This page is currently a running log of changes to our ministry and events as we respond to government efforts to slow the spread of COVID 19 infections in the Australian community.
An update from the Archbishop of Melbourne
Dear Brothers and Sisters
Following the Premier’s statement on Sunday, August 2, please notice the following:
There are to be no weddings in metropolitan Melbourne after Wednesday, August 5.
A maximum of ten mourners is allowed for a funeral anywhere in Victoria.
For parishes and churches in Murrindindi, Macedon Ranges, Greater Geelong, Moorabool, Golden Plains, Surf Coast and the Borough of Queenscliffe, stage 3 restrictions are effective from Wednesday night, August 5. No church services or groups or face to face meetings can be held. Video or livestream of services can be done with a maximum of five people present. Pastoral visits should be kept to a minimum for urgent and important matters only.
We now plan for a fuller newsletter on Tuesday this week, to include anything of relevance to the diocese from the Premier’s statement due on Monday. At this stage we no longer plan for a newsletter on Wednesday.
Grace and peace in Christ Jesus
Archbishop Philip Freier
Dear Brothers and Sisters
The latest news and information from the Diocese.
New restrictions affecting the diocese
Following the Premier’s statement on Thursday, 30 July, the diocese of Melbourne now covers three distinct areas of restrictions.
For parishes and churches in metropolitan Melbourne, there is no change from the most recent newsletters.
For parishes or churches in Macedon Ranges or Murrindindi, there is one change. From Sunday night, 2 August, masks must be worn. This includes in church services for up to 20 people, including during the recital of prayers, creeds, responses and if there is any singing. The service leader, preacher, celebrant and cantor or songleader can remove masks when they are leading.
For parishes or churches in Greater Geelong, Moorabool, Golden Plains, Surf Coast and the Borough of Queenscliffe, the following restrictions affect you:
From Sunday night, 2 August, masks must be worn. This includes in church services for up to 20 people, including during the recital of prayers, creeds, responses and if there is any singing. The service leader, preacher, celebrant and cantor or songleader can remove masks when they are leading.
No weddings or funerals can be held in private homes but can still be in churches or non-domestic venues.
Home visits by clergy or pastoral workers should be at a minimum and only for important and urgent matters.
DIOCESAN COVID-19 UPDATE 31 July 2020
Parishioners are not able to cross from one restricted area to another for church services or church-related matters.
We plan that the next update will be next Wednesday, 5 August unless stricter restrictions are announced before then. Questions or clarifications on restrictions can be directed to Bishop Paul.
Grace and peace in Christ Jesus
Archbishop Philip Freier
Returning to lockdown
Below is an update from our Diocese regarding the return to stage 3 restrictions for the next 6 weeks for Melbourne.
DIOCESAN COVID-19 UPDATE 8 July 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters
The latest news and information from the Diocese. The Archbishop is on annual leave. Bp Paul Barker writes as Vicar General.
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Most of the diocese will resume stage 3 restrictions from midnight tonight for the next six weeks. This applies to all church buildings and premises in the following list of local government authorities:
Banyule | Hume | Moreland | Bayside | Kingston | Mornington Peninsula | Boroondara | Knox | Nillumbik | Brimbank | Manningham | Port Phillip | Cardinia | Maribyrnong | Stonnington | Casey | Maroondah | Whitehorse | Darebin | Melbourne | Whittlesea | Frankston | Melton | Wyndham | Glen Eira | Monash | Yarra | Greater Dandenong | Moonee Valley | Yarra Ranges | Hobsons Bay | Shire of Mitchell
The restrictions do not change for church buildings and premises in Greater Geelong, Borough of Queenscliffe, Surf Coast, Golden Plains, Moorabool and Macedon Ranges.
DIOCESAN COVID-19 UPDATE 8 July 2020
Stage 3 Restrictions
No gathered events or services in church facilities or homes can occur. This includes religious services in schools or other venues. If you livestream or record services, a maximum of five people can be involved. Funerals can be held with a maximum of ten mourners. Weddings can be held with a maximum of five people including the couple and celebrant. No groups can use church facilities other than for providing essential relief. We highly recommend closing op shops. Parish staff should work from home unless it is impossible to do so.
Other restrictions and finances
All parishes in the lesser restricted areas must refuse entry to anyone who lives in one of the stage 3 restricted areas other than for weddings or funerals or if that person is working for the parish. This is especially important if a parish straddles a stage 3 restricted area and a less restricted area.
The diocese will investigate the eligibility of parishes in the restricted areas for further state government grants.
For questions on restrictions, please contact Bishop Paul.
DIOCESAN COVID-19 UPDATE 8 July 2020
I have written to the Premier to assure him of our prayers and encouragement of him in his crucial leadership.
If ever we ought to be on our knees before the living God, now is such a time.
O God our heavenly Father,
Your son, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the Great Physician, who healed the sick, cured the blind and deaf and raised the dead, and who, throughout all history, holds dominion
over disease and death:
In your mercy to this world, arrest and eradicate this coronavirus. Heal the afflicted and comfort those who have suffered from this scourge; so that those who suffer may know your healing heart and hand, that those who are anxious or burdened may know your comfort and peace that passes understanding, that the watching world may know your sovereign authority, prevailing power, mercy, and grace, and that all may come to know, love and worship you; we ask in the name of Jesus, who lives and reigns with
you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Grace and peace in Christ Jesus,
Bishop Paul Barker Vicar-General
Whilst we grieve being apart and desire for the body of Christ to be together in person again, we must care for our community and show Christ’s love for others by planning carefully and respecting not just the letter of the law, but the spirit of the law as the government allows activities to recommence. Hence, we will hasten slowly.
The new compliance obligations are like OH&S requirements but they will take up more time. But the upside is they are also opportunities for creativity and remind us us to focus on what is most important about being the body of Christ in Hawthorn.
The Diocese has been extremely helpful in providing clear and comprehensive information in a timely manner. We are required to appoint a COVID Safe Officer and to complete a very comprehensive checklist before we recommence any activities on site. For example, regardless of what numbers of people the government permit to meet together at any point in time going forward, our numbers will be further limited in our spaces by the application of a density quotient (ie providing 4m2 per person). We will also be putting in place comprehensive cleaning schedules and a number of other procedures to ensure compliance. These matters will be worked through by the staff, wardens and parish council over the coming weeks. Please pray for them as they work through these important and evolving tasks to ensure that we and our local community remain safe and well.
We will pray for patience as we wait for the time when we can physically worship together. But in the meantime, we will join with each other as we proclaim the name of the Lord in our virtual community knowing that He is present with us as we worship Him in spirit and truth. (Kirsty Brown - Pastoral & Executive Minister)
From our eNews this week
This week our governments began to tentatively lift our lockdown restrictions. Their restrictions on worship centres are clear. Up to 10 worshippers may gather at any one time, our Archbishop has also made it clear that the number of people he expects to lead any such services is one. The reason our denomination is taking a conservative approach to lifting restrictions on worship gatherings is because so many Anglicans are in the vulnerable category, susceptible to extreme reactions to Corona virus infection.
For us at St. Columb’s we are going to take time to assess how to move out of lockdown. This is not only because what we are currently doing is adequate for the shifting situation we find ourselves in but also to give our staff team time to plan and us all time to observe how the spread of the illness responds to the decrease in social isolation across our communities. Our first calling is to love our neighbours as ourselves.
One thing is clear, going forward there are good things we’d like to retain from our experiments over recent weeks with online broadcasting and meeting. I would very much like to hear your thoughts on what we could retain going forward. I hope to write to you over the coming weeks with plans for ongoing live broadcasting, regular prayer meetings via video conferencing and more.
(Mike Flynn - Vicar)
On our Diocesan web site there is an article by Colin Reilly describing the response of Melbourne Churches to the influenza pandemic of 1919. It describes a Summer outbreak followed by complacency that led to a Winter resurgence. The Australian death toll of around 16,000, though small by world standards, was significant given the size of our population and cost us dearly in the wake of the 65,000 deaths attributable to WW1. Of interest to me was how Anglicans tried to do church - especially communion during the pandemic. Worship, once it could be re-started, was in the open air and it was a State requirement to wear masks. Communion was restricted to hearing the minister say the liturgy but then only he would partake of the bread and wine. The Bishop of Melbourne wrote to the Vicar of Thornbury to rebuke him for the practice of intinction - where parishioners were dipping the bread in the wine rather than sipping from a common cup. The use of seperate cups was hotly debated with many not being convinced it would be enough to stop the transmission of the virus. In other words, we have been here before.
Now we have the possibility of filmed communions (as per the weekly Diocesan service on YouTube) or live communions via video conferencing (as per some of our larger parishes). I guess in 1919 the new technology of telephones could have made phone communion a possibility but it does not appear to have been openly considered. Having consulted with the other priests in our parish and thought through the positions represented on our Diocesan web site I am recommending that during the current Covid 19 pandemic a time of fasting from communion is appropriate for us at St. Columb's.
There are many things we are currently required to fast from that we miss dearly and are only possible when people are able to meet together. The presence of loved family members, concerts, sports, theatres, cinemas, restaurants, that favourite cafe which is perfect for meetings or thinking, going to a place of study or to work, friendships, group outings and even some forms of medical care - these all have to wait. So we will wait for the time when we can meet again around the Lord's table and remember his sacrificial love for the church gathered, past and future. For those interested I will write further about this on our blog soon. (Mike Flynn - Vicar)
From Mike Flynn (Vicar, St. Columbs Hawthorn)
Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast about your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.
– James 4:13-16
The truth of James’ reminder about our lives is salient as we learn how to live under growing levels of social shutdown as part of Australia’s response to the Covid 19 epidemic.
Within this last week we have been learning how to be a church during a time of isolation. The irony for us is that the word church literally means gathering but we cannot gather in the way we used to.
How are we staying connected in this time of isolation?
While we cannot meet face to face we are working on other ways to meet together. This eNews is much longer than our usual offering but it explains in detail how we plan to continue to be a church together at this time. Please read what is immediately relevant to you and keep this note as a reference for the rest.
Here are links to the sections of this email:
Connecting community life
Sunday worship services – We have decided it is wiser not to ‘live stream’ our worship services, that is, to broadcast them online in real time. This is due to current limitations with the major streaming providers but also because we need to prepare for the time ahead when those who are running our worship are not able to meet together. This week we will pre-record our 10am service from 3pm on Saturday and our 6pm service from 3pm on Sunday. As I write, only five people are permitted to be involved in each recording session.
We would encourage you to ‘attend’ church online at 10am or 6pm on Sundays so that we can share this experience together. You can access these videos by selecting ‘streaming’ under the ‘resources’ menu on our Website.
Please note, that due to copyright restrictions regarding the recording of music we cannot make these videos available for download and storage on your devices. They can only be streamed directly from the Vimeo Website.
Fellowship after worship 10am service - this is a tough one so we will need to experiment a little to come up with a solution that works for us. At the moment we are investigating setting up several ‘breakout rooms’ within a Zoom video meeting online. This will allow people to join in separate conversations that will be hosted by St Columb’s.
Youth and Children – if you know Ali Knox and Paul Hughes you will know they are coming up with lots of fun ideas for activities for families with teens and children. The playgroup team will also release a series of videos of story and song times for our playgroup children to use at home. Families involved in our church and playgroup will be notified by email when the first videos and activities have been posted online. They can then choose to follow our Vimeo site if they wish to receive notifications each time material is published.
Online prayer meetings - we will not give up meeting together for prayer. Already our Monday morning prayer group has met via Zoom and we are learning the advantages and disadvantages of this media. If you would like to join our 9am Monday morning prayer please let us know so we can send you an electronic invitation by contacting: firstname.lastname@example.org
I am planning to continue our prayer days using Zoom. In a future eNews I will send you an invitation to join a zoom prayer day meeting as well as a link to a document where you can indicate which hour(s) of the day you will be available for prayer. A list of prayer requests will also be available via Zoom on the day.
Small groups – some are already meeting online using private chat or video platforms like; Zoom, Apple’s FaceTime, Facebook messenger or WhatsApp. We will share guidance between our small groups leaders on what we learn about running successful online meetings through a St. Columb’s Slack channel (yes, that is a thing). We will continue to post Bible study materials and other helpful resources on the blog that appears on the home page of our church Website. Of course, some of our members will prefer not to use digital technology so this is where phone calls and letter writing will make a strong come back.
Those who are not in small groups - our staff team has worked through our list of those who are associated with St. Columb’s to make sure that each person is in contact with either a small group leader or staff member on a regular basis. We want to make sure that no one gets left behind during this time of stress, anxiety and loneliness. If you are aware of people who need to be followed up in this way or who require particular care please let me know on: email@example.com
Connecting on social media
Blog - the front page of our Website and the St Columb’s Facebook pagewill continue to publish a blog that features articles written by our members. We have been using this for some time for communicating articles, book reviews and study notes. While there are lots of helpful tips online for how to survive isolation, our blog material will focus on tips for living distinctly as Christians.
Online community space (private information) – As mentioned above, we have set up an online chat system through Slack. This is accessible by an app for your phone or through a web browser. This is an alternative to e-mail and is a private group communication for members of St. Columb’s only. There we can post pictures, videos and comments or have private chats with other members of St. Columbs or with specific groups within St. Columbs, such as our small group. For example, the youth and children will have their own channels - (moderated by the leaders of course). It will take us a little time to work out how to best manage this communications tool but it will give us the ability to continue conversing amongst ourselves.
If you would like an invitation to join our general Slack group please send your request to: firstname.lastname@example.org
eNews – while we cannot meet together our plan is to send out this eNews update each week by Saturday afternoon at the latest. This eNews will normally include information that used to be on the newssheet, such as weekly prayers and details of events. If you have items you believe we need to include in this weekly communication, please contact us at: email@example.com
Websites - St Columb’s owns and operates a number of Websites. Our general church Website: www.stcolumbs.org.au, which also links to www.sermons.stcolumbs.org.au Our sports ministry Website: www.spl.org.au and our counselling ministry Website (Keriva): www.keriva.org.au.
These sites were already being redeveloped before the current crisis arose. The reworking will allow us to incorporate richer content and better design over the coming weeks. To see a sample of where we are heading our sports Website has already been upgraded to the new system.
Podcasts – podcasts of our talks are available both from the ‘resources’ page at www.stcolumbs.org.au and from the Apple and Google Play podcast apps.
I have asked our local superhero IT guy, aka Iain Lober, to prepare our back catalogue of recorded sermons/talks and videos for online publication this way. It will take some work and grow gradually over the coming weeks but access to previous years of teaching is something that has often been requested by people who are not normally able to attend St. Columb’s. It will also be a resource for us all during this period of isolation.
Connecting for leaders
Administrative meetings - St. Columb’s now has a Zoom video meeting subscription for conducting our wardens and parish council meetings online. Separate meetings will be set up and the login details will be sent out in the week prior to each scheduled meeting. For the most part we will keep to the schedule of meetings we organised late last year.
Practicalities for staying connected
Events page and Covid 19 response - for the time being the events page on our St. Columbs Website has become a running log of our parish responses to the Covid 19 pandemic. Updates to this page will also feature in future eNews publications and be linked to our Facebook page. This edition of the eNews will also be posted on that page for ease of reference.
Elvanto - can I encourage you, if you have not done so already, to respond to the invitation you recently received to join our Elvanto subscription. If you regularly attend St. Columb’s and did not receive an invitation please write to: firstname.lastname@example.org to request one. Obviously our worship rosters cannot function as normal but the other advantage of Elvanto is that it will allows you to share your contact details securely with other members of our parish. This will facilitate our care for each other.
To all Clergy and Parishes
Tuesday 24 March
UPDATED: Wednesday 25 March
The following statement comes from Archbishop Philip, Bishops Brad, Genieve, John, Kate and Paul:
Following the Archbishop-in-Council advice on Saturday March 21st which led to the Ad Clerum from the Archbishop that day, and following further announcements by the Prime Minister and Victorian Premier, numerous questions have been asked of the bishops and Archbishop. Not every detail is yet clear from the government, and we recognise the situation remains fluid and pressured. As you will have noticed, much of the information about restrictions has been announced at a high level by the Prime Minister or the Premier. It has taken time for the detail of these announcements to be released by government authorities. The FAQs listed below are written on the basis of the best information we have been able to access
As you read the FAQs below, you will notice some differences between what the government regards as "essential services" and what our Church believes. For instance, the government regards weddings and funerals to be essential services, but not Easter services. We acknowledge much grief felt around this, but are obliged to comply with current government regulations.
In answer to questions received, we offer the following. Please recognise the situations might change, or further clarification will be given, and we will do our best to convey that as accurately and quickly as we can.
1. CHURCH SERVICES
Church Services Indoors
All indoor church services are suspended, effective Monday, March 23, of any nature, though see below on weddings and funerals.
Churches Open for Prayer
Churches cannot be open to the public or parishioners for general prayer. Unless you hear otherwise this will include for Good Friday and Easter.
Church Services Outdoors
No outdoor services are permitted on church property or at any other venue. This is the decision of the Diocese and consistent with the urging of the government not to gather.
Making the Word of God fully known
Anglican Diocese of Melbourne | 209 Flinders Lane Melbourne Vic 3000 | +61 3 9653 4220 email@example.com | www.melbourneanglican.org.au
This includes Easter Day, Anzac Day or any other occasion, whether at a beach or in a park. For weddings and funerals, see further below.
We expect significant further restrictions on gathering and workplaces soon to the point where people may not be able to gather with anyone else at all. So we urge you even now to plan for that eventuality. You may be able to produce something yourself by email or social media. We encourage collaboration with other clergy and parishes and sharing resources.
For the time being, we set a limit of 5 at any one time in one place, appropriately socially distant, to produce a livestream or video for church services, including for youth and/or children. Only those directly involved in this can be in attendance. This is by invitation only, for people who are in effect voluntary church workers for the purpose of making the product.
Please note that a normal CCLI licence does not include livestreaming so you will need to investigate purchasing that from CCLI.
Please also send links for livestreaming or videos to your bishop.
Advice about spiritual communion will come soon.
Weddings and Funerals
For weddings in any location, only 5 people can be in attendance: the celebrant, the couple and two witnesses. Social distancing rules must be complied with.
For funerals in any location, the maximum attendance is 10 people, including the minister or celebrant. Social distancing rules must be complied with.
Clergy who decline weddings or funerals for personal safety reasons are urged to speak with their Area Dean to see if another minister can conduct the service.
Some parishes have new Vicars due for being commissioned in the weeks ahead. These services cannot now happen. The Bishop will receive the oath and declarations of the incoming Vicar privately and pray a commissioning prayer. The new Vicar will still start work on the day already advertised.
2. CHURCH MINISTRY ACTIVITIES
Small Groups, Meetings, Gatherings
All church meetings, groups and gatherings for any purpose are suspended whether on church property or off church property. This includes Bible study groups, prayer meetings, Parish Council meetings, women’s or men’s groups, concerts, youth or children’s events. The Ad Clerum of March 21, 2020 was not as clear as it could have been on this, for which we apologise.
We encourage the use of social media platforms for meetings or small groups. There are various introductions to these being run online by Christian groups. We plan to offer tutorials for using zoom and will advertise this. We intend to consolidate some resource links on the diocesan website before long.
3. PASTORAL CARE MATTERS
Pastoral Care by the Clergy
Personal pastoral ministry will be challenging in a lockdown and restricted access situation. It is certain that this ministry will be requested and clergy need to work through the hygiene and personal spatial separation issues that a pastoral visit or a home communion raise. Social isolation will increase the risk to mental health and general wellbeing. If there is a large increase in rates of infection we need to expect that we will be confronted by circumstances that we have not encountered before in our pastoral ministries.
We expect clergy will maintain regular contact with parishioners by phone, skype or other digital means at the least.
Clergy in Risk Categories
Some clergy are in at-risk categories because of health, family members’ health or age. Please advise your Bishop and Area Dean if you consider yourself to be in this category.
Baptism, Confirmation or Other Pastoral Services
If a baptism or one of the pastoral services is deemed necessary, which may include ministry to the near dying, please provide that ministry to take place privately with minimal attendance and complying with any regulations of a hospital or aged care institution and of course be very aware of hygiene, social distancing and so on.
If a confirmation or reaffirmation of faith is urgent because a person is near dying, please discuss with your bishop.
Confirmations, Receptions for Purposes of a Ministry Position
If a confirmation or reception is urgent for the purpose of a ministry position, then please discuss with your bishop and a private reception or confirmation can be arranged with the candidate.
Home Communion and visitation
Clergy may still need to visit people, including offering home communion, in one kind. In such cases, the recipient cannot be in compulsory isolation and the recipient must be agreeable to the visit. This should only be for the people living in that home and not for a gathered group. The utmost hygiene of clean hands and distance must be maintained, not only for the safety of the person at home but for the clergy also. We advise not sharing food or drink.
We are concerned for the financial well-being of clergy and church staff. We have no doubt this pandemic will significantly affect most of our parishes financially. These are serious matters. We are working on this with senior management and Archbishop in Council and will communicate more when possible.
If parishes are facing a real threat of not being able to pay clergy, please communicate this to your Bishop.
Some clergy are considering cutting their work days. Please speak with your bishop if you are considering this.
If clergy are facing financial hardship please speak with your bishop if you have not already done so.
Please do not simply assume that diocesan assessment will be waived.
5. OTHER ACTIVITIES
All Op Shops must close immediately if not already closed. This includes any outdoor trading.
Community Meals & Emergency Relief
Some churches provide meals for needy and homeless people, whether via an Op Shop or in the church facility. This ministry can only continue as a take-away or delivery facility. No gathering can continue. Proper hygiene and social distancing must be maintained by those providing the food and those collecting it. Please monitor collection of food so there is not a crowd gathered at any one time.
We are taking advice from Anglicare and the Brotherhood of St Laurence. Please indicate to your bishop if you have such a ministry so further advice can be directed to you.
If your parish has an emergency relief programme, there will need to be a demonstrated risk plan provided to the appropriate organisation (Diocese, Anglicare Victoria, Brotherhood of St Laurence).
We realise that your usual volunteers may well belong to at risk groups (e.g. over 70 or with chronic health conditions), yet this may also be an opportunity for others from your parish or surrounding parishes who are not normally in a position to volunteer but are now available to help.
Occasionally a church may run what is more or less a commercial café. If licensed as such it can continue to provide take away and delivery but no sit-down food or beverage and no congregating of people in the café. Ou
Outdoor fetes and Markets We
have no clear governmental direction on this but consider that markets providing food and drink only can continue with appropriate hygiene, handling cash and social distancing. No sit- down eating can be allowed; only take-away. The government has said that the provision of food and drink is regarded as essential. Markets selling books, clothes, gifts or other goods ought to be closed. If we hear further advice on this we will inform you.
Church Rental Groups
All rental groups using church property must comply with governmental gathering rules. That is their responsibility. This has probably already ruled out many groups such as dancing, martial arts or educational groups. You may want to check that the tenant is clear that they must maintain government rules. Church rentals, especially housing, may be affected by National Cabinet decisions to give protections to tenants and leasees.
OTHER MATTERS Other Matters and ideas
If your church does not have a video or livestream capacity, we encourage you to tag on to another parish’s one or use the Anglican Media YouTube link for a weekly service uploaded there: https://www.youtube.com/AnglicanMediaMelb If your church does provide livestreaming or video, please send the link to your bishop. We aim to send out a fuller list than before, maybe next week. Prayer. Do encourage parishioners to pray. Several churches have provided Morning and Evening Prayer or prayer books to parishioners at home. Others have written prayers for their particular parish. Some may want to ring church bells each day or at least on Sunday. If you do, we suggest 7pm, as many days as you can and we invite all our parishioners to pray the diocesan prayer for this pandemic at 7pm. You may also choose to light a candle for a period of time and display this in your home window (as has been encouraged by the church in the UK). Keep in contact. Isolation is going to affect many people’s mental and social health. Please work hard at pastoral systems that keep people connected to each other by phone. The bishops were booked for various parish visits in the months ahead. The bishops want to continue, where possible, the connection with the parish whether for livestreaming or a video. Do contact your bishop in advance to arrange this.
We are so encouraged at the creativity already being seen in providing services, children’s and youth activities and caring for vulnerable people in parishes. Clergy ought to regard this time as a treasure and opportunity. A treasure, because we will have some extra discretionary time with fewer services, to devote to pastoral care, people and our own well-being. Opportunity because in bleak times as this, only the light of the gospel of Jesus is solid hope, and only Christians have that hope to share with others. We’d love you to share your good stories with your bishop so we can encourage everyone. Please do not be shy and we can keep confidentiality in not naming people or parishes if you prefer. We need good news at this time. We are also interested in thoughts on how as a diocese we can celebrate the ending of the virus. A BIG celebration? Be assured of our regular prayers for you in these trying and stressful times. Archbishop Philip, Bishops Genieve, Brad, Kate and Paul.
The Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne has written to clergy today requiring that all public worship and parish organised group activities are to be suspended until further notice. This is to comply with current restrictions on public gatherings and in anticipation of further government restrictions foreshadowed for the days ahead. For St. Columbs this means our Monday prayer meeting, small groups and administrative meetings can only be held on-line (staff will contact participants of these groups soon with details). It also means that even outdoor events, such as our garden club, cannot now run.
We are gearing up to use the Zoom online meeting software for our prayer meetings, small groups and administrative meetings (wardens and parish council). Who knows, even some pastoral conversations could be conducted this way. Welcome to our brave new world which the staff will send you instructions on in the coming week.
In preparation for our on-line worship together on Sunday, we will be posting a short video of songs (including a kids’ song), reading, prayer and teaching on our website and on Facebook tomorrow. We’re aiming for around 11am (on Saturday 21/3). We would love your feedback, specifically regarding the visibility of the words for the songs and the ease of hearing the audio. These are the things we want to focus on to make this as good an experience for everyone as we can with the equipment we have available. Please e-mail any helpful feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday’s service will be available from links on our website www.stcolumbs.org.au at 10am on Sunday. You may want to join with some others from St Columb’s to share this online experience together (following spatial distancing rules of course!). We look forward to worshipping our sovereign God together at this time.
An email about the closure of public events, including worship services, at St. Columb's Hawthorn
Most of you will have heard that as of this morning (18/3) that as part of Australian efforts to slow the spread of the Covid 19 virus that our government requires us to cease public gatherings of 100 people or more. I am writing to tell you this means we will now close all public events at St. Columbs Hawthorn until further notice.
Public worship and events
Our public worship services have stopped and in these circumstances it is wise to also cancel the Mission Morning that was organised for this coming Saturday. Other public events on our campus, like open table, are likewise cancelled as we anticipate further restrictions on meeting sizes in the time ahead.
Small groups may continue to meet at their discretion or by using digital technology.
According to the Prime Minister's announcement today these restrictions are likely to remain in place for at least the next 6 months.
Our staff team are setting up different means of staying in touch and working on ways of caring for our more vulnerable over this time. They will be in contact with you soon to invite you to use systems that will help us worship, pray and care for each other during this time of enforced isolation.
An example of what we have in mind is this Saturday at 10am a broadcast of a short worship service will be streamed live on our web site from the chapel at St. Columb's. We will use this to learn how to best broadcast our regular Sunday services, children and youth activities over the coming months.
There will be many of us who are ill at ease with the unknowns we are facing, there will be many anxious people around us not only because of health concerns but because of the economic pressures many will face. Children will fear because the adults who care for them are afraid. There will be an increase in stress, selfish and perhaps criminal behaviour. There will be moments that represent the worst we can be as human beings but then, there will also be brilliant moments of love, hope and faith that will stand out like light on a dark night.
We know what we are called to be, please join me in praying each day that God will give us the strength of his Spirit to be His for the sake of others. (1 Corinthians 13)
Please feel free to contact me or any of our other staff members if you should have questions, concerns or just want to talk or pray over the phone.
Mike Flynn (Vicar)
Katherine Christian Convention and remote communities
The KCC convention has been cancelled to help keep vulnerable Australians safe. This means our team will not be attending the convention in early May this year. This was part of our Northern Territory partnership project working with indigenous Australians.
The Northern Land Council is no longer issuing permits to visit remote communities. Again, this is to restrict the impact of Covid 19 in communities that are already struggling with significant health issues. The ban has no time limit and for us will mean we cannot plan our regular visit to the outstation of Kewulyi as part of our Northern Territory partnership. We will miss seeing our mates there.
Parish council met and agreed to the following responses to government requirements regarding Covid 19
Communications & care
Blog on web site to advise of decisions and changes
Blog linked to social media
Pre-write announcements for cancelling of services
It is OK not to attend church at this time or to cancel your rostered commitments. Please let our staff team know so we can keep in touch or cover your role.
Suggest ideas for our members to care for those in the wider community in need. For example: Shopping or phone calls to neighbours
If you are unwell with flu or cold like symptoms or believe you have health issues that make you especially vulnerable to Covid 19, please do not attend public worship
If you test positive for Covid 19, please let our staff team know so we can plan an orderly closure of our activities and inform others to self-isolate.
Organise for the regular contact of vulnerable people of StC by phone by staff and small group leaders
Sunday worship services (10am & 6pm)
Public worship services will continue until they are required to stop. There are two reasons we to stop our public services, one is that group gatherings are further restricted by government, the other is that someone our St Columb's community either has contact with a person who tests positive for Covid 19 or tests positive for Covid 19 themselves.
Activities that have stopped until further notice
Parish weekend away (20/3-22/3) - long exposure to many people in a closed environment we cannot manage well
SPL Cricket - many sports codes are cancelling. Better not to start a season that would need to stop. Physical contact unavoidalbe in an enclosed area. Open to the general public. Vulnerable attendees/staff
Playgroup - decline in attendance due to Covid 19. To protect the volunteers who run this ministry
Activities that will continue until further notice
Mission Morning (Saturday 21/3 from 9:30am) at St. Columb's - speakers from the parish weekend away will present their material. Limited exposure in a controlled environment. No food service
Small groups - at the discretion of each group. Parish council asks our small groups consider government guidelines for spaces between people
Open table - from 7pm 27/3. BYO food considered an acceptable risk
Community garden club - combined with a once a month working bee (10am to 12noon, the first Saturday of each month). Open air, distance between participants
Prayer day - now moved to Sunday 29/3. Limited numbers praying at any one time, area can be kept clean
Over the next two weeks our staff team will develop St. Columb's online presence so we may:
Live stream worship services - whether we are open to the public or not. Using exisiting stctv YouTube Channel
Film our Kids talks and provide engaging material for our teens. Using exisiting stctv YouTube Channel.
Continue recording and uploading sermons and study notes. Using web site and podcasts
Subscribe to apps that allow our small groups and administrative teams to meet online. A Zoom subscription is likely.
Expand membership of our Elvanto church management system so that all our members can choose to share their contact details with each other and we can care for people we are less familiar with in our congregation.
Print paper contact list and mail it to members once our members have given permission for their details to be published in this way through their Elvanto login
We will leave the decision to stop meeting to the discretion of those groups which hire our halls. Parish council will not require any payments for unused bookings.
Ask our cleaner to stop cleaning the Large Hall (SPL cricket now on hold) and to start cleaning/disinfecting surfaces and handles in buildings that we continue to use. That is, the cafe space, the small hall, the church
Make hand sanitiser and washing facilities available in the church, cafe space and small hall
Place DHHS posters on hygiene at all food preparation areas
Ask our welcome teams to stop providing food after services. Group plates and cross contamination is difficult to avoid especailly with children
Move the seating in the church to provide more distance between rows of chairs
Children's toys, Bibles, printed news sheets, name tags, pens and labels for name tags were discussed. We will take no action at this time given the Covid 19 virus lasts for a maximum of 72 hours on surfaces, that opportunities for cross contamination from those sources was limited, that children are more likely to infect each other through personal contact than toy sharing, that we cannot provide a hospital grade sterile environment and that other precautions taken above significantly reduce risk
Parish council will meet for its regular meeting on the evening of 16/3. Part of the agenda will include a discussion about how we are to adapt our ministries to changing government requirements for public meetings. It will include a discusison as to whether or not our parish weekend away (next weekend, 20-22/3) should go ahead. Decisions will be communicated by this blog, social media and emails to our members.
Worship - our worship services will continue as normal each Sunday at 10am and 6pm.
Events - we ask that if people are unwell with cold or flu-like symptoms that they not attend any St. Columbs public or private events. Please consider seeking medical advice.
Communion - as advised in worship services earlier, we are no longer using the common cup or bread but we have switched to using seperate cups, grape juice and wafers. All communion servers will clean their hands with sanitiser before administering communion.
Greeting - we will avoid all physical contact in welcome or in the greeting of peace. Instead, we will bow or wave to each other (some have suggested we bring back a bow and curtsey)!
Hospitality - hosts and welcome teams are required to follow the health department guidelines posted in the kitchen areas of the St. Columb's campus. There are also instructions attached to dishwashers telling users how to maximise the sanitary use of these machines.
Sports - St. Columb's Premiership League 20 will commence on Monday 16th of March. The competition will run according to guidelines that are based on the Circket Victoria guidelines for hygenic practise in a cricket competition. They include:
Hand sanitisers are available throughout the church
All cricket balls have been sanitised before each game.
All common cricket equipment has been remocved from SPL. Players are now advised to bring their own cricket bats, gloves, helmets etc.
Hand-shakes and huddles can no longer occur during a game.
What can players do to help?
Bring your own cricket equipment to each game.
Hand sanitise before and after each game
Do not share cricket equipment with other players
When coughing or sneezing cover mouth with flexed elbow or tissue (dispose of tissue after use)
If you feel unwell we ask that you do not attend SPL
If you have travelled outsied of Australia, we ask that you seek a medical ssessment and nonly return to SPL after 14 days of returing to Melbourne.