Mandatory masks in latest COVID changes

“New restrictions have been announced for indoor venues, including churches, as a result of COVID-19 transmission on the Northern Beaches and across Greater Sydney.

The measures take effect from Sunday, 3rd January, for Greater Sydney including Wollongong, Central Coast and the Blue Mountains.

Face masks are mandatory for shopping, indoor entertainment, public transport and places of worship…”

– Story from Russell Powell at SydneyAnglicans.net.

See also the Diocesan COVID-19 FAQ page for church workers.

COVID shows us something deeper — the great unmasking of God

The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Glenn Davies, has released his Christmas message for 2020. Read more

Restrictions tighten again amid new COVID breakout

“Growing concern over the spread of COVID-19 in Sydney’s North has led to stern warnings from the New South Wales Premier, impacting local churches.

In response to the Premier’s statement and after considering health advice, Archbishop Glenn Davies has written to rectors and churchwardens across the Sydney Diocese, advising churches in the Northern region to suspend face-to-face meetings, for others to consider whether they should go online-only or at the least use facemasks, and for those outside Greater Sydney to maintain COVID-19 protocols. …”

The very latest from SydneyAnglicans.net

NSW Covid-19 rules for churches from 7 Dec 2020

“The NSW Government has now released the text of the new more generous gathering rules which will apply from Monday 7 December, in the Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order (No 7) 2020 (“PHO7”).

The new rules are much more generous in allowing churches to gather – in short, most indoor church meetings will only be subject to a new ‘one person per 2 square metres’ rule, rather than a hard numerical cap. Restrictions as to outdoor gatherings have also been eased. …”

– Neil Foster at Law and Religion Australia helpfully outlines the latest COVID-19 rules for churches in NSW.

Singing is back!

“Pressure from churches has led to changes to COVID Public Health orders which will allow churchgoers to sing at Christmas services, but they have been advised to wear masks. …

The Health orders will be in force from Monday, 7th December.”

– Good news from SydneyAnglicans.net.

Encouragement in the midst of a challenging year

“It’s important to take moments to stop and reflect in order to see the ways God has worked in our lives. We want to celebrate how God has blessed churches, sustained and expanded ministries, and grown his kingdom this year. Join us in giving thanks for the year that has been!…”

– At SydneyAnglicans.net, Judy Adamson reminds us there is much for which we can be thankful.

Singing and Not-Singing in COVID Season

“Of all the restrictions necessitated by the COVID pandemic, one of the most frustrating, at least for most Christians, is not being able to sing together – either because we’re unable to meet together or because it’s not deemed safe for us to do so even if we are able to be together. Of course, not being able to sing together hasn’t killed us, and it won’t. But it has deprived and diminished us and, understandably, is deeply painful to many. …”

– Rob Smith writes at The Gospel Coalition Australia.

Also published at Latimer Trust.

See also:

Review: Come, Let Us Sing – Christopher Idle, at Church Society.

(Image: Rob Smith at St. Andrew’s Cathedral, courtesy Anglican Media Sydney.)

In the US – Winter is coming: COVID-19 forces hard choices for Churches

“TGC asked five pastors how they’ve been using the relative safety of outdoors, how the weather is a challenge, and how they’re thinking creatively about the changing seasons…”

A good reminder to pray for churches in the northern hemisphere as the weather gets colder.

Image: Sam Ferguson, Falls Church Anglican, Virginia.

Churches, Give People a Message of Hope

“Tom Holland is the spiderman of historians. His latest conversation with Glen Scrivener is well worth the listen for it includes more than a few intriguing thoughts in the web of ideas.

I really appreciate his thoughtfulness and honesty. It was this reflection by Holland that especially struck a chord with me. He said,

‘I felt that over the course of this year the churches have been a let down. I think that the experience of pandemic, it sets you to asking why is this happening…it raises profound issues of theodicy.’…

Holland isn’t knocking churches for talking about their buildings, social distancing and COVID-19 plans. He notes that these things are important. The overall presentation of Christianity that he has heard and seen over the last 6 months (and keep in mind Tom Holland is a studious observer of Christianity), the message he’s received is overall bland and uninspiring and offers little hope to a world he says is desperate for salvation.”

– Murray Campbell in Melbourne writes at The Gospel Coalition Australia.

Mask and number restrictions easing in churches

“Churches can now open to up to 300 people, subject to the 4m2rule and masks are no longer needed in services after talks with the State government on COVID safety…”

– The latest from Russell Powell at SydneyAnglicans.net.

Photo: Anglican Media Sydney.

Obeying government and obeying God

“The Bible’s teaching on our relationship to human authorities is quite clear. Those who govern us are set in place by God. …”

– In his column in the October 2020 Southern Cross, Archbishop Glenn Davies considers the relationship of Christians and the government – in these ‘COVID-19’ times.

Hopeful signs

This morning, Archbishop Glenn Davies tweets,

“I met with Minister Brad Hazzard yesterday. I assured him of our prayers as we all work together to stop COVID-19. We spoke about inconsistencies in current rules and he assured me that an announcement tomorrow will help churches better serve our communities.”

Update, 21 October 2020:

“From this Friday, the number of people who can attend religious gatherings will be lifted from 100 to 300, subject to the 4square-metre rule.”

ABC News.

Victoria: Churches locked out of Andrews pathway from lockdown

Here’s a media release from The Australian Christian Lobby:

Churches locked out of Andrews pathway from lockdown

19 October 2020

Victorians are relieved to see lockdown restrictions easing, but whilst retail and hospitality sectors can open from 2 November, churches and other faith communities remain in the dark about their future.

“From midnight 1 November, metropolitan hospitality venues can host 20 people indoors and regional venues 40,” ACL spokesperson Jasmine Yuen observed, “Yet church communities can not hold an indoor gathering.”

“In today’s daily press conference Premier Andrews justified the disparity by saying hospitality venues were heavily regulated. Allowing up to 40 strangers in a pub but zero members of a church community inside their own building is nonsensical and unjustifiable.

“The longer this trampling of freedom of worship goes on without making the specific epidemiological justifications public, the more it highlights how desperately religious freedom reform is needed.

“The sentiment of faith groups is clear, from a joint petition of 10,000 people of Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Presbyterian, Muslim and Hindu faiths, to 300 pastors and leaders who wrote to the Premier, all urging him to allow them to open. Faith groups provide an essential service for community health and mental wellbeing.

“Indoor church services with COVID-Safe Plans and contact tracing are safer than gatherings in public places. Churches have cooperated with the government for a long time to comply with the various protocols on food, hygiene, child safety, fire safety & emergency management et cetera. There is no reason why they can’t open in a COVID-Safe way just like restaurants and pubs.

“COVID-Safe church opening now is vitally important, particularly when people have been so lonely and isolated.

– ENDS.

Related:

295 church leaders urge Premier to open churches – 08 October 2020.

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