Responding to COVID-19

Responding to COVID-19

Vicar’s message re COVID-19 arrangements

March 26, 2020
I hope each of you have found ways to adapt to the new “normal” of staying at home, greeting your neighbours with a wave over the fence or balcony, and connecting with friends and family online and by phone.

Our ministries at St Michael’s have also had to adapt and have begun to change shape and form with positive impact. For example…

  • Our Playgroup which met on Tuesdays is now connecting regularly via WhatsApp for chat and support, and next week we will have an opportunity for people to “meet” via Zoom on Tuesday morning. This gives great opportunity for our playgroup team, and for our Assistant Minister, Kim, to extend pastoral care and encouragement in that large community that is part of the life of our church.
  • Some of our mid-week small groups met via Zoom for their bible study, discussions and prayers in the past week, as did the new Climate Action Group the week before.
  • Our Ridley Certificate group studying the Psalms on Tuesday nights met with 9 of the participants via Zoom. It was great to be able to see the video lesson together and then to see each other’s faces and have a conversation and prayer about what we’d each learned.
  • Last Sunday’s livestreamed services reached well over 300 people! That’s something we didn’t expect. We received lots of feedback, including advice to fix technical glitches, but overall, the messages received were positive and thankful for being able to “go to church” in this new way.
To help strengthen our spiritual connectedness, we have made a new feature available on our Facebook page: an online Prayer Support Group. We encourage you to join the Prayer Support Group if you are a Facebook user by clicking this link and requesting access. If you are not a Facebook user, you can send your prayer requests to the office (office@stmichaelsnc.org.au) and Emma will add them to the group prayer requests. This process allows us to ensure that prayers shared online are only visible to those invited to the support group. By accepting the invitation, you will be agreeing to maintain privacy and not repeating or copying and sending the requests for prayer in any other form beyond the group. Prayers will be archived after 2 weeks to allow fresh prayer requests to be added. All those joining the group can add these prayers to their own intercessions as we seek God’s help for our own needs and the needs of others. If adding a prayer point for other people, please seek their permission first.

It’s of great concern to know that some of our church members, or people close to them, have lost jobs and/or face challenging hardships under the current government restrictions. I hope to arrange phone contact with all our church members over the coming week by members of our staff team to get a clearer picture of the pastoral needs at hand. At the time of writing I do not know of any church members who have tested positive for COVID-19.

We received further advice from the bishop yesterday, with the following arrangements added for all Anglican churches for ministries and gatherings in the church’s name:

  • Weddings: Can be conducted but limited to 5 persons only – the couple, the celebrant and two witnesses.  Social distancing rules must be complied with.
  • Funerals: Can be conducted but limited to 10 persons in attendance. Social distancing rules must be complied with.
  • Outdoors: People are not to congregate together in groups outdoors.
  • Work from home: Diocese and church workplaces should also note that it is strongly encouraged that people work from home when possible
  • No face to face meetings: Parishes are directed to suspend face to face meetings of parish council and church committees as gatherings should be kept to minimum and include only a small number of attendees.
  • Livestreaming, video production, etc: The number of people who can be together for the purpose of producing a video or livestreaming is 5 or less.
In light of these further guidelines, church services will continue via livestreaming on Facebook and YouTube on Sundays at 10am and 5.30pm, but with the following changes:
  • The services will begin with an initial livestreamed introduction to worship by the vicar.
  • All who are watching the livestream will then be invited to click on links on the Facebook page or to on the individual videos uploaded to our YouTube channel of songs, prayers, and a reading.
  • The “congregation” will be encouraged to sing along with songs, listen to the bible reading, and pray along with prayers pre-recorded by different members of our congregation.
  • At a designated time soon after (to be announced in the introduction), the vicar will deliver the sermon for the day via livestream on Facebook and on YouTube, followed by a blessing.
We will develop more innovative and participatory ways to “gather” for worship or to conduct important ministries in the coming days, but for now, please pray for our preparations for Sunday and other ministries of the church.

Our next staff team is meeting via Zoom is on Monday 30 March at 1.30pm and our next parish council meeting using the same app is on Tuesday 14 April at 7.30pm. Please let us know if there are pastoral or ministry matters that you would like us to raise in those important meetings.

To all who are part of the St. Michael’s North Carlton community, here is the latest update from the Vicar, Rev’d Steve Webster.

 

Contacts

Do not hesitate to call me on 0411 471 838 if you have any need for clarification about the above message or if you have any pastoral concerns to inform me about or prayer needs that we can share in the coming days.

Warm regards,

Steve Webster

Vicar

St Michaels North Carlton

0411 471 838