On July 19, 2021, following the re-opening announcement from the Diocese of Niagara, our Rector and Dean of Niagara, the Very Right Rev. Dr. Tim Dobbin, wrote a pastoral letter about the particular plans of the Cathedral for re-opening. Here is the letter:
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
Grace and peace to you all.
Please know how much I am looking forward to making your acquaintance in person. Many of you will have read Bishop Susan’s recent pastoral letter in which she outlines re-opening guidelines for our parishes from July 25. You may be now wondering what will happen for us at the Cathedral. As you will know in formulating your own plans with families and friends, we continue to work with contingencies. Best guesses remain just that – best guesses. At the same time, we all need some idea of where we are heading.
It is perhaps a good time to remind ourselves that as God’s children we are by definition a pilgrim people. We are always in transit, journeying in God’s time towards God’s appointed end for us. It means that change, uncertainty and even tentativeness are givens in our life on this side of veil. We travel together in trust, recognizing that we may need to alter course many times before we reach our destination. It was Abraham’s experience; it was Moses’ experience; it was Jesus’ experience. Perhaps, the invitation midst all the challenges of this gruelling pandemic is to yield more to the reality of the provisional nature of our life, and even of our beloved institutions, including the church.
After extensive discussion within the Corporation and with our Re-opening Working Group, we have made the decision to return to in-person worship on September 12, God willing. I know this will be a disappointment to some of you, especially when we have not gathered in person since late 2020. Our ministry team are taking well-earned vacation at various times over July and August; I am reluctant for supply clergy to have to navigate the complex protocol associated with in-person worship; our Re-opening Working Group who have recently reconvened will need time to ensure that we are compliant with the various Diocesan requirements. It is essential that we continue to take all necessary precautions to promote the health and safety of our beloved community and our visitors. I would prefer that we take our time and get it right.
The other significant news I wish to share with you concerns our Corporation. We continue to rejoice and give thanks for God’s call on Rob Jones’ life to the priesthood. God willing, Bishop Susan will be ordaining Rob to the transitional diaconate on September 26. Because of this, Rob tendered his resignation as Rector’s Warden at our Corporation meeting on July 5. We are deeply grateful for all that Rob has offered the Cathedral in this capacity for the past two years. I have valued his wisdom, pastoral sensitivity and keen intellect. I am also delighted to announce that Wendy Newman has graciously agreed to serve as Deputy Rector’s Warden – Janina Vanderpost will assume the post of Rector’s Warden. Wendy, as you will know better than I, brings a vast array of gifts to this level of leadership in our life. Her experience in senior leadership with public libraries, her organizational, research and communication skills and her deep love for the Cathedral community will be a blessing to us all. Wendy’s appointment is effective immediately.
As we now bend our gaze toward re-opening, may I ask you to join me in praying for this next stage in our journey. Life will look different as we adjust to offering both in-person and online worship. It will take time, plenty of listening and some experimentation as together we discern how best to do this. Please pray for the Corporation, our ministry team, the Re-opening Working Group and all those involved in supporting our liturgical life; please pray for the services themselves, including any we may offer outdoors and for adjustments we may need to make; please pray for our life together, and for wisdom, courage and strength as we discern carefully those priorities we believe God is laying on our hearts.
We are a pilgrim people called to travel in unfamiliar terrain. It is unlikely that we will simply return to the life we once knew. Even as we grieve the past, may God bless us with all that we need and more to embrace our future with confidence and gratitude, in the sure and certain knowledge that ‘the one who began a good work among [us] will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ’ (Phil. 1.6).
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to be in touch with me personally.
A blessed, restful and restorative summer to you all.