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Bishop William’s Christmas Letter
Have no fear, for I am with you;
be not afraid, for I am your God.
I shall strengthen you and give you help
and uphold you with my victorious right hand.
Dear Friends in Christ
The strangest Advent and Christmas season of my life has had me reflecting on this promise of God in Isaiah. The promises of God are so much more than the human promises with which we trade in the world. A promise to call back, a promise to visit, a promise to write, a promise to remember; these are the regular currency of a friendship. The sad thing is that I am human and in my case I break almost every one of those promises. I don’t think I am unusual in that. My humanity gets in the way and I forget the promises I made. God however, does not forget, nor promise lightly.
Christ’s birth is the fulfilment of the promises of old, and at the same time, is a new promise of the coming Kingdom of God. This God who is faithful, keeps making new promises which are always pointing in the direction of our redemption – and the completion of all things in his perfect will. You and I are part of the promise which Christ brought to earth, because we have been united to him in our baptism. Our stories were joined to the story of God’s continued faithfulness to the promises of old. Those promises bear fruit in our lives and in the lives of those who follow us. The central message in that promise is the same to us as it was to the ancients. “Have no fear, I am with you; be not afraid, for I am your God.”
Fear would be the currency the world wants to spend this season: fear of the virus, fear of other nations, fear of enemies, fear of strangers, fear of hunger, fear of want. All the things that threaten and menace the children of God stalk the land, and the drum beat in the air is fear…fear…fear.
This is not our currency. We do not spend our lives in fear, but rather spend costly hope and rich grace on the world and on one another. To be Christian, celebrating the Holy child calls us to be profligate with the riches that God has given us. To spend the promises of God on one another and to teach others how to manage their bank filled with the hope, love and grace of the Kingdom. The Lord is faithful, there is more than enough hope to go around. The promises are true, and the Child of Bethlehem is only the down payment on what the Lord is doing. Let us be glad therefore, and rejoice, even in darker, sterner days.
For Christ is born for us today!
Announcement from Bishop William regarding new provincial CODE RED designation, November 10, 2020
Dear Friends in Christ:
Consistent with the restrictions in place for code RED in Manitoba by the Provincial Health Authority, the following actions are being taken by the Diocese of Brandon.
- All churches buildings will be closed, and all parishes are asked to return to online worship.
- The Bishop will continue to offer a weekly celebration of the Holy Eucharist for the purposes of Spiritual Communion and a sermon.
- The Diocesan Offices will be closed to the public.
- The Ordination planned for Saturday November 14 is postponed until we can safely gather.
Please pray for our parishes, the vulnerable in our parishes and for the emergency workers, doctors, nurses and essential workers who are bearing the burden of this pandemic.
Update: Letter to the Diocese from Bishop William, dated October 30, 2020
To the Clergy and People of the Diocese of Brandon
With the announcement that the Covid-19 cases in our province, effective Monday November 2, at 12:01 a.m. we have moved to Orange – Restricted level precautions. The Diocese of Brandon has churches in three health regions. Prairie Mountain, Northern and Southern Health regions are all affected by the
tightening of restrictions.
These new regulations limit our capacity in worship to 20% of our building capacity. Each parish will have to make decisions about how they will accommodate this new restriction. This will indeed limit the numbers able to be in church with us. At the same time, masks are to be worn in all public places and buildings.
All other restrictions remain in place:
1. Social distance must be maintained in services and upon entering and leaving the building.
2. Social distance must be maintained by Clergy or Lay Readers assisting with the services.
3. Sanitizing of surfaces and equipment after each service must be continued.
4. Gathering limits are to be observed based on the provincial guidelines and your individual health region; or the health authority of your Chief and Council and Nation.
5. Masks are to be worn in church, when social distancing is not possible.
6. Communion will only be offered in one kind for the foreseeable future. The celebrant will continue to be the only person to receive in both kinds.
Each parish will have to determine if they can faithfully keep to these restrictions, or may need to move back to strictly online services. Indigenous communities are to keep to the restrictions placed on worship and gathering by the individual health authorities on the various Nations which share the land of our Diocese.
We are being warned now that our Health system across this land is at capacity, and that only by these drastic measures can we help preserve the lives of our neighbours, our elders, our youth, and our families.
The Rt. Revd William G. Cliff
VII Bishop of Brandon
Update: Letter to the Diocese from Bishop William, dated October 26, 2020
To the people of the Diocese of Brandon
It has been some time since we have required a general directive to the whole diocese, but in the case of the possible “second wave” of this Covid-19 virus, I wanted to be in contact with you and remind you of the protocols that we have put in place. These protocols are all still in effect.
- Social distance must be maintained in services and upon entering and leaving the building.
- Social distance must be maintained by Clergy or Lay Readers assisting with the services.
- Sanitizing of surfaces and equipment after each service must be continued.
- Gathering limits are to be observed based on the provincial guidelines and your individual health region.
- Masks are to be worn in church, when social distancing is not possible.
- Communion will only be offered in one kind for the foreseeable future. The celebrant will continue to be the only person to receive in both kinds.
I am able to make one amendment to our protocols, and that is singing is permitted in services, but all must be masked. I have been advised that there is minimal risk from singing in a socially distant context while masked. Individual communities will make their own decisions with regard to implementation of this change. If your community is not comfortable with this change, you are welcome to maintain service without music.
As there have been significant outbreaks in the northern communities, Clergy and elders may opt to suspend in-person worship in any parish until the situation improves in your health region. This directive remains in effect for all parishes in the diocese, north and south. By keeping these protocols faithfully, we are safeguarding the health of our elders, our children and our own homes.
Wishing you the very best as we walk together through these trying times,
The Rt. Revd William G. Cliff
VII Bishop of Brandon
Update – October 23, 2020
As most of you have heard, new COVID-19 public health orders issued by the Province will come into effect Monday, Oct. 26, 2020 and remain in effect for a minimum of two weeks. These further restrictions will affect all of the communities within The Pas Deanery.
You have all been so flexible in adjusting to these ever-changing realities. Time and time again, I have seen the love and concern you have for parishioners and community members, especially those who are vulnerable. I am so appreciative of the support you have given each other throughout this pandemic – you have truly shown yourselves to be the Church of Jesus Christ!
Once again, we are being called to adjust our usual patterns to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Under “code orange – restricted” level we CAN continue to meet for Sunday worship with the following restrictions:
· Attendance is permitted at 30% capacity
· Physical distancing of 2 meters/6 feet must be maintained
· Masks must be worn in all indoor public places
· Communion is received in one kind – bread only – administered by one person only
· Attendance records are kept for 21 days to assist in contact tracing
· All other usual public health guidelines are followed:
o Stay home when sick,
o practice social distancing, hand washing/sanitizing and cough etiquette,
o Follow public health guidance on travel and self-isolation.
These restrictions also apply to meetings, Bible studies, baptisms, weddings, wakes, and funeral services. For some of you, your community leaders (Chief & Council or Town Council) may be requiring additional restrictions – it’s important that we support the community leadership by abiding by their regulations, and praying for wisdom in the decision making process. Additionally, let’s make sure we support one another by sharing only verified information on social media, especially Facebook. We don’t want to spread rumors or cause unnecessary fear and anxiety among our friends and neighbours
If you have further questions, please let me know. You can reach me by email, Facebook Messenger or phone. Even though our gatherings are restricted, our love and care for one another is not! So, please keep calling each other, connecting with those in your parishes who might be suffering from anxiety or loneliness, and praying for each other.
Yours in Christ,
Regional Dean, The Pas Deanery
Update – March 23, 2020
Until such time as we can come together once again, we must adapt and do things a little differently. Many parishes are doing service videos, wellness calls to parishioners, Zoom gatherings, and text messages. We encourage you to stay in contact with your clergy and fellow parishioners. Check in on one another, in whatever way makes sense. Stay up-to-date with the diocese by our Facebook posts or by our YouTube channel.
Remember, too, that the expenses of your parish continue. As you are able, we encourage you to donate to your parish and the diocese. Some parishes have pre-authorized donations. This would be a great time to explore that option. Others, including the diocese (General, Henry Budd College and Camp) can be donated to through regular means or even through CanadaHelps.org. The only difference there is that they send you a receipt and we don’t know who made the donations unless you tell us.
The first priority in the diocese is our people, the church. Clergy will continue being paid so that they can continue to minister. Our staff continues to be paid. With prayer and action, we will get through this together.
We’re going to share the GOOD NEWS, literally!
In these strange times, clergy are looking at different ways to minister and remain in contact within our parishes. There are many ways this is being explored throughout the communion. As such, we have set up a diocesan YouTube channel so that we may share services, bible studies, and other tidbits that will narrow the divide we find ourselves in these days. Watch this space for new content.
“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” —Deuteronomy 31:8
See COVID-19 response under “News” to the right.
Telephone: 204-727-2380 Fax: 1-844-725-7533
7th Bishop of the Diocese of Brandon: The Right Rev’d William Cliff – email@example.com
Executive Financial Officer: Mr. Greig Scott – firstname.lastname@example.org
Executive Assistant to the Bishop & Dean: The Rev’d Cheryl Kukurudz – email@example.com
Administrative Archivist: Ms. Teresa Longworth – firstname.lastname@example.org
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Birtle, St. George’s
Binscarth, St. Matthew’s
Boissevain, St. Matthew’s
Brandon, St. George’s
Brandon, St. Mary’s
Brandon, St. Matthew’s Cathedral
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Chemawawin, Easterville, St. Alban’s
Churchill, St. Paul’s
Cormorant, St. Luke’s
Dauphin, St. Paul’s
Deloraine, St. Andrew’s
Elkhorn, St. Mark’s
Flin Flon, St. Peter & St. James’
Gilbert Plains, St. Matthew’s
Gladstone, All Saints
Glenboro, St. Stephen’s
Grand Rapids, St. James’
Grand Rapids, St. John’s
Grandview, Christ Church
Kelwood, St. John’s
Killarney, Holy Trinity
Lynn Lake, St. Simon’s
MacGregor, St. Paul’s
McCreary, St. Michael & All Angels
Melita, Christ Church
Miniota, Holy Trinity
Minnedosa, St. Mark’s
Mosakahiken, Moose Lake, St. John’s
Neepawa, St. James’
Opaskwayak, The Pas, Church of the Messiah
Opaskwayak, The Pas, Church of the Redeemer
Reston, St. John’s
Rivers, St. James’
Roblin, Christ Church
Russell, Christ Church
Sapotaweyak, Shoal River, St. Andrew’s
Shoal Lake, St. Paul’s
Snow Lake Anglican/United Church
Sioux Valley, St. Luke’s
Solsgirth, Sts. James and Stephen’s
Souris, St. Luke’s
Swan River, St. James’
The Pas, Christ Church
Thompson, St. James’
Wabowden, St. Andrew’s
Wawanesa, St. Paul’s
Virden, St. Mary’s