Coronavirus Updates

For further updates, see the Churches of Christ Vic/Tas Facebook page as well as the Generations Churches of Christ Vic/Tas Facebook page for Kids, Youth and Young Adults Leaders.

Are we missing something? 

This page is updated regularly. Please alert Kylie Kendall to important links or resources we may be missing. 

Updates


KEY UPDATE FOR AFFILIATES

It has been exciting to hear stories of what our Affiliates have been doing to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic with all its additional safety issues and the changing restrictions. 

We have seen many existing ministries placed on hiatus, many ministries adapt so they can continue, and many new ministries (or ways of doing ministry) thrive!  It is amazing to see the diversity and blessings that have come about through all these responses.

We also recognise that for many, this has been a time where faith has been challenged, and people have experienced a very difficult, lonely, and stressful time, and are therefore very eager to resume activities and gathering together (the way they used to) as soon as possible. 

Please go slowly and plan well for this – don’t rush in. Remember, just because you can doesn’t mean you should.  On top of acting within the legal restrictions, when considering if and how to resume gatherings Affiliates should proceed with caution, common sense, and with the health and safety of the most vulnerable in mind. In addition, many volunteers and program participants are still dealing with work and family situations that may make it difficult for them to resume their normal duties at church. So, go gently, knowing that God is working in your community, even if you aren’t doing church the way you used to!  

Here is a snapshot for those looking to resume small in-person worship services, bible studies, prayer meetings, and increasing numbers physically attending church to run the online services in Vic/Tas.  Please keep in mind the requirements of social distancing and good hygiene that apply to all our interactions as a first rule of safety.  Stay safe by maintaining good hygiene, keeping your distance from others and if you feel unwell stay home. Organisation must also take into account the four-square metre rule that limits the capacity of a venue/room, even if it is lower than the maximum allowed.

CCVT staff are available to assist you in working out if, when, and how to get gatherings back up and running.  Please get in touch if you need to talk through your situation or if you have questions.   

Victoria (effective 1 June 2020 – 22 June 2020)

Weddings: Maximum of 20 guests in addition to the celebrant and couple getting married. If a wedding is held in a home, a maximum of 20 people is allowed, including the celebrant and the couple.

Funerals: 50 people can attend a funeral in addition to the officiant and funeral staff, subject to the four square metre rule. If a funeral is held in a home, a maximum of 20 people can be present (including the officiant and funeral staff).

Gatherings at home: Up to 20 people in your home at any one time, including the members of your household. You should ensure appropriate physical distancing between yourself and visitors by keeping at least 1.5 metres between them and your household members, and practice good hygiene. You are not obliged to record people’s details if it is a private/personal gathering, but if this is a church gathering/ministry in a home, CCVT asks that you do record who is there in case they need to be contacted due to a positive COVID-19 test.

Gatherings at church property: Places of worship can open for private worship or small religious ceremonies for up to 20 people in a single undivided indoor space, subject to the four square metre rule plus the minimum number of people reasonably required to perform the service or ceremony.

Foodbank/Support Groups/Homeless Services: Affiliates who are hosting essential public support services such as food banks, support groups (e.g. AA, Family Violence etc), or help for the homeless can continue to operate. The 4 square metre rule and physical distancing must be observed in this type of facility for such programs. Support Groups specifically have a limit of 20 people in addition to those reasonably required to host/run the support group program.  

Food and drink facilities such as cafes: Affiliates Churches/agencies who run cafes etc must adhere to the restrictions on restaurants and cafes. Seated dining is now allowed for up to 20 patrons. Please see www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/restaurants-and-cafes-covid19 for more detailed requirements.

Men’s Shed: Up to 20 people in each separate space, in addition to those required to operate the facility and density requirements (one person per four square metres) are complied with.

Work: Where possible, work from home.

For more informationhttps://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/victorias-restriction-levels-covid-19 and https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/religion-and-ceremony-restrictions-covid-19

Tasmania (effective from now - 14 June 2020 subject to Public Health advice)

Tassie is currently in Stage 1 of its Roadmap to Recovery.

Weddings: Maximum of 10 people, not including the couple getting married and those required to facilitate the wedding. The 4 square metre rule and physical distancing must be observed. (Apologies for typo in prior email that said 20 people – it’s definitely 10!)

Funerals: Maximum of 20 people can attend an indoor funeral and 30 people can attend an outdoor funeral. Churches currently only need a COVID-19 Safety Plan if over 10 people are attending, but from 15 June 2020, all funerals will be required to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan.  

Gatherings at home: Maximum of 5 visitors in the home in addition to those who normally live there (even if it is a prayer group or other church activity - if it is a residential house then the 5 visitors rule applies).

Gatherings at church property: Maximum of 10 people (indoors and outdoors) in addition to staff or volunteers present to facilitate the service or ceremony. (Not including weddings/funerals – see above)

Work: Where possible, work from home.

For more information: https://coronavirus.tas.gov.au/families-community/gatherings/gatherings-faqshttps://coronavirus.tas.gov.au/families-community/current-restrictions, and https://coronavirus.tas.gov.au/families-community/roadmap-to-recovery

UPDATES FROM AFFILIATES

HOPE GROUPS

GO202 (Global Outreach Day), an international movement started from Germany, has just promoted our Hope Group training worldwide. Amazing! 

This should get us much closer to reaching our goal of training at least 500 Christians to start at least 100 Hope Groups in the next few months. 

Together Church are currently in discussion with the event organisers to run an online Zoom training session for potentially thousands of people in the second week of June... please pray that this comes about in reality.

Daniel Sih
Network Leader
Together Church

ST KILDA GATEHOUSE

At St Kilda Gatehouse we provide spaces of belonging, connection and safety for women involved in street based sex work in St Kilda, and with young women and girls affected by sexual exploitation. 

Many of those we support are tackling complex issues such as childhood trauma, addiction, homelessness, mental illness, poverty, family violence, and social isolation.

These past couple of months have been particularly difficult for the most disadvantaged and vulnerable in our community. Through our three programs we are experiencing an increase demand for a telehealth service, food, food parcels, toiletries, warm clothing, health and family violence referrals. 

And yet we are hearing on a daily basis just how lonely and isolated women and girls are feeling. Last week one woman said to me, “You know what Stace? Covid won’t kill me. Homelessness won’t kill me. Not even the drugs will kill me. But I reckon this loneliness will”.

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For 27 years St Kilda Gatehouse has provided spaces of belonging, dignity, connection and hope. Now more than ever it’s vital that our doors remain open. Thank you for your support, donations, encouragement and prayer. 

St Kilda Gatehouse is currently looking for Board members with finance / fundraising background. If you are interested, please contact us

Stacey Aslangul
CEO

RICHMOND VIETNAMESE CHURCH OF CHRIST

Richmond Vietnamese Church of Christ have been pumping out handmade face masks for the community!

Check out their work here

RESOURCES:

COVID-19 Family Ministry Roadmap: US based free resource for church leaders with practical ideas and tools to help you navigate the covid-19 reality

Domestic/Family Violence resources: The Safe & Together Institute have a range of resources available for case planning in the time of COVID-19, including virtual options for training and support.

Managing anxiety and stress: Black Dog Institute have a range of evidence-based resources available for anyone trying to manage feelings of anxiety and stress during this time.  

Expert tips for parents: UNICEF have teamed up with the Parenting for Lifelong Health initiative to bring parents and caregivers a set of tips for managing this 'new (temporary) normal'.

Humans Like Us: In recent weeks various agencies have published COVID-19 initiatives. Humans like us have collated all these initiatives, to present it in one single platform on their website. These videos, sound recordings and posters, in pictures and over 30 languages not widely available, explain the best way to wash your hands and keep safe from coronavirus.

Australian Institute of Family Studies - Resources for Families: COVID-19 has had a huge impact on family life. Children home from school, parents working from home, or out of work. Grandparents isolated. Illness and fears for health and safety. It is a stressful time, but it can also be an opportunity for families to pull together and strengthen the bonds between them.

My Hero Is You! A Storybook for kids: A new story book that aims to help children understand and come to terms with COVID-19 has been produced by a collaboration of more than 50 organizations working in the humanitarian sector, including the World Health Organization, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and Save the Children. With the help of a fantasy creature, Ario, “My Hero is You, How kids can fight COVID-19!” explains how children can protect themselves, their families and friends from coronavirus and how to manage difficult emotions when confronted with a new and rapidly changing reality.

PRO BONO ADVICE

If your church or agency needs legal or other advice: 
Pro bono Support from PwC
Justice Connect

STAY UP TO DATE

The aim of these emails is to keep you in the loop and up to date with the most relevant changes, information, and advice but of course it does not replace official Federal or State Government health advice.  

Please check the source links for more information if you are unsure how COVID-19 restrictions may impact your specific ministry activities.

COVID-19 is a constantly evolving situation, and all Affiliates are reminded to stay on top of the latest information. Learn more by referring to trusted sources, such as:

SMALL GROUPS

Easing of restrictions means many churches can now re-start small groups/bible studies/connect groups in people’s homes or on church property.

Gatherings at home: Maximum of 5 visitors in the home in addition to those who normally live there. 

Gatherings at church property: Maximum of 10 people at places of worship in addition to those reasonably required to run the facilities/program. 

In addition to the normal social distancing, hygiene, 4m2 rule etc, CCVT recommends first having an open discussion with your participants to make sure they are comfortable with attending.  

Increasing physical interactions is still a risk, and therefore many people may only want to mix with certain people at the beginning (e.g. extended family).  They may want to still limit physical interaction with friends.  All this to say that we should not assume that just because people can now meet, they will want to meet.  Let’s be respectful of the variety of choices and approaches our people will have and do our best to accommodate and support those who are self isolating. 

VIDEO FROM ROB NYHUIS, EO

Here is the link to the latest video from Rob Nyhuis, our CCVT Executive Officer.

VISITING RESIDENTIAL AGED CARE FACILITIES

Please remember to take your Flu Vaccination certificate or other proof of vaccination with you when visiting anyone at a nursing home or other residential aged care facilities.  

It is a government requirement that you have had the flu vax, but each facility will also have its own way of taking bookings, recording visitations, recording proof of vaccination, particulars re making exceptions to number of visitations etc, so please call ahead.

See attached pdf for more information on restrictions on entry to aged care facilities from the Australian Dept of Health.

CLEANING REQUIREMENTS

Community facilities and Places of Worship need to provide adequate time to clean their facilities between events/activities. If you are now starting to run bible study groups etc in homes, please ensure that the hosts also know how to properly clean and disinfect the space before and after people have attended. 

You must take all reasonable steps to ensure that:

  • frequently touched surfaces are cleaned at least twice on any given day;
  • surfaces are cleaned when visibly soiled;
  • if an event is to occur, a reasonable period of time has elapsed since the conclusion of any earlier event to allow for cleaning in between the events; and
  • surfaces are cleaned immediately after a spill on the surface.

To clean, a person must wipe the surface with a disinfectant:

  • the label of which states aclaim by the manufacturer that the disinfectant has anti-viral properties; or
  • made by a person according to instructions issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (see attached guide on cleaning and disinfecting).

Safe Work Australia have also provided some helpful advice on cleaning and disinfecting workplaces and helpful signage and posters

GUIDE TO RE-OPENING CHURCH SERVICES

It is always interesting to see how other churches and Christian organisations around the world respond to situations.  The Humanitarian Disaster Institute and National Association of Evangelicals in the USA has released a step-by-step, biblically-based and research-based approach to resuming in-person ministries via the website https://www.reopeningthechurch.com (attached as a pdf so you don’t have to download it).  This resource (and the others on their site) may help your church do the same when the appropriate time comes – at the very least it is food for thought as we think about the needs of our local communities. Obviously ignore the American references and always follow the regulations and advice from your local state government regarding your particular situation.

AFFILIATES:

WILLIAMSTOWN CHURCH OF CHRIST:

Mainly Music which is now online asked its 15 participating families to just make a contribution and not its required fees in order to support the families in this environment. MM received donations of $450 that recognises the value of the Program and to ensure its continuation.

Helping Hand Café has experienced new clients accessing food parcels in addition to the usual clients who attend the Café for company and cooked meal. This is providing an expansion of Helping Hand ministry to the community of Hobsons Bay.

Frank Morabito
Treasurer
Williamstown Church of Christ

BORONIA/BAYSWATER CHURCH OF CHRIST:

A team of 'can do' people who have adapted so well! 

  • Worship tracks recorded for online worship
  • Sermons pre-recorded and uploaded to YouTube
  • Daily Devotions recorded on Facebook
  • Easter services including children’s participation rendered and uploaded.
  • Zoom staff meetings, Small groups, Prayer groups picnics, Hub Clubs, Kids Quest, Emerge Youth and church services run online.
  • Skits recorded on zoom
  • Interviews recorded on Zoom.
  • Pastoral care on zoom.
  • Church in a bag (DVD/USB) communion, morning tea and coffee provided to homes.
  • The Hub Café has adapted to provide meals for families at an affordable cost and has maintained its costs.

A particular great leadership moment was from Kate Alexander (Generations & Youth/Y.A communications) and the leadership team who trialled meeting in person and over zoom for Wednesday Night Formation (Wednesday service). This involved having the appropriate numbers following restrictions, bean bags for 1.5 metre seating, and a zoom community of the rest of the congregation. Kate and the team set up two zoom screens so we could see the person leading and the rest of the group from zoom in our home and put the online crew on the screen at different times. A highlight for people to come together, and a creative expression of leadership of having in person and online at once!

Looking ahead:

  • Continue to stream Church services online. This has had a great success, and we believe that we have maintained many of our church community members through this service. 
  • Launch Communion Connect (in person or over zoom) through our small group networks. The idea behind this is that people are missing the chance to participate in communion with others regularly.

Laura Young
Associate Minister (Youth)
Boronia Community Church of Christ

WARRAGUL CHURCH OF CHRIST

Our new full-time Generations Pastor started last Sunday - we did an induction by zoom! 

We have adapted to COVID-19 by pre-recording segments of services (Mission Focus, Communion, Songs, Kids and Message) and sending that out as a 'premiere' on YouTube Sunday at 10 with DVDs delivered to those without online connections. 

The Youth had a 'discord' room space to interact and pastoral follow up with email, zoom and good old fashioned snail mail cards and encouragements have been sent out.

We have used wetransfer.com to send files created by church members, (Missions Posts, Pastoral Prayers, Tributes for members who had passed away during lockdown and of course songs). 

These have been compiled by one of the worship team (Michael Bellingham) where a master track has been sent to a group of people (created by his wife on piano) and they play or sing their part using headphones to stay in time, and send that back, and he combines it and saves a video that we use on Sundays.

Chris Rowney
Team Leader
Warragul Church of Christ

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CHELSEA COMMUNITY CHURCH OF CHRIST

We have chosen to wait till we can have 20 people before starting services again, but we have restarted our bible study/prayer meeting as we only have 8 people and can sit in the chapel within required distances. It went really well and the ladies loved it!

We did a debrief, shared what we were thankful for in isolation, and what challenges we had. We talked about how to pray about those challenges. Then we read two translations of Jesus walking on the water and Peter first having faith then taking his eyes off Jesus, which opened up more sharing on people's faith during this pandemic. It was well worth it. 

Judi Turnham
Minister
Chelsea Community Church of Christ

STAY UP TO DATE

COVID-19 is a constantly evolving situation, and all Affiliates are reminded to stay on top of the latest information. Learn more by referring to trusted sources, such as:

KEY UPDATE FOR AFFILIATES

Physical distancing measures are still in place across Australia, however, some states and territories are revising restrictions. 

Here is a snapshot for those looking to resume small in-person worship services, bible studies, prayer meetings, and increasing numbers physically attending church to run the online services in Vic/Tas. 

Please keep in mind the requirements of social distancing and good hygiene that apply to all our interactions as a first rule of safety.  

Organisation must also take into account the four-square metre rule that limits the capacity of a venue/room, even if it is lower than the maximum allowed.

Victoria (effective 12 May 2020 - 31 May 2020)

Weddings: Maximum of 10 guests in addition to the celebrant and couple getting married.

Funerals: Maximum of 20 mourners (indoors) and 30 mourners (outdoors) in addition to the officiant or funeral staff.

Gatherings at home: Maximum of 5 visitors in the home in addition to those who normally live there (even if it is a prayer group or other church activity - if it is a residential house then the 5 visitors rule applies).

Gatherings at church property: Maximum of 10 people at places of worship in addition to those reasonably required to run the facilities/program. The 4 square metre rule and physical distancing must be observed.

Work: Where possible, work from home.

Foodbank/Homeless Services: Churches and agencies who are hosting essential public support services such as food banks, support groups (e.g. AA, Family Violence etc), or help for the homeless can continue to operate. The 4 square metre rule and physical distancing must be observed in this type of facility for such programs. Support Groups specifically have a limit of 10 people in addition to those reasonably required to host/run the support group program.  

Food and drink facilities such as cafes: take away only

For more information go to: www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/gradual-easing-restrictions-covid-19 
and www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/stay-home-restrictions-coronavirus 
and www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/sport-cultural-and-recreational-activities-restrictions-coronavirus-covid19#religious-services-and-places-of-worship

Tasmania

Tassie is currently in Stage 1 of its Roadmap to Recovery

Weddings: Effective 11 May 2020, weddings increase from maximum 5 people, including the couple, the celebrant and the witnesses to maximum of 10 people. The 4 square metre rule and physical distancing must be observed.

Funerals: Effective 11 May 2020, up to 20 people can attend, not including the funeral director and staff. Effective 18 May 2020, up to 30 people can attend an outdoor funeral. Churches currently only need a COVID-19 Safety Plan if over 10 people are attending, but from 15 June 2020, all funerals will be required to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan.  

Gatherings at home: Maximum of 5 visitors in the home in addition to those who normally live there (even if it is a prayer group or other church activity - if it is a residential house then the 5 visitors rule applies).

Gatherings at church property: Effective 18 May 2020, gatherings increase to a maximum of 10 people (indoors and outdoors).

Work: Where possible, work from home.

For more information go to: https://coronavirus.tas.gov.au/families-community/gatherings/gatherings-faqs 
and https://coronavirus.tas.gov.au/families-community/roadmap-to-recovery

HOW TO APPLY THE 4 SQUARE METRES RULE

The capacity of the room or space (defined as a single undivided indoor space) is limited to 1 person for every 4 square metres.  E.g.: if an indoor space is 8.5 metres long and 4.5 metres wide, its total area is 38.25 square metres. 38.25 divided by 4 is 9.56, so no more than 9 people would be permitted to be in the indoor space at the same time (round down to nearest whole number).

SIGNAGE REQUIREMENTS

Community facilities and Places of Worship need to display a sign at each public entry to any single undivided indoor space that says what the maximum capacity is based on the 4 square metres rule. You may have different signs for different rooms. 

A simple A4 sheet that says “Due to COVID-19 restrictions the maximum amount of people allowed in this room is __” will suffice. Click here to see template.

CLEANING REQUIREMENTS

Community facilities and Places of Worship need to provide adequate time to clean their facilities between events/activities.

You must take all reasonable steps to ensure that:

  • frequently touched surfaces are cleaned at least twice on any given day;
  • surfaces are cleaned when visibly soiled;
  • if an event is to occur, a reasonable period of time has elapsed since the conclusion of any earlier event to allow for cleaning in between the events; and
  • surfaces are cleaned immediately after a spill on the surface.

To clean, a person must wipe the surface with a disinfectant:

  • the label of which states a claim by the manufacturer that the disinfectant has anti-viral properties; or
  • made by a person according to instructions issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (see this guide on cleaning and disinfecting).

Safe Work Australia have also provided some helpful advice on cleaning and disinfecting workplaces and helpful signage and posters

PROVIDING A COVID SAFE WORKPLACE ENVIRONMENT

All workplaces are now being asked to develop a COVIDSafe plan.

Safe Work Australia offers guidelines and information across 23 industries so that businesses can return to work in a COVID safe environment. A helpful page for churches to use is the small business but you should consider this based on your actual size, activities and programs. Their COVID-19 resource kit contains lots of resources you can download and display in the workplaces, including checklists, infographics, fact sheets for industry and posters on handwashing, hygiene and physical distancing.

You can also go to the COVID-19 Safe Workplaces Framework for template plans and resources such as the checklist attached to this email.  It’s Tassie sourced but may work for Victorian Affiliates as well.

RECORDING CONTACT DETAILS

Organisations hosting weddings, funerals or ceremonies must request basic contact info from attendees so that in the event that someone tests positive, other can be contacted quickly.

Record first name, phone number, date and time of attendance at the facility. Keep for 28 days then destroy. 

It is not compulsory that an attendee give you this information, but you must ask (except if it is a support group as anonymity may be an important part of the program).

This is good practice for all church and affiliate events where possible, not just weddings and funerals and ceremonies, but be sensible about it and explain what you are asking so that people understand its purpose.

COVIDSAFE APP

The COVIDSafe app speeds up contacting people exposed to coronavirus (COVID-19). This helps health officials support and protect you, your friends and family. The app is now available from the Apple App Store and Google Play.

As part of your COVIDSafe practices, please remind people to open the app on their phones and make it active when gathering for church or agency purposes. This will help ensure those using the app get maximum benefit from it. You cannot require people to have it or use it, but it’s good to remind people to activate it when meeting together.

WORKPLACE HEALTH AND SAFETY FOR NOT-FOR-PROFITS WITH FRONT LINE WORKERS

Join lawyers Kaela Hughes and Daniel Komesaroff from Justice Connect for a 30 minute webinar that may be of interest to Coordinators/Ministers providing front line essential services.

This FREE webinar will:

  • provide an overview of your legal obligations when it comes to ​the safety ​of your workers
  • help your organisation understand key workplace health and safety issues relevant to essential frontline workers ​during the COVID-19 epidemic
  • give you practical tips to manage these risks - ​protecting both your workers and your organisation

Click here to access the recording: https://nfplaw.org.au/covid-19-webinar-workplace-health-and-safety-not-profits-front-line-workers

COMMUNITY CARE ‘CAREWORKS’ GRANTS FOR COVID-19 RELATED COMMUNITY INITIATIVES

Community Care will extend its 2020 grant budget to consider requests for grants of up to $10,000. This will be for the funding of community initiatives by Affiliates to assist people in need as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Such initiatives would include foodbanks, essential provisions, and other related initiatives eligible for Community Care funding.

Eligibility for this grant campaign is for CCVT Affiliates who meet the ACNC benevolent criteria, which states funds need to be applied to an identifiable target group which is recognizably in need of assistance because of poverty, sickness, disability, destitution, suffering, misfortune, helplessness, or other kinds of distress (as specified by the ACNC’s PBI Interpretation Statement Item 5). 

Successful Affiliates with existing benevolent programs will need to provide evidence that these have been subject to financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 and that the identified benevolent service can be delivered to its community.

Triage Framework 

CCVT has implemented a wholistic approach to assisting affiliates through this season. A suite of support services and other funding are on offer. Please email Michael Vanderree at mvanderree@churchesofchrist.org.au to indicate your interest.

If you select ‘Community Care Support for Projects’ in the ‘Affiliate Self-Assessment’ you will be referred to Jo Antoni to obtain the CareWorks Guidelines and Application Form. 

THE INSTITUTE OF COMMUNITY DIRECTORS AUSTRALIA

ICDA is giving the not-for-profit sector access to a library of capacity building resources to help you stay afloat until we get to the other side of COVID-19.

This includes free webinars, help sheets, and policy templates (many of you may already be familiar with their Policy Bank of free templates and sample policies).

Look up topics such as What should I do about my AGM in the midst of COVID-19? and Working from home during the pandemic: Guidelines for not-for-profits

INTERGENERATE AUSTRALIAN CONFERENCE

The Intergenerate Australian Conference on 16-17 June 2020 is going online! Speakers include Caesar Kalinowski, Dr Holly Allen, Christina Embree, John Roberto, Don McLafferty, Liz Perraud and more.

$50 - Full two day ONLINE registration

Click here to register: www.intergenerate.com.au/events

AROUND OUR CHURCHES:

Hobart City Church of Christ:

As soon as restrictions prevented us from meeting in person, we decided to produce a weekly pre-recorded worship service.  And so, after seeking advice from other Churches of Christ around the country, we converted the Youth Lounge into a recording studio and have been using only a mobile phone and a flat screen TV to record our services.  Our worship band, depending on restrictions have recorded music each week – whether in twos in loungerooms – or now as a larger group – to develop a database should we ever need to go down this path again.  

After editing, rendering, and compressing – the worship service is uploaded to our YouTube Channel and burnt to DVD so that the 20 or so in our community who do not have internet access can also worship using the same resources. 

Our children's ministry has also gone online, with weekly videos and activity packs being utilised with the kids being encouraged to share and connect via a closed Facebook Group through their parent's accounts.  What we have seen is more families worshipping together and engaging in the kids' ministry together. 

While our attendance on Sundays hovered around 100, engagement with the digital ministry is closer to 200.  We even had a family from rural Eyre Peninsula in South Australia find us via YouTube, engage in worship and then want to give an offering to support the ministry.  

While we are socially distanced, God has been socially connecting us in new and exciting ways. 

Simon Clemow
Senior Pastor

 

City Heart Church of Christ (formerly Stawell CoC)

Lockdown is the perfect time to finally do stuff that were previously put off to a "better time".....well, that time is now! 

Terry Dunn, minister in Stawell put his handy-person skills to work, repairing the old floor in the church, taking full advantage of the church being closed to people. While at it, he built a new sound booth. "Been waiting around 3 yrs. to have the time to do that. I just love the way our God plans our path. We are determined to prosper in the times we are presented with. Hard times are only as bad as you let them be I think", says Terry. What more, weave prayer into the physical work, and draw lessons like "when building a church foundation come first". 

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We would love to know how your church or agency is adapting to the current crisis, and how God is moving and working within your community in big and small ways – email us at safeplaces@churchesofchrist.org.au so we can be an encouragement to one another.

STAY UP TO DATE

COVID-19 is a constantly evolving situation, and all Affiliates are reminded to stay on top of the latest information. Learn more by referring to trusted sources, such as:

CCVT NEWS RELEASE:
COVID-19 FINANCIAL RELIEF FOR CCVT AFFILIATES

The CCVT Board and staff have been hard at work in recent weeks, looking at ways that we can practically assist and work with our churches and agencies to support their ongoing ministry given the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis.

A framework for CCVT assistance with the associated financial hardship is now available to CCVT-affiliated churches and agencies which consists of the following four key components.

  1. Financial relief for CCVT Ministry Contributions, CCFS loan repayments, and CCI insurance premiums.
  2. Initiation of the ‘Joseph Fund’ to provide financial relief in supporting ministers’ stipends where Affiliates face substantial reductions in giving due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. Additional Community Care ‘CareWorks’ funding for the current community initiatives of affiliated churches or agencies.
  4. Discounted pricing for ‘ChurchWorx’ accounting and payroll services to assist Affiliates with financial reporting, payroll and access to external relief such as government funding.

Please see the attached PDF for further details, including how your church or agency can access support. 

Watch a video from Rob Nyhuis, CCVT Executive Officer

Please ensure all members of your senior leadership team are aware of this support, as not everyone receives these update emails.

JOBKEEPER PAYMENTS

The Government has passed legislation for the $130 billion JobKeeper Payment to keep more Australians in jobs.  Under the JobKeeper Payment, eligible businesses and not-for-profits significantly impacted by the Coronavirus outbreak will be able to access a wage subsidy of $1,500 per fortnight per employee for 6 months (from 30 March 2020 till 27 September 2020).

Affiliates who meet the employer eligibility criteria and wish to participate in the program will need to register their interest via the Australian Tax Office website

Please register before 26 April 2020 to access support from its first available payment. Click here to read more.

This helpful article by Saward Dawson also helps to explain it: www.sawarddawson.com.au/business/articles/jobkeeper-payment

If you need specific advice on how the JobKeeper payment works in relation to ministry stipends, please email Jason Patar or Kevin Pang at CCVT or call 03 9488 8800.

CCVT CLUSTERS

For a number of years CCVT has promoted regional clusters as a means of helping Ministers stay connected and providing encouragement and support to those in ministry within the same geographical region.

Zoom clusters are now doing the same thing but without the challenges of distance.

A few clusters have already been set up for Senior/Team Leaders and solo Pastors and we will soon be hosting more, including for ministry associates. Each cluster is capped at 15 people to encourage high engagement for conversation.

The plan is to roll these out over a number of weeks so stay tuned for an email invite hitting your inbox, or if you need immediate info, please contact Michael Vanderree on 0438 754 770 or mvanderree@churchesofchrist.org.au

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HOPE GROUPS - A SIMPLE WAY TO MOBILISE YOUR CHURCH ON MISSION

Do you need a practical way to help your congregation reach out to their unchurched friends at "such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14).

If so, we invite you to register for Hope Groups training!

This initiative, started by Together Church in Tasmania, is gaining momentum across Australia. They are offering free training for any Christian who is willing to invite their unchurched friends to experience hope and help through the teachings of Jesus. 

A Hope Group is a group of 2-3 people who meet online each week to experience hope, help and community with friends and neighbours who do not yet know Jesus (see flyer attached).  It follows a simple format: say what we're thankful for, what is a challenge, read a scripture of hope from the life of Jesus, commit to helping a friend in need, and close with a short prayer. Easy!

These groups are specifically designed to help people who feel socially isolated during a pandemic.

Dozens of Hope Groups have popped up in the last 2 weeks across Tasmania, Victoria, Queensland... even Germany and Canada! They plan to train 100 people a week and would love you to visit the Together Network website and register for the free 1.5 hour training.

Click here to register for training: www.togethernetwork.com.au/training.

Click here to view the Together Network website (an initiative of Together Church): www.togethernetwork.com.au

HOUSE CHURCH PLANTING WEBINAR

A free one day webinar designed to equip anyone in the planting of healthy reproducible house churches. HCP is very simple and helps even a new believer to understand the basics of how to share the Gospel and gather believers. The training will be delivered via Zoom. Click here to view the flyer.

John Bond and Daron Crothers are Churches of Christ ministers in Western Australia. Besides being experienced course facilitators for DCPI International, they are pastors and more importantly, passionate practicing church planters themselves.

Registration closes Thursday 7 May 2020 so please book in here asap. For more Information, contact Daron at info@dcpi-asep.org or 0402 448 552

Please let Philip Kua of our office know if you are registering pkua@churchesofchrist.org.au so that he can also follow up with you afterwards.

ALPHA AND ALPHA YOUTH – NOW ONLINE

Did you know you can run Alpha and Alpha Youth online?

Alpha is a tool built for local churches. Alpha is a series of interactive sessions exploring the basics of the Christian faith. Typically run over eight to eleven weeks, each session looks at a different question around faith, and the talks are designed to create conversation in small groups afterwards. 

It’s totally free, it’s run all over the globe, and everyone’s welcome.  TO find a group, or learn more about running your own, check out www.alpha.org.au/online for more information.

AROUND OUR CHURCHES:

It has been so encouraging to hear the positive stories coming out of our churches during COVID-19:

Mornington Church of Christ have started a Lunchtime Bible Study on Zoom looking at the story of Job. They have had some great take up, including a guy who is still working who joins in from work during his break. A great opportunity for a ministry you can start now but which can also continue when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

Ringwood Church of Christ are hosting a Virtual Foyer after the Sunday service where the congregation is invited to join a Zoom session to meet and mingle after church. It is well received with really high take up.

Ballarat Central Church of Christ have a fairly low tech church, so Tim has started using www.freeconference.com which enables people to join meetings by phone or by web, share your screen, and chat, all for free. This is how they are doing church and people are joining in. If the church purchases a licence then they get a toll free number which is great for people will limited resources.

Carnegie Church have converted their back hall into a functioning studio for recording and live-streaming.

  • Normal Sunday attendance at worship services is around 50, they have been getting weekly hits on their live stream of about 140.
  • Samantha’s Playgroup that normally has 20 mums attending, has been getting 85 hits per week on live stream.
  • Offerings during recent weeks have been up an average of $600.00 per week.
  • In recent times have seen salvations and the Holy Spirit moving powerfully as people are set free.  

We would love to know how your church or agency is adapting to the current crisis, and how God is moving and working within your community in big and small ways – email us at safeplaces@churchesofchrist.org.au so we can be an encouragement to one another.

STAY UP TO DATE

COVID-19 is a constantly evolving situation, and all Affiliates are reminded to stay on top of the latest information. Learn more by referring to trusted sources, such as:

FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR AFFILIATES EXPERIENCING HARDSHIP DUE TO CORONAVIRUS

Churches of Christ Vic Tas (CCVT) and Churches of Christ Financial Services (CCFS) want our churches and agencies to know that you are not alone in the current crisis.

Currently, CCFS is offering support on a case by case basis and have a range of measures being presented to our board for their consideration. CCFS encourages any church that may be experiencing financial hardship due to the Coronavirus to contact the CCFS office to apply for a loan repayment review

This will help CCFS work in partnership with your church to ensure your funds can be used most effectively for the continued ministry of Church of Christ churches in their communities.

The CCFS office can be contacted during business hours via the Contact Us link on this website or alternatively, you can discuss options with your Relationship Manager whose contact details can be found here.

In addition, CCVT will soon be offering some relief to Affiliates on the current Ministry Contributions and further details will be available shortly, as will more specific information on other forms of financial assistance for Affiliates.

JOBKEEPER PAYMENTS

The Government has passed legislation for the $130 billion JobKeeper Payment to keep more Australians in jobs.  Under the JobKeeper Payment, eligible businesses and not-for-profits significantly impacted by the Coronavirus outbreak will be able to access a wage subsidy of $1,500 per fortnight per employee until 27 September 2020. This assistance will help businesses to keep people in their jobs and re-start when the crisis is over. For employees, this means they can keep their job and earn an income.

Affiliates who meet the employer eligibility criteria and wish to participate will need to register their interest via the Australian Tax Office website. Click here to read more.

See the JobKeeper FAQ doc attached or click here to read this and other factsheets online.  

If you need specific advice on how the JobKeeper payment works in relation to ministry stipends, please email Jason Patar or Kevin Pang at CCVT.

AFFLIATES AND COMMERICAL TENANCIES

National Cabinet agreed to a moratorium on evictions over the next six months for commercial and residential tenancies in financial distress who are unable to meet their commitments due to the impact of coronavirus. Commercial tenants, landlords and financial institutions are encouraged to sit down together to find a way through to ensure that businesses can survive and be there on the other side.

The National Cabinet has agreed that states and territories will implement a mandatory Code of Conduct for commercial tenancies. The purpose of this Code of Conduct (“the Code”) is to impose a set of good faith leasing principles for application to commercial tenancies (including retail, office and industrial) between owners/operators/other landlords and tenants, where the tenant is an eligible business for the purpose of the Commonwealth Government’s JobKeeper programme. These principles will apply to negotiating amendments in good faith to existing leasing arrangements – to aid the management of cashflow for SME tenants and landlords on a proportionate basis – as a result of the impact and commercial disruption caused by the economic impacts of industry and government responses to the declared Coronavirus (“COVID-19”) pandemic.

If you require support or advice with regard to your commercial lease, please contact your local managing real-estate agent (where applicable) as they will have resources available to guide you in this time. Where this is not possible please feel free to call Robert Palma at CCVT. 

STREAMING SERVICES

As you know, the general rule is to stay at home unless you are:

  • going to work or education (if you are unable to do so at home)
  • shopping for essential supplies such as groceries, return home without delay
  • going out for personal exercise in the neighbourhood, on your own or with one other
  • attending medical appointments or compassionate visits

From 3 April, churches and other places of worship, are considered ‘places of work’ so services can be streamed to the community. This will ensure that religious services remain accessible to congregations. Services may be conducted and streamed providing:

  • only essential staff (paid or volunteer) are present
  • the venue/facility remains closed to the public
  • social distancing principles are adhered to — 1 person per 4 square metres

Reminder: attending a workplace is only allowed if you are unable to work from home – please move towards enabling your ministry staff to work from home wherever possible, including the streaming of services.  It may be more convenient to use the church but gathering together increases risk to health.

Whenever you are out of the home, everyone should always practice good physical distancing and hand hygiene but this is especially important for people over the age of 70, those over 65 years who have existing health concerns, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the aged of 50 who have existing health concerns. These groups should limit the contact with others as much as possible when away from home. 

Source: https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/how-to-protect-yourself-and-others-from-coronavirus-covid-19/limits-on-public-gatherings-for-coronavirus-covid-19#nonessential-gatherings

HILLSONG MUSIC AND LICENCING

Please see this info sheet from Hillsong about use of their music in your online streaming of services.

CCLI (AUS)

Christian Copyright Licensing, Inc. (CCLI) enables real-time access to licensed Christian music and media while at once easing the burden of administration in the many complex issues related to copyright. 

They have a solution for Churches who want to stay connected by streaming the worship service, including music. CCLI negotiated a pricing structure for the Church Streaming License that is very low to provide you as much support as possible.

Even if you already have an existing CCLI licence, we recommend you double check that you have the right one as there are a few options to choose from. 

An update from CCLI about the coronavirus can be found here: https://au.ccli.com/coronavirus.

ONLINE SAFETY

There has been an increase in COVID-19 themed cyber activity towards websites designed to either install software or steal personal information and banking details. Learn more about protecting yourself against cybercrime, or report a cybercrime.

There are a number of resources and articles being developed to assist churches with running online ministry safely: https://safeministrycheck.com.au/practising-safe-ministry-online-during-the-covid-19-pandemic.

The office of the eSafety Commissioner provides some excellent resources for all ages on keeping safe online; very timely in what has fast become a new digital environment for many of us.  

ACCESSIBILITY OF ONLINE CHURCH SERVICES AND RESOURCES

There are some amazing recordings, podcasts and livestreaming church services hitting the web every week – but not all of them are easy to find, especially to those who are not experienced in this sort of thing! 

Please make sure they are easily found on your church website – aim for one click from front page to service/resource.

EMERGENCY RELIEF RESOURCES

If you have people in your community who need assistance with essentials, here are some resources you can direct them towards or assist them to access.

Steeple Grocery Packs: 
Help feed some of the most vulnerable, isolated and at risk people in our communities by purchasing a Steeple Coffee Grocery Box Subscription, buying a one off pack for yourself or for one of our friends at Servant’s Housing!

Ask Izzy:
Click here to see what services are available for people in your local area (based on postcode).  Includes food pantries, community meals, housing, health, counselling, and many more services.

Vic Govt:
Emergency Relief Packages For Victorians Who Need It Most: If you are in mandatory self-isolation (with no support network) you can receive 2 weeks supply of essential goods. Contact the coronavirus hotline on 1800 675 398. The hotline can also refer to other support services.

Priority grocery delivery:
To ensure vulnerable customers in the community have access to delivery services at this time, Woolworths and Coles will be providing a Priority Assistance service. Eligible customers include seniors, people with a disability and those with compromised immunity or who are required to self isolate. For more information go to Woolworth Priority Assistance and Coles Online Priority Service.

Basic grocery boxes for $80 including delivery:
The Woolworths Basics Box and Coles Community Box are designed to help provide essential products for customers who are currently unable to visit stores and are in genuine need.  It helps provide meals, snacks and a few essential items you may need, including toilet paper.

Delivered via Australia Post. You can now order on behalf of someone in your family or community who is in genuine need.

INCREASED RISK OF FAMILY/DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Ministers and other pastoral carers are reminded to be aware of the increased risk for family violence during this difficult time. The COVID-19 outbreak and self-isolation requirements may impact individuals and families within your faith community and the wider community. There may be financial pressure, family tensions or a heightened sense of uncertainty and anxiety. No matter what the external stressors, violence should not be tolerated. Please familiarise yourself with the services in your area and always call 000 if someone in immediate danger.

Vic: Family violence crisis response and support during coronavirus
Tas: Family Violence Counselling and Support Services
National: 1800Respect

NUBEENA CHURCH OF CHRIST

Nubeena Church of Christ are on local radio each Sunday at 10am (until Covid19 lockdown is over)! You can tune in to 97.7 Tasman FM on your internet to join in the service and hear Pastor Keith Marsh share messages of hope in Christ.

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PRAYER

Just a reminder that CCVT staff meet online every week and pray for our Affiliates and their leaders and communities. We would love to hear about your prayer needs.

It has been great to hear that many churches and individuals have been in prayer throughout the coronavirus crisis. Whilst the official campaign for daily 7pm prayer finished at Easter, it would be wonderful to see people continuing to intercede for local communities, church leaders, front-line medical workers and those in our nation hardest hit by this virus.

We would greatly appreciate receiving any stories related to online services, community support or prayer that we could share with the CCVT family. Please forward any contributions by email to ccvt@churchesofchrist.org.au.

NATIONAL CORONAVIRUS HELPLINE

If you or people within your church/agency have questions or concerns about coronavirus you can call the National Coronavirus Helpline for information and advice. The line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Ph: 1800 020 080

Please remember that the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) is there to help people who do not speak English connect with the National Hotline and other services. Ph: 131 450

STAY UP TO DATE

COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving situation, and all Affiliates are reminded to stay on top of the latest information. Learn more by referring to trusted sources, such as:

Along with the email updates, the CCVT website has a new Coronavirus page at www.churchesofchrist.org.au/coronavirus. Please bookmark this to your browser. If you have any resources or suggestions for this page, please email safeplaces@churchesofchrist.org.au with details.

KEY UPDATE - CCVT AGM POSTPONEMENT

Earlier this week, the CCVT Board resolved unanimously to postpone this year’s CCVT Inc AGM due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19.

When the 2020 Summit was recently cancelled, the intention was nevertheless to hold this meeting electronically on 12th May, facilitated by proxy votes. The societal changes of recent weeks and possibilities of further disruption to people’s lives do mean, however, that an AGM would seem a little out of place in the short term. With all that our Affiliates are managing in this complicated time, we don't want to add pressure for what are, while important, simply standard business matters, so that you can focus on what matters most.

We have applied to Consumer Affairs Victoria for a three-month extension and may postpone further if needed. Even though discussing 2019 possibly within the August to November window will seem unusual, the year we are in is clearly atypical.  When the meeting does occur, it may still need to take place online in some form, but this will become clearer in time.

Unfortunately, this means that the proposed affiliations of new churches and agencies will be unable to occur yet, but these organisations will remain in relationship with us. Also, this means the CCVT Board Election is delayed, and nominated candidates have been contacted about this. This necessitates the current Board, inclusive of its two renominating members, continuing to serve for now in the interests of minimising disruptions and maintaining continuity in the current crisis. It is intended that the annual report which was being prepared to be released next week would be distributed, along with other AGM documentation, in advance of the new AGM date once it is set.

We will abide by the principles of timing, communicating, and planning stated in the CCVT Inc Constitution for our AGM as much as possible around the necessary accommodations being made due to COVID-19.

I would be happy to address any questions or concerns regarding these arrangements and appreciate your patience as we navigate this season which has already had a significant effect on a number of our churches and agencies, even though it has also inspired great responses and innovation. I will communicate soon on some specific ways in which CCVT proposes to assist Affiliates in the months ahead.

I wish you and your community a blessed and significant Easter weekend of worship as you honour Christ’s sacrifice. We continue to worship and live as the Church in action, despite the unavailability of our buildings at present. May our witness to His resurrection life within continue to help our light shine in dark places as we build hope and compassion in our world.

Please be assured of the high commitment all CCVT Board and Staff have to supporting you to the best of our ability, and that you all remain in our prayers.

Rob Nyhuis
Executive Officer
Churches of Christ Vic/Tas

COVID-19 PRAYER

National church leaders were encouraging congregations all over Australia to pray daily from 1900 hours for 19 minutes about COVID-19 until the Easter weekend. While it would be wonderful to see people continue in prayer, this particular initiative is concluding on Sunday. 

We sincerely appreciate everyone’s ongoing commitment to regular prayer, however, and trust that you will continue to intercede for medical workers and others on the frontlines, as well as for those across our nation who have been hit hardest by this virus. 

CAREWORKS GRANTS

In the present COVID-19 climate we understand delivery of your benevolent program(s) would be significantly impacted.

If you were a successful recipient of a CareWorks grant, we welcome conversation. Please update us on the present status of the funded program.

Contact Joanne Antoni and David Ratten on (03) 9488 8800 or email careworks@churchesofchrist.org.au

NEWS FROM OUR AFFILIATES

BERWICK CHURCH OF CHRIST 

Our brothers and sisters at Berwick have experienced the harsh reality of COVID-19 in the past few weeks, with the death of a beloved member of the church family and multiple Pastors testing positive.

  • Church member Angelita Costanilla passed away on Tuesday 7th April after a short period of hospitalisation. Angelita is Pastor Michael Rojales' mother-in-law who has been living with Michael and his family for the past 19 years. 
  • Pastor Michael remains in ICU after nearly 2 weeks. Doctors are slowly weaning him off the ventilator as his oxygen levels gradually improve.
  • Rachel Rojales (Michael's wife) who has just lost her mother, was discharged from hospital on Tuesday and continues to recover in isolation at home.
  • Senior Pastor Braam was discharged from hospital on Monday and is also continuing his recovery in isolation at home.
  • Pastor Mat Daniels and his wife Meagan, who were both also positive to COVID-19, were not hospitalised and are recovering slowly at home.

While it is unclear when the affected pastors will be able to return to full duties, the church community has been united with much prayer, fasting and practical support for their beloved pastors and their families.

Berwick Church is convinced that God has worked, and continues to do so, through their earnest prayers. Please join with them in prayer.

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CELEBRATE MESSIAH

Mark the significance of this Easter season, the story of Redemption through Christ, and join Celebrate Messiah in their Virtual Passover Seder on 9 April 2020 @ 6:30 pm! 

Lawrence Hirsch, Executive Director of Celebrate Messiah and Rabbi of Beit HaMashiach Messianic Congregation will host the online event from his own home in the heart of Jewish Melbourne.

They will be streaming live on their websiteFacebook and on YouTube.

Celebrate Messiah will help you to prepare a Passover Seder in your own home with set-up guidelines, Passover recipes and a Messianic Passover Haggadah for you to download. And, if you like, you can purchase our Passover kits to have your own Seder Plate and Matzah cover.

Join them from the comfort and safety of your own dining room and use this opportunity to tell the story of God’s redemption of his people by the blood of the Lamb! Let’s get the word out and invite others to attend. Let’s be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us (1Pet 3:15).

This may be the largest Virtual Passover in Australia’s history!

Couldn’t watch live? Don’t worry, they will leave the Passover Seder online for you to view when you get the chance at www.celebratemessiah.com.au/live

VETA YOUTH 

Veta Youth has released Workbook 1 of our Year 7-10 discipleship resource, free of charge, for the remainder of 2020. This resource covers the Gospel of Mark over 8 weeks and supports leaders and students to engage in purposeful discipleship. It works well in online groups.

To gain access to this material, please click here. Feel free to contact Rohan Waters directly should you have any questions, or if they can support you in any further way.

CASTLEMAINE CHURCH OF CHRIST

Here’s how Castlemaine are doing virtual interactive church. The leaders and congregation provided input for content and Dave’s video editing skills have come in handy!https://youtu.be/mDg07a4y3UE (45 mins)

CARNEGIE CHURCH OF CHRIST

Carnegie Church of Christ have put their Playgroup online.  They are getting lots more views than the regular mum’s group – so their reach is growing. This 31 minute session includes craft activities and a song from Colin Buchanan!  Check it out here: https://youtu.be/u0B_Sd144cc

They are also livestreaming their Good Friday Service (7pm) and Resurrection Sunday Service (10.30am) on YouTube so feel free to drop in! 

HUONVILLE COMMUNITY CHURCH

Spare a thought for Ian Cartmel, our minister at Huonville. This week he had a funeral and a wedding - a challenging week at the best of times but an extra challenge during the Coronavirus restrictions. 

LIGHTHEARTED LEGO MOMENTS:

Here is something to brighten your day and Easter week. These two Children’s talks were produced by two of David Rattan’s grandchildren (with some parental help!) for their church in Bairnsdale.  Enjoy!

STAY UP TO DATE

Affiliates are reminded to stay on top of the latest information. Learn more by referring to trusted sources, such as:

Along with the email updates, the CCVT website has set up a Coronavirus resources page at www.churchesofchrist.org.au/coronavirus. Please bookmark this to your browser. 

If you have any resources or suggestions for this page, please email safeplaces@churchesofchrist.org.au with details.

May you all have a blessed Easter full of hope and encouragement as we see the death and resurrection of Christ through new eyes this year.

FROM THE EXECUTIVE OFFICER

Congratulations to all Affiliates for the great strides taken over the past few weeks in shifting to online services. The steep learning curve has enabled continuity of worship and has allowed key volunteers to shine in a moment of great need. 

Some key learnings from some of our Affiliates over the past few weeks have been inspiring. Here are a few important pointers:

  1. Ensure visibility on the church’s website and Facebook pages – one click, prominent visibility, and easy access (including with your online giving details!).
  2. Mobilise your many volunteers by using pre-recorded video that meets basic quality specifications, including for kids or youth.
  3. Present music creatively. Consider recording parts separately and blending to a backing track for the worship leader. Alternatively, pre-record musicians simultaneously with Zoom to incorporate into an online video. Make sure song words are visible if you want people to sing.
  4. Make use of Zoom in smaller churches, or any other platform that offer an equally easy way of maintaining live interaction.
  5. Use the many genuinely free resources available (especially to assist with Kids’ activities) or ensure that licences avoid any copyright problems.
  6. Ensure quality sound as a key ingredient to getting people to stay on the online journey.
  7. Find alternatives for people without reliable access to the technology you are using, including personalised phone calls at the very least.
  8. Look at, and not up to, a camera and engage personably – this is where pre-recording can assist.
  9. Allow people to have access to online services at different times of the week, even if via a login. Flexibility is important at the moment.
  10. Tap into people’s current needs with prayer, focused messages, and inspirational stories.

Keep up the great work and don’t hesitate to call our staff if you need any further assistance. Don’t forget to keep smiling – God is in control. We will be sharing some more news on specific ways CCVT is seeking to help you soon.

Stay connected for the latest news via our dedicated website at www.churchesofchrist.org.au/coronavirus and see further updates on our Facebook page where you can share some of your great stories www.facebook.com/ChurchesofChristVicTas.

Rob Nyhuis

KEY UPDATE

From 3 April, churches are considered places of work so services can be streamed to the community. This will ensure that religious services, including Easter services, remain accessible to congregations. Places of worship must remain closed to the public. Services will be streamed and only clergy and those formally involved in services or streaming are permitted to attend.

Services may be conducted and streamed providing:

  • only essential staff are present
  • the venue/facility remains closed to the public
  • social distancing principles are adhered to — 1 person per 4 square metres

Source: www.australia.gov.au

While it is great to get some clarity that we are doing the right thing by law over Easter, please note that this is NOT a loophole for more people to get involved or a relaxing of the strict measures we should all be undertaking. Social distancing will save lives. Everyone needs to comply with restrictions in place to keep yourself, your loved ones and the whole community safe.

Remember: everyone should stay home unless you are: shopping for essentials, receiving medical care, exercising, or travelling to work or education.

PREPARING FOR FURTHER RESTRICTIONS/INTERRUPTIONS

The message is clear: if you can stay home, you must stay home.  Churches and agencies must be actively working towards enabling the “can” for their staff and volunteers if they want to continue providing services to the community into the future.

Further restrictions are likely to be implemented by Government which will impact our ability for even small teams to meet at the church premises to record/livestream services.

It is also possible that the availability of your team members may change at short notice due to health or family reasons - so now is the time to think through home based alternatives and upskill people so we can continue to provide our vital ministries from home. 

  • Set your staff/volunteers up so that they can run online services from their home if necessary – there are lots of resources to help them
  • Set your ministry up so that it can continue with the least number of people on site as possible – it is crucial that everyone should stay at home or work from home if they can – please enable this to happen
  • Set your ministry up so that it can operate with fewer people overall if necessary – create multiskilled team members
  • No essential task should be reliant on only one specific person – everyone should have a backup
  • Prepare alternative worship options for your faith community in case the current online ministry cannot continue at all – be ready to tell people where to find other church services that meet the style or needs of your church family in the event that you are unable to stream your service; know where the nearest alternative food banks/community meals programs are if yours cannot operate; work out now who can people contact for pastoral care if they cannot get in touch with the usual person 

INFLUENZA VACCINATIONS NOW AVAILABLE

Flu Vax is now available. Affiliates could consider making this available for free for staff/volunteers who are not already eligible for it by running a workplace program or by simply encouraging people to get it and covering the cost (approx. $20 per person).  Please note that getting the flu vax will not protect you from COVID-19 but will reduce the additional burden on the health care system that occurs every flu season. 

ONLINE ROUND TABLE: DOING MINISTRY ONLINE - TUESDAY 7 APRIL AT 6PM

The ongoing coronavirus situation is forcing churches, ministries, and youth groups to take their communities online. For some the jump is easy, and for some the idea of translating familiar ministry practices and community rhythms to online spaces is daunting.

Embody wants to help resource and equip you to make the most of all the online platforms that are available to you. They are hosting an open round table discussion on Tuesday 7 April at 6pm focussed on tips, tricks, and best practices for doing ministry with young people online.

Guests include:

• Kelly Skilton (The Sonder Collective)

• Ben Kumar (Discovery Church and Churches of Christ Vic/Tas)

Bring yourself, your friends, your dinner, and any questions you have about ministry with young people and families in this extra-online season.

Click this link to join the discussion: https://zoom.us/j/447789450

PLEASE NOTE: This discussion will be recorded, and an edited audio-only version may be made available in future. By joining in the conversation, you are agreeing to have your voice used as part of the recording. You are welcome to join and leave your mic muted and participate using only text, if you prefer.

Embody is a national community of young people passionate about and participating in global mission.

INSIDE OUT LIFE

Inside Out Life are a creative worship ministry for resourcing and refreshing the Church, worship leaders and worship teams. They have been doing weekly Wednesday live worship streams at 8.30pm on Facebook and Instagram. Go to their social media for details. Inside Out Life have also created some Easter Media Resources for churches – if using their resources consider giving them a donation you can afford.  They can also record worship sets for churches to support your livestream team during this time. 

RESOURCES FOR KIDS MINISTRY

If you can recommend a good online resource whether it's for devotions, worship, kids, youth, small groups- we'd love to hear from you!

CHURCHES OF CHRIST SERVICES FOR KIDS:

A WEDDING!

Nothing was going to stop Jack and Natalie from Berwick Church of Christ from getting married, but to get to the altar they had to abandon a dream-wedding and accept months of hard work going up in smoke.

They and their families had to adjust plans 3 times in a space of 10 days, cutting down their guest list to 100 people, then 10, then 5.

In deciding what was “essential”, they arrived at this: to get married before God in spite of Covid-19.

So, the wedding happened on 31st March, in Jack's parent's backyard with a couple of witnesses, and officiated by Philip Kua, CCVT Leadership Team Leader. 

What an obstacle to overcome at the start of their married life - lessons learned from this experience will no doubt be very useful in the future. God bless your marriage richly, Jack and Natalie!

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JOBS HUB WEBSITE

The Australian Government has launched a Jobs Hub website to help Australians find work during the Coronavirus pandemic. The Jobs Hub advertises the latest vacancies from businesses across Australia. Find work here.

EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND CARE RELIEF PACKAGE

The Australian Government has also announced the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package that gives families fee relief while supporting childcare services to keep their doors open and employees in their jobs. Read more.

GRANTS FOR FOOD RELIEF PROGRAMS

The Feed Appeal grants program is state based and supports community charities that deliver food relief programs. Applications must be for projects that will improve the lives of people that are experiencing hunger and/or food insecurity in the local community. Charities may apply for grants up to $50,000. Check out their website for information on their grant offer, and for insight on today’s community need: www.feedappeal.org.au

STAY UP TO DATE

COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving situation, and all Affiliates are reminded to stay on top of the latest information. Learn more by referring to trusted sources, such as:

Along with the email updates, the CCVT website has a Coronavirus page at www.churchesofchrist.org.au/coronavirus. Please bookmark this to your browser.  If you have any resources or suggestions for this page, please email safeplaces@churchesofchrist.org.au with details.

UPDATE ON TWO PERSON RULE

If you were confused this week about if or how the new two person rule applies to the production of online church services or community food programs, then welcome to the team! 

Everyone should know by now that the public gatherings part of church are banned and that “Places of Worship” are on the list of activities that have now been prohibited but on 29 March the National Cabinet agreed to further limit most indoor and outdoor non-essential gatherings to 2 people – a nightmare for those churches and agencies who rely on a team of volunteers to record/stream online church resources and food bank/community meals programs.

As the week has progressed, further information has been provided by State Governments via their websites, particularly in relation to volunteer work, which will be a relief to many of us.

Victorian Affiliates check out the FAQ information provided at www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus-stay-home-and-restricted-activities-directions-faq

Tasmanian Affiliates check out the FAQ information provided at www.coronavirus.tas.gov.au/families-community/gatherings-faqs

If you are continuing to have a small team meet to distribute food or film/livestream a worship service then you must apply the social distancing and good hygiene practices required of employers, including:

  • Have no more than one person per four square metres of floor space
  • Maintain a distance of 1.5 metres between people
  • Providing hand hygiene products and suitable rubbish bins, with frequent cleaning and waste disposal

Please remember that the whole purpose of the restrictions is to eliminate or reduce people gathering together as much as possible, because gathering together significantly increase the risk of COVID-19 spreading. The threat of coronavirus (COVID-19) to public health is real and everyone must take physical distancing seriously. Stay at home whenever possible. We can’t completely stop this virus, but by everyone staying home we can work together to help limit its spread.

JOBKEEPER PAYMENTS & STIMULUS PACKAGES FOR CHURCHES

The Government is introducing a subsidy program to support employees and businesses. The JobKeeper Payment is designed to help businesses affected by the Coronavirus to cover the costs of their employees’ wages, so that more employees can retain their job and continue to earn an income.

Read more to find out if your church or agency is eligible for this financial support: https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-03/Fact_sheet_supporting_businesses_6.pdf

Please see the attached COVID-19 Stimulus Packages - Summary for Churches from Saward Dawson. You can find more information for churches on their website or subscribe to their newsletter.

PREPARING FOR FURTHER RESTRICTIONS/INTERRUPTIONS

It is likely that further general restrictions will be implemented. It is also possible that the availability of your team member may change at short notice due to health or family reasons - so now is the time to think through alternatives and upskill people so we can continue our vital ministries.

  • Set your ministry up so that it can continue with the least number of people on site as possible - everyone should stay/work at home if they can
  • Set your ministry up so that it can operate with fewer people overall if necessary – create multiskilled team members
  • No essential task should be reliant on only one specific person – everyone should have a backup
  • Set your Ministers up so that they can run online services from their home if necessary – there are lots of resources to help them
  • Prepare alternatives in case the ministry cannot continue at all – be ready to tell people where to find other church services that meet the style or needs of your church family in the event that you are unable to stream your service; know where the nearest alternative food banks/community meals programs are if yours cannot operate; work out now who can people contact for pastoral care if they cannot get in touch with the usual person

TOGETHER NETWORK

Right now, many of our friends and neighbours are isolated and in need of hope, help and healing. "At such a time as this," we have an opportunity to look out, beyond ourselves, and respond to these needs with the message of Christ!

One of our own CCVT churches has initiated an Australia-wide training program to equip churches to bring hope and help to their non-Christian friends, through online Hope Groups

In just 1.5 hours, you can learn the skills that you need to know to run a Hope Group for your friends. This training is free for anyone who has a heart to invite their non-Christian friends to a group that provides hope, help and social connection, guided by the teachings of Jesus. 

This program follows a simple framework (modified from the Discovery Bible Study method) -- we ask what you are thankful for, what's been a challenge, read a scripture of hope, say a prayer, and commit to doing a practical act of service for someone else this week. Simple!

Already we are seeing many groups rise up and reach people with God's love. Our aim is to train hundreds of trainers in the next 2-3 weeks, to bring hope to hundreds of people in need! 

If interested in mobilising your church using Hope Groups, visit https://www.togethernetwork.com.au/ and register for an online training session in the next 2 weeks (from the website itself).

LIVESTREAMING RESOURCES

ONLINE SAFETY

The office of the eSafety Commissioner provides some excellent resources for all ages on keeping safe online; very timely in what has fast become a new digital environment for many of us.  

This Online Safety Guide covers some of the key online safety issues for young people and includes a range of practical tips and advice on what to do if things go wrong. You can also find a list of important services that can offer extra support.  The Guide is available in a range of languages.

eSafety have also recently released a number of blogs aimed at keeping our children safe during this time of extended online contact...whether it be school lessons, other online activities or keeping in touch with family and friends.

Blog 1: Protecting children from online abuse can be found here

Blog 2: Online safety kits for parents and carers can be found here

Blog 3: Keeping schools and learning safe online 

Also, throughout April and May live parent webinars will be running, which you can access from home. Parents and carers are encouraged to register for these.

Further resources are being developed, and you can keep up to date via eSafety's website.

More information is coming soon specific to youth and children’s ministry and online safety.  Stay tuned!

AFFILIATES STORIES

Foothills Community Care
"It has been a big week for us here. Our local federal MP, Alan Tudge send his media person last Wednesday to our community meal and they ran a great video story on us. We are again getting advice on what it means for us with all the new rules. At this stage, we are continuing as we encourage our guests not to 'gather' outside before or after the meal. A real challenge. Appreciate your support and prayers."
Stephen Barrington

Howrah Church of Christ
Jim Garlick posted an 8 minute communion service on Facebook and received 160 views in the first few days - Church of Christ folks love to worship our Lord through the Holy Communion!

SUPPORTING PEOPLE WHO ARE LOOKING FOR WORK

We’ve put together some suggestions for people you may know who are looking for work, perhaps you know people who have had experience in retail, customer service and hospitality – as we have seen on the News the supermarkets have increased and are looking for staff to join on a casual basis while COVD-19 continues to meet the demand. Here are the websites from the main Supermarkets (Aldi, Coles, Woolworths and Costco) - they are ALL recruiting for people for every store for a variety of roles and shifts, this is a 24-hour operation now. 

If you are unsure of where your skills could be used, visit www.seek.com.au – a search engine for jobs in Australia. On the homepage they have links set up for inspiring people who have lost jobs and where their skills could be applied best. It is so encouraging to see Seek put this together!

SUPPORTING PEOPLE WHO ARE IN NEED

Woolworths have launched a ‘basics box’ for people in the community who are vulnerable and can’t leave their home. It includes all food basics for $80 and includes delivery. It’s online ordering only, so making yourself available to assist with ordering or payment may be a great way to provide practice assistance for people in your community who need support. Check out this article:  www.9news.com.au/national/coronavirus-woolworths-launches-new-basics-box-grocery-delivery-service/909d6185-b853-4545-aabd-bea89668fe74

ACNC WEBINAR

In this special joint webinar, ACNC and ATO provide an overview of the Federal Government's recently announced support for the charity and NFP sectors, as well as cover issues of charity regulation in a time impacted by COVID-19.

Watch it for free here: www.acnc.gov.au/tools/webinars/charities-acnc-and-covid-19

STAY UP TO DATE

COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving situation, and all Affiliates are reminded to stay on top of the latest information. Learn more by referring to trusted sources, such as:

Along with the email updates, the CCVT website has a new Coronavirus page at www.churchesofchrist.org.au/coronavirus. We will be transitioning all the resources and updates to this page so thanks for your patience as we set this up. Please bookmark to your browser. 

KEY UPDATES

The Federal Government has released Stage 3 restrictions and is now strongly advising against indoor or outdoor gatherings of more than 2 people except in certain circumstances. 

Each State and Territory will now pass legislation or make directives so that the recommendations/advice will become enforceable. Victoria has already done this, and so the Stage 3 restrictions will come into effect from 11:59pm Monday 30 March 2020. They will be in place for 4 weeks and reviewed as required.  Tasmania has also indicated that the new restrictions will come into effect from 11:59pm Monday 30 March 2020.  Please view the following video from Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein and Health Minister Sarah Courtney. Check out https://coronavirus.tas.gov.au/ for Tassie updates.

In summary: 

  • Public gatherings, excluding household members, have been reduced to a maximum of two people. Check State and Territory websites for further enforcement information.
  • Everyone should stay home unless you are: shopping for essentials, receiving medical care, exercising or travelling to work or education.
  • People aged over 70, aged over 60 with pre-existing conditions, or Indigenous people aged over 50 should stay home wherever possible for their own protection.
  • A safety net package of $1.1 billion has been announced by the Prime Minister to expand mental health and telehealth services, increase domestic violence services and provide more emergency food relief. Read more.
  • Stay informed. Download the official government “Coronavirus Australia” app in the Apple App Store or Google Play, or join our WhatsApp channel on iOS or Android.
  • All travellers returning home from overseas will be quarantined in a hotel or designated facility for 14 days. Read more.
  • Pubs, licensed clubs and hotels (excluding accommodation), gyms, skateparks, indoor sporting venues, cinemas, beauty salons, play centres and outside playgrounds, places of worship and other public places must be closed. There are restrictions on attendance at weddings, funerals and outdoor fitness classes. Supermarkets and pharmacies remain open. Please check your State and Territory websites for full details.

Source: https://www.australia.gov.au/#state-government and https://www.vic.gov.au/coronavirusresponse

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR AFFILIATES - COMMON Q&A

Q: Can our staff still operate from the church office?
A: Yes, it is allowable as it involves people going to work. It is time to transition staff to be able to work from home where possible. Workers attending the office must adhere to the 4 square metre rule, and social distancing must be observed.  The church is not “open” to the public so to speak, but Ministers and staff can still go to work.

Q: Can we still meet to pray or do bible study in groups if we adhere to the 4m/1.5m rules?
A: No, do not congregate in groups of more than 2 people either indoors or outdoors.  People should stay at home, unless shopping for essentials, travelling to and from work (if you cannot work from home), going to school and exercising. Churches should encourage families to do bible studies together, and for people to pray over the phone if they do not live in the same household.  For those that are living on their own, this may see an increase in social isolation.  Please make extra efforts to connect with people in this situation but do so in a way that does not contravene health guidelines or restrictions.   

Q: Can we still have a team attend the church to run the online service?
A: Yes, but there are now stricter conditions on this activity due to the two person rule. Advice received from the Department of Health & Human Services this afternoon (30/3/2020) has clarified that whilst there have been restrictions placed on religious gatherings (places of worship), the two person rule does not apply to workplaces. As the church space is both a workplace and a gathering space, the application of the new restrictions can be a bit confusing for some churches.  The purpose of the restrictions is to limit person to person contact that isn’t essential – and this is for the greater safety of all of us as we try to curb the health crisis. Therefore, while we can continue to produce and livestream church worship services, the team running the service must include only the people who are doing this as part of their employment duties.  Those involved must also still adhere to the 4 square metre rule, and social distancing and strict hygiene measures must be observed.  Volunteers are not considered ‘essential’ in this situation according to the current restrictions.

If your production team cannot operate without volunteers, then you must also adhere to the 2 person rule.  CCVT strongly recommends that any volunteers whose skills are required on-site should set up what they need to (or pre-record) prior to employees attending to run the service. It may be advantageous to train an employee to be able to do the task (e.g. manage sound desk) as well. 

Q: Can the Minister still meet one-on-one with people?
A: Yes, if this is one of their employment duties and they are absolutely unable to communicate with someone in an alternative way (e.g. phone).  Social distancing must be observed. 

Q: Can we continue running our food bank or pantry?
A: Yes, community and recreation centres may remain open for the purpose of hosting essential voluntary or public services, such as food banks or homeless services.  Many have moved to takeaway meals only. Keep staff to a minimum and restrict numbers who are entering the building. Make sure people are not also gathering together to socialise before or afterwards. All those involved must adhere to the 4 square metre rule, and social distancing must be observed.

WEDDINGS AND FUNERALS

Weddings are still capped at five people, and funerals at 10 people.  The two person rule does not apply to these events.

WHAT ARE OTHER AFFILIATES DOING?

Hope is rising! It's great to hear of churches responding the current crisis with the provision of meals to the community, significant financial giving, new connections with the local community, and different people stepping up to help. Great to see the Church being the Church, stepping up in faith and seeing prayer answered. Let's keep shining the light of Jesus amidst the darkness.

Mini Bible Study
The Pyramid Hill Church of Christ members have created a mini Bible Study to assist the church while they are unable to attend church.  The current plan is to create a weekly study. If you are interested in receiving a copy each week that you can circulate to as many people as you like (no copyright claimed) please email Peter Hipwell at peteglenn@bigpond.com. Watch their video at https://www.dropbox.com/s/khuhw0yljjfza7y/20080101031219.mpg?dl=0.

Peter Hipwell (Pyramid Hill Church of Christ)

Church on the Phone
Everyone is very excited at Oakleigh because we are having 'Church on the Phone' while we are in lockdown. We are doing this because many of our people are not tech savvy but hopefully can manage to join our phone conference platform at 10am every Sunday. I am encouraging our people to 'Meet Together to Meet with God' through this community connection having various ones involved with Bible Reading, Prayer and Communion. There will also be a mini message and time for sharing and specific individual prayer. Yesterday was our first meeting and almost everyone joined the call, and all agreed that it was great to hear each other’s voices and know that we were all there for each other. It interesting to note that 3 new people joined us because we had the Conference Call phone numbers listed on our web page!

I have to say that our music was a bit of a disaster, but we will work on that before next week! We are also meeting together via the conferencing platform on a Wednesday where we will share together, pray, and listen to 'A Message of Hope'. I am also encouraging 'Everyone to ring one Everyday' so that we ensure connectivity and notification of any needs.  

Sue Brownless (Oakleigh Church of Christ)

Care packs for people doing church at home
At Boronia we provided packs for the isolated/non-tech savvy in our community including communion supplies, morning tea, coffee stick, letter from the Minister, and a sermon/communion talk and worship songs on DVD or USB.  And a roll of loo paper! 😊

Bekkii Scott (Boronia Community Church of Christ)

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Generous Donations to Community Meals Programs

Here was a good news story run by the Herald Sun on Foothills Community Care. If you have a $1 to spare you can subscribe for 28 days to view the complete article. On 25 March 2020, we found out that Foothills Community Care was in much need of pasta, sauces, tins of tuna, flour, disposable cutlery, napkins etc. CCVT worked with a private donor to source the items and deliver them to the program. If you are looking for food wholesalers who may be able to support your meals program or food pantry, check out some of these generous organisations and businesses.

What great stories do you have to share that might encourage others?  Let us know at safeplaces@churchesofchrist.org.au.

REMINDER - UPDATE YOUR WEBSITE WITH NEW ONLINE SERVICE INFO

So many churches have been able to take their Sunday services online – a fantastic opportunity to worship together as well as be a witness to the potentially limitless online community.  Please make sure you have updated the front page of your website so that people can easily understand where and how to view your service.  Let’s make it as easy as possible for people to worship with us.

RESOURCES

The Alban Institute has just released some resources that may be helpful to churches. It has a North American twist, but some good material none the less.  See the three attached documents:

RESOURCES FOR WORKING FROM HOME

Working from Home starter Guide
A brief guide for team members who are setting up to work from home – please edit/adjust as needed for your context

Working from Home – Health and Safety Checklist
OH&S checklist template for setting up to work from home – please edit/adjust as needed for your context

Links to helpful articles:
https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/productivity-tips-working-from-home
www.welivesecurity.com/2020/03/16/covid19-forced-workplace-exodus/
www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20200312-coronavirus-covid-19-update-work-from-home-in-a-pandemic

STAY UP TO DATE

COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving situation, and all Affiliates are reminded to stay on top of the latest information. Learn more by referring to trusted sources, such as:

UPDATES FROM CCVT

Along with the email updates, the CCVT website has a new Coronavirus page at www.churchesofchrist.org.au/coronavirus. We will be transitioning all the resources and updates to this page so thanks for your patience as we set this up. Please bookmark to your browser. 

KEY UPDATES:

Tighter restrictions on non-essential activities were expanded from midnight 25 March 2020. Religious gatherings and places of worship are considered non-essential. Click here for more information on limits on public gatherings.

Essential services include health services, supermarkets, banks, pharmacies, petrol stations and convenience stores. Freight, logistics and home delivery are also considered essential and will remain open.

WEDDINGS AND FUNERALS:

Weddings can now only be conducted with no more than five people, including the couple, the celebrant and the witnesses.

The 4 square metre rule and social distancing must be observed. 

If you require marriage celebrant’s advice from CCVT, please contact staff Philip Kua on 0412 003 888 or pkua@churchesofchrist.org.au

Funerals must be limited to no more than 10 people. The 4 square metre rule and social distancing must be observed.

Practical information on the conducting of funerals is still being developed. Ministers and families should consult with the relevant funeral home for advice specific to their circumstances.

Bethel Funerals have provided some useful information on their site www.bethelfunerals.com.au/covid-19.

COMMON Q&A:

Q: Is it ok for trades to work inside our building?
A: Yes. Tradies and anyone meeting them onsite to let them in must adhere to the 4 square metre rule, and social distancing must be observed.

Q: Can our staff still operate from the church office?
A: Yes, but it is time to transition staff to be able to work from home. Workers attending the office must adhere to the 4 square metre rule, and social distancing must be observed.  The church is not “open” to the public so to speak, but Ministers and staff can still go to work.

Q: Can we still meet to pray or do bible study in small groups if we adhere to the 4m/1.5m rules?
A: No.  People should stay at home, unless shopping for essentials, travelling to and from work (if you cannot work from home), going to school and exercising. Keep visitors to your home at a minimum. Do not congregate in groups in outdoor spaces.

https://www.pm.gov.au/media/update-coronavirus-measures-24-March-2020

https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/how-to-protect-yourself-and-others-from-coronavirus-covid-19/limits-on-public-gatherings-for-coronavirus-covid-19#nonessential-gatherings

Q: Can we still have a small team attend the church to run the online service?
A: Yes, live streaming of a performance by a small group could be permissible but it must include only the people essential to the production of the service. All equipment must be sanitised before and after use. Those involved must adhere to the 4 square metre rule, and social distancing must be observed.

Q: Can we continue running our food bank or pantry?
A: Yes, community and recreation centres may remain open for the purpose of hosting essential voluntary or public services, such as food banks or homeless services.  Many have moved to takeaway meals only. Keep staff to a minimum and restrict numbers who are entering the building. Make sure people are not also gathering together to socialise before or afterwards. All those involved must adhere to the 4 square metre rule, and social distancing must be observed.

WHAT ARE SMALLER OR LESS RESOURCED CHURCHES DOING?

“We have set up a buddy system amongst all the members, so we can concentrate our efforts on one family each with prayer, texts, grocery shopping, etc.  It does not involve visits or physical contact.  There are some very vulnerable people in churches, like singles or immigrants who are isolating, so we are hoping this helps them especially.”
The Olive Branch Church (Ararat)

“City Heart Church of Christ in Stawell does not have the capacity to livestream a service, so we have formed a partnership with Horsham Church of Christ.   Stawell members will be livestreaming Horsham’s services while Terry and the leadership team provide and mobilises pastoral care of members and to care for our city. This solves a problem for us, and we are so grateful that Horsham are looking after our pastoral needs in this way. The building is closed but the church is wide open!”
City Heart Church (Stawell)

“We are a small church made up of three sperate congregation with lots of people who don’t have capacity to utilise online resources. So, we are keeping in touch by email, phone and post.  We have asked people to call a list of specific people on a weekly basis – this way everyone is in the loop, being contacted, and staying in touch, without people feeling left out or excluded because of any lack of access to technology”.
Friends of Dismas (Melbourne, Geelong and Box Hill)

“The majority of our people are not on social media with many not having a computer. Just before the start of Covid-19 we started using the Discovery Bible Series (DBS) in our small groups, so we have now extended that to the whole church. (Attached) is what we have given everyone as a weekly resource. On Sundays Tim follows up with a text messages and will call those who don’t have mobile phones”.
Ballarat Central Church of Christ (Ballarat)

If you would like to share your ideas with other Affiliates, please email the details to safeplaces@churchesofchrist.org.au as we would love to continue sharing resources.  (Please re-send ideas if you did not receive a reply previously).

CCVT STAFF PRAYER:

The CCVT Staff would meet regularly to pray together at the office, and this is now happening online.  This week we prayed for one another, our staff, our Churches, for healing and God’s sovereignty in a time of need.  We prayed for our nation’s leaders, as well as our Churches leaders – and we will continue to pray these prayers.

As we prayed it was sensed that God was speaking some important prophetic words over us and our movement….here is some of what was prayed and spoken.

  • We believe that our Churches are going to become stronger than they ever have before.
  • This is a time of opportunity, that different giftings will arise.
  • God is calling us back; it is a time of sifting.

CCVT staff will be praying every Wednesday at 8am – if you have specific prayer points for your Church or Agency that you would like us to include, please email Greg Illingworth at gillingworth@churchesofchrist.org.au.

RESOURCES 

Resources continue to be developed by various organisations in response to COVID-19. Here are just a few that you may find helpful for yourself or people within your faith community and beyond.

Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 - Updated
This information sheet answers common questions about COVID-19 — including what it is, how it spreads, if you should get tested, who is most at risk and if you should attend public gatherings.

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Multilingual Resource Library:
A multilingual resource library focused on COVID-19 has been created providing information in 18 languages from health authorities at Federal, State and Global levels. This hub page is being updated as new information is provided and translated.

Translated coronavirus (COVID-19) resources:
A list of resources about COVID-19 in Arabic, Vietnamese, Simplified and Traditional Chinese, Farsi, Italian and Korean. Includes fact sheets, guidelines and other publications.

Mental Health and Wellbeing:
The outbreak of the coronavirus COVID-19 has impacted people in varying ways on an international scale. It is understandable that during times like this, people may be feeling afraid, worried, anxious and overwhelmed by the constantly changing alerts and media coverage regarding the spread of the virus.

While it is important to stay informed, Lifeline have provided some mental health and wellbeing tips and strategies to continue looking after ourselves and each other during these difficult times.

Healthy Parenting:
To help parents interact constructively with their children during this time of confinement, these six one-page tips for parents cover planning one-on-one time, staying positive, creating a daily routine, avoiding bad behaviour, managing stress, and talking about COVID-19. Use them to your and your kids’ advantage and have fun in doing so. 

Normal life has been disrupted: a guide for managing disruption to occupational participation:
Written by Occupational Therapist Lorrae Mynard, this ebook guide presents occupational concepts of productivity, leisure, self-care, environment, routine and roles in plain language and presents suggestions and examples of how to adapt and manage the disruption to occupational participation. It was designed for use by the general public.

ACNC/ATO:

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis that is affecting charities, the ACNC Commissioner has granted an extension to the due date of the 2019 AIS.  Your charity's 2019 AIS due date as listed on the ACNC Charity Register may not have been updated to reflect the extension yet. This will occur in the coming days.

The ATO and the ACNC will host a free webinar for charities and not-for-profits about the Government stimulus measure that affects them, as well as issues that are affecting charity operations during the crisis. The ATO will discuss the implications of the Government’s Boosting Cash Flow for Employers measure, including what’s available to charities and NFPs and where to get advice.

Date: Monday 30 March 2020
Time: 12pm AEST
Cost: Free
View webinar recording here

Note: Registration is now full, but the webinar recording will be available on their website via the above link following the live presentation.

You can also find out information about how the Government measure affects charities and not-for-profits on the Australian Taxation Office website page Boosting Cashflow for Employers.

LIGHT-HEARTED:

Because it helps to read some good news stories too!
Coronavirus Crisis Prompts Australian Acts of Kindness
Aussie Legend Beats Travel Ban with Hilarious Visit My Backyard Video

STAY UP TO DATE

COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving situation, and all Affiliates are reminded to stay on top of the latest information. Learn more by referring to trusted sources, such as:

UPDATES FROM CCVT

Along with the email updates, the CCVT website has a new Coronavirus page at https://www.churchesofchrist.org.au/coronavirus. Please bookmark to your browser. 

We will be transitioning all the resources and updates to this page so thanks for your patience as we set this up.

(Depending on which Government website / statement you read, there may be some confusion over how long the current restriction of religious activities is for. CCVT encourages you to assume a minimum of 4 weeks, but plan for 6 months.  This is a constantly evolving situation, and we will try to make it clearer not more confusing for you.)

Yesterday the National Cabinet agreed to move to more widespread restrictions on social gatherings for at least 6 months.  The following facilities are now restricted from opening from midday local time 23 March 2020:

  • Pubs, registered and licenced clubs (excluding bottle shops attached to these venues), hotels (excluding accommodation)
  • Gyms and indoor sporting venues
  • Cinemas, entertainment venues, casinos, and night clubs
  • Restaurants and cafes will be restricted to takeaway and/or home delivery
  • Religious gatherings, places of worship, or funerals (in enclosed spaces and other than very small groups and where the 1 person per 4 square metre rule applies).

These measures also apply to outdoor spaces associated with the above venues.

Source: www.pm.gov.au/media/update-coronavirus-measures-220320

Source: www.health.gov.au/news/australian-health-protection-principal-committee-ahppc-coronavirus-covid-19-statement-on-22-march-2020

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR AFFILIATES:

The current restrictions mean that unfortunately, most churches and agencies will now be ceasing most, if not all, in-person activities and functions.   For those that are continuing to meet in a very limited capacity, it is imperative that you do so only if essential and even then, under the very highest level of risk management. 

This is not a time for finding loopholes in the recommendations or the restrictions – the goal is to reduce the spread of the virus, to flatten the curve and to save the lives of fellow Australians.

This is a time for putting the care of others first, leading within our communities, being good citizens, and creating safe spaces for God to work through our community.  If that means we meet less than what we want to, less than we think we should be able to, then so be it – this is about keeping as much physical distance from other people and doingwhat we can to limit the spread of the coronavirus, not just what is preferable to the situation.

In addition to the restrictions around non-essential mass gatherings, CCVT recommends:

  • Immediately ceasing all gatherings where you cannot easily adhere to both the 4 square meter per person rule AND the 1.5 meters social distance rule. If you cannot meet both recommendations, then you are not safe to meet regardless of how few people attend, or if you are indoors or outdoors.
  • Immediately start transitioning staff and volunteers to be able to work from home.  This may not be required full time right now by everyone, but preparation is key in the event that further restrictions are enforced on workplaces.
  • Immediately start using technology – unless your plan is to just close down entirely and cease all operations, learn how to use the technology that will allow you to hold meetings online, move pastoral care to phone, letters, email, or video conferencing, accept online tithes and donations, and keep in contact with one another.  Further resources to help you can be found below.

For those that like a good risk management infographic, consider this CCVT document “Hierarchy of Controls for Gatherings” when assessing if you should meet in person.

CAN YOU STILL MEET TO PRODUCE ONLINE SERVICES?

Many churches have started running their services online – and some are seeing higher than average attendance!

For those wondering if the team can still turn up at church to actually run, livestream or record the service, the answer is yes (at the moment). 

  • Along with all the normal applicable hygiene and gathering restrictions, specific advice received from the Department of Health and Human Services was that:
  • only the people needed in order to run the service/record can attend (e.g. minister, worship leader, communion leader, audio/visual operators)
  • lock the doors so that no one else can enter the building
  • everyone must keep at least 1.5 metres from each other (social distancing)
  • use alcohol wipes to wipe equipment being used 
  • do not share microphones if possible
  • be aware that this advice may change in the near future

For those wondering about musicians and other speakers, CCVT recommends the use of pre-recorded music and videos, to minimise the people required.

A CALL TO PRAYER:

Congregations across Australia are pausing to pray at 7pm nightly for: 19 minutes of prayer at 1900 hours in response to Covid-19. Given the current limits on gatherings, this is a simple way we can encourage our churches to respond in faith, with a call to prayer based on the words of 2 Chronicles 7:14

For further details see: https://ausprayernet.org.au/urgent-call-for-national-prayer-for-the-coronavirus-covid-19-crisis/

A MESSAGE FROM ROB NYHUIS, EXECUTIVE OFFICER

Click here to read a message to CCVT Affiliates from our Executive Officer Rob Nyhuis.

Rob is also posting videos on the CCVT Facebook page which you can view here: https://www.facebook.com/ChurchesofChristVicTas/videos/324137645211186/

PROTECTING CHURCH PROPERTY DURING THE LOCK DOWN PERIOD:

With the decreased usage of church building and offices during the lockdown, please use the checklist below to help in securing preserving and caring for the church property whilst vacant.

  • Nominate a person to stop by the property at least twice each week during this time to ensure that the building has no visible signs of forced entry or unusual activity and vandalism. Do not just drive by but walk around and in the building where necessary and ensure it is secured. 
  • Ensure all utilities such as gas and electricity points being used are turned off at the switch. Unplug any electrical devices not needed during this time.
  • If there are any toxic substances that may cause contamination and might harm people or emergency responders, they should be removed.
  • Keep parking areas and sidewalks clear and in good condition.
  • Make sure the electricity for exit signs and emergency lighting is on.
  • The exterior of the building should be cleared of cardboard, paper, brush and scrap wood.
  • Ensure all rubbish bins are secured if not being used to avoid them being vandalised.
  • Keep all windows and doors securely closed.
  • Remove all mail left at the door where necessary (redirect delivered mail to someone’s home if possible)
  • Any and all alarm systems where needed to be on and where secured to back to base tested and working.

Depending on your relationship with your next door neighbours, it may be worth letting them know the contact details of who they can call after hours if they are concerned about security or notice any unusual activity.  Any damage or break-ins should be reported to the police as per usual.

SCAM ALERT:

Please be aware that scams have now started in relation to COVID-19.  It is important that we make sure everyone is going to trusted sources for information, and that our people (particularly older people who are often targeted) are aware of how these scams work so that they can protect themselves. 

Stay Smart Online

INSURANCE:

As Affiliates decide if, when, and how they will continue to meet in smaller groups, questions have started to roll in regarding how insurance cover may be impacted by continuing to run face-to-face activities during the pandemic. The Government has put significant risk management guidelines in place around things like social distancing, hygiene, and limiting numbers at gatherings. It is important to remember that COVID-19 is a known issue and therefore a potential foreseeable event, and that by gathering together, even in minimal numbers, you are increasing the chances of someone spreading the virus. Therefore, it is important to follow these risk management strategies.

If you have any questions or concerns about how your activities may impact your insurance coverage, please contact Greg McLean or Meera Livingston at Churches of Christ Insurance on 03 9488 8800.

INFORMATION ABOUT FUNERALS:

Practical information on the conducting of funerals is still being developed. Ministers and families should consult with the relevant funeral home for advice specific to their circumstances.

Bethel Funerals have provided some useful information on their site www.bethelfunerals.com.au/covid-19.

CAN WE CONTACT CCVT STAFF?

Yes! We are here to support you!  All CCVT staff are now working from home – the office in Fairfield in now closed and we have redirected all phones and mail. Our staff will also be making contact with every Affiliate in the coming weeks, but if you need us sooner than that please call or email.

Please continue to remember us in prayer as we remember you.

We are working on updating our website and we appreciate your patience as we sort it out to make it a more user-friendly resource for Affiliates. In the meanwhile….

RESOURCES FOR CCVT AFFILIATES 

How to talk to your child about Novel Coronavirus

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Workers Compensation in Tasmania

Important information about self-isolation for people who are not sick

Tasmanian Hotlines

Tasmanian border restrictions

8 ways to lead in the new digital default church

WHAT ARE CHURCHES DOING?

The pandemic has created many burdens, but alongside this it has also created many opportunities for churches and faith communities to minister to its community and lead by example. In the midst of all the fear and focus on self, we get to demonstrate our love for our neighbour, to live out the parable of the Good Samaritan, to pastorally care for those who may have previously rejected it, to and embrace both the practicality and the heart of the message of Jesus.  We should also be looking to see what opportunities each church has to be a calm voice of hope and compassion to those who may be anxious or fearful. 

We may need to think outside the square or try new things so here are a few links so you can see what other churches are doing and saying:

If you would like to share your ideas with other Affiliates, please email the details to safeplace@churchesofchrist.org.au as we would love to continue sharing resources.

TIP OF THE WEEK!

Together Church in Hobart have created The Online Pastor, a resource for leaders of small to medium sized churches who need help transitioning to an online environment in response to COVID-19.

You can also join the Facebook Group here https://www.facebook.com/groups/326785064944278/ to have a chat and share your thoughts and idea - and if you find this group helpful, please invite your colleagues! 

STAY UP TO DATE

COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving situation, and all Affiliates are reminded to stay on top of the latest information. Learn more by referring to trusted sources, such as:

  • Anyone arriving in Australia from overseas must self-isolate for 14 days (effective from midnight Sunday 15 March 2020).
  • There is now a ban on non-essential indoor gatherings of more than 100 people (was previously 500), with exceptions for schools, public transport, supermarkets and many other places – all Affiliates should start considering how they will now proceed or how they may proceed if that number drops further. 
  • Gatherings of less than 100 people that are “non-essential” should be avoided or minimised – leadership teams should be ready to make firm decisions about what they consider “essential” in their context.
  • There will be restrictions on who can visit aged care centres – pastoral carers should check with each facility before visiting, and check if they are also required to have had a flu vaccination
  • The Federal Government is advising Australians not to travel overseas (this may impact church mission trips and annual leave arrangements for staff). 

A MESSAGE FROM ROB NYHUIS, EXECUTIVE OFFICER

Click here to read a message to CCVT Affiliates from our Executive Officer Rob Nyhuis.

CCVT EVENTS 

It is with great regret that we advise you of the need to cancel the 2020 CCVT Summit and State Youth Games; though we are developing other strategies to achieve necessary outcomes for the 2020 CCVT Annual General Meeting. These regrettable decisions have been necessitated by the likelihood of protracted bans on mass gatherings in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic.

It is anticipated that (pending government advice re COVID-19 at that stage) regional gatherings will be held later this year, in lieu of Summit, to discuss some exciting strategic planning and other initiatives so that we can best receive feedback and interact with people across Victoria and Tasmania. These events will also offer plenty of opportunity for combined prayer, discussion and networking, and will be likely to be held in August and September.

The CCVT AGM planned for Tuesday 12th of May will be conducted in a revised format, with details to be advised soon. We ask for your patience as we navigate arrangements.

The SYG Committee will communicate with teams separately, but please remember these teams in your prayers as this is a significant annual ministry event for many churches.

Small training workshops or events are currently being assessed on a case by case basis. At this stage, several smaller workshops and activities will continue to operate within government guidelines in accordance with safe practices.

SHOULD WE STOP MEETING?

Over the last couple of weeks, many churches have begun wrestling with the decision to cease or continue to gather for services. For some of our larger services, that decision was made for them. The common questions leaders are asking include:

  • What is a better duty of care - is it by meeting, or not meeting?
  • Should we cancel this activity altogether or just run it differently?
  • How do we keep physical distance from each other but not lose the opportunity to love and care for one another when we need it most?
  • Should we invest in technology resources and up-skilling our leaders so they can run things online, or just tap into other churches online services?

At the end of the day, the decision about how, when and if you stop meeting in person is a local decision. It will be based on a number of factors including (but not limited to) the reason for the gathering (essential or non-essential), the size and scale of the event, the hygiene processes you can reasonably put in to play, the vulnerability of the people who attend and the people they go home to, and the current advice received from government and health officials. 

If you have decided to continue meeting, please make sure you have done a risk assessment before proceeding. You can find more information about risk assessments in the attachments or here.

For many of our Affiliates, closing services may be inevitable, so get ready by making some basic plans now. Remember, the church is the church whether we are scattered or gathered!

RESOURCES

CCVT webpage for COVID-19 Advice and Resources (This new page will be updated regularly with advice and resources for CCVT Affiliates)

National Campaign Resources to inform all Australians about the coronavirus

Translated Resources and Posters

Information on Social Distancing

Advice for Organising Public Gatherings

Online Infection Control Training

TOP 10 ACTIONS TO PREVENT THE SPREAD OF COVID-19 AT YOUR GATHERING

1.  Undertake a thorough risk assessment before deciding to proceed with the meeting or event

2.  Promote preventive actions amongst your staff and volunteers – lead by example and use resources in all languages as required

3.  Consult local public health authorities on your level of risk

4.  Advise sick employees and participants to stay at home

5.  Plan ways to reduce in-person contact for participants and staff while they are at the event

6.  Provide and promote use of hand wash and using alcohol sanitisers

7.  Plan for increased levels of staff/volunteer absences and those who turn up sick

8.  Identify a space that can be used to isolate staff or participants who become sick

9.  Ensure high standards of routine environmental cleaning, especially of commonly touched surfaces

10. Keep staff and participants informed of the actions you are taking

For more information on organising gatherings, see the Dept of Health advice for organising public gatherings.

If you would like to discuss your particular circumstances, we are happy to have a chat over the phone and help you decide what is right for your community.  Give us a call. 

WHAT CAN CHURCHES BE DOING?

The pandemic has created many burdens, but alongside this it has also created many opportunities for churches and faith communities to minister to its community and lead by example. In the midst of all the fear and focus on self, we get to demonstrate our love for our neighbour, to live out the parable of the Good Samaritan, to pastorally care for those who may have previously rejected it, to and embrace both the practicality and the heart of the message of Jesus.  We should also be looking to see what opportunities each church has to be a calm voice of hope and compassion to those who may be anxious or fearful. 

We may need to think outside the square or try new things so here are a few links so you can see what other churches are doing and saying (up to date as at 18/3/2020).

If you would like to share your ideas with other Affiliates, please email the details to safeplace@churchesofchrist.org.au as we would love to continue sharing resources.

VERSES OF ENCOURAGEMENT AND HOPE IN CHALLENGING TIMES

2 Corinthians 1:3-5
Psalm 91:1-4
Habakkuk 3:17-19
Philippians 4:4-8
James 4:8 😉
Psalm 46
Psalm 103:8-17
Isaiah 41:10
Psalm 32:6-7
Isaiah 43:1-3
Psalm 27:1-3
1 Peter 5:7
2 Timothy 1:7
Psalm 112:6-8
Philippians 4:12-13
2 Thessalonians 3:16

TIPS FOR MOVING TO ONLINE GATHERINGS

  • See the attached Basic Live Streaming Guide (with thanks to Mitchell Salmon).
  • If you're wanting to live stream, you can do basic but good things with a $100 webcam, a free YouTube channel or Facebook page, and OBS (https://obsproject.com).
  • If you're wanting to do video or audio small groups and interactive meetings, have a look at Zoom (https://zoom.us) which has free account options. It works well on phone and computers with webcam/microphone, making it a good option for most folks to join in.
  • Please acknowledge that you are recording or live streaming the service at the beginning of the service so that people know they are being recorded.
  • Be sure to welcome your online visitors so they feel more included.
  • Be mindful that you do not divulge personal and sensitive identifying information, particularly during announcements and prayer time.
  • Make sure that any music or videos you use are within your licensing and copyright requirements (https://au.ccli.com), you cannot just download content from YouTube and play it.  Please ensure you have the appropriate permissions.

TIPS FOR CARING FOR YOUR COMMUNITY

  • Please acknowledge that you are recording or live streaming the service at the beginning of the service so that people know they are being recorded.
  • Keep note of who hasn’t attended church so that you can give them a call and see how they are going.
  • If you know of people in your community who are unwell, let your pastoral team know so that they can pray for them and follow up with them in practical and safe ways.
  • Use ZoomWhatsApp groups and other secure apps and platforms to create a sense of online community regardless of individual physical location.  These groups can then meet online regularly to pray together, study scripture, be a practical blessing to others, and the good news is that this can be opened open to other people who are isolated in the wider community including unchurched.
  • Provide tech support for those who need help accessing online services, resources, or groups.
  • Update your church directory so that you can communicate more reliably.
  • Show people how to use online shopping delivery or offer to do it for them.
  • Tap into local supports that are already operating online and offline – your church does not need to duplicate or invent everything from scratch
  • Circulate prayers and opportunities for people to study the bible on their own, as a household, or as part of a small group

TIP OF THE DAY!

Tip of the day goes to York Street Church of Christ who found this video online and for suggesting this idea of double cupping communion.  The link: https://youtu.be/VIBZ3ZVUTSo  

STAY UP TO DATE

COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving situation, and all Affiliates are reminded to stay on top of the latest information. Learn more by referring to trusted sources, such as:

Please contact our office if you would like to discuss any specific issues for your church, or if you have resources that you think might be of help to other Affiliates.

Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Brendan Murphy has today advised the PM and State Premieres to implement a ban on mass gatherings of more than 500 people, starting from Monday 16 March 2020.

The advice is against "static events", meaning people should still go to work, school and university, which will have an impact on the running of church services. There is no advice against public transport and domestic travel.

We encourage you to consider this as you prepare for your activities this weekend and in coming weeks, and ensure you communicate well with your congregation about your plans.

We also encourage you to, where possible, reduce the size of gatherings, postpone non-essential meetings and events or move them online, promote remote access to worship services, minimise close personal contact, and minimise involvement by non-essential staff/volunteers/participants. This is a temporary pre-emptive arrangement, aimed at reducing or minimising the overall impact of the coronavirus on our community.

RESOURCES

Attached are some sample resources that you might find helpful in your context, including:

CCVT EVENTS

At this stage, no decisions have been made concerning cancellation of any mass event that is run by CCVT e.g. Summit or State Youth Games. 

We will continue to monitor the government and state health advisories leading up to the events in May and June 2020 and decisions will be made as appropriate and communicated to all.

STAY UP TO DATE

The coronavirus is a rapidly evolving situation, and all Affiliates are reminded to stay on top of the latest information. Learn more by referring to trusted sources, such as:

Please contact our office if you would like to discuss any specific issues for your church, or if you have resources that you think might be of help to other Affiliates.

2020 is proving to be quite the year! 

The outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is yet another opportunity for CCVT Affiliates to show the love of Jesus and be a positive support to our communities in the face of difficult times, but we also want to make sure we do it safely.

Here are some practical ways to reduce risk of spreading the virus, adapt our normal activities and services, tailor a fact-based response, and reassure those who may be feeling fearful or anxious for themselves or their loved ones.

UNDERSTAND AND COMMUNICATE ACCURATE BASIC INFORMATION:

On 30 January 2020, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness caused by a new virus. Symptoms range from a mild cough to pneumonia. Most people recover easily, but some people may get very sick very quickly. There is evidence that it spreads from person to person, so good hygiene can prevent infection. 

The coronavirus is thought to be spread largely through respiratory droplets from coughing and sneezing and comes from close contact with an infected person, mostly face-to-face or within a household.  It may also be possible to become infected by touching a contaminated surface or object and then touching your nose or mouth. Although it can be spread from a cough or sneeze droplets for a few metres, it cannot be carried for long distances in the air.

Practising good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene is the best defence against most viruses.

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, before and after eating, and after going to the toilet.
  • Cover your cough and sneeze, dispose of tissues, and use alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
  • If unwell, avoid contact with others (stay more than 1.5 metres from people).

HYGIENE SUPPLIES AND PRACTICES:

Whilst coronavirus is of concern, it is important to remember that most people displaying symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat or tiredness are likely suffering with a cold or other respiratory illness – not coronavirus.

To reduce the spread of all colds, flus, and viruses:

  • Make sure your facilities are well stocked with easily accessible supplies of hand soap, paper towel, tissues, disposable gloves, disinfectant, hand sanitiser, and rubbish bins.
  • Remove cloth hand towels, and kitchen dishcloths that are likely to harbour germs and replace them with disposable or single use options.
  • Surfaces which are touched regularly should be cleaned frequently using detergent and water or a detergent-based cleaner, including door handles, handrails, kitchen and bathroom areas, phones, light switches, security alarm pads, name badges, bibles, pens, touchscreens, heating/cooling controls etc.
  • Disinfect toys, play equipment and craft supplies – this may be very time consuming to do frequently so it may be worth temporarily minimising stocks of what is available.
  • Make sure any morning tea supplies are clean and that servers wash hand before and during preparation and serving of food and drinks.
  • Make cleanliness a visible practice - get everyone on board.
  • Be alert for poor practices or behaviours where sickness can be spread (e.g. people openly coughing, use of handkerchiefs, kids touching food etc), and remind people gently but clearly about the need to adhere to good hygiene practices.

Note: Surgical masks in the community are mostly only helpful in preventing people who have coronavirus disease from spreading it to others. If you are well, you do not need to wear a surgical mask as there is little evidence supporting the widespread use of surgical masks in healthy people to prevent transmission in public. If you are unwell, you should stay home.

COMMUNICATION:

Be ready, willing and able to communicate quickly and clearly with your congregation or faith community, keeping both pastoral and practical issues in mind. Good communication is important in reassuring those who are fearful, anxious or confused – let people know what your organisation is doing to keep them safe, how services or programs may be changing, and who they can speak to if they have concerns.

  • Keep your team and faith community up to date with relevant and accurate information about changes to services, best methods to communicate with staff, safe hygiene practices etc.
  • Communicate the same messages in a variety of ways to reinforce it - utilise your welcome team, put up Dept of Health posters in common areas, make announcements during services, use PowerPoint slides in different languages, update your website, utilise newsletters, send email and SMS notifications to members – all of these are great ways to reinforce the need for good hygiene practices, explain changes to communion or greeting styles, quarantine requirements, and alert people to any closures or reductions in your events/services. 
  • Consider the best ways to communicate with kids, people who speak other languages, people who are vison or hearing impaired, or are visitors and may not know the current etiquette of your organisation.
  • Make sure that your staff contact details are up to date so that communication flows easily.
  • Confirm passwords and know who can access and update your website, church management software, mass email/SMS functions, Facebook/social media, office voicemail greeting, wayside pulpit/signage, Google and other online sources so that you can make required changes to your content and communicate accurately with the community.

GREETING/WELCOMING:

Providing a warm welcome to people as they arrive is a vital part of fellowship and a handshake, hug or high five is very common practice. Unfortunately, it is also a very common form of transmission of viruses and bacteria.

  • Consider moving to a hands-free greeting style for a while – actively explain to people (including kids) that we aren’t shaking hands or high fiving each other at the moment but provide a big smile, a wave, and warm words of welcome – have some fun with it by encouraging air-fives!
  • Do not hug or kiss people as they arrive.
  • Greeters/welcome team to wash hands before handing out orders or service/newsletters.
  • Provide hand sanitiser stations that are easily accessible at all entry points and encourage their use by all people (pretend you are on a cruise ship!)
  • Avoid touching your face (or others).
  • Avoid physical contact during service (e.g. passing the peace, laying of hand while praying).
  • Promote and explain the current practice from the pulpit, in newsletters, and on the screen so that everyone can learn.

PASTORAL CARE:

Pastoral care is a fundamental aspect of church and faith communities. We want to continue providing this, but not at the risk of making people sick. Our aim is not to cease providing care, but to think of a workaround or alternative way of doing it that achieves the good aspect of maintaining spiritual health, without unduly risking people’s physical health:

  • Evaluate the necessity of meeting face to face – can pastoral care be provided over the phone or by other supports, rather than in person?
  • You may see an increase in the need for pastoral support services. Make it easy for people to communicate with you and each other without compromising health by being clear about your preferred method of communication and how support will be provided e.g. use of prayer requests cards, web forms, contacting a specific person or team member, use of a preferred phone number or email address, prayer chain, limited hours of availability and so on. 
  • Be proactive about reassuring those who may be feeling fearful or isolated – make extra contact with the vulnerable to let them know they are loved, being prayed for, and are part of the community even if they cannot attend services or programs.
  • Ministers and pastoral carers who are visiting hospitals and aged care facilities must adhere to the instructions given in each facility – do not visit if you are unwell or if you know that you have been exposed to people who have been diagnosed with flu or viruses – you might feel fine but may still be contagious.
  • Remind pastoral carers to consider the practical limitations of home visitation – can you afford to be exposed to people who are unwell if it then means you cannot visit anyone else in person for 14 days or need to self-quarantine?
  • Like the flu, the coronavirus is afflicting high risk groups: the elderly, people with underlying medical conditions, and those who are immunocompromised.  This means these people (and those who care for them) may need to make some difficult decisions around staying home to protect their health. Isolation or a fear of not meeting their commitments and letting the team down may be a stress factor. Help them to make wise decisions by encouraging self-care, being quick to relieve people of tasks or responsibilities that others can cover, and staying in contact with their faith community in other ways.
  • Do not enter any home that is in quarantine for coronavirus. These people must not let in visitors.

PROVIDING COMMUNION:

As always, basic food safety rules do apply to this beautiful practice! The aim is to remove unnecessary close physical contact and minimise the touching of food that others will ingest:

  • Wash hands and all utensils thoroughly before setting up or preparing communion.
  • Use individual wafers/bread/crackers - avoid loaves where people are pulling or breaking it apart with their hands.
  • Make it easy for people to take one piece or be handed a piece without touching other pieces.
  • Use individual cups - avoid drinking from communal cups including dipping bread/wafers into a communal cup.
  • Ministers and communion servers must wash hands thoroughly and use hand sanitiser before touching the trays/plates/cups (consider wearing gloves and handing it out).
  • Distribute communion from stationery distribution points rather than handing trays to each other down the row of seats.
  • Consider handing out the elements to each person with gloves or washed hands.
  • Discard all leftovers – do not rebottle unused juice or store bread/wafers for future use.
  • All cups, plates, trays and any linens must be washed very thoroughly after every use.
  • Depending on your current practice (and future public health developments) you may consider suspending communion temporarily.

FOOD SAFETY:

Where Christian’s gather, hospitality is likely.  Tea, coffee and food are nice to have but in many instances are actually secondary to the purpose of meeting.   

  • Consider temporarily suspending the morning tea gathering after services.
  • Where meals are part of the provision of services, ensure all people to adhere to hand washing and other food safety guidelines, especially children.
  • Provide and insist that all participants use hand sanitiser on entry to the eating area.
  • Deep clean kitchens, bins, tables and chairs after use.

For those affiliates who provide large scale community meals as a regular service, or who operate a commercial kitchen, please follow the appropriate government and food safety guidelines for these activities.

USING TECHNOLOGY:

Technology resources and skill vary considerably from church to church and agency to agency.  Consider what is available to you, and what is reasonable to achieve for your context. Don’t feel you need to suddenly invest in equipment or software that won’t be part of your normal services – this will only add financial pressure and frustration to those administrating it! Work within your means, and be good stewards of people’s time and energy by adopting some basic practices:

  • Disinfect microphones, instruments, sound desks and other shared equipment.
  • Don’t share microphones during a service – issue one per person and clean them prior to use and afterwards.
  • Consider using recorded music or downsizing the band to reduce the amount of people gathering for band rehearsals and setup/pack up.
  • If capable, consider minimising physical contact by taking gatherings and meetings online rather than face-to-face (adhere to privacy and copyright restrictions).
  • Find out if your constitution allows for Board meetings to be held online or for members to dial in if they cannot get there in person? Can you resolve decisions via email?
  • Promote sermon recordings or live streaming of worship services for those who cannot attend - check out One ChurchKardinia ChurchRed ChurchBoronia Church of ChristDiscovery ChurchLiving FaithBerwick Church of ChristWilliamstown Church of Christ  (or find a couple of options that you think will suit your congregations style) and be ready to assist those who may not be confident with technology.

COLLECTING AND COUNTING TITHES AND OFFERINGS:

Cash and offering bowls are easily contaminated items as they pass through so many hands. 

  • Encourage people to move to online giving which will reduce the need for handling cash.
  • Disinfect offering bowls/collection plates after each use.
  • Consider suspending passing the plates around and locate offering collection in a stationary place.
  • Offering counters to wash hands thoroughly before and after counting cash.

PLANNING FOR INTERRUPTION TO SERVICES:

As a leadership team, decide now what your plan will be if you are required to reduce or cease services:

  • Who will make the final call about cancelling services?  (If the Government requires worship services to cease, you must conform).
  • How will you notify your team?
  • How will you notify the congregation or program participants? 
  • Who will make the decision to resume activities?
  • What local or online supports will you endorse or encourage your faith community to turn to if you are unable to provide services?
  • Are there casual or less crucial programs or activities that can be temporarily suspended now so that people aren’t gathering?   

MAKE IT OK TO STAY HOME:

For many people, the decision to stay away from church or faith community gatherings is a big one.  Many will be hesitant to make that call, especially if they are only experiencing minor symptoms (such as you might expect if you have a common cold), or if they have obligations or responsibilities at the activity. Encourage good practice by communicating clearly that:

  • People should stay home if they have even minor symptoms of cold or flu, including runny nose, sore throat, coughing, sneezing, shortness of breath and/or a temperature above 38 degrees Celsius and should leave immediately if they develop these symptoms while on site.
  • People must stay home if they have left, or transited through mainland China, Iran, or Republic of Korea in the last 14 days (they must isolate themselves for 14 days).
  • People must stay home if they have been in close contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus in the last 14 days (they must isolate themselves for 14 days after the date of last contact with the confirmed case).
  • If staff/volunteers are in isolation they should alert the leadership team immediately. If they are well, discuss alternative arrangements, such as working from home. 
  • Remind people that staying home when sick or in quarantine is for the greater good – reinforce a culture of safety that is calm but proactive.

STAY UP TO DATE:

The coronavirus is a rapidly evolving situation, and all Affiliates are reminded to stay on top of the latest information. Learn more by referring to trusted sources, such as:

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Remember, this is a temporary situation.  It may not be the ideal way of doing church or being a faith community but making reasonable adjustments in times such as these is the best way to protect our communities and still provide pastoral care and worship opportunities. 

Let us know what your church or agency is doing in response to this issue – let’s learn from one another and share our ideas.