorio; https://soundcloud.com/user-931999084/dantes-divine-comedy-paradiso ].

 

 

 

Thank You

In spite of the pandemic, and not meeting in person at St. Brice’s, a number of parishioners were very generous financially this past month. As I write this, I got a message from the treasurer, Don Bonenfant, that our income was considerably more than our expenses in April 2020, so our deficit so far this year is now less than $1000. This puts us in quite a good position to carry out our mission and ministries approaching summer 2020.

A few of us confuse “debt” and “deficit.” If you have $0 in your bank account, and write a cheque for $100, you’re $100 in debt – below zero. If you’re spending more than you’re getting, you’re in a deficit position. If you have $500 in your bank account, get $2000 one month and spend $2200, then your deficit is $200 – you’ve spent $200 more than you took in.

Here is something I wrote in the Annual Report, a few months ago: “[In 2019] – I think by God’s grace and people’s generosity, not because of clever planning – we finished the year $86 to the good. This is with an annual budget of about $158 000 in 2019!”

Thank you!

 

 

 

Calling

Thank you to Amanda Adams, who is coordinating a system of calling folks – particularly people who we know less well, or who might be socially isolated.

 

 

 

 

 

Tragic Events in Nova Scotia

Most of us are aware of the tragic events by gun violence in Nova Scotia, a couple of weekends ago. As well, tragically, a Canadian Forces helicopter from a base in N.S. crashed a few days ago, killing everyone on board. Many people know I’m from Nova Scotia, and a few have asked my thoughts about what has been taking place there.

I appreciate people’s concern. With regard to the helicopter crash, it appears at this time to have been a terrible equipment failure. Many of us are aware of dangers when on water. Please join with me in prayer for those who mourn.

The extraordinary violence in quiet N.S. communities is more complex. Of course I ask for prayer, for the injured, for the mourning, for the gunman’s family and acquaintances, and for the communities which need healing. I am reminded of our need to take care of one another, especially during this time of pandemic. I also hope that we work together to reduce domestic violence, which seems to have been a factor within the broader path of violence across several communities. People are more vulnerable when they are isolated and alone. I hope that together we will work further to diminish hate, and to advance God’s purposes of love, which are shown supremely in Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

 Pandemic

Speaking of prayer, of course, please pray for those who suffer from COVID-19, and for medical workers and researchers.

 

 

 

 

What About Worshipping Together Again – What’s Next?

I don’t know yet when we can gather together at 1225 Cassells St.

I had wanted to start with a big celebratory Sunday, but we might​ be gathering together in degrees, in small groups and then bigger groups, rather than all at once. I am absolutely committed for us to provide the best worship, pastoral care, and mission we can, with the help of God. As I previously have said, none of this is a surprise to the Lord. I don’t know exactly what the transition will look like, but am confident we will see through it well, together.

I suspect we’ll have a more robust on-line ministry following the pandemic. This is a positive outcome.

 

 

 

 

 

Virtual Coffee

The weekly Deanery service will be posted, and we are encouraged to view it at 10:30am each Sunday. If you want to join us for a weekly “virtual coffee” gathering at 10:10am or so, please send a message to the parish office, ideally by about 8:45am on Sunday mornings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

God bless and keep you all.

 

 

Peter Armstrong, Rector

 

April 26, 2020

 

Dear Friends,

 

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 1: 2)

I hope you are all well. I want to share a number of things with you…

 

Thank You

Paul started his Letter to the Philippians by giving thanks. I want to express thanks at this time.

First, for people who have continued to provide appropriate parish outreach, such as the food bank and the Tuesday meals (even though the way we serve has changed for everyone’s health and safety). I also know there are parishioners who are calling one another, to be sure everyone is well and safe. Thank you.

Second, thank you for everyone who have contributed financially to our on-going expenses as they are able. We aren’t getting our weekly reports in the Sunday bulletins. However, my understanding is that while there are folk who cannot contribute financially at this time (and some parishioners’ employment status has changed), there are others who have been generous beyond their usual contributions. While January 2020 was a significant deficit month,[1] and February added to it, in March the deficit decreased compared to the first two months, and this month we are projecting no deficit; as well we are on track to reduce our deficit from previous months. (First quarter: January expenses more than income, $3948.67; February, $3443.83; March, $1221.62.)  We don’t want to become “weary in doing good.”[2] I am, however, sincerely grateful for the people are contributing in different ways to build God’s kingdom and to carry out his purposes.

On-line Worship

I want to remind people that weekly prayer services (about 30-40 minutes) are being offered on-line here in our Temiskaming Deanery. Last week I was the officiant. These services are being posted on the St. Brice’s website. We’re invited to view them Sundays at 10:30am. I continue to prepare weekly sermons, and these are available on the St. Brice’s website too.

[1] Financial givings are usually lowest in January, July and August each year. People are most generous in December. It’s easier for the treasurer when there is consistent cash flow. If you have not already done so, you might want to participate in Pre-Authorised Remittance. For more information, please contact envelope secretary Fay Ivany [cfivany@hotmail.com], or see https://www.dioceseofalgoma.com/about-the-diocese-of-agloma/electronic-offering-programme/ 
[2] Galatians 6:9.

I have also prepared a few short prayer services (3-10 minutes). If you want a short reflection if you’re on-line before lunch, or in the evening, these may be helpful. They are found in the “Short Services of the Word” tab of the St. Brice’s website.

 

This week I’ve decided to share a hymn or piece of music each week which is meaningful to me, and might be of interest to you. I make a couple of comments about what I think is interesting, and then I sing it. This week is “My Song Is Love Unknown,” and I expect it will be on the parish website.

 

If you do not have access to the internet, I have daily resources available I can provide (705-474-4005). 

 

Virtual Wedding Shower

 (Please note that although Quinn and Derinda are on the parish group email list, they will not be receiving this part of my weekly message. Please use your discretion, and don’t tip them off!)

 

Many of us know Quinn Clement and Derinda Meulemeester, who are engaged to be married in a few weeks. Quinn often reads on Sunday mornings, or assists at worship. This coming September, they will be going to Wycliffe College, a theological college in Toronto, where Quinn will be pursuing studies in preparation for ordination.

 

In a very modest form, their wedding will be taking place at St. Brice’s, with five of us gathered.

 

Even modest weddings have some expense. Quinn has been a student at Nipissing University. Summer employment seems uncertain. Derinda has been working in a local shop, but I understand she was laid off. Before the pandemic began, several of us at St. Brice’s were planning to offer a wedding shower. We cannot gather in person, but we thought it would be a nice gesture to offer a “virtual” wedding shower. If you would like to make a donation for Quinn and Derinda, either a gift card if you can safely get one, or a money donation, please drop this off at the St. Brice’s locked mailbox (outside our front door), or make some other arrangement.

 

Virtual Coffee

A number of people have been saying, “I’ve been missing seeing other parishioners. They’re my friends.” Well, we can do something about that!

 

At the Advisory Board meeting last Thursday night, we talked about having a “virtual” coffee gathering. Two other parishes in the deanery are already doing this. To participate, you need to have a cup of coffee in your favourite mug or something like that, and to be in a comfortable seat with your connected computer or other device. People who want to try this out need to send a message to the office email [stbrices.northbay@yahoo.ca ] by 8:45am on a Sunday morning. You will receive a message by email by 10am, giving instructions about how to join us. We suggest people go on-line between about 10:10-10:30am (when the on-line Deanery worship service starts). Depending on the number of participants, we might be put into smaller groups of up to a dozen people each.

Please be patient with one another – and with me, your rector. Using computers for this purpose is new to me, and I don’t see myself as very tech-y. There might be a few blips as we connect with one another.

 

You can also connect by phone, using a telephone line – although you cannot see people through the phone line, and long-distance charges might apply. (Please call the office, 705-474-4005, if you want instructions to join by phone.)

We will be using a platform called “Zoom,” which is already familiar to some of you. We are reasonably confident that this is a safe tool, and the best one for us to use in these circumstances. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • You need to have a desktop computer, laptop computer, iPad or other device which connects with the internet, and which has a microphone and speaker(s)

  • Here is a good introductory video about using Zoom: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9isp3qPeQ0E

  • It’s very helpful if you’re in a quiet space. Even sounds which seem minor in our room, like a dishwasher going through its cycles nearby, the rustle of fabric if our device is on our lap, or someone talking in the background, can be very distracting to others. If in doubt, we can “mute” ourselves. (Directions are on the introductory video.) If we’re very disruptive, the host of the meeting can mute us, or keep us from communicating with others.

  • There is no cost to participants to participate in a Zoom meeting.

 

Have fun!

 

Some members of the Advisory Board are exploring how we can keep in touch with everyone during this troubling time of social isolation. We don’t want anyone left out.

 

 

What is Alpha?

Alpha is an entertaining introduction, or review, of the Christian faith. Here is a good introductory video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fViYK_Xb3Wg

 

If you have not taken Alpha, or if you have not taken it for a long time, I encourage you to come and check it out. If you have a friend or a family member who doesn’t currently go to Church, or seems a little unclear, or is hostile about faith, please invite them to join us. We sincerely want them to check out the evidence for themselves, and this is a great way to do it.

 

For active Church members, I’d gently remind us all that we have decided as a parish to offer Alpha as one tool to help us share the news of love and forgiveness received through Jesus Christ. We are not supposed to take the course once and then think, “That was great. Now I’m done with it.” Good news is not meant to be hoarded. Please take the step of inviting others. If they don’t want to, that’s fine – that’s entirely their decision. But it’s appropriate that we offer, invite.

 

A good approach is to say, “Why don’t you check out the first video? If it’s not for you, you don’t have to continue.”

 

On-line Alpha

We will be offering Alpha on-line, beginning in a couple of weeks. Some things will not change – the topics, the hospitality, and the chance to discuss together. Obviously, we won’t be having meals or refreshments together, as we usually do. Our gatherings will be of shorter duration – about 75-90 minutes, instead of suppertime to 8 or 8:30 in the evening.

 

We will conclude in mid-June.

 

We plan to offer Alpha twice a week, starting on Wednesday, May 6. The current plans are to offer it on Sunday and Wednesday evenings, from 7:30 to 8:45 or 9pm – although the dates will be chosen at times which are most convenient for people who want to participate.

 

For anyone who wants to check it out, please contact the parish office [call 705-474-4005; or email (stbrices.northbay@yahoo.ca), to receive details about joining the gathering.

What If I Don’t Have a Computer or Tablet or That Stuff?

I’m very aware that not everyone can visit us on-line. I don’t want St. Brice’s to be a parish with two sub-groups: “People in the know” with an internet connection, and “people who are left out.” Right now, the fact is, we can’t all get together in person – I want this most of all. Meanwhile, we’re doing what we can to provide encouragement and support during this time. Please, let me know if there are other ways I can support you while we are physically isolated.

 

 

 

 

God bless, in Jesus Christ’s Name,

 

Peter Armstrong, Rector

 

 

 

April 19, 2020

 

 

Dear Friends,

 

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Corinthians 1: 3)

I hope you and those around you are healthy. I miss seeing you.

This past week I was thinking about the stained glass window which is over the altar at St. Brice’s. It’s a depiction of the risen Jesus revealing himself to two disciples in Emmaus, as they talked and shared supper together:

The Lord is actually with them for some time, talking about the fulfilment of the Old Testament writings, before they recognize his presence. Perhaps this Easter season is like that: The Lord is with us all along, often unnoticed. Still today he wants us to encounter him through the scriptures, and in our daily lives.

 

There are several points I’d like to share with you:

  • Thank you very much to those who sent in short gestures of appreciation to those in the medical community during this pandemic. The parish also got a very sweet card in the mail from a few residents at Cassellholme I – they were deeply appreciative of the gestures of concern from some folks at St. Brice’s.

  • For people who use the internet, some people have “bookmarked” as a favourite the old St. Brice’s website, which is no longer active or accessible. If this applies to you, the old website should be erased as a favourite, and the current website added. (It should have “wordpress” in the URL address.)

  • If you are getting these weekly letters hand-delivered but have an email address, please let us know: It’s easier for us to email these messages than to deliver them.

I expect the weekly Temiskaming Deanery service will be posted on St. Brice’s website. This week, I am the officiant. For a change, this week’s service is from the Book of Common Prayer. My weekly sermons will be posted too, under the “sermons” tab of the website.

God bless you all. You are regularly in my thoughts and prayer. I’m really looking forward to the day when we can be gathered together again in worship, and sharing communion all together.

 

In the risen Lord Jesus Christ, Peter Armstrong, Rector 

 

 

P.S. Here is a short message from the Rev. Marie Loewen:

 

Hello,

I hear that some of you are missing our weekly discussions of the Sunday readings, and it occurs to me that there may be some folks who have not had opportunity to participate in this but might enjoy doing so.

I will be opening a “Zoom Room” for this each Wednesday morning at 10:30 for about an hour or maybe an hour and a half. Zoom allows us to both see and hear one another and to share some printed material.  If you haven’t used “Zoom” before, don’t worry.  I will walk you through it beforehand.

Typically, these discussions are pretty informal.  You don’t need to have a lot of Bible background or experience in Bible Studies.  You just need a Bible and a curious mind!

 

Just send a message to Marie Loewen:  revmarie1952@me.com indicating that you would like to be included and I will send you the necessary connection details.

 

You are welcome to pass this on to anyone who may be interested.

 

Hoping to hear from you!

 

Rev. Marie

 

 

April 5, 2020

 

Dear Everyone,

 

I sincerely hope you are well.

 

I want to write to encourage you, to provide information about on-line worship services for those who have access to the internet, and to express my gratitude.

Encouragement

At the time of writing, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread. This is understandably concerning: Our lives have been disrupted.  We are rightly concerned about our own health and those of others, for health care workers, for the financial disruptions, and so on. I can’t promise a quick end to the turmoil, but I can promise a timeless truth within the turmoil.  Paul, writing to the Philippians from jail (and no doubt in a time of turmoil in his own life) writes:

 

Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4: 6-8)

 

Paul encourages his readers to transform any anxiety we carry into prayer; in return, we receive peace through Christ. We are being guarded from worry, when we learn to direct our focus toward God.

 

On-line Worship Services

As you’re aware, we cannot gather together as a parish community at this time. If you don’t have access to the internet, if you leave a message in the office, I will work hard to provide resources for you. For those who can go on the internet, here are some resources:

 

  1. The weekly sermons will continue to be posted on the parish website.

  2. The weekly brief Morning Prayer services for Temiskaming Deanery will continue to be posted. We are encouraged to view these services, if possible, at 10am on Sundays. They can be located on the Christ Church and St. Brice’s websites:

    https://www.stbriceschurch.com/wordpress/?page_id=905 . If you wish to join a “virtual coffee hour” organized by Archdeacon Joan Locke, please use Zoom videonconferencing: https://us04web.zoom.us/j/805384109?pwd=UDR1bTFEUGt2OWNIcDhOMG8yM2M2dz09

    Meeting ID: 805 384 109; Password: 013683. (For people who have not used Zoom videoconferencing before, you may have to give permission to use the Zoom application on your device, the first time you use it, if you want the video.) 

  3. The exception to the weekly Deanery prayer services will be this coming weekend, Easter weekend, when services will be live-streamed from St. Luke’s Cathedral in Sault Ste. Marie. You’re welcome to join any or all of these services: https://www.dioceseofalgoma.com/2020/03/31/diocesan-rites-for-the-paschal-triduum-april-9-12-2020/

  4. The ecumenical Good Friday service, which was to be held at the Capitol Centre, has been pared down, and will be offered on-line. Here is information about how to view it: “‘Like’ our Facebook Page for updates and easy access to the service. facebook.com/goodfridaygathering . (You do not have to have a Facebook account to view the worship service.)

  5. A meditative Good Friday service, with 7 reflections by St. Brice’s parishioners, based on Christ’s 7 last words on the cross, will be posted on St. Brice’s website.

  6. There are various liturgical and devotional resources on the Diocese of Algoma’s website: https://www.dioceseofalgoma.com/category/resources/liturgical-resources/

  7. I have recorded short services of Mid-Day Prayers from the Book of Common Prayer and the Book of Alternative Services, and the service of Compline from the B.C.P. (which is usually prayed shortly before going to bed). These will be available on the parish web-site.

 

Understandably, most of us are accustomed to receiving communion regularly – most of all at Easter, the greatest Christian festival of the year. I have to abide by legitimate civil law, and the strict restrictions imposed by our Metropolitan – which is all for our own best interests, and for the love of our neighbours as well. I will, however, do the best I can to provide communion within these boundaries, for those who request it. I suggest that if individuals strongly desire communion in the Easter season, they contact the parish office (705-474-4005), and I will try to work something out with them on an individual basis.

 

Gratitude

Although we are not meeting together as the Church in a physical sense, I am privileged to see wonderful gestures of people caring for one another and being the Church. This means more to me that words can express. Thank you.

 

Several expressions of mission continue, in a different form: For example, the food bank continues to provide for those in need, although people are met at the door and food is given out in prepared packages, rather than inviting clients into the parish hall for coffee and fellowship. The Tuesday lunches will also be distributed this coming Tuesday, although they will be delivered, not available for pick-up in the hall. Thank you to all the volunteers who are taking wise precautions, but are continuing to provide care for people in need.

 

We are working a little harder on communicating well these days. Thank you for people who are helping get the word out. Thank you also for the extra cleaning, and minor property work which has been undertaken while the building is vacant, and so forth.

 

I know also that some people’s employment, or their investments, have been affected by the pandemic. Our expenses continue nevertheless. I am also extremely grateful that a number of parishioners have continued to contribute financially towards our ministry and outreach. Thank you.

 

God bless you all,

 

Peter Armstrong, rector

 

March 22, 2020

 

Dear Friends,

I hope you all are well. You are all continuing to be in my prayers at least each day. I am writing to update you on several points, with regard to ministry at St. Brice’s:

 

Archbishop’s Request: No Sunday Services

First, as you are very likely aware, for our own sake and for those of others (because we can carry the COVID-19 virus without knowing it; and because each public interaction slightly increases the odds of our contracting the virus), Archbishop Anne Germond has asked that we refrain from gathering together for public worship for the time being.

 

On-line Resources

Accordingly, the clergy of the deanery have agreed to publish an on-line Service of the Word. The first recording will be made available by tomorrow (Sunday, March 22), and we are encouraging parishioners to view it at 10am. It will definitely be on the Christ Anglican Church website, and if I receive it on time, we hope it will be on the St. Brice’s website as well. I will be the preacher for next week’s service.

I encourage you to view the “musings” of the Ven. Marie Loewen. Please contact Marie directly if you’d like to receive them (revmarie1952@icloud.com; 705-497-4699). I intend to continue to offer weekly sermons which are recorded and uploaded to the St. Brice’s website. I can also provide written copies to anyone who asks. This is alongside the other resources which are on the diocesan website, etc.

 

No Synod – Encouraged To Communicate

As many of us are aware, the diocesan synod planned for early May has been cancelled. This synod was to address the sensitive subject of Same-Sex Marriages in the diocese. The Archbishop encourages us to provide our views and resources, etc., to her administrative assistant within the next month. You can email Archbishop Anne Germond, c/ o Liz Hamel, at:  adminassistant@dioceseofalgoma.com, or write her at: The Diocese of Algoma, 619 Wellington Street East, Sault Ste. Marie, ON P6A 2M6. If you want me to mail your responses, please get them to the parish office by April 7.

 

Finances

I really enjoy canoeing, and as canoeists know, if one is paddling across a lake and going off course in a wind, it’s better to correct your direction right away. The longer the delay, the harder it is to get back on-course. We know that some people’s finances are impacted because they have been laid off due to the pandemic, or for those who have investments in the stock market, the current financial turmoil has had an impact on your portfolios at this time. This has affected some of us.

However, almost all expenses at St. Brice’s continue during the pandemic. At our recent Vestry (annual meeting), we agreed to a budget which requires $3110 in weekly income. Sure, last week was the first week in which the pandemic really took hold in North Bay, but the parish’s income this past Sunday (including those who pay by pre-authorized remittance) was about $1700.

If you are able to contribute financially at this time, please don’t wait until the pandemic is over. If you are willing to make regular payments through your bank by pre-authorized remittance, please contact Fay Ivany

(cfivany@hotmail.com; 705-495-9324) or the parish office to get a form, or contact Jane Mesich at the diocesan office ( treasurer@dioceseofalgoma.com ; 705-256-5061).

For those who wish to contribute by envelope, there are offers to pick up parish envelopes for those who ask, or there is a locked mailbox outside St. Brice’s front door.

This is a practical as well as a spiritual matter, and I am grateful for your on-going support.

I continue to encourage your on-going prayers and practical care for one another. “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.”

 

 

In Jesus Christ’s love,

 

Peter Armstrong

 

March 18, 2020

 

Dear Friends,

 

“Grace and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

I’m sure you are all aware of the COVID-19 pandemic which has been affecting daily life. I am writing to keep everyone informed about what is happening at St. Brice’s and in the churches in the area. I also want to remind us all that we serve a living God, who continues to be at work even, or especially, in times of difficulty and crisis.

Many of us know the “Comfortable Words” from the older communion service: 

Come to me, all you who are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11: 28-30, NRSV translation)

If we are anxious or afraid, then we need to seek the Lord God. He is far bigger than any virus! It’s appropriate that we turn to reputable news sources and science to learn about medical matters, but our faith gives us strength and insight how to live.

For those who have access to the internet, I found this model – which was recommended to me by a Cursillo member – very helpful in understanding the virus’ spread, and how we can respond:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/world/corona-simulator/

Because of the pandemic, there are a number of important up-coming changes at St. Brice’s:

 

Cancellations and Re-scheduled Events

  1. The upcoming diocesan synod has been cancelled.

  2. The pre-synod regional meetings have been cancelled.

  3. The tri-parish dinner and auction, which had been scheduled for this coming Saturday, has been postponed, likely to September 2020. The organizers will be in touch with people who already bought tickets.

  4. The upcoming “Messy Church” was already postponed due to the tri-parish dinner and auction. Messy Church and Games Night are cancelled for now.

  5. Brice’s Spring Tea has been re-scheduled for Saturday, June 20, 11am-1pm.

  6. The ecumenical Good Friday service, planned for the Capitol Centre, will not be held at the Capitol Centre. The Steering Committee is currently looking at live-streaming a scaled-down version on Good Friday morning. If you have access to the internet, and want to view it, viewing details will be provided later. (It will likely be reassuring for you to know that due to the provisions of our contract with the Capitol Centre, there is no financial penalty for us.)

  7. The Men’s Breakfast (with the guest speaker about internet fraud) will be postponed from April 4. The tentative date for re-scheduling will be June 6, 9am. Regular attenders will be contacted to confirm the new date. (If you wish to be included in the communications about this, please contact me by phone or email.)

 

Some Ministries Are Changed

 

  1. Due to school closures, there will be no Teen Lunch Programme, at least until after Easter weekend.

  2. The Monday Quilters will not be meeting until there is a further announcement.

  3. The Tuesday lunches will continue to be prepared, but for those who order meals, rather than coming to the Church building on the first Tuesday in April, deliveries will be made to people’s homes and apartments. (For the April 2020 menu, please contact Krista at frozenmeals1234@gmail.com, or contact the parish office.)

  4. The Food Bank will continue to operate, but the regular hospitality services (such as coffee being served) will not take place at this time. Replacements will be found for volunteers who choose to self-isolate.

  5. We will continue to be providing some guidance and care to our recently-sponsored family.

 

Worship Services

 

  1. Archbishop Anne – indeed, all the Anglican bishops of Ontario – have taken the extraordinary step of asking parishioners not to come to the Church building for Sunday services at this time. This presents us with the significant challenge about how to be “Church” – that is, the gathered people of God – when we are not coming together physically. Resources are listed in the section below.

  2. What will I be doing? On Sundays and Wednesday mornings, I will be doing the same thing I have always done since my ordination – I will be at the altar, praying for you. (An exception will be Wednesday, March 25, when I will be part of a group in a videoconference with the archbishop; in very large part we will be planning about continuing to offer ministry during the pandemic. Instead of being in the sanctuary on the 25th, I will be there on Thursday the 26th.) I treasure your prayers in return.

  3. I will also continue to offer Evening Prayer to God in St. Brice’s chancel, Wednesday afternoons. I cannot bear to lock the Church building when I am in it, but neither can I disobey the order of my bishop — to whom I am under a vow of obedience. Nor do I want anyone to become infected or to be an unwitting carrier of disease.

  4. Obviously, one implication of cancelled worship is that the tri-parish joint service planned for this coming Sunday is cancelled.

              a. Hospital Visits, Seniors’ Homes, Baptisms, & Funerals

  5. For the immediate future, there will be no public baptisms except for “emergency” baptisms for those in danger of dying.

  6. We are being asked not to conduct public funerals or memorial services at this time, although I will continue to provide ministry for the dying and to those who mourn, and anticipate meeting with family groups and close friends, according to their pastoral needs. Of course, these services can be held in the future, and are often postponed for various reasons.

  7. As many of you are aware, the number of Anglicans being visited has been significantly reduced with the introduction of a new computer system in the hospital this past October. Recording of one’s religious denomination is now entered manually by the hospital chaplain, which is a huge task.  I would be very grateful if you would let me know if there are Anglicans who are sick or in the hospital.

  8. Clergy have been excluded at this time from the local hospital for pastoral visits, as well as the Sunday afternoon chapel services which I and others provide. At least for the time being, there are exceptions to visit patients who are palliative or who are in extreme circumstances.

  9. Brice’s normally provides worship services for Cassellholme, Empire, and Barclay House, but these homes are closed for the time being.

 

Worship Resources

  1. For people who have access to the internet, Archbishop Anne will be offering short services of Morning Prayer daily, and services of Evening Prayer on Sundays. Further resources are available at https://www.dioceseofalgoma.com/2020/03/17/prayer-resources-for-use-at-home/ . The Ven. Marie Loewen is providing short daily reflections and devotional resources; please contact Marie if you’d like to be included (revmarie1952@icloud.com ). The Deanery clergy will be meeting on Friday, and might be providing some on-line resources afterwards. Please remember there are the St. Brice’s sermons on our webpage, and I intend to continue to provide them in the weeks ahead ( https://www.stbriceschurch.com/wordpress/?page_id=68 ). I expect more resources to be made available as the outbreak continues. As always, please use wisdom and common sense when downloading resources from the internet.

  2. For people who do not have access to the internet, but who would like devotional resources, what would be most helpful is if you speak to me, or leave a message on the office phone, about (1), the kind of resources which would be most helpful to you (Bible studies, devotional reflections, guidance about how to use the liturgical resources of the Book of Common Prayer, the Book of Alternative Services, etc.); (2), the length of time you’d like to dedicate daily or weekly to these resources.

  3. Of course, there are also the Lenten reflections which were written by parishioners for this season.

  4. The Tuesday evening Bible study will be moved to a different format. I will be in touch with regular participants. (If you wish to be included in the communications about this, please contact me by phone or email.)

  5. I expect us all to pray regularly for those affected by the virus, for the medical community and research workers, for their families, and for those who mourn.

 

Pastoral Care

 

  1. I encourage us to reach out to one another at this time, either if we need someone to talk to, or if we think of someone who could use contact. As we are all members of the Body of Christ, good pastoral care is the responsibility of us all – not just the clergy.

  2. With help, I am setting up a system of lay “shepherds and sheep” – a system of keeping in contact with one another during the outbreak. The first priority will be vulnerable parishioners, but I hope that it will be expanded so that everyone will have pastoral support and contact. Parishioners will be contacted by email or phone as this develops.

 

Finances

 

  1. Brice’s already runs lean with our finances. There is widespread recognition in the diocese, and in the National Church, that parish financial offerings will likely be substantially reduced in the weeks ahead, although most expenses will continue. Beyond people who get sick or who die from this virus, and their families, the financial implications will perhaps have the most long-lasting and serious (and potentially catastrophic) effect on the Church. I respectfully ask that we continue to contribute our financial offerings, if we do not have other long-term losses, such as our jobs, during the COVID-19 outbreak. As always, we are encouraged to use the electronic offering option (call 705-256-5061). This makes budgeting easier, and provides greater income stability for St. Brice’s.

  2. I believe passionately that we all have an important calling as ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the wise stewardship and generosity of our time, our finances, and our care for one another brings light to darkness and transforms lives. This season is not a time for undue anxiety, but is an opportunity to bless one another, and our neighbours.

 

Administration

 

  1. The work of the Church continues. We are currently making arrangements for the Advisory Board to meet through videoconferencing, and essential ministry will continue to be delivered.

  2. I, and likely others, will continue to look after the property. St. Brice’s, which I think is already cleaned to a high standard, will be receiving extra cleaning in the days ahead. We are taking all reasonable steps for people’s physical safety, as well as their spiritual safety.

 

Some of us might be familiar with the movie Apollo-13, based on a true story about a crisis getting a manned American rocket back to earth in the late 1960’s. In the movie, at NASA headquarters, there is a lot of anxiety about the crew and how things went wrong. The headquarters’ staff does not know if there will be casualties, or exactly what the consequences will be. The mood is sombre. A turning point in the movie is that, at that time of difficulty, a manager speaks to this effect: “This will be our proudest hour.”

 

With you, and me, and the grace of the living God at work in our world (in spite of the human illnesses and misjudgements), this can be our proudest hour. Will you partner with me as mature ministers of the gospel at this time?

 

 

Sincerely, in Jesus Christ,

 

Peter Armstrong, rector