Weekly Letter – 29th May, 2020

Dear friends,

2020 has been a year like none other but we remain thankful for God’s goodness and sovereignty which never changes. We are thankful that our church has been able to continue, in a different way, but with the same message of life found in Christ alone.

These are difficult times for everyone as we are all asked to change habits and behaviours for the sake of containing the virus. The ministry staff, wardens and parish council continue to monitor changes in regulations and we would like you to know that the Diocese continues to feed us with advice and guidance as each week offers fresh insight for the plans going forward.

In that regard, and as you may have heard in the media, the Government has just this morning announced that churches will be allowed to hold services for up to 50 people, depending on social distancing requirements. For your information I am including in this letter extracts from the Archbishop’ letter sent on Thursday night:

Dear brothers and sisters,
I am glad to be writing to you so soon after my last letter, as I have just had a fruitful conversation with the Minister for Health, the Hon. Brad Hazzard.

It was kind of him to ring and inform me that our representations have been heard and that from 1 June, we shall be able to accommodate up to 50 people in a church service, appropriately socially distanced (apart from members of the same household) and using the 4 square metres per person rule, in accordance with the method for calculating the maximum number of people, which I outlined in my letter yesterday. Maximum numbers at funerals will be increased to 50 persons, but weddings will only increase to a maximum of 20 persons (apparently the exuberance of wedding celebrations is a risk!).

NSW Health will provide guidelines for the application of this updated Public Health Order, which align fairly well with the summary I provided you yesterday. In particular, note that no congregational singing will be allowed, though one or two singers at the front, distanced 3m from the congregation will be permissible.

Of course, you may still decide to continue meeting online instead. There is no direction to hold public services. Each rector will need to make this decision, in consultation with his wardens, staff and possibly other members of the parish council.

We at Campbelltown Anglican Churches, are working on plans for re-entry to church when the time is right. It will not be done suddenly nor flippantly but with careful preparation so that when we do gather again in person, we will be able to feel safe and rejoice. We will be looking to send you weekly updates to keep you informed of this journey together. The guidelines will continue to be reviewed each week, however, the return to church as it was, is likely to be a slow process and we would like everyone to be prepared for that.

Please pray in these days for one another and for the church worldwide. Pray for God’s hand to guide us. Pray and rejoice for all that God is doing in opening up the gospel to the world! Pray for the vulnerable and scared who are finding these times very difficult. Pray for your neighbours, that they will seek the Lord while there is time. Friends, church has not stopped – it is just different.

Here is where we are at right now, broadly speaking, with regard to gatherings. Currently we continue to “do church” in the following manner.

 Sunday Activities

Whatever else we decide as a result of these latest developments, we will continue to offer church online each Sunday and the format and delivery of these services continue being refined. Please pray each week as we minister to one another through word, song and prayer that we do so for the glory of God.

How do you think we are going in this area? If you’d like to give feedback, or ask questions, please go to The Hub (https://hub.campbelltown.church) and use the “Weekly Check-In” button to let us know.

 Growth Groups

We continue to meet via Zoom in our existing Growth Groups. This will still be our method for a while longer, therefore, any groups that have struggled with this technology ought to reach out to Simon Twist for some help.

At Step 1, our current phase, homes are able to have a maximum of 5 visitors. As Growth Groups are an official ministry of our church, leaders will need to discuss this option with their members. Social distancing rules must be adhered to as well as cleaning the rooms used for the gathering before and after. Food must be managed hygienically. As is our practice already, names must be recorded of who has attended each week. These attendance records are to be kept for at least 30 days. We advise to use this option with caution at the moment.

Growth Groups have also been our primary network for pastoral care. Even members who have not previously been part of a Growth Group have been assigned to a group so that we can care for one another and stay in contact. If you would like to get into a Growth Group, please go to hub.campbelltown.church and use the “Weekly Check-In” button to get linked into one.

 Mid-Week Church Activities

The church buildings remain closed to all ministries at the moment. This includes youth and children ministries. The use of facilities on site are limited to staff and those invited by staff or wardens. We are making preparations for “Step 2” when we may be able to do more.

If you wish to ask further questions about various ministries and activities, please use The Hub. As time goes on, each of our ministry leaders will be invited to get on board with plans for re-entry.

Non-Church Activities

The church property is not able to welcome groups back at this stage.

 Staying Connected

As well as being part of a Growth Group, you can stay connected with what is happening in our church community on our Facebook Page, our Facebook Members Group, with our Friday weekly newsletter, engaging each week with the on-line church service and any Zoom meetings offered at those times and by giving someone a phone call, just to say hello.

Finally, how are you going? It is easy to feel a little ‘lost’ in these days. We’d love to hear how you are going, whether it is great or not. Do you need any help? Do you want to reach out and help others but not sure how? Please use The Hub to let us know how you are going.

Your friend,

Bruce Ballantine-Jones
Acting Rector