Update regarding return to site usage
Thursday 2nd July, 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
It has been great to see some of you recently through a variety of interactions. Psalm 133 has fascinated me over the years:
“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.”
While the analogy of the oil running down Aaron’s beard to the unity of God’s people may require some thought and contextualising to be understood, the blessing that comes through the unity of God’s people is what has struck me. In recent days though, I have been struck with just how good and pleasant it is to be able to interact freely with each other as the people of God. The pandemic has certainly caused us to be thankful for things we once took for granted.
Last time I wrote to you, I informed you of our CovidSafe plan along with our initial plans for return to on site gatherings and ministries.
As restrictions continue to ease, we find ourselves in an ongoing state of flux, and I thought it appropriate to fill you in on recent developments.
The last few weeks have seen a trial of a hybrid service at 6pm. This has meant up to 50 people on-site and the remainder of the congregation on Zoom. The majority of the service has been led from the building, including songs with a live band but no congregational singing. Many have expressed their joy at being able to be together even with the physical distancing and lack of ability to sing. These services have helped us gauge what will be necessary to move toward a medium and long term hybrid service in a sustainable manner (I will speak more about Hybrid Church later).
Our youth ministry has had some youth physically present on site the last few weeks also, bringing an increased energy and engagement in this ministry area. While young people are most versatile with technology, it appears that in ministry all around our city and globe, they have been one of the most disconnected groups when everything moved online.
Wednesday Church recommenced yesterday, Wednesday 1st July, 2020. It was great to be able to offer this service, which David also recorded for those who were unable to attend.
This coming Sunday, 5th July, will see the first phase of our 9.30am congregation return on site. For this congregation we are beginning with families with preschool children and then extending to families with primary school children. The 9.30am service will still run completely on Zoom with the major difference being the ability to offer a children’s ministry live on site and allow the parents to participate in the Zoom service while remaining on site.
Our Chinese Congregation will also be experimenting with an on-site service this Sunday at 11.30am, with a plan to trial this through the month of July. While they are able to return to the Cherrybrook Primary School from term 3, they are unable to use the classrooms they normally use for Sunday School. Meeting on site will allow them to restart their Sunday School. It has other potential benefits that will be examined and evaluated during the month of July.
We are currently considering how we can bring our early morning service (7.45am) back on site in a way that manages the site in a CovidSafe way, especially with the short turnaround between morning services.
The easing of restrictions now enables us to have 80 people in our main meeting area, and up to 74 more people in the halls. Should Covid-19 cases remain low in NSW, I anticipate further easing of restrictions (in line with the Prime Minister’s mention of a two square metre rule) in August. We will continue to prepare and adjust our services to current government restrictions. However, it is also clear that there are many benefits to providing an online aspect to our services. While I won’t detail them now, the result is that we are moving toward maintaining this element of services for the long term. We trust that this will provide new and exciting opportunities for people unable to attend on any given day as well as another entry point into church attendance.
I had said I would provide a further update on the Green Space development. At this stage there is not a lot to report. The drainage has been completed and the pavers will begin being re-laid tomorrow. Essentially, the foundational work is complete and the space is now being rebuilt. I trust this stage will be complete by the end of July, providing us with a great space for community interaction as we re-open the site. I am on annual leave next week, and will provide a photo or video update shortly after I return.
Many of you are conscious of the difficulties of ministry for myself and the team over the last months. We are grateful for your support and encouragement, and thankful to be able to serve and fellowship with the Lord’s people here at St Matt’s.
In Grace and Truth,
Ron Irving - Minister
To download a pdf of this letter please click here