Update regarding Covid-19 Cherrybrook cluster
11th August, 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
As I write to you I am conscious of the wise words of Ecclesiastes 3, which remind us there is a time for everything. The writer also reminds us that God has made everything beautiful in his time and that we cannot fathom the works of God. These truths help us walk through the strange times we are in with confidence and care. Confidence that God is, and always will be, ruler of all. Care that we recognize the season we are in and respond well.
As we are all aware, there is a growing Covid19 cluster in Cherrybrook. I encourage you to pray for the Tangara School leaders and community as they find themselves in an incredibly stressful time.
In light of the local cluster around us, I have made the decision that for the coming 7 days (3pm Tuesday 11th – 3pm Tuesday 18th August, 2020) all onsite ministries of St Matts must be returned to Zoom. This decision has been taken after serious consideration of both the impact on our ministries and public health. Ministry leaders and pastors will provide more specific information to you regarding implications for various ministry areas. The decision will be revisited early next week as the situation unfolds.
The ministry environment we find ourselves in is not ideal. Yet, for the foreseeable future, we will need to work with a changing environment where we ebb and flow in our approach to ministry. There is a time for everything. A time for physical ministry and a time for Zoom. The next week is the time for Zoom. We trust that even as soon as next week we may find ourselves able to reopen physical ministries.
Let me address a few potential questions.
Did we need to ask Youth and Children’s ministry to return online, especially given they still go to school?
Given that this cluster has developed in a local school, we think it is best to ask Children’s and Youth Ministry to return to Zoom until we have confidence Covid hasn’t spread more broadly through social groups. We recognise the great momentum that these ministries have gained since their physical return and share with these communities in their disappointment. We are prioritising community health, and hope that in so doing we can all return to safe environments soon.
What about offsite ministries (eg. Bible Study Groups)?
We continue to encourage wisdom in the way you meet in your homes and other environments. Please discuss this with your group/s, acknowledging the diversity of thought that exist among us; freeing people from pressure and caring for people is such a way as they are enabled to access ministry groups in various forms. Hybrid forms of ministry will be most resilient in this new normal, able to adjust quickly as necessary.
Is this the right decision?
Who knows? One thing I am learning about leadership is that often a decision is more important than the right one. I am conscious that some may think this is an overreaction. Others might think the decision came too late. In my leading of St Matts I am confident of this – I will not please everyone and I will make mistakes. Perhaps this will be one of those mistakes. Right now, with the information before me and the wisdom around me it is the decision I consider to be right.
Did we do the wrong thing opening back up?
Not at all. There have been many positives in opening back up when we did. Our hybrid services have enabled those who don’t feel comfortable to come on site to engage via Zoom, while many have been thankful for the opportunity to attend. Our Children’s and Youth Ministries have benefitted greatly, as have other groups who have begun using the building for meetings. We will do well to ebb and flow, all within the context of love.
Should we just stay on Zoom until the virus has gone away?
That is not our plan. While in many ways it is simpler, we are preparing for the long haul rather than some sort of snap back to the old normal. We are working on adjusting ministry to adapt to this season, while ensuring it is sustainable and resilient. We have a registered CovidSafe plan and procedures in place to ensure a safe experience when you are onsite. We will return to our hybrid approach as soon as it is safe to do so.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me should you have further questions. I trust God will continue to be your strength and refuge and our source of unending joy.
In Grace and Truth,
To download a pdf of this letter please click here
To view the video Ron mentions click here