Moments that inspired us

Three people in masks in a church building.
Zachary Grant (left), Ryan Poole and Deacon Elizabeth Cummings of Holy Trinity, Trinity Square in Toronto provide coffee, sandwiches and take-out food to guests of the church’s drop-in during the COVID-19 pandemic on March 19. Holy Trinity was one of many churches in the diocese that served the poor and homeless during the crisis. Photo by Michael Hudson.
 on May 1, 2020
Michael Hudson

Anglicans recall grace-filled times during pandemic

We asked clergy and laity in our diocese to tell us about a moment during the COVID-19 pandemic that inspired them.

Neighbours hold street isolation dance party

The neighbours on a nearby street have a social media page where they update each other on local happenings and look out for one another. Apparently yesterday, a neighbour suggested they have a street isolation dance party. So someone blasted dance music from the car stereo as they drove up and down the street. People – some in costume – came outside and danced or boogied on their doorsteps. Apparently there was lots of laughter and relief. This story inspired me when I heard about it this morning. We are also trying to have a virtual coffee hour on our Facebook page, asking people to check in. We floated the idea earlier today and so we will see how it goes. But it was one strategy to reduce isolation.

The Rev. Julia Burn
Church of the Resurrection, Toronto

God is doing a new thing in our midst

It has been so inspiring to see how our parishioners have come together to care for one another. It’s really quite amazing, when you think about the fact that we’ve had to find a whole new way of operating. In a little less than a week, we have been able to plan and execute online worship services, create and distribute daily prayer resources, coordinate pastoral care phone calls and prayer chains, coordinate volunteers to deliver goods to parishioners who are shut-in or practicing self-isolation, continue to manage our stewardship efforts, and a thousand other little things. We are finding new ways to serve a very old mission: to be salt for the earth and light for the world.

The gospel appointed for Lent 4A (John 9.1-41) tells of Jesus’ healing of a man blind since birth. It is a timely reading. In this unprecedented time, how is God opening our eyes to see the work of ministry in a new way? My eyes are opened in a new way to the depth of faith and commitment of the members of this parish community.

My eyes are opened to new ways of connecting with each other, of being the Church for one another. My eyes are opened in a new way to the presence of God in our midst. God is, right now, doing a new thing in our midst. It’s not what we expected, it’s not what we would have chosen for ourselves, but here it is for all to see. It’s wondrous to behold.

The Rev. Jesse Parker
St. John the Evangelist, Port Hope

Spanish Flu survivor shares wisdom

The eldest parishioner at St. Augustine’s was born in 1916 and will be 104 this summer. I’ve often marvelled at how much history is contained in her lifespan. Kay would have been a toddler during the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918-19. And yet she reminds me that we survive and indeed, we go on to thrive. She also saw the founding of our parish congregation and lived through all the years when they saved and raised money and built our building in stages. She was alive the last time our churches were shuttered to preserve public health and her enduring presence reminds me that this too will pass and God will call us into a hopeful and promising future.

The Rev. Megan Jull
St. Augustine of Canterbury, Toronto

Contacting everyone tightens parish bonds

Our lay pastoral team and I met after we were advised that we weren’t to have services. We had a list of parishioners who are on email, so I sent out devotionals to them twice a week to keep in touch. The team and I called the remaining parishioners who didn’t have email. We wondered if we should call everyone on the list, even those we didn’t see often. The answer was an immediate and resounding “yes.” We called them and they were extremely pleased and very appreciative of what we were doing. God works in mysterious ways. By coming together through this cancellation of services, we may bring our parish family even closer together.

The Rev. Jeanette Lewis
St. Barnabas, Chester

head bell ringer John Earnshaw plays the Welsh National Anthem on March 18 during the noon playing of the People’s Chime at St. John the Evangelist, Peterborough. The church
planned to play the People’s Chime every day during the pandemic.

God has forced us to use our imagination

It has only taken me a few days to realize that what I thought was a devastating blow to our plans has turned into a huge opportunity to rethink how we do things and have the potential to reach even more people digitally. Doors continue to open because our creative God has forced us to use our imagination. We can’t do everything we hoped to do this Easter, but we can still do a lot – just differently. Also, I believe during this time of crisis, it is important to be frugal but we can’t forget to be generous. Now is the time that our communities will need us. Now is the time for them to get to meet us, get to know who we are and trust us. The seeds we sow today will be the fruit we see on the other side of this crisis.

Adam Furfaro
Executive Director
Light On The Hill, Oak Ridges

People have started to talk with each other

After the flurry of cancelling events and meetings and coming to the realization that nothing can as yet be known, people have started to talk with each other. My cousins, who I’ve not seen for years, are on an email chain that started with a cancellation of an aunt’s Celebration of Life. My sister, wife, brother-in-law and I had a “face-to-face” using Zoom yesterday and, well, there was no need to finish the conversation and get onto the next activity in the calendar. As everything gets cancelled, I’m forced to assess what’s really important. Small-group Bible Study and Sunday dinner with the family come to the top.

Archdeacon Kyn Barker
Coordinator of Deacons

Attendance at online devotions surge

We have been using the Zoom platform for morning devotions for about two years. On average, eight members participate in our morning viDEoVOTIONS, Monday to Thursday. Three persons usually join me for Wednesday’s noon day prayers. We also use it for the occasional meeting. When we were setting up to use Zoom for the first Sunday during the “cessation of Sunday assemblies,” we invited members to test their connections; no more than eight came on. But on that first Sunday, there were 50 connections, with a total of about 65 members, including our area bishop, participating. The next day, an additional member joined our viDEoVOTIONS and five joined our Wednesday noon day prayers. At their request, we will now be having noon day prayers, Monday to Thursday, each week. The church is not the building, it is the people of God!

The Rev. Dr. Canon Stephen Fields
Holy Trinity, Thornhill

Parish moves quickly to reach elderly, those alone

I have been impressed with how quickly our parish has mobilized resources to establish a phone tree to check on elderly parishioners and those who live alone, to see if they need any pastoral support or just help getting groceries. We are often accused of taking forever to make decisions but in this case the outreach activity was up and running within a short while after the diocese decided to suspend all services. I am sure many other parishes have mounted similar efforts but it was truly inspiring to see it first-hand. We have heard back from a number of call recipients who have greatly appreciated that the church is keeping in touch with them in these difficult times, and is concerned about them.

Bob Boeckner
St. Clement, Eglinton

Strangers offer help to couple in isolation

My wife Judi and I are in “house lockdown” for two weeks after returning from vacation in Florida. On our street, people whom I have never met have asked how they can help us. Plus, while walking our dog I saw three ladies chatting on the street corner, each standing two metres apart. We all laughed and joked about the use of social distancing. I had never met them before. The Lord truly moves in mysterious ways his wonders to perform.

Peter Marshall
St. Thomas a Beckett, Erin Mills South

Drop-ins, food chain help the homeless

I’ve been moved and inspired by the way that the drop-ins providing services to homeless and marginalized people have pulled together. The Toronto Drop-In Network has done a fantastic job of collecting information and keeping communications flowing, and the different locations and workers have been sharing resources and ideas. They’ve been pulling together in their determination to continue serving our very vulnerable and fragile people.

But there’s also been lots of cooperation and generosity from people outside the network. A few days ago, I saw someone on social media saying that anyone who needed to see something cheerful should look at the Twitter feed of Mohamed Fakih, the CEO of Paramount Fine Foods. I took a look and saw that, since his restaurants couldn’t offer sit-down service any more, he was proposing to convert the kitchens to prepare meals for any shelters or food banks who asked. I wrote to the company, and within half an hour we had a promise of 50 boxed meals for our drop-in, as long as someone could drive to Mississauga to pick them up. I put out a request to our contacts, and the first volunteer was a Jewish friend whom I knew from antiracist/ antifascist work. So we ended up with all three Abrahamic faiths coming together to help people in need. It was a really nice moment.

The Rev. Maggie Helwig
St. Stephen in-the-Fields, Toronto

Team pulls together on water and land

On Tuesday we arrived back from Florida, where my son was sailing in a training camp. Our coach is Argentinian but working with Canadian teams under a work permit. Throughout the week, as things continued to heighten about COVID-19, tensions were high about staying in Florida or coming home. As we watched Justin Trudeau telling us to come home and that the boarders would be shut, the whole team just worried about our coach and how to get him back before the borders closed to him. Thankfully, this was accomplished, as he is a blessing to our teams. As well, three families drove home, and through our WhatsApp group, everyone was checking in with those families and encouraging them along their way. There was a team effort not only on the water but getting everyone home. What was most inspiring to me about all of this was that most of us had never met each other before and we just banded together for the good of everyone else. I was thankful to be a part of this moment of goodness and teamwork.

Jillian Ruch
York-Scarborough youth ministry area coordinator

Friends step up to fill the gap

I’m inspired by and grateful to our many generous supporters. When word got out that the Daily Bread Food Bank is stopping drop-in deliveries, friends of All Saints stepped up to fill the gap. This week, we received food and other donations from All Saints, Kingsway, St. George, Pickering Village, the kids and adults of DeGrassi Street neighbourhood, and countless other individuals and volunteers. Today (March 20), we distributed meals to over 200 people and shared other items like bread and fruit. We heard many “God bless you”s. The Spirit is alive and well.

The Rev. Dr. Alison Falby
All Saints Church-Community Centre, Toronto

Trinity Church, Bradford’s sign puts things in perspective during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Family bears circumstances without complaint

This morning I was in a funeral home with a family who is dealing with the sudden death of their husband/dad. I was watching his teenage son, his wife and brother as they tried to plan a funeral for a man who, a month ago, would have filled the church with mourners. As they made difficult decisions and plans in this very unusual time, they bore it all without complaint. They chose to find the blessing in only close family being with them, they found blessing in this time when the dayto- day changes actually allowed people to have time to talk with them. The care of a good funeral home was also a blessing as they gently guided them to a safe plan that also honoured the deceased.

The Rev. Canon Jennifer Reid
St. Peter, Erindale

Young leader inspires with can-do attitude

With Sunday services cancelled with short notice, we have quickly scrambled to feed the good people of St. Philip on-the-Hill with spiritual nourishment on a daily basis via our webpage. I have been inspired by the kindness of one of our young people, a first-year university student who is tech savvy. In very short order, she had our team encouraged and producing spiritual content that she uploaded to our website for our congregation and others to listen to and pray with. As I thanked her, she wrote, “No problem, I’m always happy to help. Especially during this time, we need all hands on deck.” That last phrase, “we need all hands on deck” – such a wonderful attitude! Ruwani has inspired and cheered our team and helped us to do what we could not do ourselves. This is church at its best, working together with a can-do attitude. That’s what we need in these anxious, uncertain days. I am inspired by our young people addressing needs that surround.

The Rev. Stephen Kern
St. Philip on-the-Hill, Unionville

Ordinary time has been preparing us for this

We have been offering live-streamed worship from St. Timothy’s and I have been astonished both at the levels of participation we have seen and the comments we have received. Daily prayer is probably relatively new for many of our congregation, yet participation has grown steadily through the week, and it is clear that in many cases households are gathered around a table participating in worship via Zoom. (We send out a bulletin for every service to encourage participation.) I am moved by stories of how this has brought families closer together and has been a source of strength and encouragement. I have also been calling around the parish, beginning with those who are vulnerable or who live alone. I always ask if they need someone to do practical tasks like shopping and I am always told that this has already been attended to. In this extraordinary time, what is being driven home for me is that this is what our ordinary time has been preparing us for. Our worship, our prayers, our celebrations of life and love, our patient building of community, our acts of generosity and kindness are all about being the body of Christ, and now as the externals are forcibly stripped away from us we are discovering that we are still the body of Christ.

The Rev. Canon Dr. Eric Beresford
St. Timothy, North Toronto 

Experience left us full of love and laughter

We held a dial-in worship service, along with a digitally recorded service posted on our website, this past Sunday. When we opened up our conference line, we first heard our wonderful lay pianist playing and then the sound of so many of our people coming on the call to worship together from home. It turned out we had well over 100 people on the phone at once. We all started greeting each other joyfully—so many “Hi’s!” and “Hello’s!” that it was like the Tower of Babel re-enacted. That moment itself was so moving. We worshipped together, praying aloud in unison and listening to a homily, followed by the most wild and wacky version of “Morning Has Broken” any of us have ever experienced—but we were just so full of love and laughter afterwards. Cheryl and I received so many texts and emails of gratitude after this dial-in service and it’s a ministry and fellowship moment we won’t ever forget.

The Rev. Molly Finlay
Associate Priest
Christ Church Deer Park

Phone calls keep church members connected

My life this past week has been a combination of reaching forward into new technology while at the same time reaching backwards into the tested and true. I mean phoning people. I have been encouraging the people of St. Anne’s to call each other, especially those not connected to the internet, several of whom are seniors. My calls today were lovely – engaged and upbeat. Everyone says they are well-provisioned and feeling connected. Without exception, everyone I phoned today has already had calls from other members of our congregation. I was talking to the woman who loaned me her copy of The Atlantic to read David Brooks’ article, “The Nuclear Family was a Mistake.” We both marvelled at how timely this is for St. Anne’s. The sentence that jumped out for us was this: “The experience has convinced me that everybody should have membership in a forged family with peo- ple completely unlike themselves.” Forged in the sense of melded, created, chosen. It’s a beautiful vocabulary waiting in the wings for this moment.

The Rev. Canon Gary van der Meer
St. Anne, Toronto

In touch with parishioners, migrant workers

I am always in touch with my parishioners of St. Saviour’s as well as the migrant workers through social media, wherever they may be. In these unprecedented times, communicating through this medium has become much more profound. I can communicate with them and encourage them and let them know that I am praying for them. It has also pushed me to videotape myself and conduct services via social media. Some are expressing appreciation for this, which is heartwarming. Another way to connect with each other for now. This was my recent message to them in English and Spanish: “That in times such as this, where we might experience perplexity and fear and concern for family, friends, those in our congregation and ourselves, may we look to our God, who is a place of refuge and strength!”

The Rev Augusto Nunez
St. Saviour, Orono

St. Thomas, Brooklin sends a message.

Email from friend feels like Christmas morning

What’s inspired me? It’s the emails that are like chats in the narthex – people writing about their day or their cats. And there was one that felt like Christmas morning. A friend had sent a lovely note that was newsy and reflective and funny, and attached were gifts to open: a recipe, a book recommendation, a cartoon, a killer exercise program, and my favourite, a link to Sister Sledge singing “We Are Family!” That made me get up and dance.

The Rev. Susan Spicer
St. George, Pickering Village, Ajax

People taking time to draw nearer to God

In the midst of COVID-19, we like many other parishes are reaching out to connect to our parishioners by phone, touching base, and checking in to see how people are coping and staying connected. Despite the challenges that people are facing with isolation, working from home and all the uncertainty that now faces us, I have had so many conversations with people who are committed to using this time to draw nearer to God in prayer, in reading of scripture and in study. Though we cannot meet in person, it is so encouraging to see people’s faith not only remain but go deeper.

The Rev. Jennifer Schick
St. Bede, Toronto

People are helping any way they can

Lots has happened in a week, but for me the inspiring moments have been people offering to help others anyway they can. One parishioner who lives in Whitby offered to come to Lindsay to deliver food to people in self-isolation. Phone calls are being made by parishioners to those who are alone. Prayers are being said for people who have various needs and are just anxious about the crisis we are facing. Worship online is also an inspiration as a few dedicated parishioners have come to ensure that those at home can worship together as the Body of Christ in a new and exciting way.

The Rev. Dr. Warren Leibovitch
St. Paul, Lindsay

Generosity brings tears to my eyes

The town of Penetanguishene is helping our church keep our Deacon’s Cupboard filled – overflowing, in fact. This keeps the hungry fed. I walk by the cupboard and am overwhelmed with gratitude to everyone who is keeping it filled for us. The entrance to the church (although closed) is packed with food that has been given because it just doesn’t fit in the cupboard. The generosity of the town of Penetanguishene to help us help others has brought tears to my eyes.

Also, we did our first service on Zoom yesterday. When I opened the Zoom page, I wish I had taken a screen shot of everyone attending. They were so excited to see each other and I just let them talk, and talk they did. It was amazing how they connected. Then we took the time to pray together, pray for each other and now they are telling all their friends to come to our Zoom church.

Finally, there is a new online group for leaders of local faith groups, we have come together to uphold each other, pray together, and share resources and ideas. This has united us like nothing I have ever seen before. As one Rabbi wrote: “We will not know the crisis is over because everything goes back to being the same. We will know the crisis is over when we are certain that everything has changed. Then we will know beyond all doubt that this crisis is over.” I am seeing change in how we worship, how we have come together as a town and, even via social media, how we truly have become one.

The Rev. Eileen Steele
arishes of Waubaushene & Penetanguishene

Trial run became first launch

Although we all expected the COVID-19 pandemic would hit us soon, we were all caught off guard by how quickly it spread and evolved day by day and hour by hour. In early March, St. Christopher’s planned to have a test run of a live stream on March 15. But it turned out that the trial run became our launch. Two hours before the launch, we also created an online donation portal on our website. I am grateful for our e-ministry team to make these happen. After the hectic week of moving things online and grocery stocking, I was thankful for Bishop Peter Fenty’s pastoral call to calm me down during the chaos. He reminded me that instead of losing parishioners in this unprecedent situation, many may turn to God. Indeed, how can Christians take this crisis into an opportunity to reach out?

As more and more parishioners became self-isolated, we asked our small group leaders and caring members to reach out to others. These efforts included a weekly call to see how worried they were and also to encourage them to listen to the audio Bible reading app, hymns from YouTube, join our Sunday live stream services and pray with them. We also asked our leaders to report back if there were individuals who had difficulty dealing with the crisis and need special attention. Our leaders have been demonstrating great Christian love to care for one another.

The Rev. Canon Philip Der
St. Christopher, Richmond Hill

Parishioner felt new-found peace

I have felt blessed by God in so many ways these past few days. I think we are being reminded in very real ways of what it means to be the body of Christ even though we are dispersed and not gathering together as we usually do. The power of being connected and in relationship has taken on a higher significance. For me, I have enjoyed seeing how God is at work using the internet and social media. Technological advances have often been criticized as separating us into our own individual selves and isolating us from others. Now we see the blessing of technology and how God is using it to keep us connected and as a means of sharing the good news and hope of the gospel. I was overwhelmed when a parishioner in her 90s sent a note saying she had begun to feel anxiety, given what’s going on with this virus. She entered into the worship that was offered in the form an online prayer vigil. She felt a new- found peace. It wasn’t the video we created; it was God at work through the Holy Spirit.

The Rev. Canon Mark Kinghan
St. Paul, Uxbridge

Rural, urban parishioners attending to the needs of others

I serve two parishes, one rural and one urban. At St. Matthew-St. Aidan, in the hamlet of Buckhorn, I have been inspired by how smoothly parishioners have adjusted to the new normal and adapted to caring for one another at a distance. People in a small town are used to caring for one another. In the midst of the challenges and worries of COVID-19, people are remaining calm, focused and attentive to responding appropriately to the needs of others in the community. I have been inspired by how naturally, our parish teams have made the transition to adjust while remaining focused on how we serve the local community and beyond. I’m inspired by how our parish has not lost sight of the fact that caring for those in need is a parish priority.

In Peterborough, local foodbanks are challenged by recent shortages and by the rigorous procedures for safe food distribution during the pandemic. I have been inspired by how the food cupboard team at St. Luke’s has carefully adjusted how they package and distribute groceries and staples to their clients. The food cupboard, its freezers and inventory, is located in the basement of the church, some distance along a narrow hall from the point of access. To reconfigure the usual distribution method required careful planning and a lot of labour to package everything individually and move it to the upstairs door so that people could be served safely, one at a time according to the COVID-19 guidelines from Peterborough Food Share. I have been truly inspired by the commitment and high energy level of our food cupboard team under the guidance of Lorraine Brown. Many people in the parish recognized the increased need and, while observing physical and social distancing, contributed extra supplies and extra funds for it.

One other thing that gave me both a happy smile and an added moment of inspiration was hearing how Faith Rees of St. Luke’s, not to be deterred by St. Patrick’s Day cancellations nor by her senior years, donned her Irish garb, put on the Irish tunes, and danced a jig on the balcony of her apartment. May she be an inspiration to us all.

The Rev. Glenn Empey
St. Matthew-S.t Aidan, Buckhorn
St. Luke, Peterborough

The Rev. Eileen Steele posts a message on her church’s door.

Churches hold true to the Fifth Mark of Mission

The virus has helped all of us come alive with our faith. In addition to the countless ways clergy and lay leaders have found to help us worship together when we are not together, I have been most moved to realize that most food and care programs that have been quietly running in many of our churches have not closed up shop. Food is being prepared, packaged up and delivered, often to the homes of people who need it, but at minimum, at the back door of the parish hall for people to pick up. The cooks are being careful to keep to the required distance from each other, but people are being fed.

It seems to me that by holding true to the Fifth Mark of Mission, several of our churches are, in fact, proclaiming Good News to their communities, and perhaps even encouraging some community members (both those hearing about or experiencing the feeding) to explore again in their own hearts the value of a faith community. And maybe, just maybe, by these acts of care and love, we are drawing attention of governments and Canadian citizens to the fact that there are societal things that must be corrected when this pandemic is over. We have for too long neglected the homeless, the poor, the lonely, the mentally ill, Indigenous peoples and others. I am inspired by the Anglicans and others of faith I know who are putting themselves on the line to reach out to those who are among those oft-neglected groups, with food, with kind words, and with sincere questions about their well being. Hope and love in action! Praise God! Praise God’s people!

Suzanne Lawson
St. Peter, Cobourg

Early efforts helps town adapt

Eighteen months ago, the small grocery store in the village closed down. This left all of the people who live in the village who do not drive without a way to buy groceries. In Cannington, the grocery store had a fire and was closed for a year. In both cases, the large grocery store on the highway was the only grocery store near either village. Local people started driving neighbours, shopping for people, and arranging buses to take people to the highway store. This has been going on in Beaverton since then, so we were already getting groceries for each other and looking in on vulnerable neighbours. All of this made it easier for us to adapt to isolation because of COVID-19.

The Rev. Canon Ted McCollum
St. Paul, Beaverton

Church still offering comfort and hope

As I look out from my balcony, I see the church of St. George on Yonge looking so deserted and desolate, but still offering comfort and hope to the Out of the Cold program. It is still going strong, despite COVID-19, which has robbed us of even our Lenten worship. I wonder why this virus surfaced just at the start of Lent. It is definitely giving us all a chance to take stock of our lives and the world in general. But looking out onto that glittering Cross, I am confident that this pestilence will be crushed, the dragon slain and we will awake to a glorious Easter!

Roshni Sircar
St. George on Yonge Toronto

Comment leads to prayer and conversation

Over the first few days of the COVID-19 pandemic, I had a number of moments when I sat back and said, “Wow, God is really up to something” – whether that was a chance encounter with a very anxious parishioner in the grocery store or the people who responded to the reflection questions in the Facebook version of our study group. The moment, though, that I want to share happened on Sunday, March 15. I was up at my usual time to get ready, but without a regular worship service to prepare the church for, I found myself on Facebook scrolling through posts. I came across a post in a community group from someone I knew from the community support groups we offer, who commented on the challenge of getting the groceries she needed for self-isolation because she has health issues that make her more vulnerable. I commented that I would be happy to help. A Facebook Messenger conversation ensued, a way that we had not connected before, and she shared with me some other medical concerns she was facing and we prayed and we have now setup a Facebook group chat and are planning a video chat in place of our next meeting. If it had not been for COVID-19 I might not have connected with her like this and I certainly would not have been able to pray with her and for her at this time of need.

The Rev. Dana Dickson
Trinity Church, Bradford

People are hungry for the Word

Last week before the church buildings had to close, we offered a time of personal prayer on Sunday morning for those who wished to come pray in St. Paul’s sanctuary. To my delight, I had one person who avoids church on Sundays because it is too crowded come in and ask for a Bible, which I happily gave him. Another family came in who are fairly new immigrants, and they also deeply wished to have a Bible of their own. People are hungry for the Word, and it was such a privilege to be able to put it in their hands, and to have deep and meaningful connections with people that may not have happened on a busy Sunday morning. God is at work!

The Rev. Karen Isaacs
Associate Priest
St. Paul, Bloor Street

Moments of grace abound at hospital

It might be hard to imagine how screening people at the hospital doors could warm my heart. But I see so much goodness within everyone. Some may be annoyed or afraid, but they all quickly reach out and clean their hands – clearing all that might harm another. An action of hope. As I list the possible symptoms that could keep them from visiting friends and loved ones, they answer with a quick “no” to all. And then they smile, ask me how I am and often tell me something about their own day. The other night when I told a visitor I was the chaplain, he was happily surprised to find a chaplain doing the screening at the doors. He told me how pleased his mother was for the visit she received from an Anglican. His mother is Lutheran. She told him that even though I am not Lutheran, I had proved to be acceptable as a chaplain. She also loved the prayer of blessing I gave her. I gently reminded him Anglicans and Lutherans were in communion. “Oh I know, but my mother thinks only Lutherans know what they are doing.” He remarked it was interesting that Roman Catholic Sisters began this hospital. I was, of course, called to tell the story of the Anglican Sisterhood of St. John the Divine building the hospital for the care of everyone. His smile was broad as he exclaimed, “So many Anglicans!”

As we seek to minimize in-person visits and contact, to protect everyone, the Sisters are now connecting remotely with patients and staff. It’s such a new, strange way of being a spiritual care provider. But prayers, and communicating love and hope, are part of who the Sisters are. Today is March 22 and many in the world are joining together to light a candle of prayer in a window. One of the Sisters drew a brightly lit candle on a card, writing the words encouragement, support and prayers beneath the candle. She sent it over to me and I took it to her unit for the staff. The gratitude I received from the staff, on behalf of the Sister, illuminated my faith that though we are all separated and in our small corners, the light of love and healing embraces us all.

The Rev. Canon Joanne Davies
St. John’s Rehab, Toronto

Overwhelmed by care during illness

After arriving home from a trip to Cuba on March 14, my daughters and I got sick with what appears to be COVID-19 (we are considered presumptive cases as we are not eligible to be tested). We were staying at a hotel in close quarters with people from Spain, Italy, Germany and the UK. Even before we were symptomatic, we went into isolation. The illness is not fun, but we have been very fortunate to not have any serious breathing issues. We have been overwhelmed by the care being shown to us by our church community and other neighbours. People picking up groceries, walking our dog and dropping off, on a daily basis, baked goods, homemade soup and bottles of wine! The latter will have to wait until I am well. As a person who is used to being the one caring for others, it is a humbling experience and deeply moving. Watching my daughter’s response to people’s compassion and generosity reminds me of how important our actions towards one another are. Can’t do much these days, but praying with everyone else.

The Rev. Canon Ruthanne Ward
Church of the Ascension, Port Perry


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