You will all be aware of the growing concern about the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the community. The medical experts advise us that one of the best things we can do is to slow the rate of infection by practicing good hygiene and minimising social contact. This is important for everyone and particularly our older members who may be more severely impacted.
On Thursday night our deacons met and agreed that the best contribution we can make to our community’s wellbeing is to discontinue Sunday morning worship services until further notice. We share the grief many will feel about this. But we want to assure you that lots of thought has already been offered to creative ways to keep our community connected, supported and cared for. These include:
· Each week we will make available a short, pre-recorded service you can participate in on your computer or mobile phone. You may like to watch it at 10am on Sunday morning – or any time during the week. Stephen has done a lot of creative work to facilitate this. This Sunday’s service includes Andrew, Bill, Stephen and Sally. You can watch the service at:
https://stkildabaptist.org.au/sermons/ use the following password StKi!d@B@ptist1954
(It may not be available until later tonight)
· We will cancel our Lenten reflective services on Thursday nights and our April MOTH is also cancelled.
· We have cancelled our quarterly church meeting for this Sunday, 22nd March. We are still hoping to find an innovative and safe way to meet to consider a recommendation from the Pastoral Search Committee to appoint a new co-pastor on 5th April, although we may need a little more time to explore options and put logistics in place. We’ll keep you posted.
· We suggest that smaller groups – home groups and planning meetings – can make their own decisions about proceeding. They are encouraged to follow government medical advice when deciding whether to continue meeting in homes. Members are reminded to be particularly diligent about hand washing, food handling and social distancing. If you are not feeling well then stay home. Where possible Skype, Zoom or WhatsApp meetings may be considered.
· In the next week or so, we will be sharing plans to ensure that pastoral care networks are enhanced, and any needs can be heard and addressed. We will be especially proactive about regular connection with members of the community who may be especially vulnerable at this time. Please feel free to phone Stephen (0400 827 410), Sally (0402 402 348) or Ross (0412 383 162). Andrew is taking a week’s leave this week.
· Community Kitchen is still operating but we are only providing take away meals and fresh food parcels. There is no tea or coffee provided and people are not allowed inside the building. We are aware of the stress this may cause for many who come to CK for the social interaction but we are also very aware of the vulnerability of many of those who come to CK.
· Sally is in touch with our various hall users about implications for their groups.
· About 20% of our weekly offering is given on Sunday mornings. Please consider making your offering electronically so that we can continue to pay our staff! Our bank details are A/C Name: St Kilda Baptist Church BSB: 633 000 Account: 150 286 532
· For those who experience significant financial stress during this time due to loss of income we assure you that while “most of us enjoy considerable comfort and security, we believe that no-one in our Christian community should have to live below the poverty line”. (FairShare Scheme) Please talk to one of our Pastors, Andrew, Ross or Stephen if you are struggling financially or emotionally during this difficult time.
It would be fair to say that few of us have experienced anything like this in our lives. So many places where we find nurture, recreation and growth seem to be closing their doors. We are not immune from the fear in our community. If you are finding it all disorientating and frightening, you are not alone.
But there is hope. We’ve heard a lot about social distancing this week, a concept that feels so out of step with the mission of the Gospel. But what if we thought of it as “spatial distancing” with enhanced “spiritual connection”? What if we saw this as an opportunity to enhance ways that community life can be sustained through increased interaction by phone and over our electronic devices and through acts of thoughtfulness and care? What if the cancellations in our calendars became time to read, reflect and pray?
When we embraced the theme “Into the deep” for Lent, we had no idea of the depths to which we would be invited. But deep places are connecting places with God and the things that really matter to us. Our whole faith is based on the story of Jesus who enters a place of deepest fear and destructive power, is overwhelmed… and yet he lives and shares his life with us.
Let’s not despair. God hasn’t forgotten us. And God, giver of life and love, continues to beckon us to celebrate the hope and peace of God’s presence.
· Those who are especially vulnerable and those who are very frightened
· Some of our members are having medical tests at present and we seek wisdom and peace.
· We think of Luke, Dani, Simin and Hooman who are all concerned for loved ones in Iran with the Coronavirus threat.
We are a community of people drawn together by the love and grace of God
exemplified for us in the life of Jesus.
We welcome everyone.
This includes people of all cultures, races, religions,
mental and physical capabilities, sexual orientation and gender identity.
We are committed to peace with justice, and the integrity of all creation.