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”

Services at the St. George’s Anglican Church in Cambridge Bay are now suspended, as they are at other Anglican churches in Nunavut and Nunavik, “until it is safe to resume,” the Anglican bishop of the Arctic said March 17. This photo shows one of the Arctic-themed stained glass windows inside the church. (Photo by Jane George)

By Jane George

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:

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  • 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.

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(6) Comments:

  1. Posted by Christianity on

    It seems that this is the time to pray.
    Also the time to learn about immunity to declare and decree.
    Some Christians teach on those things.
    Also a good time to get “saved”.
    Thinking about life and death, including life after death.

  2. Posted by The Old Trapper on

    It’s also a time to trust science over 2,000 year old superstition, but if that is what gives you comfort during these difficult times then go for it but please don’t think that you are immune to Covid-19, that God will keep you from getting the virus, or that if you get it you can pray to God to cure you because none of that is going to happen.

    • Posted by God is not on

      Prayer can be powerfully positive for the uplifting it can create. It’s all in the mind of oneself. But the bearded man, or the long hair son, in a robe is a fictional story. As religious as one can be, God does not exist. His place of worshiping exist, and if God did exist, he’ll tell us all to stay home and not come to church. It’s so opposite of the bible and other religious preaching. Imagine God saying, don’t go to church, stay inside your homes. I can’t do anything about this virus. This virus is more powerful than me the God .

  3. Posted by Fake Plastic Jesus on

    To echo some of the thoughts above, one thing I always hear in response to any criticism of religion is that people should be left alone if their beliefs bring them comfort. This has never felt like a satisfactory answer to me. Recent posts on Facebook telling us that prayer will save us, or begging Jesus to wash the community in his “holy blood” aren’t just delusional and bizarre, they demonstrate a way of thinking so uncoupled from reality that they could just as easily be described as dangerous.

    • Posted by Fake, that’s true on

      I couldn’t agree more fake. It’s people who will not help themselves, depending on Jesus to do it for them. All it never gets done. It’s is dangerous. It’s so funny too how Christianity captured so many people in the North. Yet they seem to complain, yet make no changes towards throwing out the belief. For my self, as I go older, I didn’t need anyone to tell me which way to direct my beliefs. I didn’t need anyone to tell the reality. I know God is not great, because he or she or it is not existing. I’m a positive thinker, but not delusional.

  4. Posted by No problem on

    I just tell you. You complain.
    God does not have to be real to you but you will call him.
    When you do, God just look back at your whole life.
    When he does, he will see you never liked him.
    Don’t be offended. Why be offended by fake ideas.

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