Re-Opening Places of Worship

Statement from ICP re: Phase 2 Re-Opening of Places of Worship this Friday June 12th.

We are living in difficult times. Religious community is built around gathering together in prayer, ritual, and relationship. During this Covid-19 pandemic, we are unable to do these things together in the ways to which we are accustomed. Our Peel faith communities have found new ways to innovate and create community, reaching out virtually during this time to engage and support our members and community under the social distancing guidelines.

The Interfaith Council of Peel recognizes that the emergency measures have taken a significant toll on our places of worship and congregations and that faith communities yearn to gather in person. As measures are changing and places of worship have been permitted to begin opening at 30% capacity effective this Friday June 12, 2020, we acknowledge those who celebrate the change but reaffirm the need for patience and caution as we each consider plans for reopening our in-person faith and communal functions. While we yearn for connection and the chance to worship together, and understand and respect Premier Ford’s announcement transitioning Ontario towards the easing of restrictions, COVID-19 remains a considerable threat. It is the health, safety, and well-being of our communities and neighbors that motivate us towards making decisions that will care for and protect one another.

We are diverse in our worship and in our institutions. Each institution is responsible for its due diligence and should proceed at its own pace keeping in mind liability, equity and public health directives. In considering reopening and return to our holy spaces, we must be guided by the recommendations of public health officials. We must approach the complicated process of regathering in our houses of worship with abundant caution and intention. The health of those we serve, support, employ and engage is the highest of priorities. We should seek expert advice, ensure that we adhere to prevention practices of physical distancing, hand washing, wearing of masks and sanitization of common surfaces and register everyone visiting our houses of worship for the purpose of contact tracing in case of an outbreak.

We ask all faith communities to remember one other in your thoughts and prayers hoping that we ride out this pandemic with minimal impact.

Peace and Blessings to everyone.

Rabbi Audrey Pollack- Chair, ICP
Urz Heer- Co-Chair, ICP
Steering Committee, ICP

Statement of Solidarity #Black Lives Matter

As millions of people around the world unite to speak out against the killing of George Floyd, many are grappling with grief, anger and anxiety. We are heartbroken and outraged at the senseless violence targeting the Black community and recognize that systemic racism is a problem not only in the United States but here in Canada and around the world. The belief that there is little to no racism in Canada is in itself a barrier to addressing it. We acknowledge that we can all do better and need to look inward to see how we can make long-term and sustainable change and on both individual and communal levels must engage in these important conversations.

To our Black friends, congregation members, neighbours, and valued community members, please know that we see you, we hear you, and we stand alongside you. Taking responsibility and striving to do better is fundamental to the mission, vision, and values of the Interfaith Council of Peel and what we stand for.

We call upon our leaders to address ongoing racism in all sectors and levels of society. We challenge our faith communities to act on local and national levels to support Black and Indigenous people both directly and on a systemic level. We must all do the hard work together advocating for policy change and for confronting racism within our own communities, including our congregations. Each of us must do the hard work of looking inwards and confronting our biases, fears, assumptions and privilege. We must take on the task of educating ourselves on how white privilege and systemic racism contribute to injustice and inequality in Canada. We need to have difficult and uncomfortable conversations as we do the deep listening work of learning from the lived experience of the Black community, whose voices and stories guide the rest of us in our fervent work to confront and put an end to racism.

Our faith traditions call upon us to work together towards making this world one of justice, wholeness, and compassion. We encourage each of you to connect with your own faith community to reflect on the challenging days that have passed, join together in prayers for justice and healing and commit to a process of learning and discernment together. We encourage faith communities to create ongoing opportunities for engagement efforts to confront systemic racism, shift the moral narrative, impact policies and elections, and build lasting power for poor and impacted people. The work of these critical conversations and active participation in standing up for racial justice is ongoing. While this is a challenging time, we draw strength knowing that as communities of faith we can continue to learn and push for change.

affirmed by Interfaith Council of Peel Steering Committee

June 10, 2020