An urgent update from the Archbishop of Sydney
Wednesday, 18th March 2020 2:27pm
"In light of the Prime Minister’s announcement this morning, banning enclosed gatherings in excess of 100 people, I have decided that the Anglican Church in Sydney should suspend all public church gatherings until further notice. We are encouraging all our churches to consider providing their services online or by other communication methods. We shall make every effort to care for our church communities and the wider public, especially those who are isolated and vulnerable. Anglicare Sydney will continue its vital work of showing Christ's love in ministering to all people, especially older Australians. Anglican Schools will also continue to play a significant role in caring for students and families. I call on all Christians to pray for health workers and those seeking to develop a vaccine, and to pray that the spread of this disease may slow. God’s love for all people has not diminished, nor his sovereignty over his world. Therefore, I urge all Christians to continue to trust in God’s goodness and mercy in this crisis, and to show Christ’s love to those affected."
Please note that Pastor Bart will be at the Penshurst Anglican Church all day Sunday to welcome anyone who wants prayer or private communion.
PAC Announcement RE COVID-19
Sunday, March 15, 2020
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
Last week, the Archbishop of Sydney wrote to churches regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19), with recommendations regarding adjustments we should make to how we interact and meet together as a church. These measures are intended to help our meetings and ministries continue with as little disruption as possible while, at the same time, ensuring that steps are taken to protect our church family and visitors.
The simple adjustments that we are making are as follows:
1. Encouraging self-isolation
If you are sniffling or coughing, or have a fever or sore throat, please stay home until you are completely well. If you have been asked to self-isolate (by your school, your work-place, by NSW Health, or by a doctor) then it’s imperative that you do not return to church/church groups until your quarantine period has elapsed. Those who need to stay away are encouraged to access the weekly sermons via our website. (If you have any difficulty accessing this resource, please don’t hesitate to contact the ministers directly.) Also, if you must stay away, please consider using direct debit for your offertory—remember that church expenses continue, regardless.
It is important to wash your hands as often and as thoroughly as possible. Although the church bathrooms offer soap and water, there will be no hand towels available. Hand-sanitiser will be available for use at our services. Please use it!
As per Health Department guidelines, we want to encourage people to refrain from shaking hands or kissing on the cheek. If some degree of physical contact is absolutely necessary, please be thoughtful of others by asking their permission before doing so.
At the two English services, the offertory plate must no longer be passed around. Instead, the ushers are asked to hold the offertory plate the entire time so that no hands come in contact with it. Counters will need to use rubber gloves.
According to official sources, the use of individual communion cups is safe as long as those who fill them and distribute them are extremely conscious of their own hygiene. In all congregations, only the Pastors will hand the cups to the communicants. Similarly, only the Pastors will hand pre-cut wafers (not bread) to each communicant. In this way, we will limit any physical contact.
6. Food Service
Morning tea at both the 8am and 10:30 services will no longer be ‘self-service’. Instead, morning tea will only be served through the kitchen servery into the breezeway by someone with sanitised hands using tongs. If you have children, please explain this process to them. No one else will be allowed into the kitchen. This approach to the service of food must apply to any gathering at our church where food is served. The goal is to avoid multiple people touching the same surfaces, trays/plates, or serving implements. No church lunches will be served until further notice.
7. Bibles & Prayer Books
Although there are Bibles and Prayer Books in the pews, we encourage you not to use them or touch them. All Bible readings and prayers are up on the screens so there is no need.
8. Easter Festival
In consultation with the Missions Team, we have decided to cancel the Easter Festival. Such a community event would offer an ideal environment for the virus to spread. Other Mission 2020 events will still go ahead. Busking on the main street of Penshurst will continue as will the donkey parade through town on Saturday morning. Tracts will be handed out.
9. Prayer Triplets
Any time of trial (whether it be bushfires, floods or the spread of the Coronavirus) represents an opportunity for sharing of the hope-ﬁlled gospel of God’s love. It is not a time to let anxiety or fear overwhelm us but, rather, a time to demonstrate the calm that flows from trusting God. It’s also a time to serve others by giving ourselves generously to their needs ahead of our own.
To that end, we are developing a system of Prayer Triplets throughout the church family to keep track of our members and make sure we can serve each other if and when a crisis does arise. The Discipleship Team has met and designated a number of Prayer Triplet leaders who will reach out to two other people from our church. We hope that, soon, everyone will be connected to someone else by prayer. Then, if one of us does get sick, we will have a faster stream of communication to mobilise any assistance to help our members recover.
As I close this letter, I invite you to join me in the following prayer.
Lord God and Heavenly Father, we praise you for your sovereign care of our world. We recognise that all life is sustained by your powerful and loving hand and so we commit to you the global spread of the Coronavirus. Events like this remind us of how little control we have of our world and even of our own lives, so we ask for you to act mercifully in this situation. Please halt the spread of the virus. Protect those who are especially vulnerable; heal those who are sick; prevent any further death. Give wisdom to those who lead and govern that they may take every necessary step for the good of those who serve. Calm the hearts of those who are anxious and please grant your comfort to those who are isolated, or who have lost loved one from the virus. Exercise your great love and bring an end to this crisis, we pray.
We also pray for your church in this time. May our lives be characterised by peace and not by panic; by faith rather than by fear; by self-sacriﬁce and service rather than self-seeking. May our lives be a witness to the ﬁrm foundation we have in the Lord Jesus and his life-giving words, even through these troubling times.
In His name we pray. Amen.
Your brother and fellow servant,