Pressing on or Treading Water?

“There is still a strange eerie feeling about the community at the moment. It was present during the bushfires, and it is still here with the coronavirus. If normal life was all about parties, crowds, and living it up, then normality has yet to return. Everything remains disrupted, although to varying degrees.

To some, it all seems rather exaggerated, even manufactured, perhaps a plot concocted by political powers who are seeking to exercise yet more power. To others, it seems that the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse have been let loose, and the end is nigh.

If we are Christians, we are called upon, in the first place, to be faithful, and seek God’s Word for our hearts and minds. …”

Great encouragement in this message from The Rev. Dr Peter Barnes, Moderator-General of the Presbyterian Church of Australia.

Adaptive Leadership in COVID-19 with Brian Tung

“Brian Tung says leading our churches successfully out of COVID-19 is going to be much more complex than the journey in.

He says don’t squander the God-given opportunity to make ‘real’ change in the COVID-19 rollback.

How do you fix it even when it’s not broken?  Note, People don’t hate change. They hate loss. How do you make the most of the productive zone of disequilibrium. …”

– The latest episode of The Pastor’s Heart.

Is “Church Online” Church? (Lionel Windsor, Mikey Lynch, Andrew Heard)

Lionel Windsor writes:

“In this discussion for the Reach Australia network’s podcast, I join Mikey Lynch (leader of Tasmania’s Vision 100) and Andrew Heard (lead pastor of EV Church on the Central Coast of NSW) to think theologically about the current realities of church life, church approximation and online church.”

Watch or listen here.

The perfect storm: how COVID-19 unleashed chaos inside Newmarch House

“If Grant Millard could have his time over again, he’s clear on one thing. He would not have kept Newmarch House’s elderly COVID-19 patients at the Anglicare-run facility for treatment but would have sent them all to hospital.

‘Absolutely, no question, I would say that now,’ he told the Herald in his first in-depth explanation of the calamity, which began unfolding inside the residential aged care home from April 11 after a staff member was first diagnosed with the killer virus. …”

The Sydney Morning Herald provides some insight into the outbreak in western Sydney.

See also: Anglicare’s Response to Coronavirus. Photo: Anglicare.

‘Every person counts’

“The Sydney Anglican Diocese and Uniting Church Synod of NSW and ACT have strongly recommended churches stay closed. …

Anglican bishop for Western Sydney Gary Koo who chairs the Sydney diocese COVID-19 taskforce, said churches had become more accessible to the community ‘than ever before’. He said people with chronic illnesses and those who felt self conscious about walking into church felt comfortable with anonymous attendance. …”

– Story from The Sydney Morning Herald.

Public Statement from the Bishops of NSW and ACT, 12 May 2020

“The Diocesan Bishops of the Province of NSW meet regularly for prayer and fellowship throughout the year, but have been in greater contact by email and zoom meetings these past few months. The outcome of these meetings was our Public Statement on 18 March 2020 which announced the closure of our church buildings and the suspension of normal church services in early March, in the interests of public health and safety.

We met again this week to discuss the Prime Minister’s release of the three Step Roadmap for a COVIDsafe Community. While we acknowledge the lifting of restrictions on public gatherings, allowing up to ten persons at a religious gathering, we believe that Step 1 is not the time to recommence meeting in person for Sunday public worship.

There are various reasons for this decision which will be communicated to each diocese by their Bishop. We are grateful for the patience of our congregations as they endure the continuation of church online, rather than in their familiar church surroundings, but we believe the health and safety of our own community, as well as others, should be paramount.

Yet we welcome the increased flexibility for gatherings in private homes and would therefore recommend that small groups of people take advantage of this liberty, perhaps gathering for prayer and Bible study or meeting together to join in watching online church. However, in such cases social distancing and hand hygiene must be observed, as we should remain vigilant in preventing the spread of COVID-19, acknowledging the health guidelines that our State and Territory Governments have issued.

We continue to pray for the leadership of our Prime Minister, Premier and Chief Minister of the ACT as they lead the nation in these challenging times. We also pray for our health workers as they care for those affected, and for those seeking to develop a vaccine. We continue to urge all Christians to pray that our heavenly Father may be gracious to us in stemming the spread of this disease in our land and throughout the world.

The Rt Rev. Mark Calder (Bishop of Bathurst)
The Most Rev. Dr Glenn Davies (Archbishop of Sydney)
The Rt Rev. Dr Murray Harvey (Bishop of Grafton)
The Rt Rev. Donald Kirk (Bishop of Riverina)
The Rt Rev. Rick Lewers (Bishop of Armidale)
The Rt Rev. Dr Mark Short (Bishop of Canberra & Goulburn)
The Rt Rev. Dr Peter Stuart (Bishop of Newcastle).”

– Via the Diocese of Armidale.

How to Pray for your Pastor during Lockdown


“If you pray for your pastor, as I hope you do, how will you pray for him during this coronavirus lockdown?

Of course, this global lockdown affects us all differently. We live under widely varying regulations in different countries or even in different counties within the same country.

But there are some things you can pray for your pastor – regardless of his circumstance. Consider these six. …”

Some encouraging thoughts from Christopher Ash, at 9Marks.

(Photo: Christopher Ash at the 2016 Moore College graduation.)

Church Seating & Stage Three – the implementation – with Michael Stead

“Today we get totally nitty gritty/extremely practical and we are talking church seating in stage three.. with the Bishop of South Sydney Michael Stead.


The road map – from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison – indicates that there is going to be a moment that the government is calling ‘stage three’, probably/potentially mid July when meetings of up to 100 people will be able to take place.”

Another very helpful edition of The Pastor’s Heart.

‘Repent or You will Perish’ — COVID-19 and God’s Gracious Judgments

“Every death, every disappointment, every illness, any suffering, any frustration, any loss, any regret, any pain that we experience is a gracious judgment of God. And every one of God’s gracious judgments is a message from God, a wake-up call from God. For every one of them:

Are not each of these messages that we desperately need today? These gracious judgments can equally well be described as ‘severe mercies’. …”

Read and share the whole article by Peter Adam at The Gospel Coalition Australia.

(Photo: St. Helen’s Bishopsgate.)

The “New Normal” and the Same Old Story: Evangelism in a Virtual World

“I just want to see my friends!” This was the frustrated – and completely understandable – cry from one of our teenagers as we entered another week of isolation with no clear end in sight.

Although these friends had been chatting (and gaming) online, they knew it was a far cry from seeing each other. Yet this is the “new normal” under COVID-19.

By necessity rather than choice, online interactions are rapidly taking the place of physical contact. And this is all happening in the midst of other serious challenges: uncertainty about finances, job loss, unfulfilled dreams, loneliness, increased anxiety, depression, bereavement, and the ever-present fear of sickness and death itself. …

– Lionel Windsor calls us back to the main game.

COVID-19, the restart & strategic change – The Pastor’s Heart

On this week’s edition of The Pastor’s Heart, Dominic Steele speaks with Bishop Gary Koo, chairman of the Sydney Anglican COVID-19 Taskforce and Adam Lowe, Senior Pastor of St. Barts Toowoomba, a psychologist by background.

Their topic? “COVID-19, the restart & strategic change”.

Too soon to open doors again — Archbishop Glenn Davies

“While it is legally possible to have a service for a maximum of ten persons, our strong advice is that Step One is not the time to re-introduce Sunday public worship, especially for senior members of our community who are among the most vulnerable…”

Archbishop Glenn Davies – at SydneyAnglicans.net.

The article also includes a link to a framework for church re-opening.

 

How are you going with COVID-19? — Bishop Rick Lewers

“I keep being asked how we are going with the COVID-19 lockdown.

Like most people, I am watching the news, I have, with some discomfort, downloaded the app and sought to be a good citizen of the nation following Government requests. Although I’m a bit of a rebel, this has not been a time for rebellion but a time to make whatever contribution we can. …”

– Bishop of Armidale Rick Lewers shares some experiences from lockdown.

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