Message from the Bishop
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
It is difficult to find the words which express the mood of the extraordinary situation in which we find ourselves as we head at 11.59 pm tonight into a national Level 4 “lockdown”, doing so with many other nations, including 1.3 billion Indians. We all hope we save ourselves from the virus but we might find ourselves reckoning that if we change our way of life we will save the planet too.
As we commit ourselves to strict isolation in the absence of inoculation, there are a number of statements and directions to share with you: (clergy, please note that there are some updates below from a memo I sent you on Monday):
- Our overriding concern as we fight the transmission of the virus is that we think of our church and our mission as part of the solution rather than part of the problem.
- Please pray: if you do not have a regular time for prayer, how about praying each morning at 9 am for the virus to be overcome, for your neighbours and for your local ministry unit? See 15 below for the link page to various places live-streaming services—daily and weekly—which offer opportunity to join with others in worshipping God.
- A tentative notice: this Sunday evening at 7 pm, Anglicans are asked to join with Anglicans around the world in prayer against the virus and for those suffering from it and those caring for the sick and dying.
- We must stay at home according to the government’s mandate unless we have exemption because our work is an “essential service.”
- To date, no diocesan or parish clergy are counted as providing “essential services.”
- All church buildings are to be locked. Nice though it might be when we take our exercise to slip into an open church to pray, our commitment to the requirements of Level 4 means that our buildings are to be locked.
- All “parish visiting” will be conducted by telephone or other means which does not involve physically visiting a home or hospital.
- All weddings, baptisms and confirmations need to be postponed until such a time that it is safe for people to gather again.
- There will be no funerals or tangihanga. We have learned of this directive from the Ministry of Health today.
- Should your family experience a bereavement, your funeral director will know exactly what protocols are to be followed in respect of the immediate family.
- Live-streaming services: these will need to take place with leadership only from those already living in the home of the minister arranging the service.
- In respect of several parish vacancies I am calling a halt to the normal processes towards appointments being made. It is not appropriate at this time to be offering permanent, stipendiary positions. As appropriate to each situation we will continue with, or where required we will make, interim appointments drawing on clergy from within the existing college of clergy in this Diocese.
- Edwin Boyce, our Diocesan Manager, is working with churchwardens and treasurers, as well as with Diocesan staff, on assisting parishes through present day challenges, including accessing government financial support where that is applicable to a parish situation.
- General Synod will be postponed (as a physical meeting) but within the currently diaried days in May there will almost certainly be a brief session by Zoom. The Lambeth Conference will be postponed until 2021.
- Today we provide links to two new Dio webpages:
- an ‘FAQs‘ page relating to the situation we are in;
- a ‘Doing Church Differently‘ page with creative ideas ministry units are having re connecting with and caring for people (including livestream links, etc). (If you have ideas/links to share, please email Jo Bean with them, email@example.com).
- An important message from Anglican Care:
New Zealand’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is escalating. Understandably, so are anxiety levels and concern. Not just because of the illness itself; but because of the impact on people’s ability to work, move around freely, and visit loved ones and those depending on them.
When people who were previously doing OK are pushed into isolation and to the edge of coping it is easy to lose sight of those who were already socially isolated and struggling prior to the pandemic. Many of us have people who check up on us or who could drop food to our doorstep if necessary. Many others do not. And so, motivated by the love of Christ and love of their neighbours, worshipping communities are wondering how they might help.
But how do you provide support to people who are vulnerable, lonely, or isolated when face to face visiting is no longer possible?
Anglican Care and the CDHB are asking this very question. Where we know of neighbours in isolation, dropping off a care package or food parcel on the property and leaving again many be possible. Making good use of phone trees and calling lists is another great way to offer some support. But our thoughts and concern go out to those people who are not already on a list.
If your Parish or community group has thought of a way to support your wider community while following CDHB and Government guidelines we would love to hear from you. Please drop me a line to firstname.lastname@example.org
We are also developing our volunteer database and offering support to the CDHB and the City Mission (who are doing great work responding in new ways). If you would like to be involved and have resources and time to offer please let us know.
As the landscape and response needs change we will continue to think of ways to act in the love of Christ.
Noho ora mai
Acting Anglican Missioner
- Recently we noted that Easter Camp has been cancelled due to the virus. Canterbury Youth Services have been blessing local churches for 25 odd years by running Easter Camp, Extend Leadership Camp and training and equipping youth workers. Due to the recent cancellation of Easter Camp because of COVID19 they are in severe financial hardship. Although they have not put out any requests for help we would like to boost their morale by getting some donations sent there way. Maybe your Parish already fund-raised to send young people to EC and could send this in as a donation, maybe you or a young person you know has benefited from EC or CYS and can show them some aroha in this hard time.
Donations can be made to A/C Name: Canterbury Youth Services. Account: 03 1704 0044858 000. Reference: donation & name.
- Finally for today: it was lovely last weekend to be part of Ben Randall’s induction service on Friday evening in St Mary’s Timaru, to catch up with many from throughout the Diocese at the open day organised by Theology House at Tom and Dorothy Innes’ fabulous garden in Springfield on Saturday and to share in the final 10 am service at the Transitional Cathedral for the next month or so.
Be kind to yourselves. Love your neighbours from 2m or more away. Pray for our Prime Minister, her government and their advisors.