Update regarding onsite activities
Friday 24th July, 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Last week, our Premier announced some tightening of restrictions. Our Archbishop has provided further advice. Today I wish to pass on the implications for St Matts in three areas: Building usage, gatherings on site, and gatherings in homes.
First, let me thank you for the support that the whole Parish is providing in light of various decision that need to be made in our Covid climate. I have been grateful for how we have maintained unity despite varying personal opinions about specific actions required in this pandemic. As we move into a time of increased uncertainty in our state, I trust we will continue to live graciously with others, even when we have differences of emotion and thought.
I was reminded this morning of James’ words in James 1:19, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires”.
These words speak to us on so many levels, including our current Covid-19 situation. They assist us to live well together and pursue God’s righteousness above all else. As difficult and divisive as our changing situations can be, let’s continue to show respect and care to each other, placing righteousness over personal rights that God may be honoured in everything.
The Premier has restricted religious gatherings to a maximum of 100 people per building, while still applying the 4m2 rule and maintaining physical distancing. Our current advice from the government is that building is interpreted as a room or space rather than “under the one roof”. To this end, there is no real implication for St Matts, as our biggest space holds a maximum of 80 people. Should this advice change, I will let you know. At the moment, it would only have potential impact on arrangements with our 9.30am service on Sunday mornings.
Gatherings On Site
Our on-site gatherings have been going well and gaining momentum. I want to thank those of you who have come on site for being diligent in completing the registration form. It is part of our CovidSafe plan ensuring compliance with government requirements. Many people find that the easiest way to register is to follow the link from the homepage of our website and complete the form before you come on-site. We will be registered as a CovidSafe business before this Sunday.
While our gatherings have been going well, there are instances where we have been guilty of what the Premier is describing as mingling. This happens when before or after a service we encroach into the 1.5m space between people. In indoor environments, this is particularly high risk behaviour. To enable us to continue to have fellowship around services, and to promote public health, I am requesting that we are always seated during discussions. You are free to move to another seat to have conversation with others, but please remain seated during these conversations. I acknowledge that this feels incredibly unnatural, and simply remind you that these times we are in are quite unnatural, and the disease we are fighting is highly contagious. Please accept any reminder about physical distancing in the spirit with which it is intended – to enable us all to engage in best practice for the sake of the health of our society. This good citizenship can also be applied in our homes.
Gatherings in homes
While the legally allowed limit for guests in your home remains at twenty, the Premier has asked the NSW community to limit in home guests to ten. The Archbishop has urged Anglican Parishes to model good citizenship by adopting the Premiers recommendation in our practices, including for Bible study groups. I am grateful for the Archbishops leadership in this matter and fully endorse his approach and desire for our churches to be exemplary citizens. Again, I understand the difficulties that this brings to some groups and ask that, together, you work out ways to meet that prioritises personal and public health. We are taking bookings for spaces at the Church building should you wish to meet on site. Of course, all other practices will need to be adhered to, and we ask that you don’t expect to have a regular booking in the halls so that others may have opportunity to meet on site if desired.
Some other news
Please continue to pray for our Chinese congregation, and for David and Luke as they continue to pastor the congregation through times of change. The congregation has recently decided to meet onsite at 11.30am each Sunday for the remainder of the year. This will give them a good sense of whether this location and timeslot is suitable for ongoing ministry or whether a return to Cherrybrook Primary School is in order.
Thank you to those who have joined the various prayer meetings held each Tuesday over the last two months. I have appreciated praying with you for the Chinese and Asian Ministry. It has been encouraging to see how God has answered our prayers. The last of those meetings will be this Tuesday morning. I envisage using the same timeslots for future prayer meetings about issues in parish life. I will provide you with more information in due time.
The drainage and paving work in the Green space is now complete. Over the next few weeks Stage 1 of the St Matts Green will be completed. It is shaping up as a very exciting space that will enable good community connection and ministry. I am very grateful for your support of this project during last year's Thanksgiving Day and look forward to it being in full use for ministry purposes.
In Grace and Truth,
To download a pdf of this letter please click here