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The World Health Organization has just named the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.  This speaks to the intense spread of the virus and the numbers that are overwhelming health services across the globe.  90 percent of cases are in only four countries.

However, the WHO also highlights that every country, organization, and person can play a part in slowing the transmission of the disease.  They emphasise that it is possible to make a read difference.

Please keep up to date with our local guidelines through this website:

In order to do our part, we will make a few changes in Sunday worship at St. Augustine's, in association with Bishop Jane's direction and in keeping with good health practice.

  1.  The risk level in Alberta remains LOW, so we will continue to hold services.
  2. IF YOU FEEL ILL, STAY HOME and take care! IF YOU ARE IN A HIGH-RISK CATEGORY, CONSIDER STAYING HOME.  We are working to actually video-stream the service online so that you can still participate with us from home at your computer.  This will likely happen through Facebook.  Make sure you are connected to the church Facebook page to access this.
  3. Upon entering the building, please wash your hands and/or use hand sanitizer.  The missionaries tell us that singing "Jesus loves me" while you wash your hands helps to keep you washing long enough - and is good for your soul.
  4. There is an older tradition of celebrating 'the Peace' only in symbol without greeting one another.  We will take up this practice for Lent (and possibly Easter): We will share the words of the peace only (no greeting) and move right to the Offertory hymn.
  5. Hand sanitizer will be available as you approach the communion rail.  Please make use of it.  (the priest, lay reader, and server do this already anyhow.)
  6. The common cup will still be offered, fortified wine and silver provide significant protection, however, Bishop Jane has asked us to remind that, throughout Christian history, the bread has always been considered "full communion."  You may know that in many Catholic churches, only the bread is ever offered.  Please take this option according to your conscience.
  7. The WHO also recommends avoiding handshakes while greeting, and instead, making a "1-meter" greeting with a smile or a bow.

These stipulations will feel a little awkward for sure, so let us make these health-actions like an active prayer for those who are sick, those who are suffering, and those who have died already from COVID-19.

A final thought...

I (Jonathan+) had a chance to visit Boyle Street Community Services today while attending the Greater Edmonton Alliance institutional leader's meeting (Next meeting is March 25th - near Oliver Square - with lunch, want to come?!).  During the meeting, we talked at length at how much of the media focus is on the effect of COVID-19 on travellers and 'regular' folk.  However, there has been little said about how the virus will impact the homeless.  Sarah, an ambassador with Boyle Street spoke of how hard it can be for homeless folk to find places to wash regularly at all times of the day, to rest when sick, and to otherwise to protect themselves.

**In light of this, I would invite us to not only care for ourselves but share with another: St. Augustine's will be receiving donations for Boyle Street Community Services between now and Easter to help them deal with extra health needs in this COVID-19 time.  Please give generously. You may designate a cheque or give online on the website: (choose the "Outreach Initiative" option to designate the gift.  We will forward any funds received directly to Boyle Street.