June 5, 2020
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
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
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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”.
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.
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.
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: