Update regarding Covid19 restrictions
6th August, 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am increasingly grateful for our National, State and Church leaders who have been working incredibly hard, day in and day out, for the best part of 6 months to lead us through the current pandemic. Scripture reminds us that it is God who places leaders in their position (Romans 13) and urges us to pray for them (1 Timothy 2).
Let’s continue to pray for our leaders, giving thanks for the great mercies we experience in our country, and praying for decisions that will promote a just and compassionate society where citizens thrive and God is honoured.
Most recently, our Premier has encouraged the wearing of masks in public gatherings, specifically including places of worship. The Archbishop has written to clergy to encourage Sydney Anglican Churches to do the same. I will answer some practical questions concerning this encouragement along with the practical implications for St Matts below:
Who needs to wear a mask?
For the foreseeable future we encourage all attending onsite services to wear a mask. At our staff meeting this week the ministry team discussed this issue and agreed that each of us would begin wearing masks at St Matts services. We also spent some time discussing how to ensure this issue would not become one of division in our community. With that in mind, I encourage you to watch the video (click here to view) I have produced on this topic this week, where I pick up on the Archbishop’s paraphrase of Romans 14:6 applied to the issue of mask wearing. While we encourage those at physical services to wear a mask, we anticipate that people will have good reasons for not wearing a mask. We want to treat this as a matter of conscience and show grace to each other in this issue.
Will St Matts provide masks or should we bring our own?
If you have your own reusable mask, feel free to bring it along. Alternatively, we have been generously donated a significant amount of single use masks. These will be available in the foyer, near the sanitizer, as you arrive at services. Whether you bring your own or use those available is up to you.
If we wear a mask can we sing or mingle with others at Church services?
No. Masks are the fourth line of defence and in no way reduce our responsibility for staying at home when unwell, physical distancing and thorough hand hygiene. While I long for the day when we can sing in services and mingle more with each other, wearing of masks should not give us a false sense of security, but rather be seen as an additional layer of protection.
Am I encouraged to wear a mask whenever I am at the Church?
The encouragement to wear masks is particularly when we are in large gatherings in confined spaces where physical distancing can be difficult to maintain at all times. To assist, we encourage masks to be worn at any service or small group gathering on our premises that has more than 10 people.
How do I wear a mask safely?
The key elements are to sanitise your hands before and after you place a mask on your face and to not touch the mask with your hands. You can attach and remove the mask by holding the ear loops. When you have finished with the mask, please dispose of it in a thoughtful way. We will have some bins available at the church exit to assist you with this. Further information on wearing masks, including a guide to putting a mask on and off can be found at https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/face-masks#how-to-wear-a-mask-correctly
How can I assist my children (or grandchildren) understand why people are wearing masks?
Attached with this document (click here to view) is a simple resource published by https://www.autismlittlelearners.com that you could use to help reduce fears that children may experience with an increase in mask wearing.
I am acutely aware of the many things that continue to change in our environment. With these changes and the situation we have seen develop in Victoria, all this can easily feel overwhelming. I thank you for the various ways in which you, the church, are looking out for, and looking after each other. Let’s continue to check in with each other’s well being. I remind you again of Psalm 46 and the great truth that even when the earth give way, and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, “The Lord almighty is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress” (Psalm 46:7 & 11).
In Grace and Truth,
To download a pdf of this letter please click here
To view the video Ron mentions click here
To download the resource for children click here