“Be still and know that I am God.”
Brothers and sisters in Christ, we are writing to you to advise you of the decision that has been made by the leadership of our church, after many hours of discernment, prayer and discussion, in relation to the impact of COVID-19 on our church community.
There are few occasions when loving your neighbour means staying away from them – this is unfortunately one of these times. We have decided to take a conservative and vigilant approach to this matter for the sake of our members and the community.
The Church Council Executive met yesterday at length to discern and
consider our response to the COVID-19 situation. We listened to advice from the
SA Government and the Uniting Church SA Synod. We took into consideration the
vulnerable people in our church community. We consulted with Allan Amber
(Congregation Chair) and the Pastoral Care Oversight team.
Last night, Church Council approved Executive’s proposal that for the foreseeable future we will not be meeting for worship on Sunday mornings and we will suspend all other church activities.
Church Council and the Pastoral Care Oversight team will continue to meet in appropriate ways to provide ongoing leadership and coordinate care during this time.
While this might be seen as a radical approach, we believe it is the correct one in the current climate. Our decision aligns with many other congregations who have taken the same step to postpone all church activities and worship services
We need to remain connected as a community in the weeks ahead. We are the people of God when we are both gathered and scattered – and still a community.
On Sunday morning at 9.30am we invite you all to light a candle. As you light it, think of the light of Christ bringing peace into the world; think of your sisters and brothers in Christ doing the same wherever they are and how that connects us as one people. Use this opportunity to pray for our Church, our community and the world. Let’s make this our weekly ritual until we are able to gather together again for worship.
Meanwhile we are working on other creative ways to remain as a connected community during this time when we will be living very differently as community.
Let’s take a positive approach and see social distancing and social isolation as an opportunity to reinforce our connectedness when we are not together and to get creative in maintaining community; whilst being scattered. Join us in taking the challenge, observing wise instructions and getting creative!
The Pastoral Care Oversight Team are working on ways for us to care for one another during this time. Whilst this provides structured ways of caring for people, we encourage you to still continue to reach out and love and care for one another, as so many of you do so well – within our church community, and also those around us.
Here are some ways that you can connect with God’s Word:
- Lenten Studies: This series is available for anyone for reflection in your own homes. We encourage you to make use of this resource: https://craigmitchell.typepad.com/mountain_masala/2020/03/weekly-lenten-studies-reflections.html
- Morialta Uniting Church is planning to offer a weekly worship service on YouTube beginning with a limited edition this Sunday. Click here for more information: http://www.morialtauca.org.au/virtual-church/
- Our website has past sermons available. This is in the process of being updated. Please keep checking back over the next week or so. https://athelstonechurch.org.au/sermons-2/
- Songs of Praise – a TV show with inspiring hymns and songs, together with uplifting stories of faith from around the UK and beyond is available on ABC TV and ABC iview
We will add to this list in coming weeks. Please share your ideas with us!
Thank you for your regular generous giving towards the ministry, mission and service of our congregation. Even though we will not be meeting face to face, Christ’s call on us continues. As mentioned we will be actively seeking ways to connect with God, with each other and with our community – differently.
This is a time to remind you about electronic giving:
Regular electronic giving or one off donations can be made using the following details:
Account name: Athelstone Uniting Church
Account BSB: 704 095
Account number: 110043
Glen Luestner for more information.
M: 0401-052-842 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Your Minister, Rev Linda Driver
Linda will continue to minister among us, in different ways!
She can be contacted by mobile (0458-500-656) or email: email@example.com
(Monday is her day off.)
The Church Office will be closed for the foreseeable future. However, Carol, our Office Coordinator, will continue to serve us, working remotely, 6 hours a week. She can be contacted via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Regular updates will be sent out to you at least once a week.
This week’s newsletter has been delayed due to these changes and will be sent out within the next 24 hours.
We close with this prayer from the Moderator, Bronte Wilson:
Loving and compassionate God,
You call us to love our neighbours and to be bearers of your hope and grace in our world.
Expand our hearts and vision to respond with compassion to those around us, who are struggling in this time of uncertainty, anxiety, grief and suffering.
Give wisdom and strength to our church leaders, health workers and government officials, as they provide leadership in bringing us through this time of uncertainty.
We bring before you and into our hearts and minds:
- Those whose work and income are uncertain.
- Those who are isolated.
- Those who are fearful of an unknown future.
- Those who live in situations of domestic violence, and whose isolation increases the control of
- their violent partners.
- Those who are homeless, and all those who offer them support and care.
- Those who are involved in aged care, our agency leaders and staff, the residents and their loved
- ones, and those who visit.
- Businesses whose futures are uncertain – their leaders and staff.
- School staff and students.
- Those with health conditions that put them at greater risk.
Give wisdom and care-filled discernment to all our Church leaders – our Councils, and local congregations, as we seek to creatively live out our worship, witness and service in ways that offer Christ’s life-giving love and presence.
Strengthen and sustain us to be your people – shaped by your abundant grace, bearers of your generosity and overflowing love.
Through Christ our Light and Hope, we pray, Amen.
There will come a time when we will re-gather together and celebrate. But for now, let’s remain calm and centred on Christ, the bringer of peace. Let’s take this opportunity to remain connected, care for one another and reach out to others in new and creative ways.
Blessings and Peace,
Church Council Chairperson
Rev Linda Driver
Minister in placement
Communications Pack regarding COVID-19 from Uniting Church SA Synod.