PUBLIC CHURCH MEETINGS ARE SUSPENDED; NEW ARRANGEMENTS BELOW…
Yesterday morning, the government announced that all public meetings of more than 100 people inside must be suspended (unless essential).In addition to that, we note the continuing advice to maintain social distancing (except from close relatives) inside and outside, of about 1.5m.
Since then, I have spoken to Bishop Hayward and am advised that the Diocese is going to suspend all public meetings inside. The exact details are yet to arrive.
That means no public church services.
It also means youth groups and EFL classeswill also have to cease (in addition to Friendship Service, Mini-Mikes Play Time and Kids Club which already stopped).
More information will come about provisions to minister to our children and youth.
I have checked, and our calling the city to prayer at midday with the Cathedral bell (Mondays and Thursdays) can go ahead outdoors at the Cathedral steps, with proper social distancing. (See media release details below.)
PLANS FOR THIS SUNDAY
Therefore in light of all that, here are our plans for this Sunday.
1. We will grieve deeply the disruption and the loss of face-to-face fellowship as we gather around Christ and his Word. I have been often tearing up as I contemplate the impact on us as brothers and sisters in Christ.
We will not pretend all is normal and that “church online” is just the same. It is not the same as personal presence. But it’s what we have and it’s all some people with chronic health challenges have had for a long time.
2. We ask you to understand that this weekend, we are responding at short notice. So we are experimenting with a few options. No doubt we will learn from it.
By the following Sunday, we hope to have a clearer strategy falling into place for more consistent Sunday patterns while these restrictions remain in place.
The details explaining how to access this livestream will be available on our website and Facebook page by close of business on Friday. [Edit: click here.]
We encourage you to bring your Bibles to the screen! You may like to watch with your family or housemates. You might even think about inviting a friend from church over, if you know they cannot easily access livestream on the internet (maintaining social distance, of course).
It will be a simple service along these lines…
Public domain hymn
Confession of sins
One Bible reading
The Apostles’ Creed
Public domain hymn
You can watch live, or later.
We will also provide a downloadable document, with the contents participants at home will need to participate.
4. This Sunday at midday, we will continue with ringing the cathedral bell to call the city to prayer. Those who wish to may gather in the Cathedral grounds to pray, with proper social distancing. There will be a short Bible reading, and prayers for our world and city, and perhaps a song.
5. This Sunday at 7pm, I will experiment with hosting a “virtual church” seminar online.
I will be using either Zoom (maximum 100 people, with which I am getting familiar) or a Office 365 Teams Live Event (which can have a larger number of ‘attenders’. Details to come.
I will suggest music to listen to (and sing with if desired) before and afterwards at home.
The contents of the seminar will include a Bible reading, short sermon, discussion (or Q&A via chat feature), and prayers.
Already some growth groups and other church meetings have occurred using Zoom. It is effective and easy to use. I suggest making yourself familiar with the technology.
At this stage, it is very tempting for everyone to make suggestions: “Have you thought of doing this? Have you considered that?”
In most cases, the answer is yes, many times. Your church staff have been discussing and researching this extensively.
And we will certainly review what happens and seek feedback.
But for this weekend, on the principle that the more urgent the situation is, then the more directive the leadership needs to become, as the person at St Michael’s finally responsible for all church services and ministry activities, this is what will happen this Sunday, Lord willing.
Thank you all for your prayers, suggestions and support. Please look out for those around you, and get in touch with friends at church, and also neighbours, especially any you know are isolated or anxious.
Warm regards, in Christ,
Warmly in Christ, Sandy Grant
St Michael’s Cathedral, Wollongong
P.S. Please contact a member of the pastoral staff or your Growth Group leader if you need any assistance.
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT
There will also be a regular E-News tomorrow. It may also contain further information about the Livestream, and other aspects of our response to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Here are a couple of relevant news items from Sydney Anglicans online…