Managing congregational anxiety in the post COVID-19 reboot

Posted on May 26, 2020 
Filed under COVID19, Resources

From Dominic Steele at The Pastor’s Heart:

“We are addressing how we care for and lead our congregations on the way back. We are seeing states quickly move through the different stages of opening up.

How do we handle the fear of change, and navigate the decisions of starting to meet again. How do we help our members flourish in community while keeping a physical distance? How can we come through this stronger? What about the feelings that they and we are experiencing, and how can we support them through the next few months?

The best advice for Australian churches is still to expect a protracted period with congregations limited to 100 people, with one person per four square metres, for many Churches, this necessitates change, with congregations to be divided or planted.

Jenny Brown heads The Family Systems Practice, is an experienced family systems therapist and the author of Growing Yourself Up.

Nigel Fortesque is the senior minister of Christ Church St Ives.”

Watch here.

The Coronavirus Crisis as a Wilderness Experience

Posted on May 25, 2020 
Filed under COVID19, Theology

“To what might we compare this unexpected and unsettling coronavirus season? We might think of it like “Groundhog Day”: a repeating monotony of locked-down life.

We might think of it like the holding pattern of an aircraft coming in to land: an interminable period of waiting– like that of refugees waiting for a safe place to call home.

A related question to ask is, where the current pandemic fits into each of our life stories? It’s a question worth pondering, for, as Alistair McGrath puts it, ‘the story we believe we are in determines what we think about ourselves and consequently how we live.’

The Bible throws up an intriguing answer to both questions …”

– At The Gospel Coalition Australia, Brian Rosner shares some thoughts on how the Lord continues to work in his people.

‘Texas Supreme Court Repudiates ECUSA’s Sophistries’

Posted on May 24, 2020 
Filed under TEC

“In a comprehensive and unanimous thirty-page decision filed Friday morning, May 22, the Texas Supreme Court ruled in favor of Bishop Jack L. Iker and reversed the Court of Appeals’ earlier decision to the effect that ECUSA’s rump diocese, and not Bishop Iker’s diocese, controlled the Texas corporation which holds title to the properties of those parishes which in 2008 voted to withdraw their diocese from the unaffiliated and unincorporated association that historically has been called the (Protestant) Episcopal Church in the United States of America.

The decision is as straightforward an application of “neutral principles of law” (espoused by the U.S. Supreme Court in Jones v. Wolf) as one could find among the courts to which ECUSA has presented its “hierarchical church” sophistries. It repudiates those sophistries in a succinct passage (pp. 24-25) …”

– A S Haley, The Anglican Curmudgeon, reports on the latest legal decision concerning The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Fort Worth.

Pictured: The recently-retired Bishop Jack Iker, Fort Worth.

Earlier posts on the subject.

SRE at Learning at Home now available

Posted on May 22, 2020 
Filed under COVID19, Resources, Sydney Diocese

Writing on the GAFCON website, Youthworks CEO Craig Roberts writes,

“…the COVID-19 pandemic has forced schools to go online. Youthworks has modified some of its SRE lessons for parents to use at home with their children AND the government has put a link to our resources on every school website.”

Read his report here – and you can also access the SRE material here.

The importance of Priest and priest

Posted on May 22, 2020 
Filed under Theology

“Who needs priests? For many in our society, there is a real cynicism around the word ‘priest’ and the idea of a religious establishment.

Yet there are some who have an earnest desire for priests. Perhaps we want people who are holy because we know deep down that we are not very holy, and we like to outsource. So we want people who have dedicated their lives to knowing God, who are trained in handling the Scriptures, paid to look after our spiritual wellbeing… and that way we don’t have to think too much about it.

But both the writer of the book of Hebrews and our Anglican tradition expose the folly of these attitudes. …”

– At The Australian Church Record, Ben George points us back to our great high priest.

Pressing on or Treading Water?

Posted on May 20, 2020 
Filed under COVID19, Encouragement

“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.

Ravi Zacharias (1946–2020)

Posted on May 20, 2020 
Filed under People

“Today Sarah Davis, the CEO of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, announced that God has called her father, Ravi Zacharias, to his eternal rest.

Today we affirm, as my dad recited and Baxter penned, ‘But ‘tis enough that Christ knows all, and I shall be with Him.’ My dad, at 74, has ‘join[ed] with the triumphant saints that sing [his] Savior’s praise.’ We who knew and loved him celebrate his life, and more importantly, his Savior. …”

News via Justin Taylor.

(Image: Ravi Zacharias speaking at Passion 2020.)

Archbishop Foley Beach’s Invitation to GAFCON Sunday 2020

Posted on May 20, 2020 
Filed under GAFCON

GAFCON Sunday is on June 28 2020, and GAFCON’s Chairman, Archbishop Foley Beach invites you to take part.

Watch the video, and also see these resources.

Adaptive Leadership in COVID-19 with Brian Tung

Posted on May 19, 2020 
Filed under COVID19, Resources

“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)

Posted on May 17, 2020 
Filed under COVID19, Theology

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

Posted on May 17, 2020 
Filed under COVID19

“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’

Posted on May 17, 2020 
Filed under COVID19, Sydney Diocese

“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

Posted on May 16, 2020 
Filed under Australian dioceses, COVID19

“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.

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