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


Dear CCVT Affiliates,

What a roller coaster of a week! Thank you for all the positive encouragement as we sort through all the restrictions and work out how to run ministry safely within them.

There are some activities and jobs that we simply cannot do at this time, no matter how valuable it is, but for now we must put them on hiatus.   

Even under Stage 3 and Stage 4, there are still many ways to care for people, worship together, and keep sharing the love of Jesus with our community – we just need to think a little bit more strategically about we do it.  I don’t mean looking for loopholes - I mean finding safer alternatives and ways to achieve the same goal, even if it looks a bit different for a season!  It is important top keep up to date with the latest advice as it is constantly being amended.  

I draw your attention to some important changes below, particularly in relation to providing care:

METROPOLITAN MELBOURNE - STAGE 4 KEY UPDATES

STAGE 4 RESTRICTIONS

If you live in metropolitan Melbourne, Stage 4 restrictions apply.

As much as you can, you must stay at home. When you leave home, you must use a face covering, unless you have a lawful reason for not doing so.

You can read all about the joys of Stage 4 here: https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/stage-4-restrictions-covid-19. More info gets added all the time so keep checking back.

WHAT PROGRAMS OR ACTIVITIES ARE WE ALLOWED TO DO AT CHURCH?

Under the Stage 4 restrictions, only Permitted Work Premises may operate with on-site operations during the restricted activity period in the Restricted Area, and only to the extent permitted. 

Places of Worship are currently only allowed to operate for “permitted funerals, hosting an essential public support service, broadcast (with restrictions)”

(Source: Permitted Work Premises List for the purposes of the Restricted Activity Directions (Restricted Area) (No 6), effective as at 5 August 2020 from 11.59pm (version 1.0).)

Permitted funerals = Funerals are limited to 10 people

Hosting an essential public support service = Food banks, soup kitchens, and homelessness services (although we anticipate further examples may be added)

Broadcast (with restrictions) = Broadcasting church services is permitted. A maximum of 5 people can attend the church to conduct and broadcast the service – this includes everyone involved in the production of the service.

Please note, the Permitted Work Premises List is expected to be updated and amended. We will endeavour to keep you informed of the changes that affect churches and agencies.  Please ensure you are looking at the latest version of the list when considering if your activity meets the criteria.

COVID SAFE PLAN

All Affiliates who are operating under Stage 4 restriction MUST have a COVID Safe Plan focused on safety, prevention and response in the event that coronavirus is linked to the workplace.  

This is required to be completed by 11:59pm on Friday 7th August 2020. Failure to comply could result in an on the spot fine of up $9,913 and up to $20,000 for serious offences.

CCVT encourages all Victorian and Tasmanian Affiliates to have a COVID Safe Plan regardless of location, size, or activities being undertaken.

Your COVIDSafe Plan must set out:

  • Your actions to help prevent the introduction of coronavirus (COVID-19) in your workplace
  • The level of face-covering or personal protective equipment (PPE) required for your workforce
  • How you will prepare for, and respond to, a suspected or confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19) in your workplace
  • This plan must demonstrate how you will meet all of the requirements set out by the Victorian Government. Some higher-risk industries or workplaces have additional requirements of employers and employees.

Religious services and places of worship fit under the “other services” category when looking at the templates.  For more information, see the COVID Safe FAQ page or the Business Victoria website and hotline provide information on restrictions and support to help your workplace plan and respond to coronavirus (COVID-19). Call Business Victoria on 13 22 15.

Click on the following for a COVID Safe Plan template, Guidance Sheet, and a Workplace Attendance register.  

PERMITTED WORKER SCHEME FOR METRO MELBOURNE

All church workers (paid or unpaid) must work from home unless they are attending the church/agency to conduct a funeral, run an essential public support service, or broadcast a church service. No other activities or work reasons work meets the definition of allowable on-site activities. 

All Workers who are leaving their home for church/agency work must be issued a work permit by your organisation - this is the employer’s responsibility. 

Pastors/Ministers of Religion are not considered “essential workers” and therefore must only be issued a work permit by your organisation if they will be leaving their home for the allowed work purposes.  

Download the Permitted worker permit (Word).

WHAT ARE THE ‘CARE OR COMPASSIONATE REASONS’ FOR BEING ABLE TO LEAVE MY HOME? 

Under Stage 4 restrictions you may leave your home for any of the following personal reasons:

  • to visit a doctor or other health professional or care service, or to obtain medical supplies
  • to donate blood
  • if you have shared parenting obligations and need to transport children between homes, under an informal or court-ordered arrangement
  • to provide child-minding services at someone’s home because that person is a permitted worker and doesn’t have anyone else in the household who can supervise their children
  • if you are the parent or guardian of a child and you wish to visit the child because they are in the care of another person or organisation, or you have obligations in relation to the care and support of the child
  • to provide childcare or early childhood education or schooling to a child who lives in the care of the State or family or family violence service
  • if you have carer responsibilities, for example, picking up or dropping off children in a foster care or respite care arrangement
  • to drop off or pick up a child at personal or private childcare, early childhood education facility or school, as permitted
  • to provide care and support to a relative or other person – such as shopping, cooking or house-cleaning – because of their old age, infirmity, disability, sickness or chronic health condition, they are pregnant or have health or mental health concerns
  • to visit someone in an aged care facility, disability accommodation or other residential care facility, provided you comply with the Care facilities direction
  • to visit someone in hospital, provided that visit conforms to the Hospital visitor direction
  • if there is family violence, or violence by another person in the home, and you are at risk. If you are stopped by police, tell them you are feeling unsafe at home and they will help you. Safe accommodation and support for family violence is available. Call safe steps on 1800 015 188 or email safesteps@safesteps.org.au for help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

(Source: DHHS)

I AM CARING FOR AN ELDERLY PARENT/FRIEND WHO LIVES ALONE. CAN I VISIT THEM TO PROVIDE CARE?

Yes. You can visit to provide care, but you should not be visiting your elderly parent or friend for a social visit. This is not one of the permitted reasons to leave home. You should keep in touch by calling, using social media or video calls.

Ministers/Pastoral Carers should conduct pastoral care online or over the phone as much as possible – it is essential that we reduce physical contact with one another in order to stop the spread of infection.  No one is happy about it; no one thinks it is going to produce the same level of quality care; and no one intends this to be the permanent way we do it.  But - it is important that we do it this way, for this season, for the greater good.

  • If you are preparing meals or providing other help for an elderly person, be mindful of the risks of transmitting coronavirus (COVID-19). Older people and those with chronic illness are especially vulnerable to coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • If you are delivering meals, think about leaving a package on their doorstep without making physical contact. 
  • Do not visit if you are unwell. 
  • You must maintain physical distancing by keeping at least 1.5 metres distance between yourself and others and practice good hygiene at all times.
  • Wear your mask/face covering.
  • If you are doing cleaning chores or other housework, think about having them sit somewhere comfortable away from you while you work, so you are not in close contact.
  • Make sure they are feeling well and ask them if they have enough of their regular medications whenever you visit. 
  • If you are concerned about a person in your faith community, please ensure that your visit meets the allowed criteria for leaving your home. For church workers doing visitation as part of their role, this will mean you are required to have work permit.
  • It is also important to consider other ways that person can access the support they need in a way that does not require you or them to leave home, e.g. helping set up home delivery of groceries, telehealth appointments etc.  If you are the only person providing care, then set up a wider support network.  

CAN MINISTERS VISIT PEOPLE IN HOSPITAL FOR END OF LIFE PASTORAL CARE?

Yes, but make sure you have your workers permit with you and comply with the requirements of the facility you are visiting.

ARE WE ALLOWED TO DROP OFF FOOD/MEALS TO PEOPLE’S HOMES AS PART OF OUR FOOD PROGRAM?

  • Yes, but you will require a workers permit to undertake this role.  
  • The 5km limit doesn’t apply to workers, so you may deliver to people further than 5km away from the church/agency, but anyone from the community coming to youmust not leave the 5km radius from their house.
  • You must keep a record of every location that is visited.
  • If you are delivering meals, think about leaving a package on their doorstep without making physical contact.

CAN I GO TO THE CHURCH TO DO ROUTINE MAINTENANCE?

No. For the next 6 weeks, only emergency safety maintenance is allowed. Mowing lawns, basic church upkeep etc cannot be undertaken. Put your feet up because no one is looking at it anyway – we’re all at home. 

IS A PASTOR'S RESIDENCE CONSIDERED 'PLACE OF WORSHIP' FOR SUNDAY SERVICE RECORDING PURPOSES  (CAN OTHER WORKER’S GO TO THE HOME TO BROADCAST?)

Not currently, and it is not recommended.  

5KM LIMIT

You can only travel up to 5km from your home for shopping and exercise. Use this handy map tool to see how far away you can get from your loved ones. The 5km limit does not apply to those who are going to work. 

IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS REGARDING STAGE 4 RESTRICTIONS AND HOW IT RELATES TO YOUR MINISTRY, PLEASE EMAIL safeplaces@churchesofchrist.org.au.


REGIONAL VICTORIA - STAGE 3 KEY UPDATES

STAGE 3 RESTRICTIONS

From 5 August 2020, Stage 3 Stay at Home restrictions apply everywhere in Victoria except metropolitan Melbourne (where Stage 4 restrictions apply). 

If you live in regional Victoria, including Mitchell Shire, there are only four reasons that you can leave home:

  • to shop for food and essential goods or services
  • to provide care, for compassionate reasons, or to seek medical treatment
  • to exercise or for outdoor recreation with your household, or one other person
  • for work or study, if you can’t do it from home

If you can work from home, you must do so. However, if you cannot do your work from home, you can go to work.  This includes both paid staff and volunteers.

You must wear a face covering when you leave home, unless you have a lawful reason for not doing so. Even while wearing a face covering, you should keep at least 1.5 metres distance between yourself and others.

Home visitation by pastoral carers can only be conducted under “compassionate reasons” but please ensure that this is done only when no other option is available.  Social distancing, contactless delivery of food/goods, and safe hygiene must be adhered to.  

(Source: Stay At Home Directions)

COVID SAFE PLAN

CCVT encourages all Victorian and Tasmanian Affiliates to have a COVID Safe Plan regardless of location, size, or activities being undertaken.

Your COVIDSafe Plan must set out:

  • Your actions to help prevent the introduction of coronavirus (COVID-19) in your workplace
  • The level of face-covering or personal protective equipment (PPE) required for your workforce
  • How you will prepare for, and respond to, a suspected or confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19) in your workplace
  • This plan must demonstrate how you will meet all of the requirements set out by the Victorian Government. Some higher-risk industries or workplaces have additional requirements of employers and employees.

Religious services and places of worship fit under the “other services” category when looking at the templates.  For more information, see the COVID Safe FAQ page or the Business Victoria website and hotline provide information on restrictions and support to help your workplace plan and respond to coronavirus (COVID-19). Call Business Victoria on 13 22 15.

Click on the following for a COVID Safe Plan template, Guidance Sheet, and a Workplace Attendance register.  

WEDDINGS

Weddings are limited to a maximum of 5 people (marrying couple, x1 celebrant, x2 witnesses).

FUNERALS

Funerals are limited to 10 people plus the people required to run the funeral.

BROADCASTING CHURCH SERVICES

Broadcasting church services is permitted. A maximum of 5 people can attend the church to conduct and broadcast the service – this includes everyone involved in the production of the service.  Please see the links below to assist Ministers in upskilling for online ministry!

BAPTISMS

Baptism services occurring as part of a broadcasted church service must still be within the 5 person limit – please give consideration as to whether the baptism must be done at the church – if it can be done at home it should be done at home.

HOME VISITATION

You may no longer have visitors to your home or visit other people in their homes.  The exception to this is where you are providing care or for compassionate reasons.  For the most part, simple social visits as pastoral care does not fit this definition.

Many people consider themselves to be caregiving when they are in fact just having a cuppa and socialising (this is still important, but unfortunately its not allowed. Please be mindful that just because you are a Minister, work at a church, or consider yourself to be pastorally caring for someone, doesn’t mean you meet definition outlined in the Directions. Unless you meet the definition below, you may be fined by Victoria Police.

Affiliates are encouraged to provide pastoral care in ways that do not put yourself or others at risk, focusing on communicating online, via phone, letters, etc.  Face-to-face pastoral ministry is to be avoided unless it accompanies one of the legitimate exemptions.  

Keep these aims in mind:

  • Reduce the amount of people travelling outside their homes
  • Reduce the amount of time spent outside the home
  • Exchange of goods/services should be as contactless as possible (e.g. takeaway meals instead of sit-down meals, deliver meals to doors and leave not deliver them to the fridge and stop and talk)

CAN OUR FOODBANK/SOUP KITCHEN TEAM CAN STILL PREPARE MEALS AT THE CHURCH AS A COMMUNITY SERVICE?

Yes, and please make sure you put a COVID Safe Plan together that incorporates all the locations that may be used in the running of these programs and keep a log of all delivery locations.

IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS REGARDING STAGE 3 RESTRICTIONS AND HOW IT RELATES TO YOUR MINISTRY, PLEASE EMAIL safeplaces@churchesofchrist.org.au.


FACE COVERINGS 

All Victorians must wear a face covering when leaving home unless you have a lawful reason for not doing so. 

Horsham Church of Christ are selling masks for $5 to raise money for the Christian Emergency Food Centre

Call 03 5382 3877 or email office@horsham.org.au to order. 

masks.jpg

BUSINESS SUPPORT FUND - EXPANSION

The Victorian State Government has established the Business Support Fund – Expansion program and you may be eligible if you meet the requirements.

Businesses within metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire that are affected by the return to Stay at Home restrictions may be eligible for a one-off $5,000 grant under this program.

Applications will close on Wednesday 19 August 2020 and the application process requires a number of steps, so please action as a matter of priority.

Details are available and applications are made via the Business Victoria webpage.

For any specific queries not addressed in the above webpage or its FAQ’s, please speak with a qualified Chartered Accountant, Tax or BAS Agent.

Alternatively, please email CCVT Finance Manager Kevin Pang (kpang@churchesofchrist.org.au) or call the team on 03 9488 8800. 

If your CCVT-affiliated church or agency is experiencing financial difficulties due to COVID19, the financial relief initiatives communicated on the 21 April 2020 remains available (see attached letter). Please reach out for a discussion on ways we may provide assistance. 

RECORDED RESOURCES FOR MINISTERS

The following recordings are from recent Ministry Clusters and Ministry Boosters run by CCVT for our accredited Ministers.  We are making them available to the wider movement, hoping that they can be used by our colleagues in ministry as an encouragement and opportunity for professional development in these challenging times!

STAY UP TO DATE

There is a reason we direct you to formal websites rather than news articles or media. Learn facts - not opinions: 

You can find all previous Coronavirus and Churches of Christ emails and many of the resources on our website: www.churchesofchrist.org.au/home/coronavirus/coronavirus-updates.   

Please note that the advice has changed significantly over the months as the situation has evolved, but many of the resources are still appropriate and we welcome any suggestions or feedback.

Dear CCVT Affiliates,

Thank you for your patience this week while we have tried to obtain clear answers to the many questions we have about how the Stage 3 and Stage 4 restrictions affect our Victorian Churches and Agencies.

Honestly, this has been one is the more complicated updates to write, so I am glad you’re all such a forgiving bunch for when I don’t get quite right!

The information below as sourced from the DHHS website (which is yet to be updated to accommodate many of the new restrictions), via consultation with the DHHS, and Business Victoria.  

Further clarification is still coming through as the Victorian Government sorts out the practicalities and nuances of the restrictions and how they apply in real life.

We are all just trying to do the right thing and keep everyone safe, so let’s all remain patient and, as a wise colleague once said, look beyond what we can’t do and think about what we can do!

KEY UPDATES FOR METROPOLITAN MELBOURNE

STAGE 4 RESTRICTIONS

  • Stage 4 restrictions are in place as of 6pm on 2 August 2020 until 11.59pm on 13 September 2020.
  • From 5am to 8pm, you can only leave home to shop for necessary goods and services; 1 hour of exercise; care and health care; and work, if it can’t be done from home.
  • A curfew is in place from 8pm to 5am every evening. During this time, you can only leave home for work, and essential health, care or safety reasons.
  • You can only travel up to 5km from your home for shopping and exercise. Here is a handy map tool. The 5km limit does not apply to those who are going to work.
  • Shopping is limited to one person per household, once per day. A 5km limit applies.

WEDDINGS

Weddings are not permitted in Melbourne except under compassionate grounds. You cannot leave metropolitan Melbourne to get married in another part of Victoria. People who live in metropolitan Melbourne cannot travel to attend weddings held outside of this area.

FUNERALS

Funerals are limited to 10 people (please seek further advice regarding how this fits with the permitted worker scheme if a funeral is to be conducted – its one of the areas that still requires clarification from DHHS) 

HOME VISITATION

Home visitation by ministers/pastoral carers is not permitted (pastoral care does not meet the definition of “care and health care” under Stage 4 restrictions).

BROADCASTING CHURCH SERVICES

Broadcasting church services is permitted. A maximum of 5 people can attend the church to conduct and broadcast the service – this includes everyone involved in the production of the service.

PERMITTED WORKER SCHEME FOR METRO MELBOURNE

From 11:59pm Wednesday 5 August 2020, the Permitted Worker Scheme requires all workplaces in Melbourne to be closed unless:

  • the workplace is part of a permitted activity, or
  • all employees are working from home.

Therefore, under Stage 4, all Places of Worship in metro Melbourne are now closed for on-site activities except for the broadcast of religious ceremonies with a maximum of 5 people, or for community purposes (e.g. foodbank, soup kitchens) (see bottom right of p.7 of attached pdf). 

No other activities or work meets the definition of allowable on-site activities. This means that all church administrative work must be done at home including preparation of services, pastoral care, church admin etc.  It is the current understanding that staff cannot work in the church office or on the church property for any purpose other than broadcasting or running the foodbank/soup kitchen program.  

We have sought further clarification on how this applies given that funerals are still allowed to be conducted. Stay tuned!

Employers that require their staff to attend a work site (church property or other) must issue a worker permit to their employees – this is the employer’s responsibility.  Download the Permitted worker permit (Word) or see the attached document.

  • Workers (paid or unpaid) attending the broadcasting or foodbank/soup kitchen purposes on-site must be issued a work permit by your organisation.
  • Workers must carry the worker permit and should carry photo identification when travelling to and from the workplace.
  • A worker permit can be shown electronically to authorities such as a photo, or scanned copy, on a mobile device.
  • Pastors/Ministers of Religion are not considered “essential workers” therefore must only be issued a work permit by your organisation if they will be leaving their home for the allowed work purposes.  
  • If you have a funeral or another event that requires attendance at the church property, please contact the COVID19 Hotline for advice.

COVID SAFE PLAN

From 11:59pm on Friday 7 August 2020 all employers that require their staff to attend a work site must implement their COVID Safe Plan focused on safety, prevention and response in the event that coronavirus is linked to the workplace.

Religious services and places of worship fit under the “other services” category when looking at the templates (see attached).  

Affiliates who run community services such as food banks where multiple locations are involved, should adopt contactless delivery, aim for minimal travel/movement of staff between locations, and ensure that a log is kept of the locations that workers have been attending/working.

For more information, see the COVID Safe FAQ page.  

The Business Victoria website and hotline provide information on restrictions and support to help your workplace plan and respond to coronavirus (COVID-19). Call Business Victoria on 13 22 15.

CCVT encourages all Affiliates to put together a COVID Safe Plan whether legally required or not. 

FACE COVERINGS 

All Victorians must wear a face covering when leaving home unless you have a lawful reason for not doing so. Even while wearing a face covering, you should keep at least 1.5 metres distance between yourself and others. More information on face masks and coverings is available on the DHHS website.

KEY UPDATES FOR REGIONAL VICTORIA INCLUDING MITCHELL SHIRE, GREATER GEELONG, SURF COAST, QUEENSCLIFFE, COLAC OTWAY, GOLDEN PLAINS, & MOORABOOL

STAGE 3 RESTRICTIONS

From 11:59pm on Wednesday 5 August 2020, Stage 3 Stay at Home restrictions apply everywhere in Victoria except metropolitan Melbourne (where Stage 4 restrictions apply). 

If you live in regional Victoria, including Mitchell Shire, there are only four reasons that you can leave home:

  • to shop for food and essential goods or services
  • to provide care, for compassionate reasons, or to seek medical treatment
  • to exercise or for outdoor recreation with your household, or one other person
  • for work or study, if you can’t do it from home

If you can work from home, you must do so. However, if you cannot do your work from home, you can go to work.  This includes both paid staff and volunteers.

You must wear a face covering when you leave home, unless you have a lawful reason for not doing so. Even while wearing a face covering, you should keep at least 1.5 metres distance between yourself and others.

Home visitation by pastoral carers can only be conducted under “compassionate reasons” but please ensure that this is done only when no other option is available.  Social distancing, contactless delivery of food/goods, and safe hygiene must be adhered to.  

WEDDINGS

Weddings are limited to a maximum of 5 people (marrying couple, celebrant, x2 witnesses).

FUNERALS

Funerals are limited to 10 people plus the people required to run the funeral.

BROADCASTING CHURCH SERVICES

Broadcasting church services is permitted. A maximum of 5 people can attend the church to conduct and broadcast the service – this includes everyone involved in the production of the service.

HOME VISITATION

You may no longer have visitors to your home or visit other people in their homes.  The exception to this is where you are providing care or for compassionate reasons.  For the most part, simple pastoral care does not fit this definition.

Many people consider themselves to be caregiving when they are in fact just having a cuppa and socialising (this is still important, but unfortunately its not allowed. Please be mindful that just because you are a Minister, work at a church, or consider yourself to be pastorally caring for someone, doesn’t mean you meet definition outlined in the Directions. Unless you meet the definition below, you may be fined by Victoria Police.

The DHHS website lists examples of the ‘care or compassionate reasons’ for being able to leave your home.  

Affiliates are encouraged to provide pastoral care in ways that do not put yourself or others at risk, focusing on communicating online, via phone, letters, etc.  Face-to-face pastoral ministry is to be avoided unless it accompanies one of the legitimate exemptions.  

CAN OUR FOODBANK/SOUP KITCHEN TEAM CAN STILL PREPARE MEALS AT THE CHURCH AS AN “COMMUNITY SERVICE”?

Yes, and please make sure you put a COVID Safe Plan together that incorporates all the locations that may be used in the running of these programs.

FACE COVERINGS 

All Victorians must wear a face covering when leaving home unless you have a lawful reason for not doing so. This now includes all of regional Victoria. This is an attempt to keep the numbers of cases low in regional Victoria. More information on face masks and coverings is available on the DHHS website

STAY UP TO DATE

There is a reason we direct you to formal websites rather than news articles or media. Learn facts, not opinions: 

You can find all previous Coronavirus and Churches of Christ emails and many of the resources on our website: www.churchesofchrist.org.au/home/coronavirus/coronavirus-updates.   

Please note that the advice has changed significantly over the months as the situation has evolved, but many of the resources are still appropriate and we welcome any suggestions or feedback.

KEY UPDATES FOR VICTORIA

FACE COVERINGS COMPULSORY FOR ALL OF VICTORIA FROM 11:59PM SUNDAY 2 AUGUST 2020

Face coverings are now compulsory throughout ALL of Victoria from 11.59pm on Sunday 2nd August 2020. This now includes all of regional Victoria. This is an attempt to keep the numbers of cases low in regional Victoria.

GREATER GEELONG AND SURROUNDS RESTRICTIONS FROM 11:59PM THURSDAY 30 JULY 2020

From 11:59pm tonight restrictions will come into force in parts of regional Victoria including:

  • Greater Geelong
  • Surf Coast
  • Moorabool
  • Golden Plains
  • Colac-Otway
  • Borough of Queenscliffe 

These restrictions mean if you live in these areas you will no longer be able to visit people or have visitors at home as this has been determined to be the main source of infections.

CAN I REFUSE SOMEONE ACCESS TO MY PREMISES IF THEY ARE NOT WEARING A FACE COVERING?
Yes. You can ask someone not to enter your premises if they are not wearing a face covering unless they have a lawful reason not to wear a face covering. 
(Source

HOW MANY PEOPLE CAN ATTEND THE CHURCH TO RECORD AN ONLINE SERVICE
Maximum of 5 people.
(Source

DO WE NEED TO WEAR A FACE COVERING WHILE WE ARE AT WORK?
Yes, unless you are exempt. Even with a mask, you should keep 1.5 metres distance between yourself and others.
(Source)

CAREGIVING IS ONE OF THE EXEMPTIONS FOR THE STAY AT HOME DIRECTIONS, BUT WHAT DOES “CAREGIVING” MEAN?

Stay at Home (Restricted Areas) Directions are in force across metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire. This means everyone must stay at home other than in specified circumstances. 

People who live in these areas are only allowed to go out for four reasons: 

1.       shopping for food and supplies

2.       health care and caregiving

3.       outdoor exercise

4.       and study or work – if unable to work or study from home

Many people consider themselves to be caregiving when they are in fact just socialising. Please be mindful that just because you are a Minister, work at a church, or consider yourself to be pastorally caring for someone, doesn’t mean you meet definition outlined in the Directions.  Unless you meet the definition below, you may be fined by Victoria Police.

The DHHS website lists examples of the ‘care or compassionate reasons’ for being able to leave your home.  If you would like to read Clause 7 of the Directions that actually defines this exemption, click here.

Affiliates are encouraged to provide pastoral care in ways that do not put yourself or others at risk, focusing on communicating online, via phone, letters, etc.  Face-to-face pastoral ministry is to be avoided unless it accompanies not one of the legitimate exemptions.  

KEY UPDATES FOR TASMANIA

BORDER CHANGES FROM 7 AUGUST

Tasmania will make changes to its border restrictions from 7 August 2020. The current restrictions remain in place until that time.

From 7 August 2020, there will be no quarantine requirement for Tasmanian residents and non-Tasmanian residents travelling from South Australia (SA), Northern Territory (NT) and Western Australia (WA).

Quarantine requirements will remain in place until further notice for all Tasmanian and non-Tasmanian residents who have spent time in NSW, QLD and the ACT (due to their proximity to NSW) in the 14 days prior to travelling to Tasmania.

Travellers who have spent time in affected regions (currently Victoria) or premises are only permitted to enter the State if they are a Tasmanian resident, or are permitted to enter as an Essential Traveller.

From 31 July 2020, Essential Travellers who have spent time in an affected region or premises in the 14 days prior to their arrival in Tasmania will be required to undertake a COVID-19 test on arrival.

Health screening will also be conducted at all Tasmanian airports and ports, including King and Flinders Island from 7 August.

For more information about these changes visit Coming to Tasmania.

CAN I GO FROM VICTORIA TO TASMANIA?

Travellers who have spent time in affected regions (currently Victoria) or premises are only permitted to enter the State of Tasmania if they are a Tasmanian resident, or are permitted to enter as an Essential Traveller. 

Ministers of Religion are not considered to be an Essential Traveller, and are therefore subject to the normal restrictions and quarantine requirements. 

You may be allowed to travel to Tassie under Category 8: Other persons, or classes of persons, approved by the State Controller which includes for compassionate or medical reasons, for example, to attend a funeral, visit a hospital or to assist with end of life care.  

This is decided on a case-by-case basis. The most effective way of doing this is via the G2G PASS system.

YORK STREET CHURCH OF CHRIST, BALLARAT

Previously York Street was streaming one service during COVID-19, but now in response to the disconnect that many people feel in regard to ‘how church used to be’ we have taken the challenge to live stream all three of our services each week to our church community. 

This means that starting from 2 August we have a 9am Traditional Service (hymns and choruses, reflective thoughts on communion, more traditional feel), then an 11am Family Service (with an attached kids program streamed at the same time), and then a 6pm Youth and Young Adults Service (in the evening). 

We invite our brothers and sisters within Churches of Christ to share in our service, particularly for those churches that appreciate the more traditional art form of worship we wanted to offer as a means of connecting through song.

If your church family wishes to view this in their homes we ask that you let us know so that we can name your congregation during the service, point any pastoral care needs back to your team, and promote a key event, if appropriate. 

This is a temporary way that we can help people connect through worship and also help bring God’s word to those congregations that are unable to take on the challenge of technology. 

This won’t replace pastoral care, or the community which each church has, but it may offer an opportunity to sing and connect through Gods word as well as honour the unity of the body of Christ in its different locations. 

Starting in August, the services can be found at this link https://yorkst.com.au/livestream. Feel free to check out the services before making a decision.

Tim Walter
Senior Pastor

 

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE

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STAY UP TO DATE

As we have all experienced over that last few weeks particularly, the advice and requirements of Government and Health officials can change rapidly and not as previously scheduled or anticipated. 

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 and relevant sources, such as:

You can find all previous Coronavirus and Churches of Christ emails and many of the resources on our website: https://www.churchesofchrist.org.au/home/coronavirus/coronavirus-updates.   

Please note that the advice has changed significantly over the months as the situation has evolved, but many of the resources are still appropriate and we welcome any suggestions or feedback.

GENERAL UPDATES

ANNUAL GENERAL MEETINGS

Many churches may have put off their AGM during the lockdown and restricted periods, but are again reconsidering how to run them. Check out The Institute of Community Directors Australia (ICDA) website for some helpful advice but please remember that your own constitution and rules are what specifies the requirements on your organisation.

DISCOVERY CHURCH

CCVT and Discovery Church in Mt Evelyn has put together a fab little video about how they are responding to the pandemic. Check it out here!

CONVERSATIONS OF GRACE PODCAST

Check out a new podcast “Conversations of Grace” by Nathan Oliver at The Church Next Door.  The first season is on 'lockdown parenting'. It's on all the podcast platforms, or link here: https://anchor.fm/tcnd8989

GET TESTED 

If you feel unwell with any symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), however mild, you should stay home and get tested. If you have any fever, chills, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose, and loss of sense of smell or taste – get tested and stay home until you get the result - don’t go in to work and don’t visit friends and family. 

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE

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SUMMARY OF RESTRICTIONS - MELBOURNE METROPOLITAN AREA AND THE SHIRE OF MITCHELL

IF YOU LIVE IN THE MELBOURNE METROPOLITAN AREA AND THE SHIRE OF MITCHELL

  • From 11:59pm on 8 July 2020 you are only allowed to go out for four reasons: shopping for food and supplies, health care and caregiving, outdoor exercise, and study or work – if unable to work or study from home.  
  • From 11:59pm on Wednesday 22 July 2020, you are required to wear a face covering when leaving home, unless a lawful exception applies. A face covering can be either a face mask or a cloth mask and needs to cover both the nose and mouth. More information on face coverings is available on the DHHS website.  
  • You cannot attend religious ceremonies or private worship – we encourage you to use online services instead.
  • Places of religion and worship must close for both religious ceremonies and private worship, but up to a maximum of five people can be on site to record and live stream services. You should ensure those people maintain physical distancing by keeping at least 1.5 metres between each other at all times.
  • Weddings held in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire will be limited to five people (the couple, two witnesses and the celebrant). You can travel to a wedding outside of metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire if you are getting married, a witness or the celebrant, however the limits on the number of people will still apply (five people including the couple, two witnesses and the celebrant). You cannot travel to a wedding outside metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire as a guest.
  • Funerals held in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire will be limited to 10 mourners plus those required to conduct the funeral. You can travel to a funeral outside of metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire. The restrictions apply based on the location of the funeral.
  • A wedding or funeral held in a private residence in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire will be limited to the members of the household, plus the people required to conduct the ceremony.
  • You should never attend a wedding or funeral if you are unwell. You should maintain your physical distance at the event.
  • Places of worship can continue to be open for essential public support services such as food banks, help for the homeless or other essential activities, ensuring appropriate physical distancing is maintained by keeping at least 1.5 metres between everyone at all times.

FACE COVERINGS

  • Face coverings in Melbourne and Mitchell Shire - People living in Melbourne and Mitchell Shire are required to wear a face covering from 11:59pm on Wednesday 22 July when leaving their home, unless a lawful exception applies. The fine for not wearing a face covering will be $200. 
  • Face coverings in regional Victoria - Face coverings in regional Victoria continue to be recommended in situations where maintaining 1.5 metres distance is not possible – however regional Victorians will have to wear a mask when visiting metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire for one of the permitted reasons. 
  • Face coverings can reduce the risk of transmission but are not a substitute for physical distancing and practising good hygiene.  
  • A face covering must cover both your nose and mouth, and a face mask is the recommended face covering.
  • This is an anxious and uncertain time for everyone, and support is vital and available. For more information about managing stress and support options, call the Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Services on 1800 512 348 or visit coronavirus.vic.gov.au.

For more information see www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/face-masks-covid-19.

DO WE HAVE TO WEAR FACE COVERINGS WHILE RECORDING OUR ONLINE SERVICE?

Everyone involved in the production of an online service must wear their face covering unless they meet one of the exceptions. For most churches, this will mean that the person preaching/speaking can remove their face covering for that portion of the event. Please ensure you know how to safely remove and replace a face covering.  All audio/visual staff, musicians, singers, etc for whom it is not necessary to see the mouth (i.e. for lip reading) will remain wearing them. 

Lawful excuses or exceptions for not wearing a face covering:

  • Infants and children under the age of 12 years. 
  • A person who is affected by a relevant medical condition - including problems with their breathing, a serious skin condition on the face, a disability or a mental health condition. This also includes persons who are communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.
  • Persons for whom wearing a face covering would create a risk to that person’s health and safety related to their work, as determined through OH&S guidelines.
  • Persons whose professions require clear enunciation or visibility of their mouth. This includes teaching or live broadcasting. 
  • Professional sportspeople when training or competing.
  • When the individual is doing any exercise or physical activity where they are out of breath or puffing; examples include jogging or running but not walking. You must have a face covering on you and wear it when you finish exercising.
  • When directed by police to remove the face covering to ascertain identity.
  • The person is travelling in a vehicle by themselves or with other members of their household.
  • When consuming food, drink, medication or when smoking/vaping.
  • When asked to remove a face covering to ascertain identity, for example at a bank branch or bottle shop.
  • When undergoing dental treatment or other medical care to the extent that the procedure requires that no face covering may be worn. 
  • During emergencies.

You must carry a face covering with you when leaving home for one of the four reasons, even if you don’t need to wear it while undertaking your current activity, for example you can take your face covering off to eat. If you have a medical condition that prevents you from wearing a face covering at all times you don’t need to carry it with you. 

Please remember that the church is also a workplace, and as an employer you are required to ensure your employees wear face coverings if they are working, unless an exception applies.

SUMMARY OF RESTRICTIONS FOR THE REST OF VICTORIA

IF YOU LIVE OUTSIDE OF METRO MELB AND MITCHELL SHIRE, AKA “THE REST OF VICTORIA”:

  • Places of worship can open for private worship or small religious ceremonies for up to 20 people, plus the minimum number of people reasonably required to perform the service or ceremony.  The one person per four-square metres rule needs to be followed.
  • Up to 20 people, in addition to the celebrant and couple being married, can attend a wedding.  The one person per four-square metres rule needs to be followed.
  • If a wedding is in a home, it will be limited to the members of the household plus a maximum of five visitors, plus the celebrant.  If a wedding ceremony is in a restaurant or café, the group maximum is 20, plus the celebrant and the couple.
  • Up to 50 people can attend a funeral, plus the person leading the funeral and other funeral staff. The one person per four-square metres rule needs to be followed.
  • If a funeral is in a home, it will be limited to the members of the household plus five visitors, plus the funeral staff. If a funeral is held in a restaurant or community facility the group maximum is 50, plus the funeral staff, however a wake or other gathering following a funeral would be limited to a maximum of 10 people.
  • You should wear a face covering such as a cloth mask or surgical mask if it is difficult to keep 1.5 metres apart from others. For more information visit the face coverings page.

ARE THERE ANY ACTIVITIES THAT SHOULD BE AVOIDED DURING SERVICES?

While a number of religious activities traditionally require close proximity or the sharing of cups or plates, it’s vital we maintain our physical distance. That includes not sharing utensils and limiting the use of highly-touched objects.

CAN I ATTEND A PRAYER GROUP?

For reasons that are genuinely lost on me, currently only up to 10 people can gather for a prayer group if the prayer group is held at a place of worship or another public place. This is despite the fact that 20 people can gather at church for a worship service.

A prayer group can meet if it is held in someone’s home as long as there are no more than five visitors in addition to the normal residents of the household.

You should maintain a physical distance of at least 1.5 metres between yourself and other people.

KEY UPDATES FOR TASMANIA

GATHERINGS

Gathering limits in Tassie are determined by the density of the area, up to a maximum of:

  • 250 people for an undivided space in an indoor premises; and
  • 500 people in an undivided space outdoors.

Maximum density limit is one person per 2 square metres.

Where the number of people permitted according to the density limit is less than the gathering limit, the lower number applies.

The maximum number of people permitted on a premises includes staff, volunteers, children and babies.

Where practicable, everyone should maintain a distance of 1.5 metres from other people.

Read more about Gatherings, density limits and physical distancing in Tasmania.

#CHECKIN 

A new campaign has been launched to encourage Tasmanian’s to ‘check in’ with themselves and those around them following the impacts of COVID-19.

It is common to feel anxious and uncertain during these unpreceded times, as we know that that the pandemic has had a significant impact on the lives of Tasmanians.

Created by the Mental Health Council of Tasmania, the Check In website encourages all Tasmanians to take some steps in their day to day lives to look after their own mental health and wellbeing, and that of their loved ones.

Now is the perfect time to:

  • Check in on your own mental health,
  • Check in on a friend or family member, and
  • Check in on what is happening in your community

By answering some easy questions on the website, people can find guidance around what support and information is available in Tasmania to help with the mental health and wellbeing of themselves or someone they care about.

More information can be found at checkin.org.au

Further support is available if you feel like you or a loved one are not coping, including:

  • A Tasmanian Lifeline (1800 98 44 34)
  • Lifeline Australia (13 11 14)
  • Rural Alive and Well (1300 4357 6283)
  • Kids Helpline (1800 551 800)

For more immediate support for people experiencing significant mental health problems, the Mental Health Services Helpline is available 24/7 on 1800 332 388, and in an emergency call triple zero.

STAY UP TO DATE

As we have all experienced over that last few weeks particularly, the advice and requirements of Government and Health officials can change rapidly and not as previously scheduled or anticipated. 

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 and relevant sources, such as:

You can find all previous Coronavirus and Churches of Christ emails and many of the resources on our website: https://www.churchesofchrist.org.au/home/coronavirus/coronavirus-updates.   Please note that the advice has changed significantly over the months as the situation has evolved, but many of the resources are still appropriate and we welcome any suggestions or feedback.

GENERAL UPDATES

PASTORAL CARE

Pastoral care is a fundamental aspect of church and faith communities. During these times of pandemic restrictions, there are limitations placed on how, when, and where we can provide pastoral care. 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. Please consider:

  • Who is the most appropriate person to provide the care – e.g. is the person healthy, able to maintain social distancing, appropriately trained?
  • Evaluate the necessity of meeting face to face – can pastoral care be provided over the phone or by other supports, rather than in person?
  • Caregiving is allowed under Stay at Home directives (e.g. Stage 3 lockdown) and may also be considered “work” for Ministers, Chaplains etc, but this comes with recommendations on how to do so safely. Please adhere to hygiene and social distancing requirements.  Keep visitation to what is necessary.
  • 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. Check requirements for flu vax and visitation times and limits before visiting a facility. Exemptions for compassionate care are on a case by case basis.
  • 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 or isolate?
  • Like the flu, the coronavirus is afflicting high risk groups at a much more significant level: 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 COVID-19. These people must not let in visitors.

AFFILIATE UPDATES

We would love to know how your church or agency is adapting to the current crisis, what practical ministry ideas you are learning or implementing, 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.

2020 ONLINE SERVICE STRATEGY OPTIONS

Many of our churches are having the conversation about how we move forward with online ministry longer term. Click here to view a pdf that some have found really helpful in looking at potential models of online/physical church going forward. 

KEY UPDATES FOR VICTORIA

STAY AT HOME DIRECTIONS (METRO MELBOURNE AND MITCHELL SHIRE)

Stay at Home restrictions will remain in place for metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire until 11.59pm Wednesday 19 August 2020.  

People who live in these areas are only allowed to go out for four reasons: shopping for food and supplies, health care and caregiving, outdoor exercise, and study or work – if unable to work or study from home.  

Weddings, funerals, and religious ceremonies are significantly restricted

Church services cannot be run open to the public during this time.  Only those required to be present to produce an online service may attend the church for the production of the service.  Please adhere to 1.5m social distancing and the 4 square metre rule.

STAY SAFE DIRECTIONS (REST OF VICTORIA)

Stay Safe Directions still apply to the rest of Victoria. 

Currently, all places of worship can open for private worship or small religious ceremonies of up to 20 people, subject to the one person per four-square metres rule, as well as the minimum number of people reasonably required for the service. 

Places of worship can also be used for a funeral service for up to 50 mourners, plus the people required to conduct the funeral.

FACE MASKS

If you live in metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire and are aged 18 years or older, it is recommended that you wear a face mask when you leave home if it is going to be difficult for you to maintain 1.5 metres of distance between yourself and other people. 

Children are not recommended to wear a face mask, but individual families can make their own decisions regarding their children. Children under two years should never wear a face mask due to choking and strangulation risks.

Face masks provide an additional barrier but are not a substitute for physical distancing.  For more information on face masks, click here.

There is a certain technique to safely putting face masks on and taking them off. If promoting the use of masks, please circulate this very short training video from the Australia Government on how to wear a mask: https://youtu.be/weJagy45jek

You can buy face masks online, or follow these instructions on how to make you own face mask, or contact Richmond Vietnamese Church of Christ on 03 9421 5005 or via email as they have been pumping out handmade face masks for the community for months!

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KEY UPDATE FOR TASMANIA 

Gathering limits are now determined by the density of the area, up to a maximum of:

  • 250 people for an undivided space in an indoor premises; and
  • 500 people in an undivided space outdoors.

Maximum density limit is one person per 2 square metres.

Where the number of people permitted according to the density limit is less than the gathering limit, the lower number applies.

The maximum number of people permitted on a premises includes staff, volunteers, children and babies.

Where practicable, everyone should maintain a distance of 1.5 metres from other people.

Read more about Gatherings, density limits and physical distancing in Tasmania.

STAY UP TO DATE

As we have all experienced over that last few weeks particularly, the advice and requirements of Government and Health officials can change rapidly and not as previously scheduled or anticipated. 

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 and relevant sources, such as:

You can find all previous Coronavirus and Churches of Christ emails and many of the resources on our website: www.churchesofchrist.org.au/home/coronavirus/coronavirus-updates.   

Please note that the advice has changed significantly over the months as the situation has evolved, but many of the resources are still appropriate and we welcome any suggestions or feedback

GENERAL UPDATES

St Johns Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and hygiene supplies:

The amount of spam emails from random online companies selling PPE is a pandemic unto itself.  

If you aren’t sure where to buy reliable products, stick to the main stores or consider supporting St John Ambulance. I have attached their PPE price list which includes thermometers scanners, hand sanitiser stations (cheaper than Officeworks!) and other supplies.  

If you have any questions or would like to order items, please contact Sandra at St John Ambulance on 03 8588 8336 or Sandra.Dsouza@stjohnvic.com.au.  (Note: CCVT gets absolutely no kickbacks from St Johns, I just think it’s great to support an Aussie NFP organisation!)

Translated Resources:

If your church or agency involves ministry with people from CALD backgrounds please ensure that you are using translated resources to help communicate clearly. 

Check out Vic resources and Tas resources.

Resuming group based programs:

Thinking about starting up Playgroup, Mainly Music, Mini Maestro’s and other group based children’s programs?

1. Is there enough room to be able to run your group safely? Confirm which maximum number of participants you are subject to – this may vary depending on where you meet, e.g. a home, the church, or other facility. Seek advice from the COVID-19 hotline in your state. 

2. Calculate how many people can fit into the space using the 4 square metre rule in Vic and the 2 square meter rule in Tas. You must abide by the lower of the answers to 1 and 2.

3. Do you have enough people to run the activity properly?  Survey your leaders and volunteers to see how many are willing and able to resume their roles – some people may not wish to continue due to their age or health or that of the people in their household.  

4. Do you have enough participants to make it worthwhile? Survey your participating families to see how many are willing and able to resume in person attendance or if they wish to continue online activities or a hybrid version.

For more information see the attached MM docs (Mainly Music Intermediate Stage, Intermediate Stage - Update #2) or follow these links:

KEY UPDATES FOR VICTORIA

Metro Melbourne and Mitchell Shire:

Victoria is currently operating under Restricted Activity Directions (No 11) but based on the advice of the Chief Health Officer, Stage 3 "Stay at Home" restrictions will be reinstated across metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire from 11:59pm Wednesday 8 July 2020 and will be in place for 6 weeks.

This means that from July 9, Melburnians can only leave their homes for 4 reasons: 

  • to give or receive care; 
  • to work/study (if unable to do so from home); 
  • to exercise (locally); and 
  • to buy essential food and supplies. 

Please note that “providing care” should be done with wisdom – please adhere to good hygiene and social distancing and call first before visiting people’s homes so that they can decide for themselves if they are comfortable with face-to-face visitation. Do not visit anyone if you or anyone in your household is unwell.  

Please note that “going to work” includes both paid staff and volunteers when it comes to production of online services but only the very necessary people should be at the church/agency facility.  All those who can remote in, pre-record, or who aren’t reasonably necessary should stay home.

For many churches, this second lockdown means a delay to the resumption of services and programs.  For others it means we go back to not meeting again having had the blessing of a few weeks together.  Please be alert to the impact this may have on staff, volunteers, and participants in your community. It may be the same restrictions as we experienced previously, but the sheer duration can take a different toll on people.  

Restricted Postcodes:

If you live in postcodes 3012, 3021, 3031, 3032, 3038, 3042, 3046, 3047, 3051, 3055, 3060 and 3064 you will be aware of the additional restrictions already impacting your suburbs. 

Places of religion and worship in these suburbs must close for both religious ceremonies and private worship, but those people who are necessary to stream a service can attend for these purposes.

For general information on the restrictions that apply to these postcodes, click here.

For information specific to churches in these areas, click here.

Prayer request: Please be in prayer for our friends at Roxburgh Park Community Church, Maidstone Church of Christ, and Ascot Vale Church of Christ as they minister to their communities within the suburbs that have already seen higher restrictions in place. 

Rest of Victoria:

To the Victorian Affiliates who live outside of metro Melbourne and Mitchell Shire, please send toilet paper.

KEY UPDATES FOR TASMANIA 

Tasmania has moved to Stage Three in the lifting of restrictions:  

Gathering limits are now determined by the density of the area, up to a maximum of:

  • 250 people for an undivided space in an indoor premises; and
  • 500 people in an undivided space outdoors.

Maximum density limit is one person per 2 square metres. Where the number of people permitted according to the density limit is less than the gathering limit, the lower number applies.

The maximum number of people permitted on a premises includes staff, volunteers, children and babies.

Where practicable, business operators, staff, volunteers and attendees should maintain a distance of 1.5 metres from other people.

Read more about gatherings, density limits and physical distancing in Tasmania.

Singing:

Tas Govt also has note for you about Safe singing in groups!

UPDATES FROM AFFILIATES

New Life Church of Christ - Wodonga

We had two services, one at 9.30 a.m. and one at 11.30 a.m.  At each service we had a COVID-19 information session and told people of the required procedures.  All our signage is in both English and Swahili and everyone followed the instructions.  

We allowed an hour between services for cleaning of all facilities and this worked well. We now face a new set of problems with the border between Vic and NSW being closed so a number of our members will not be able to attend.  However, notices, Bible studies and mini sermons will continue to be sent out.  

Ray Baker (Pastor)

Friends of Dismas – Box Hill

Our Box Hill congregation averages about 16 people at our Tuesday night service, so we have been able to meet together since the maximum number of people allowed to attend a worship service went up to 20. We were not doing any online ministry other than our usual weekly email during lockdown, but we had a good phone ministry going! When we first started back up, we controlled attendance numbers by actually calling all the regular participants first and asking if they were able to attend, and after that we let the less frequent attendees know that we were starting back up. Each week since, we have just kept up the communications and people have let us know if they were or weren’t coming ahead of time. We’ve not turned anyone away!

It has been an interesting learning curve applying all the social distancing and hygiene practices (especially when everyone feels healthy and happy) – it is easy to get a bit too relaxed about it all after a while. We found that it wasn’t just a matter of changing the way we did seating, communion, greeting etc – we had to trial those things and adjust when it didn’t work well.  Overall it hasn’t been too difficult for a smaller group. 

I am confident that we will bounce back from this latest lockdown too. We have seen how God works through our ministry and in people’s lives when we meet face-to-face and when we are apart. It’s been a privilege to walk together with people through this whole experience.  We’ve really bonded as a church family!  

Kylie Kendall (Church Secretary)
(yes, I finally replied to my request for an update from myself and put my own church in my email!)

STAY UP TO DATE

As we have all experienced over that last few weeks particularly, the advice and requirements of Government and Health officials can change rapidly and not as previously scheduled or anticipated. 

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 and relevant sources, such as:

GENERAL UPDATES

The restrictions we currently live and worship under during the COVID-19 pandemic has created some amazing stories of grief and joy, death and birth, disruption and accomplishment, rest and work.  It has been a privilege to witness how God has worked though all these events in our churches and agencies. 

CCVT staff are here to support you through all these as best we can, so if you are unsure what you are “allowed” to be doing, or how best to do it in your local context, please give us a call or call the COVID hotline in your state and ask questions – they are there to help you too (although we recommend being very clearabout who you are and what type of activity you are undertaking so that they give the correct advice applicable to your situation).

  • Victorian Coronavirus Hotline: 1800 675 398
  • Tasmanian Public Health Hotline: 1800 671 738

The Restricted Activity Directions (No 10) and the Stay Safe Directions (No 2) now apply in Victoria, beginning at 11:59pm on 21 June 2020 and ending at 11:59pm on 12 July 2020.  These documents are the official basis of all the advice you find on the DHHS website and in our emails from CCVT.  When you ring the DHHS COVID-19 hotline (Victorian Coronavirus Hotline: 1800 675 398) for advice as an organisation you will be redirected to Business Victoria’s COVID-19 hotline. They look at the DHHS website to understand how to answer your questions.  Many of us were in limbo last week while we waited for DHHS to make corrections to the website as it had weird references to groups of 50 and 20 that made no practical sense.  Now that the Directives have been issued, and the websites updated, it is clearer!

FURTHER ADVICE REGARDING SINGING AT CHURCH

As we advised last week, you are allowed to have congregational singing and choirs at churches in Victoria and Tasmania, although you must adhere to all the social distancing, 4 sqm rule, and hygiene protocols. 

In some other countries it is restricted, and in some other Australian states it is recommended not to do it, but we have no such government rules or Dept of Health recommendations here in Vic/Tas.  

Even so, you can still choose not to have group singing at your services if people are uncomfortable with it because of the increased risk of spreading COVID-19 via the aerosolized droplets when projecting our voices. This is a decision you can make locally based on your particular risk factors and the vulnerability of people in your faith community.

In these unusual times we are constantly making adaptions and alterations to how we do many things at church and we must accept that we are not yet back to “normal”.  It is ok to not be running our services exactly the way we used to, even though we can now meet face-to-face in some capacity again.  Singing (or not) is one of those areas we can eliminate, adapt, or adopt.  To minimise risk, you may decide to encourage people to wear face masks, reduce the number of songs at the services, choose songs that require less voice projection, have someone sing to the congregations in lieu of congregational singing, or be patient and wait a bit longer before resuming it.  

Please remember that you can always raise the bar above the official regulations and make your church safer, but you cannot lower them and compromise people’s health and safety.

If you would like more information about singing and why some churches are not doing it, check out these articles and podcasts:

ARE STAFF INCLUDED IN THE 4 SQUARE METER RULE?

In Victoria and Tasmania the 4 square metre rule applies to limit the number of members of the public allowed in a space, but not the number of workers or staff reasonably required to operate or run the service. So, when calculating your church or hall space, do not include the people running the event in the total number of people allowed to attend. Remember, if your capacity limit under the 4 square metre rule is less than the maximum people allowed for the type of event, you must adhere to the lower number.

To comply with the 4 square metre rule, measure the length and width of the floor space which the members of the public can access. Multiply the length by the width to calculate the area in square metres and divide this by four. The final number is the maximum number of people allowed in the premises (up to the maximum gathering size).  Templates here.

HOLDING CHURCH ACTIVITIES IN PRIVATE HOMES

As always, there is significant overlap between our church activities and our personal/social activities.  Please remember that when it comes the restrictions on numbers, church activities held in a private home such as bible studies, prayer groups, leadership team meetings etc are subject to the residential/private home numbers, not church ceremony numbers.   

Homes are different to public settings in that people may be less likely to observe physical distancing, while other safeguards like regular cleaning are not in place. The evidence confirms that we need to continue physical distancing practices and use common sense throughout the course of the pandemic as we adjust restrictions.  

If you are visiting someone's home, you should:

  • Consider carefully before visiting people who are at higher risk of getting very sick, particularly the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions - you might want to delay your visit or connect with them in other ways including video conferencing, phone calls, text message or social media.
  • Ensure appropriate physical distancing by keeping at least 1.5 metres between you and others who are not from your household. There should be no handshakes and no hugs.
  • Wash your hands when you arrive at someone’s home, and regularly while you visit. Use a tissue or your elbow to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
  • If you, your family or housemates are feeling unwell you should not visit anyone or have visitors at your home.
  • Keep your friends, family and loved ones safe by staying home if you feel unwell. Get tested if you have any symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • Use common sense when it comes to visiting friends and family, especially those who are more vulnerable. That means seeing only those you need to – if you need to.
  • Do not share food or drinks.

Babies and children are counted in the total person limit. Your home includes indoor and outdoor areas of the house.

In Victoria, the decision was made to reduce the number of people who can attend public and private gatherings based on data showing an increase in the number of household contacts spreading coronavirus (COVID-19) among extended family groups. Currently, you are able to have up to 5 visitors in your home at any one time, in addition to the normal residents of a household.

In Tasmania, as of midday Wednesday 17 June 2020, visitors to households have increased to 20 people at any one time (indoor or outdoor), in addition to residents of the household.

If your group is larger than what is allowed in a home, then move to the church facility or somewhere that you can reasonable spread out and socially distance from one another.

KEY UPDATES FOR VICTORIA (22 JUNE 2020 – 12 JULY 2020)

Church services/ceremonies: Currently, all places of worship of all denominations can open for private worship or small religious ceremonies of up to 20 people in any separate area, subject to the one person per four-square metres rule, as well as the minimum number of people reasonably required for the service. Basically, we are continuing with what we have been doing already for just a bit longer.

Weddings: Up to 20 people, in addition to the celebrant and couple being married, can attend a wedding.  The one person per four-square metres rule needs to be followed. If a wedding is in a home, it will be limited to the members of the household plus a maximum of five visitors, plus the celebrant. If a wedding ceremony is in a restaurant or café, the group maximum is 20, plus the celebrant and the couple. Record keeping requirements apply to all weddings.

Funerals: Up to 50 people can attend a funeral, plus the person leading the funeral and other funeral staff. The one person per four-square metres rule needs to be followed. If a funeral is in a home, it will be limited to the members of the household plus five visitors, plus the funeral staff. If a funeral is held in a restaurant or community facility the group maximum is 50, plus the funeral staff, however a wake or other gathering following a funeral would be limited to a maximum of 10 people. Record keeping requirements apply to funerals.

Prayer groups at church: Currently, the DHHS website says that only up to 10 people can gather for a prayer group at church. This has not been specified in the official directives, and makes no practical sense compared to all the other activities being run at a place of worship at a maximum of 20, so we have submitted a request for direct feedback on this matter and will advise you of the answer in our next email.  A prayer group can also meet in someone’s home as long as there are no more than five visitors in addition to the normal residents of the household. You should maintain a physical distance of at least 1.5 metres between yourself and other people.

Record Keeping: You must keep a record of who has attended a ceremony, wedding or funeral, except in relation to private worship or in relation to support groups if confidentiality is typically required. The records requirement applies to all persons that attend the facility or venue for longer than 15 minutes, which may include staff, customers, maintenance and delivery workers.

You must request that each person who attends the facility or venue for longer than 15 minutes provide:

  • their first name; and
  • a contact phone number, 

and, if provided by the person, must keep a record of those details for 28 days, together with the following details:

  • the date and time at which the person attended the facility or venue; and
  • if there are multiple indoor spaces, the indoor space(s) which the person visited.

You must use reasonable endeavours to protect the personal information from use or disclosure to anyone other than an authorised officers (local Council, DHHS) under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act, and destroy the information as soon as reasonably practicable following 28 days after the visit, unless another statutory requirement permits or requires the personal information to be retained.

Signage: You must comply with the signage requirement for each indoor space all the time, and, if hosting a wedding or funeral, each outdoor space. Display a sign at each public entry to each space that includes a statement that the maximum number of members of the public that may be present in the space at a single time is the number permitted by the density quotient, rounded down to the nearest whole number. Templates here.

Cleaning: You must comply with the cleaning requirements, meaning you must take all reasonable steps to ensure that:

  • frequently touched surfaces accessible to members of the public, including toilets and handrails, are cleaned at least twice on any given day; and
  • surfaces are cleaned when visibly soiled; and
  • 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 accessible to a particular group, including the surface of a restaurant table, are cleaned between groups; and
  • surfaces are cleaned immediately after a spill on the surface.

To ensure a surface is cleaned for the purposes of this direction, 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.

KEY UPDATES FOR TASMANIA (FROM 17 JUNE 2020)

Tasmania has moved to Stage Two in the lifting of restrictions. The Tasmanian Government is gradually easing restrictions on businesses as part of its response to COVID-19. 

All businesses and workplaces that are permitted to operate are required to implement measures to meet the minimum COVID-19 safety standards and record this in a COVID-19 Safety plan. See more information on restrictions and the COVID-19 Safe Workplaces Framework.

Religious events and ceremonies:

  • Up to 80 attendees at religious gatherings, ceremonies and instruction; non-denominational ceremonies; and similar services.
  • Up to 80 attendees at weddings, not including the couple being married and staff and volunteers facilitating the event.
  • Up to 80 attendees at funerals, not including staff and volunteers facilitating the event.

The four square metre per person rule applies to all of the religious ceremonies and events listed above.

Gatherings at households: (including shacks) have increased to up to 20 people at any one time, not including residents of the household.  You should not visit or have visitors to your home if you are unwell.

Workplace Safety Plan: All CCVT Affiliates in Tasmania must have a COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan in place.

VIDEO SERMON RESOURCE

In the last 2 years, Mark Conner, previously senior pastor of CityLife Church, has spoken at many CCVT events, Summit 2018 and at many of our churches since then. 

More recently, some of our churches have asked Mark to video preach at their online services. Messages always include a greeting to the church and leaders up front and a closing prayer of response. Message lengths are anywhere from 20-40 minutes. The messages are recorded in 4k video quality with good audio via a lapel mic then delivered in mp4 format or whatever each church media team requires. 

MarkConner.jpg

Some subjects relevant to the current climate includes: 

  • Living in Turbulent Times. From Habakkuk about living in turbulent times. 
  • Freedom from Worry.  About worry and anxiety from Sermon on the Mount.
  • John 3:16 - Basic summary of the gospel for our times. 
  • Improving Our Relationships. A practical message from James 1:19-20. 
  • Igniting Our Spiritual Passion. Passion killers and passion lighters, from Romans 12:8.
  • How to Connect with God.  John 15 abiding in Christ leading to greater fruitfulness.
  • The Spiritual Journey.  Stages of faith in our spiritual journey. 
  • The Blessing of Giving. Acts 20:35 a life of generosity. 
  • Managing Your Finances in Tough Times. A practical message from the book of Proverbs.

If you have an interest in these or other topics, please contact Mark on mark.conner7@icloud.com

Mark’s heart is to be a blessing to our churches and if you are able to, a gift of $250 per message to his itinerant ministry is much appreciated. 

FILMING & INTERVIEW GUIDE

Sam Young, CCVT Videographer, has created a Filming and Interview Guide for CCVT Affiliates.  If you are looking for some simple, user-friendly advice on how to interview people, set up the camera, and get good audio, then have a look at the attached. 

If you have any questions or comments, please reply directly to Sam

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:

The focus of this week’s update is the safe resumption of services and other face-to-face activities on church property.

As churches and agencies around the world start cautiously resuming their activities during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to stay on top of the restrictions relevant to your country, state, and type of activity.

Here are some answers to common questions that are floating around at the moment. 

Please keep in mind the answers pertain to the minimum standard of what is allowed – you are free to decide as a church or agency if you would like to be more cautious or take the restrictions even further for additional safety or practical reasons. Basically, it is ok to set the bar higher, but you cannot drop below the minimum level of safety required by our legislation. For example, many churches are holding off altogether on resuming face to face services until the 

Where possible, we have included a link at the end of each answer so you can check the source and read further information as required.

If you are in doubt about your activities, please call the hotline for your state and seek advice.

Victorian Coronavirus Hotline: 1800 675 398
Tasmanian Public Health Hotline: 1800 671 738

VICTORIA (ADVICE CURRENT FROM 1 JUNE – 22 JUNE 2020)

Can we sing at church?

Yes. This is not a restricted activity in Victoria.

Do we need to temperature test people as they arrive?

No. As a church you are not required to do this, but if you do choose to do it you should use a non-contact thermometer (example) and have a clear and simple procedure for who gets tested (e.g. just staff or everyone?), when they get tested (e.g. upon arrival), and how to handle the situation should someone register a high temperature (e.g. stand aside and retest after 5 minutes. If temperature remains high, go home).  

Is there is a time limit for how long our service or activity can run?

No, but you should leave adequate time for cleaning and sanitising before and after each service or event. This may mean fewer services being conducted or groups using a building or space each day. Be good stewards of people’s time and energy. (Source link)

Can we run multiple church services or activities one after the other in the same space? 

Yes. Multiple services or ceremonies can be held on the same day, but at least one hour should be allowed between them to reduce the risk of crowds at entrances and exits and to enable cleaning. (Source link)

Can we run multiple church services or activities at the same time in different parts of the building?

Yes. You can have 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”. An enclosed space is defined as “an area, room or premises that is substantially enclosed by a roof and walls. If venues have multiple floors, courtyards or separate rooms these may count as enclosed spaces”. (Source link)

This means that you could have 20 people worshipping in the church auditorium and another 20 watching a live feed in the hall at the same time. Or, you could have a service for 20 people happening on the ground floor and another 20 in the kid’s ministry activity upstairs. 

This sounds easy but be mindful that you must make sure crowds do not form in any common areas such as foyers, toilets, kitchens, or any areas where the two groups might meet.  

You are not required to have separate entry/exits for each group, but you must consider the impact on common areas and manage people traffic:

  • stagger start/finish times so that the two groups aren’t arriving and leaving through the same foyer at the same time
  • designate different entry/exit doors for the different groups
  • designate different toilets for the different groups
  • eliminate, reduce, or adapt morning tea or food service so that people are not tempted to gather in crowds larger than the 20 for their activity
  • know what the maximum occupancy of your foyer and other common areas to ensure that you don’t have too many people in there either

If you are unsure if you can manage this safely, please don’t proceed.  The health and wellbeing of our community is more important than getting the most people possible attending an event.  

Source: This advice was received from the Business Victoria Coronavirus Hotline 13 22 15 on 11/6/2020.  (Source Link)

Are staff included in the 4 square meter rule?

No. The four square metre rule applies to limit the number of customers/visitors in a space, but not the number of workers. Venues and facilities can have the number of staff reasonably required to operate, in addition to the limit in place for patrons.

Workers are excluded from the calculation because employers have a duty to provide a safe workplace. (Source link)

sample door sign is attached.

Do we need to count how many people enter the building?

Yes, this is how you will know if you have met the occupancy limitation for the venue.  You must include babies and children in the count.  Even if you use a booking system to allocate seats or restrict numbers attending a service, you should still do a head count to ensure extras have not entered.

We have outside groups that want to use our buildings – is our church responsible for making sure those people are sticking to the social distancing rules?

Places of worship may host essential community services, including leasing church halls or other spaces for community support groups. Physical distancing requirements are the responsibility of the group or organisation leasing the space (the tenant), not the landlord/owner. (Source Link)

Affiliates are encouraged to communicate thoroughly with any hall hirers, and make sure they understand the occupancy, hygiene, cleaning, and social distancing requirements for the buildings.

Use door signs and other posters to spread the message about safe practices.

Do we need to record attendee details for contact tracing?

Yes. To support contact tracing, a place of worship that is hosting a wedding, funeral or ceremony must request that each person attending the premise (including staff) provide first name and phone number.

You must keep a record of those details, and the date and time at which the person attended the facility. Where the patrons spend most of their time in a single space a record of the space used should also be kept. There is no need to keep multiple records if patrons move through multiple spaces. Records can be kept electronically or in hard copy. Records should be kept for 28 days. Pens used to record details should be wiped with an alcohol wipe between users. (Source Link)

sample record and fact sheet are attached to this email.

Remember, you must ask for details, but people have a right to say no to having their details recorded and they can still participate in the event.

How do we clean and sanitise?

Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces regularly e.g. phones, keyboards, door handles, light switches, bench tops can help stop the spread of coronavirus. Advice on cleaning and disinfecting to reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading (Word).

You will find some Safe Work Australia checklists attached and more information can be found at www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/doc/how-clean-and-disinfect-your-workplace-covid-19

What do we do if someone tests positive for COVID-19?

Anyone who tests positive to COVID-19 will be contacted by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and given instructions on quarantine requirements

DHHS will manage contact tracing and notifications to any people who have been in close contact with a person who tests positive to COVID-19.  

Affiliates should be ready to give the Dept any records of attendees at their events to assist them with contact tracing and notifications. 

When will restrictions change again?

From 22 June 2020 a further easing of restrictions is planned in Victoria. Further information on how this will impact faith communities will become available closer to that date.

For more information:

Staying safe
Victoria’s restriction levels
Restricted Activity Directions (No 9) Legislation
Stay Safe Directions given on 31 May 2020

TASMANIA (ADVICE CURRENT FROM 5 JUNE 2020)

Please note: The lifting of Stage 2 restrictions (due to come into effect on 15 June) was brought forward to come into effect from 3pm on Friday 5 June 2020. The decision by the State Government was made after consultation with Public Health. Restrictions around numbers that can gather are still in place but have increased. 

What are the current allowed numbers as of 5 June 2020?

Households: maximum of 10 people at any one time, in addition to residents of the household.

Gatherings: maximum of 20 people (indoor and outdoor) unless the maximum density for the premises under the 4 square metre rule is less, in which case you must adhere to the lower number.

Religious ceremonies, private worship and church services, including baptisms:  maximum of 40 attendees (indoor and outdoor) in addition to the people reasonably necessary to perform or provide the religious instruction, support or service.

Weddings: maximum of 40 attendees (indoor and outdoor) in addition to the people reasonably necessary to perform the wedding unless the maximum density for the premises under the 4 square metre rule is less, in which case you must adhere to the lower number

Funerals: maximum of 50 attendees (indoor and outdoor) in addition to the people reasonably necessary to perform the funeral unless the maximum density for the premises under the 4 square metre rule is less, in which case you must adhere to the lower number

At all of the above, people should still ensure they use physical distancing (1.5m away from others when possible when out), wash their hands regularly, cover coughs and sneezes, stay home if unwell and get tested for COVID-19 if experiencing any cold or flu symptoms. 

Vulnerable people are encouraged to stay home as much as possible to help protect their health.  (Source link)

Make sure your church or agency fully understands the requirements around gatherings, density and physical distancing and how they apply to your activities. 

Some restrictions will be updated over coming days. (Source link)

Do Affiliates need to produce a COVID-19 Safety Plan?

Yes. Services and venues involved in religious ceremonies, funerals and weddings must have a COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan in place by 15 June 2020.  

Creating a plan is not as difficult as it sounds – the information included in your plan will include things you are already doing, and there are templates to help you along the way.

The principles underlying this plan are preparation and prevention of COVID-19 in the workplace.

Business Tasmania partnered with WorkSafe Tasmania to host an online information session to help you navigate the process of developing your COVID-19 Safety Plan. Presented by Ken Nolan from WorkSafe Tasmania, Ken walks you through:

  • why you need to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan
  • where to find checklists, guidelines and plan templates
  • tips and tricks to filling in the plan template or add to your existing workplace plan

Watch a video about how to develop your Plan  ***Highly recommended***

Learn about the minimum standards in the 6 Point Checklist: How to keep your workers safe and limit the spread of COVID-19

Use the small business template (employing fewer than 20 people) or the medium business template (employing between 20 and 199 people) to start your safety plan inc volunteers

Have a solid read of the COVID Safe Workplace Guidelines – Weddings & Religious Services Industry as it will help you with content for your plan

Can we sing at church?

Yes. This is not a restricted activity in Tasmania.

Do we need to temperature test people as they arrive?

No. As a church you are not required to do this, but if you do choose to do it you should use a non-contact thermometer (example) and have a clear and simple procedure for who gets tested (e.g. just staff or everyone?), when they get tested (e.g. upon arrival), and how to handle the situation should someone register a high temperature (e.g. stand aside and retest after 5 minutes. If temperature remains high, go home).  This will form part of your Safety Plan.

Is there is a time limit for how long our service or activity can run?

No, but you should leave adequate time for cleaning and sanitising before and after each service or event.  

Can we run multiple church services or activities one after the other in the same space? 

Yes. Multiple services or ceremonies can be held on the same day but leave enough time between them to reduce the risk of crowds at entrances and exits and to enable proper cleaning and sanitising.

Can we run multiple church services or activities at the same time in different parts of the building?

Yes, BUT you can only have multiple groups of 40 people in separate spaces at the same time if each group has completely separate amenities and entry/exit doors.  The groups cannot share any common area.

If you have multiple groups on the premises at the same time and they need to both use the same foyer or toilets these areas must be completely sanitised between use. This makes it quite impractical for some churches, so please give serious consideration to whether it is in fact easier to just hold one event or to stagger them to run at different times.

You may need to:

  • stagger start/finish times so that the two groups aren’t arriving and leaving through the same foyer at the same time (remember you must clean in between groups)
  • designate different entry/exit doors for the different groups
  • designate different toilets for the different groups
  • eliminate, reduce, or adapt morning tea to be prepared and consumed within each groups designated area, not a common area.
  • know what the maximum occupancy of your foyer and other common areas to ensure that you don’t have too many people in there either

If you are unsure if you can manage this safely, please don’t proceed.  The health and wellbeing of our community is more important than getting the most people possible attending an event.  

Are staff included in the 4 square meter rule?

No. The four square metre rule applies to limit the number of people in addition to the staff reasonably required to operate.

Do we need to count how many people enter the building?

Yes. This is how you will know if you have met the occupancy limitation for the premises.  You must include babies and children in the count. Even if you use a booking system to allocate seats or restrict numbers attending a service, you should still do a head count to ensure extras have not entered.

We have outside groups that want to use our buildings – is our church responsible for making sure those people are sticking to the social distancing rules?

Physical distancing requirements are the responsibility of the group or organisation leasing the space (the tenant), not the landlord/owner.

Affiliates are encouraged to communicate thoroughly with any hall hirers, and make sure they understand the occupancy, hygiene, cleaning, and social distancing requirements for the buildings.

Use door signs and other posters to spread the message about safe practices.

Do we need to record attendee details for contact tracing?

Recording attendee details is recommended but not technically required by Dept of Health in Tassie.

CCVT recommends you do record attendee details to support contact tracing by the Dept of Health in the event that someone tests positive.

Remember, you can ask for details, but people have a right to say no to having their details recorded and they can still participate in the event.

Keep a record of those first name and phone number for each person (including children), and the date and time at which the person attended the facility. Records can be kept electronically or in hard copy. 

Records should be kept for 28 days. 

Pens used to record details should be wiped with an alcohol wipe between users. 

How do we clean and sanitise?

Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces regularly e.g. phones, keyboards, door handles, light switches, bench tops can help stop the spread of coronavirus. Advice on cleaning and disinfecting to reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading (Word).

You will find some Safe Work Australia checklists attached and more information can be found at www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/doc/how-clean-and-disinfect-your-workplace-covid-19

What do we do if someone tests positive for COVID-19?

People who have tested positive to COVID-19 will receive a letter from Public Health Services telling them when they can leave isolation and return to normal duties, including work. (Source Link)

The Dept of Health will manage contact tracing and notifications to any people who have been in close contact with a person who tests positive to COVID-19.  

Affiliates should be ready to give over any records of attendees at their events to the Dept to assist with contact tracing and notifications. 

What is considered “close contact” in Tassie?

A close contact is anyone who:

  • has had face-to-face contact for more than 15 minutes (cumulative over the course of a week) with someone known to have COVID-19, while that person was or may have been infectious, including in the 48 hours before their symptoms started
  • shared a closed space (e.g. waiting room, classroom) for more than two hours with someone known to have COVID-19, while that person was or may have been infectious, including in the 48 hours before their symptoms started.

Close contacts do not include healthcare workers and other people who used infection control precautions, including the recommended personal protective equipment, while caring for someone with COVID-19.

Any other contact is deemed low risk. (Source link)

When will restrictions change again?

From 13 July 2020 a further easing of restrictions is planned in Tasmania. Further information on how this will impact faith communities will become available closer to that date.

Source: Tasmania Dept of Health Hotline 1800 671 738 as at 12/6/2020

For more information:

The Tasmanian Government’s Roadmap to Recovery

Read more about requirements of businesses under the COVID-19 Safe Workplaces Framework

Tasmanian Public Health Hotline: 1800 671 738

Safe Work Australia

Worksafe Tasmania

10 NATIONAL COVID-19 SAFE WORKPLACE PRINCIPLES

Source: https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/covid-19-information-workplaces/other-resources/national-covid-19-safe-workplace-principles

Recognising that the COVID-19 pandemic is a public health emergency, that all actions in respect of COVID-19 should be founded in expert health advice, and that the following principles operate subject to the measures agreed and implemented by governments through the National Cabinet process:

1.  All workers, regardless of their occupation or how they are engaged, have the right to a healthy and safe working environment.

2.  The COVID-19 pandemic requires a uniquely focused approach to work health and safety (WHS) as it applies to businesses, workers and others in the workplace.

3.  To keep our workplaces healthy and safe, businesses must, in consultation with workers, and their representatives, assess the way they work to identify, understand and quantify risks and to implement and review control measures to address those risks.

4.  As COVID-19 restrictions are gradually relaxed, businesses, workers and other duty holders must work together to adapt and promote safe work practices, consistent with advice from health authorities, to ensure their workplaces are ready for the social distancing and exemplary hygiene measures that will be an important part of the transition.

5.  Businesses and workers must actively control against the transmission of COVID-19 while at work, consistent with the latest advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), including considering the application of a hierarchy of appropriate controls where relevant.

6.  Businesses and workers must prepare for the possibility that there will be cases of COVID-19 in the workplace and be ready to respond immediately, appropriately, effectively and efficiently, and consistent with advice from health authorities.

7.  Existing state and territory jurisdiction of WHS compliance and enforcement remains critical. While acknowledging that individual variations across WHS laws mean approaches in different parts of the country may vary, to ensure business and worker confidence, a commitment to a consistent national approach is key. This includes a commitment to communicating what constitutes best practice in prevention, mitigation and response to the risks presented by COVID-19.

8.  Safe Work Australia (SWA), through its tripartite membership, will provide a central hub of WHS guidance and tools that Australian workplaces can use to successfully form the basis of their management of health and safety risks posed by COVID-19.

9.  States and Territories ultimately have the role of providing advice, education, compliance and enforcement of WHS and will leverage the use of the SWA central hub in fulfilling their statutory functions.

10.  The work of the National COVID-19 Coordination Commission will complement the work of SWA, jurisdictions and health authorities to support industries more broadly to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic appropriately, effectively and safely.

OUR COMMUNITY WEBINAR: MANAGING YOUR RETURN TO THE WORKPLACE

This popular free 1hr webinar is available on repeat and will help you plan your return to the workplace with the help of legal experts Moores.  Click here to watch this recording.

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:

Our Federal and State Governments have started a process to ease the restrictions that were put in place to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). This will be a careful and staged process. The roadmap for this process allows each jurisdiction to decide which restrictions can be eased and when, based on public health advice and local circumstances. 

In addition to each State deciding what is best for its community, so too does each church and agency affiliated with CCVT need to determine what is best for its community.  

This may mean continuing to postpone some activities or events or adapting them.  Continuing our online services and building on that great work is also vital, as the transition from online to face-to-face services won’t happen at the same time for everyone. Many groups have expressed how beneficial the online community has become, and it seems that around the world, church has changed for the better by the building of that resource. Let’s pray that moving forward, we can keep the best of both ways of doing church! We have attached a couple of articles that be food for thought in this area and a blog post by Rob Nyhuis can be found below also.

Remember, in starting up the face-to-face ministries again, we must meet the minimum standards of personal health and hygiene, social distancing, cleaning, and limits of numbers.  Resuming our ministries must be done safely and without posing further risks to others and public health and so that our Churches and agencies can remain open for all of us to come together during these difficult times. 

KEY MESSAGES FOR VICTORIA 

  • Victoria’s State of Emergency has been extended to 21 June 2020, but some restrictions have been eased.
  • As restrictions ease, it remains important that if you can work from home, you should do so.
  • As we begin to settle into a new normal, our message is "stay safe". That means continuing to maintain physical distance from others, take appropriate hygiene precautions, avoid crowds, stay home and get tested if you're unwell.
  • More information on current restrictions and how to stay safe can be viewed at Coronavirus (COVID-19) page and https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/victorias-restriction-levels-covid-19

KEY MESSAGES FOR TASMANIA 

No changes this week, but Tassie churches and agencies are encouraged to dive deeper into the requirements around the COVID-19 Safe Workplaces Framework.

The Government has a plan to ‘Rebuild a Stronger Tasmania’. As part of this plan, all workplaces that are reopening will be required to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan that complies with minimum COVID-19 safety standards. 

Workplaces that have continued to operate should consider completing a safety plan by 15 June 2020. Minimum Standards will be introduced by 15 June 2020. Check out all the resources in the Toolbox to help you get set up.

REGISTERING ATTENDANCE / RECORD KEEPING

Encourage attendees to do their part by completing the attendance register, using hand sanitiser and keeping 1.5 metres from others which will help to keep everyone safe while enabling them to continue to practice their faith. 

  • Look for the register and complete your details.
  • Use hand sanitiser on entry and exit and when requested.
  • Keep 1.5 metres space between others – in front, behind and next to you.

Remember, you must ask for details, but people have a right to say no to having their details recorded and they can still participate in the event. 

REMINDER FOR THOSE STARTING UP MEETING IN PEOPLE’S HOMES:

Before inviting friends over, think about how to make the evening as safe as possible. While we can resume some parts of our normal lives, there’s still a way to go.

If you are having friends over, we suggest that you:

  • Remind guests that kissing, hugging and handshakes are off-limits for now
  • Ask each person to wash their hands upon arrival
  • Pre-plan the seating arrangements to ensure social distancing can be followed
  • Avoid sharing utensils, cups or eating from shared platters
  • Wash your hands regularly, including after clearing the table or packing the dishwasher
  • If you or any of your guests come down with flu-like symptoms, or if it will be difficult to maintain physical distancing measures in your home, postpone the event

It’s everyone’s responsibility to limit the spread of #COVID19.

More information: https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/social-gatherings-covid-19

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 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 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

HALL HIRE/EXTERNAL GROUPS

Many Affiliates have hall hirers or external groups that regularly use the property for their activities. These groups may be keen to start operating again.

Before allowing these groups to resume, CCVT recommends that you work out the maximum occupancy of each room and set up clear instructions for how rooms must be set up or maintained.

Many churches are requiring hall hirers to sign an additional or new agreement which obliges the hall hirer/group to adhere to the COVID-19 safety procedures. This may include pre and post event cleaning requirements for the space, ensuring provision of hygiene supplies to participants, social distancing requirements, changes to operating hours, reductions to usage fees, and any other particular requirements you may have for the use of your facility.

RESOURCES ON CCVT WEBSITE

There are a number of resources for churches and agencies on the CCVT COVID-19 page of our website, including previous email updates and many of the resources, tools, templates and samples mentioned. Check it out here.

If there is something missing or if you have a resources you think we should add, please let us know!  

ROB NYHUIS BLOG

Check out Rob’s latest blogpost “Toward a Post-COVID-19 Church” at https://wp.me/pVqVv-16q

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: 

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.  

If you would like specific advice or assistance with your ministry, please contact Safe Places at CCVT

DOOR OF HOPE CHRISTIAN CHURCH INC

Here are some updates on how we’ve adapted and made changes in this season of COVID-19 at Door of Hope.

Immediately moved to on-line platforms only

  • No physical church, youth & young adult or kid’s programs. Our staff moved quickly and without fuss in this area.
  • Because of the restricted numbers allowed in our main auditorium for recording on-line services, we found pre-recording a great benefit. This allowed us the ability to use many different people for segments (like giving, communion, worship sets, welcome etc.) which has really broadened our reach for the people of our church to see many more people/faces. This has helped with a greater sense of connection and familiarity.  This is also allowing us to see the potential in people who may not have normally been on our radar, allowing them opportunity to share a short segment. 

Facility closed

  • Only 2 businesses open (out of our usual 7).
  • Due to not being able to see our business owners face to face, we have been very intentional about communicating with them and pastorally caring for them with regular personal contact, encouragement and offers of prayer and support (many of our business owners are not yet Christian).

Intense learning changes

  • Our staff have needed to learn new ways of doing things - fast; communicating, programming, working and leading from home.  The atmosphere amongst staff is positive and open; willing to try new things and lead our people through this time.

We’ve learnt to give ourselves permission to realise that this is new territory

  • None of us have experienced this before – and we each needed to work through our personal response to navigating through this.  Because of this, we know we will each make mistakes (in our effort to try new things).  We have agreed to give ourselves permission to fail through trial.  We also need to take the pressure off ourselves a little in this way.  There is no road map at this time, we are navigating a new route.

Communication changes

  • Our content and method needed to be repositioned.  We immediately implemented additional, relevant social media communication, added more email based communication and will begin mass SMS messages.  
  • We are conscious that whilst we need to be present on social media, we do not want to add to the ‘noise’ that is so prevalent.  Finding the balance is key.  We have chosen to remain pro-active and steady in our approach being careful not to be reactive and impulsive or feeling we have to fill every quiet space with noise.  We have introduced some new intentional ‘human touch’ video messages.  
  • As Senior Minister, I have personally texted many people, from our church data base as a means of personal connection and encouragement.  
  • I have also arranged to ZOOM in to visit our Connect Groups for a 10 minute catch up.  A simple ‘hi’ and encouragement is helpful in helping our people feel connected to the larger church gathering.
  • I have also joined our youth/young adults ZOOM gatherings for the same reason as above.
  • We decided early on that whilst we didn’t want to pressure our people with lots of new things, there was a need to offer new and different ways to connect (especially those who live alone and completely isolated).  Because of this we introduced more regular prayer gatherings via ZOOM.  We have kept these to 45 minutes and finding that people are really appreciating the ability to connect with others in this way.
  • Staff meetings – all our regular staff meetings, plus all ministry team meetings are taking place via ZOOM.
  • I implemented an ‘optional’ 30 minute gathering for all staff, fortnightly, as a means to simply catch up and connect with one another.  It also provides an opportunity to ask any questions staff may have.

Pastoral Care 

  • Our Pastoral team have quickly adapted and are caring for and supporting our elderly and vulnerable as well as managing those who have enlisted to our ‘self isolation registry’, via our website. The team are now offering personalised grocery shopping for residents of aged care independent living units.

Redeployment

  • A very prompt decision was made to redeploy 3 staff almost immediately because their working situations had closed. All other staff are able to continue as normal at this stage.

Cancellations – decisions had to be made about many upcoming events 

  • Significant church services (Easter, Mother’s Day) had to immediately be reprogrammed to be more suitable to an online only platform.   
  • Flourish (our annual women’s event) made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s event – the first in its 18 year history.  With so much planning and preparation, particularly booking of guest speakers and airfares, which mean paying deposits/associated costs, the team felt that with the uncertainty around whether regulations around gatherings the size of Flourish would have come to a close by August, a decision had to be made sooner rather than later about the sustainability of the event.  They were also mindful that registrations would likely be low due to the financial difficulties and concerns that many are facing now and will continue to face in the coming months.  
  • Door of Hope was scheduled to host the annual Senior Minister’s Conference in August – we have made the decision to cancel (until 2021) – for the same reasons as Flourish (above)

We have learnt (and have to recognise) that

  • Every change, every adaption we make adds another layer of pressure to our staff/leaders.  
  • A crisis magnifies reality – people are more open spiritually – we look for security, familiarity, community and leadership.
  • With crisis comes an opportunity of furthering our desire to reach our neighbours, family and friends with the good news of Jesus.

“I look at this moment and I have an internal sense of knowing this is where courage defines itself.  

We are not just existing.

This is where we (the Church) become a beacon of light, in the darkness of our fragile and uncertain world.

This is the moment where faith elevates.  

This is the moment when we are fully alive”. 

Steve Fitzallen
Senior Minister

THORNBURY CHURCH OF CHRIST

Where can I start?  God is good!  

  • We commenced a twice daily, 30 min prayer time on Zoom at the beginning of lock down and that has continued Monday through Friday and is well attended, one comment was that "there has never been this many people from the church praying together, this often, in the history of Thornbury!"  
  • We’ve had a number of people take up the Hope Group Training offered by Together Network.  
  • We have continued to open for bread collection twice a week and God has added to us a freezer and the opportunity to distribute over 100 FareShare meals each week to supplement the bread.  
  • Our local Neighbourhood house has been offering us toiletries and other essentials which as seen the church hall almost transform into a free mini market.  
  • Our monthly community lunches have remained take away only, but we have increased our usual 90 or so meals to 130 due to the increase in demand and the extending of our reach into the community.  
  • Our church services and bible studies have been operating live on Zoom and those who can’t join on the day receive a recorded copy to watch later. We have seen a number of previous members re-join us and others logging on to check out church from the comfort of their own homes.  
  • We had conveniently booked a builder to replace our front doors in early March, which was complete a couple of weeks ago and we now have the painters engaged on the internals of the church building.  

We are amazed at God’s goodness to us and continue to face challenges with confidence and perseverance knowing that God is with us in the midst of the chaos.   

By the way, the 5th June next year will be our 100th and we are ‘pregnant’ with expectation of what God is going to birth in Thornbury’s later years.  I think the best is yet to come!  

Here are some photos from the last couple of months at Thornbury Church of Christ

Sue Maric
Minister

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VIDEO REPORT - HOW AUSTRALIAN CHURCHES ARE HANDLING SOCIAL ISOLATION

Partners in Ministry recently surveyed over 180 churches around Australia and across a range of denominations to understand how churches had handled the first 8 weeks of Social Isolation in Australia.
They have prepared a 15 minute video overview of the survey by Peter Mayrick – well worth watching. At the following link you will find both the written report and the video report - Click here.

ALBAN INSTITUTE

Attached you will find two resources that came through the Alban Institute  … both good reflections and resources that could be of assistance to Affiliates.

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:

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”.

StKildaGatehouse.jpg

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.