Community of Christ Enduring Principles Spotlight
Sacredness of Creation
Elsewhere in this week’s news and events columns you will see my announcement about the cancellation of Canada West Mission Centre in-person events until at least the end of August. This provides an opportunity for some reflections on the current impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Community of Christ. I will offer a bit more of a retrospective on the whole year of COVID in the third week of March when we are at the one-year anniversary of the shut-down of local church services.
We find ourselves at a promising time in the pandemic. The vaccine roll-out, after a discouragingly slow and inconsistent start, now appears to be on track. All four provinces in Canada West Mission Centre are now reporting significant numbers of vaccinations, particularly among residents of long-term care facilities and now moving to some health care workers, senior citizens outside of facilities and some first responders. In Alberta (where I live) it is being projected that all persons of any age or occupation who desires a vaccination will be able to receive it by about the end of July. A recent article in the Edmonton Journal described the very positive and promising effect of vaccinations in long-term care facilities in Alberta.
Meanwhile we are all still dealing with at least some level of the restrictions which have become common in recent months. Travel is discouraged, except for necessary purposes. Indoor and outdoor gatherings are still restricted. The basic measures of masks, distancing and hand washing/sanitizing now seem ever-present and almost just a natural part of what we do each day.
The continuing impact of the pandemic on Community of Christ operations is obvious. Most congregations in Canada West are still not gathering in-person in any way. Many congregations are encouraging participation in some kind of regular online gatherings to maintain some sense of connection among members. These gatherings may be for worship purposes, “Sunday School” purposes, or just plain social visiting purposes. Some have instituted or increased telephone ministry. Only one congregation has returned to in-person services since October. They report significant efforts to abide by health authority requirements but report positive impacts of gathering together – despite masks and distancing – after the previous months of no services.
In the fall of 2020 Community of Christ leadership released procedures for conducting the sacraments of the church in situations where personal contact was not possible. Procedures for all sacraments except baptism were provided.
On February 6 over 130 members and friends were able to join in a service of ordination for two individuals where the ordinands were in different cities and the person offering the ordination prayers was in another country (the U.S.A.). It was an excellent worship experience in which the significance of the sacrament was truly felt and the presence of the Holy Spirit was evident. I am aware of inquiries concerning offering the sacrament of laying on of hands for the sick (“administration”) using electronic means. I have yet to hear of such prayers actually being offered.
It feels like we may be at a turning point in the pandemic. The authorities continue to warn us to not let our guard down lest the virus re-emerge, or its new variants take on a greater hold. Still, it seems that there is hope that we may see the end of the pandemic by late summer or sometime in the fall. We have come this far, we can deal with it for another few months.
As always, I pray for you God’s blessings of joy, hope, love, and peace in these challenging times.
Canada West Mission Centre President
community of christ
355 Elmira Road North, Unit 129
Guelph, ON N1K 1S5 Canada
Canada West Mission: 877-411-2632
Canada East Mission: 888-411-7537