What Do Worship Services Look Like Now?

Bishop Susan has issued new guidelines for our ministry and worship—the biggest shifts since we resumed worshipping in person! These guidelines are carefully based on the best science and public health evidence available, and both we as the Church of the Nativity and the whole Diocese of Niagara continue to have everyone’s safety as our first priority.

We wanted to make sure you’d know what to expect for services.


Mask Mandate Paused

The requirement to wear masks has been paused. (It may return if we see increased positivity with a new wave of the COVID virus or variants of concern.)

While you don’t have to wear a mask to come to church, we do encourage you to wear one if it’s right for you!

Masks will be worn by all communion ministers while communion is shared.


Communion: Common Cup Returns as an Option

The chalice is shared at communion, pre-pandemic

We’ll be removing the table in front of the steps where we’ve been sharing communion since the return to in-person worship. All will be welcome to come to the altar rails to receive the eucharist—and the clergy will still be delighted to bring the sacrament to anyone who isn’t able to come up!

Because masks are not required, we do ask that you leave more space between you and others at the altar rails than you may remember doing before the pandemic. Please remember to use hand sanitizer before coming forward.

You’ll also be able to receive the wine from the chalice if you so choose. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve reminded you of the Church’s long-held teaching that receiving in only one kind is full participation in the eucharist—that is, receiving the bread alone is receiving Christ’s body and blood. That hasn’t changed, and if you don’t feel comfortable receiving the wine at this time, then that’s the right call for you! Simply cross your arms over your chest, and the chalice bearer will hold the chalice in front of you, will say “the blood of Christ,” and then move to the next person.

If you’re finding yourself wondering—wait, why is the common cup considered safe?—know you’re not alone. We encourage you to read the Reverend Michael Garner (MSc, MDiv)’s paper “The Common Cup and SARS-CoV-2 Infection Risk.” Michael is a priest and a former long-serving infectious disease epidemiologist at the Public Health Agency of Canada. This paper offers a careful scientific overview of the studies that have been done on the common cup over many years, and why any risk of exposure to Covid is ‘extremely low.’


Exchanging the Peace

A peace sign made by fingers in front of tree branches.

We will be able to physically exchange the peace again.

Please remember that everyone will have different comfort levels when we come to the peace!

It will be important for us to see and assess other people’s body language and choices; it’ll be important for us to use our words to explain what we’re comfortable with. If you’re not ready for a handshake, making a peace sign (a ‘V’ with your first two fingers) or bowing are two ways to signal your preferred option to other people.

Make the choice that’s right for you; honour the choices made by other people. For the next while, the clergy will be reminding the congregation about this when we come to the peace.


Outdoor Coffee Hours (weather-permitting)

People gather in the Nativity Gardens at a recent outdoor coffee hour

Parish Council made the decision that we’ll have summer coffee hours in the Nativity Gardens! With juice and light snacks, we’ll have the chance to socialize and regather in this beautiful setting!


Live-Streamed Services Will Continue

The video control board for streaming, at the back of the church

We’re going to continue to broadcast the main service each Sunday to YouTube. You can find a link to the stream on our parish blog each week, along with a link to the order of service to make it easier to join in the hymns and prayers and readings. There are also special prayers you might wish to use to make an act of spiritual communion.


Get in touch!

Close-up of an old dial-pad on a touchtone phone.

Need to have a conversation with your priest? While Matthew will be taking his vacation at a couple of different points over the summer, nothing makes him happier than catching up or walking alongside you through a time when you need pastoral support. Just pick up the phone and call the church!

Image Credits:

“Green Light” by Dave Levy on flickr; used under CC BY-SA 2.0 license.
“Communion” by William Pleydon; used with permission.
“Peace” by Cristina Souza on flickr; used under CC BY 2.0 license.
“Coffee Hour” by William Pleydon; used with permission.
“Telephone” by Indiana Public Media (WFIU) on flickr; used under CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

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