Not for the first time in Covid times, NZ is asking the question beloved of children on a long hot summer’s day travelling for hours to a holiday destination, “Are we there yet?” We are not “there” yet, but we have progressed from Level 4 to Level 3. It is not just that we need to get to Level 1 again, we also need to get to as close to 100% vaccination of our population as possible.
Level 3: Diocesan life and guidance
This Sunday 5 September all physical services in our churches are cancelled: there is no wriggle room in Level 3 regulations for ordinary Sunday or mid week services to be held. The only permitted services are for weddings and funerals, and then with a limit of 10 in the congregation.
Many ministry units, as they have done over the past two Sundays, will be hosting online service or providing resources for worship in parishioners’ own home. On this Diocesan webpage https://anglicanlife.org.nz/news-and-announcements/virtual-services-in-the-diocese/ we list the online or alternative services we have been provided information about. Thank you to all who have responded in the past few days. Other Covid-19 information is at https://anglicanlife.org.nz/news-and-announcements/covid-updates/ .
Note also that the Government’s Level 3 guidelines https://covid19.govt.nz/alert-levels-and-updates/alert-level-3/ this time are quite restrictive and commend minimal enlargement of bubbles. I interpret this to mean that the only gatherings in Level 3 in church premises (apart from small funerals and weddings) should be for staff employed in the parish to be present in their workplace for necessary tasks. Otherwise we should all be working from home, and continuing (e.g.) small group activities from home via electronic means.
Our Synod this year begins with two 2 hour Zoom sessions of Synod, 7 pm to 9 pm Thursday 2 and Friday 3 September 2021. When we are in Level 1 we will hold a full Saturday physical gathering of Synod, with a Synod service the evening before. However, until we have a sense of when we will go to Level 2 and how long we might be in that level, it is not plausible to begin proposing which Saturday that might be. Please pray for our Synod this week and for all lay and ordained members of Synod gathering via Zoom.
Please note that Synod Elections will be held at the physical session of Synod so all members of boards and committees who were intending to stand down at Synod are requested to remain in post until we can conduct elections.
The Government is making Contact tracing—QR codes, recording of personal contact details—mandatory so that when our churches and halls are open again, we will need to be rigorous and attentive in respect of people entering our buildings, for services and other events.
Vaccinations: I had my first one last week and am trusting that supplies enable me to have my second one in two weeks’ time. Have you had yours or at least made a booking? Please remember our Get One Give One campaign here so that others less fortunate than ourselves might also be vaccinated. As I write $68,000 from 976 people has been raised towards the target of $80,000.
Ordinary Life of the Diocese
It was good to “visit” the Zoom congregation of the Parish of Opawa-St Martins on Sunday morning! Something experienced there (and I know other ministry units are doing this) is “breaking out” after the service into small groups for coffee and chat. Our goal through online worship in Levels 3 and 4 is that we worship God, hear God’s Word, pray together and then—as far as possible—fellowship together.
Congratulations to Josh and Ruth Allan-Johns (youth workers in the Parish of North West Christchurch) on the birth of Sophia Kathleen Allan-Johns on 27 August 2021. This is very exciting news for first-time grandparents the Reverends Christine and Andrew Allan-Johns.
Recently I have reported on the deaths of two senior members of our church, both over 100 years old. I now report the death of Beryl Newman, a member of the Parish of Fendalton, widow of the Reverend Edmund Newman, who has died at the age of 103. Please pray for Beryl’s family, as well as other families in NZ at this time, who are grieving within the constraints of Level 4/3.
Opportunities to Help Others
I commend three appeals for funds to readers (in no particular order of preference—they are all important):
- As mentioned last week, an NZCMS appeal for support for the Mirpurkhas Hostel in Pakistan which Kiwi mission partners have had a long association with, including a present partner, who is well known in this Diocese. Details of which are given elsewhere in this e-Life.
- The City Mission here in Christchurch so that it has funds to purchase food for its foodbank which is having an even greater run on it than during the last Lockdown. Matthew Mark, City Missioner, writes, “The team have been absolutely amazing in how quickly and graciously they pivot into undertaking roles and work that sit, often, very far outside of their normal day to day. … due to relationships that we have with providers and wholesalers, we have the ability to leverage a financial gift by at least threefold.” To make a donation, head to https://donate.citymission.org.nz/ .
- Then, let’s not forget the needs of Afghanistan and Haiti—the Christian World Service is appealing for funds to assist people disrupted through the takeover of the Taliban and the impact of a massive earthquake respectively. Details are given elsewhere in this e-Life.
This Sunday, Ordinary 22, our Gospel reading is Mark 7:24-37, two stories of dramatic healings, including a memorable encounter between Jesus and a Gentile women. There is a lot going on here, so only two observations: first, these stories continue to develop Mark’s case that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God; secondly, both encounters are in Gentile territory, so Mark is telling his Gentile readers, “Jesus came into the world to save Gentiles as well as Jews.”
Kia haumaru te noho—Stay safe,