Yesterday we were advised that the Archbishop had suspended all public services in the Anglican Diocese of Sydney. I was immediately reminded of Psalm 28 (which I spoke of at our AGM just a few weeks ago):
Praise be to the Lord, for he has heard my cry for mercy.
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.
My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.
The Lord is the strength of his people,
a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.
Save your people and bless your inheritance;
be their shepherd and carry them forever.
With everything changing in the world and with the constant fear and anxiety caused by COVID-19, now more than ever we must cry to our Lord. He is our strength and shield… AND he is our shepherd and carries us forever. Now more than ever do we need assurance that God tenderly holds us in the palms of his hands and he gently speaks words of comfort and promises our eternal safety.
And in the midst of all our world’s uncertainty, we entrust ourselves to God. And so with assurance in our God, through this crisis we are determined:
- To ensure that we continue teaching and encouraging God’s people in His Word.
- To establish a strong culture which promotes love and care for one another
- To comply with the directives of NSW Health and other governing bodies
- To continually return to God in prayer
So here is our plan for the next week (please read through and take note of what applies to you):
(1) Friday Kids Plus has been paused for this week
We are assessing the impact of the COVID-19 and Elise P. will be in contact with parents regarding the next steps for Kids Plus next week.
(2) St Phils Youth is going ahead this Friday
Mike H. and the youth leaders have been planning for our existing regular youth members for 7pm this Friday evening. They have worked hard to comply with the government and diocesan requirements and believe that in the teaching of God’s word and ministering to our youth, we will have a really positive impact on their lives. The leaders will facilitate some great fellowship in our small groups, livestream a talk from the church into separate rooms, and finish promptly at 8:15pm for pick-up where youth will be signed out in the foyer.
(3) The working bee is ON from 8am till noon
The Working Bee will go ahead unchanged. We will mostly be outdoors and there is plenty of work to be done. Come along, bring a hat and we’ll get pizzas for lunch!!!!
(4) Sunday Public Services are suspended until further notice
All Sunday gatherings are suspended to most lovingly comply with the directives and injunction of our governments and health services. You can read his press release or click on the video towards the end of this email.
(5) A kids friendly video meeting will be available each Sunday at 10am
Elise P. will host an interactive video of a 10-15 minute devotion that will be suitable for kids and their parents. This is to help parents in their Christian discipleship of their children, whilst also enabling our youngest members to be fed by God’s word and develop godly habits of worship. The meeting will begin at 10am (you can log on from 9:45am) and you can access the interactive video by clicking on this link and following the installation prompts.
(6) Sunday Years 7-12 Youth will still meet from this Sunday
For our Years 7-12 youth, who regularly attend Sunday morning groups, we have managed a suitable plan to ensure that we can still disciple, pray with and encourage them. We believe that the groups can certainly comply with our new restrictions. For parents of these youth, please drop them off at 10am and pick them up again before noon.
(7) A weekly Prayer and Encouragement (P&E) Session will be held each Sunday at 6pm in the Church
We have suspended public services but we have decided to run a simplified prayer and encouragement spot to give our members an opportunity to worship and have face to face fellowship. These will be held in the church and must be limited to 60 people (ie our existing 6pm congregation). Depending on how this goes, we are looking at replicating the idea of P&E Sessions throughout the week and at different times of the day and night.
(8) Two sermonettes will be recorded and placed on the website on Monday and Thursday
To aid bible study groups (especially those who follow the sermon series), the sermonette from the Sunday Prayer and Encouragement Session (P&E) will be made available on Monday on our stphils.org website. We hope to load another sermonette on Thursday of each week too.
(9) Bible Studies will resume next week
Please contact your Bible Study Group Leader about the resumption of your group. If you need more space to comply with the social distancing requirements, please contact the church office to book a larger room on the church property.
(10) The ministry staff and leaders will attempt to have pastoral conversations with each member of our church each fortnight
We plan to be in pastoral contact with our regular members. The ministry staff and other key leaders aim to contact every regular member for a pastoral conversation at least once a fortnight.
I am very sorry that you had to endure such a torrent of information! But please bear with us as we have had to make some significant changes to our regular practices and may not have fully considered everything to its fullest extent. If we have erred, please let us know and we will do our best to sort things out quickly.
In conclusion, we keep hearing about how our present circumstances are unprecedented and impossible. However, God is good and sovereign and completely trustworthy. Moreover, throughout this disruption, we have had to be creative and brave and flexible. Please keep these matters in your prayers as we are praying that through this, we may be part of something wonderful and even magnificent as we seek new ways to love each other, fellowship together, and grow in Christ – for His glory.
Yours in Christ,