Due to the spread of the coronavirus, Bishop Andrew Asbil wrote a pastoral letter to parishes in the diocese in early March, asking them to refrain from sharing the common cup at celebrations of the Eucharist. Presiding celebrants were to consecrate both the bread and the wine, and to consume in both kinds, but to administer only the bread to the rest of the congregation.
“The Church’s ancient teaching is that the whole Christ is received whether one receives only consecrated bread or both bread and wine,” he wrote.
In addition, people were advised to share words and smiles only, not handshakes or hugs, during the Exchange of the Peace. Churches that have repositories of still water such as fonts or stoops, were asked to refresh the water daily or discontinue their use for the time being. Every Anglican was encouraged to practice rigorous handwashing and to self-quarantine at home if feeling unwell.
He said the liturgical practices would be re-instated as soon as the diocese was advised that the risk of transmission of the virus had been better contained.
“Together all of us can help mitigate both risk and fear in our communities by exercising this due diligence,” he wrote. The letter was to be read to all congregations on March 8. The letter is available on the diocese’s website, www.toronto.anglican.ca.
“We believe that gathering for corporate worship as the Body of Christ is an integral part of, and not antithetical to, healthy living,” he wrote. “We encourage our parishioners and worshipping communities to continue to meet and offer prayers and praise to our merciful God, who in the person of Jesus offers us the gifts of hope and healing for fullness of life.”