Update from the Senior Minister:
I’m writing on behalf of the Parish Council and staff of Deep Creek Anglican Church. Thank you for your patience as we waited for the most up-to-date advice and prayerfully discerned together what our church community can look like over the coming weeks.
Please take the time to read through this email carefully. When you’re done, if you can reply with a “got it” (or more if you like) I would be so grateful. I’d love to know whether we’re reaching you, so go ahead and clutter up my inbox, I relish it!
As a church with refreshing faith in Jesus Christ in this global crisis, our mission is unchanged – we are still called to be life-giving to the believer, surprising to the world, and strengthening to the weary and doubting. The best way we can do that in this time of change, uncertainty and potential isolation is by focusing on “connecting with compassion and growing in prayer.” These are the practices I believe God is calling us to live out in the coming weeks as members of Deep Creek Anglican Church.
What has to change?
Due to current government legislation banning indoor gatherings of 100 or more people, and for the sake of our Victorian health system and health care workers, as well as for the health of the vulnerable members of our community (both within and without the church), the Parish Council and Staff have concluded that all regular Sunday services are suspended in their current format, effective immediately. There will be alternatives and they are outlined further below.
All children’s and youth activities have finished early for the term, and we shall reassess them after the school holidays. We anticipate a significant postponement for restarting.
Growth Groups will be discussed below, but our medical advice is that we are only able to meet safely in small groups where individuals follow current social distancing guidelines within a larger, well-ventilated indoor space or an outdoor space, and for reduced periods of time. Therefore, we cannot advise Growth Groups meeting in their current format and ask Growth Group leaders to start to work on alternative ways of connecting.
What will we do instead?
For Sunday services and many Growth Group experiences, we will have to go online, but this cannot and will not be our only response. There will be one approach for this Sunday because it is Randle’s farewell service – and then a different ongoing set-up for 29th March and beyond. I’m excited about the possibilities that technology will afford us for interaction, but I’m also aware that this might feel daunting for some. We will work with you to ensure you can get the access you need.
THE ARRANGEMENTS FOR THIS SUNDAY THE 22ND MARCH ARE AS FOLLOWS:
We will hold the farewell service for Randle and the Bond family in the Church auditorium, but due to distancing requirements and the ban on indoor gatherings of 100 people or more, we are unable to have open access to this service.
ONLY those who are involved in leading/contributing to the service and their families, as well as the Parish Council, will be able to come to church in person, subject to their meeting current Covid-19 screening criteria.
This will provide a small congregation spaced according to social distancing requirements for Randle to preach to and to provide a full service for the occasion. These people will be contacted directly with further details.
For everyone else, the service will be streamed via Facebook Live from our Deep Creek Anglican Church Facebook page at 10am: https://www.facebook.com/
On Sunday morning, our website will also have details on accessing the stream in other ways: http://deepcreekanglican.com/
We know you were looking forward to blessing Randle and Katie, Hamish, Holly and Ellie, in person, but Randle has specifically requested that we do not put people at greater risk for this service, and this is the fairest way we can see to do that.
We are asking people to watch at home, or in family groups, or follow current social distancing guidelines if they need support to access the online streamed service with someone else. During the stream you will be able to add your comments on Facebook during the stream.
The sermon will be recorded and posted to the website as usual on Monday morning.
Below is the link to the online card to sign for you to express your love for the Bond Family. It is open until Wednesday 25th March, 5pm.
It’s not what we would have chosen to farewell this beloved family, but we are still anticipating a very special morning. We are purchasing a license to stream our worship music, and Randle will preach, we will pray, and those that have nominated to speak in celebration and farewell will do so, and we will present the Bond family with the gift that you have generously given toward. Please do everything you can to join us online. More information will come about the plans we have for the following Sunday, so stay tuned.
What about after this Sunday?
Advice is changing daily, and as the Prime Minister and Chief Medical Officer said on Wednesday morning, this is a challenge that has the potential to be with us for at least 6 months. I am not comfortable simply shifting our services to an online presentation and asking people to opt into that for the foreseeable future as their experience of “church” – especially if we’re talking more than 4 weeks. We cannot predict what next month will look like, but at this stage, we must take an approach that is beyond a sermon or recorded music! We must be more than that, because the church is more than that.
Jesus’ followers have never been defined by opting in to a “Sunday service” in whatever format. Christian people are living, breathing carriers of God’s living Spirit’s presence. We can worship God wherever we are, including in front of our computers (and we will!) but we must also connect our lives to each other in meaningful ways – to pray, to console each other, to give each other hope, and to encourage each other with the word of God through Scripture and teaching. We are called to ensure that no one is lonely, but all are cared for – not just through a device. We are to bear with the weak and give ourselves for others. We are meant to be prayerfully alert every day, so that we can find and bring God’s love, beauty and power into our homes, our workplaces, our supermarkets and our neighbourhoods.
Our solution will be evolving but, as mentioned above, it starts with connecting with compassion and growing in prayer:
Sunday morning at 10am (only) will be a big online “zoom” event to which you will be invited – it’s very easy to join, and we have people willing to assist you to set that up now. There will be activities for children, music, a sermon, prayers and more. In fact, if you’re on the current roster to contribute, you’re likely to still be needed! Sermons will still be recorded and audio made available in the usual ways: http://deepcreekanglican.com/
Wednesday morning at 11am will be our only “in-person” gathering: a Prayer Book service (at the moment APBA Morning Prayer) with a STRICT LIMIT of 20 people in the auditorium, spaced according to health regulations. (You will be turned away once this limit is reached so please be on time). This service will be subject to change as advice continues to be given, but having obtained current medical advice I am confident that the in-person set up we will have for Morning Prayer in the auditorium affords no greater risk than visiting the shops or supermarket at this time. This will begin on Wednesday 1st April. This solution is for those for whom an in-person gathering is currently the only option for them to reduce their sense of isolation and worship according to their conscience. No one should feel obligated to attend, and staying at home is a wise and generous option for many or most of us as we show love to our world. If no one attends, I am very comfortable praying on your behalf.
On Thursdays at 8pm there will be an online “Prayer at the end of the Day” led by me on Zoom but with a others contributing readings and music. We will take this time especially to pray for our world with hopeful expectation of God’s powerful healing and blessing. This will begin on Thursday 2nd April.
The first of these packs will be available for pick up and delivery from Wednesday morning, 25th March. It is not to be missed! This month it includes a little plant to keep watering and growing as we grow in prayer, a Passover-at-home booklet, a container to freeze a spare meal for someone who will need it, kids activities, and a card for the fridge with details of what’s on offer for the next two weeks online or at the church site.
The next pack will be available on the Wednesday of Holy Week, Wednesday 8th April, in preparation for Easter.
Would you like to opt-in to our Takeaway Church bags right now? We are already preparing them. Please reply to firstname.lastname@example.org
As more is known and legislation changes, we expect that our approach will also need change, but we believe that what I have outlined above will equip us all at the moment to be nourished in our prayer life and to connect compassionately within the church community and in our wider circles as the weeks go by.
This is a hard time – and it is not a “given” that we will grow in adversity – we must anchor ourselves in Jesus Christ for that to happen. And so that’s what we will do, together, flexibly and consistently. And I trust that as a church we will come out the other side with a testimony of growth – in lived-out faith, in authenticity of outreach and in a deepened life of prayer. We are all in this together, and I couldn’t think of a better group of people to follow Jesus with during this time.
Please be in touch – let me know that you received this email, and let me know any questions or concerns.