COVID-19 concerns prompt suspension of church services in Nunavut, Nunavik
“It is a time to reinforce our communities by families praying and worshipping in their home”
Churches serving Nunavut and Nunavik have reacted to the risk of COVID-19 infection by suspending services and meetings in the busy period leading up to Easter Sunday on April 12.
All Anglican services and meetings will be suspended immediately “until it is safe to resume,” David Parsons, the bishop of the Anglican Arctic diocese, said in a letter circulated to parishes on Tuesday, March 17.
This suspension, which affects Anglican churches in Nunavut, Nunavik and the Northwest Territories, includes all Sunday services and other meetings that are scheduled to occur inside parish buildings.
Parsons said, “It is a time to reinforce our communities by families praying and worshipping in their homes and pray that those around the world who are presently inflicted with this disease make a full recovery.”
He suggested people find other ways to connect and support each other, such as distributing church service pamphlets, keeping connected through radio, phone calls, FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, and helping one another.
During the suspension, he said:
- Marriage ceremonies will be reduced to bride, groom, two witnesses and parents.
- Baptisms will be private ceremonies with only parents and sponsors.
- Funerals will be conducted at the graveside only.
Meanwhile, all clergy leave is now restricted, Parsons said, and they’ve been asked to discourage parishioners from engaging in community-to-community travel.
As for home visitations, clergy, who visit homes, are to practice social distancing, Parsons said: “this is providing they are not ill and no one in the household is ill.”
In the Roman Catholic’s Mackenzie–Fort Smith Diocese, which includes Kugluktuk and Cambridge Bay, Bishop Jon Hansen said the celebration of all Sunday eucharistic services in the diocese are suspended immediately and he is “dispensing all members of the Catholic faithful from their Sunday obligation until further notice.”
Those in the Hudson Bay–Churchill diocese were referred to local social media and community announcements for updates.
A March 15 statement from the Catholic Bishops of Quebec said, “Given the extent of the danger, the urgency of the situation and the solidarity required under such circumstances, the executive of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Quebec is recommending, effective today, the suspension of all celebrations and public activities in the churches of Quebec.”
Meanwhile, Glad Tidings churches in some northern communities have also suspended activities, following public health prohibitions on gatherings.