Letter to Congregation re Services held here in immediate future

18 March 2020

Hi folks,

In response to the unfolding situation we are all facing at the moment over the Pandemic, last night Session looked at what we thought would be a reasonable response for our church.  We DO NOT want to be scare-mongering but neither do we want to be putting our heads in the sand and ignoring what is currently happening around the world and even here in NZ.

To that end, we found an article written by Daniel Chin, currently residing in Seattle who is a committed Christian and who has written a response based on his past experience.  Of him it is written that “Dr Chin is a physician trained in pulmonary and critical care medicine and epidemiology with 25 years of global public health experience.  In 2003, he led much of the World Health Organisation’s support to China to contain the SARS epidemic.”

He has been asked by many churches as to what a reasonable response can be from a church’s position; it is from his recommendations combined with those of our government and other NZ health officials that we have made this decision.

For the next few weeks, we will be holding just one service on Sunday at 10.00am which will be a combined service of both of our current services.  We will also be moving the rows of chairs apart slightly and will be putting hand sanitiser at the doors in the foyer for people to use if they would like.  We are doing this, risking perhaps some folks ire or misunderstanding, but we would rather have been found having done enough than to discover at a later date that we did not do enough.  The elders’ primary motivation is the health and welfare of our people, and we believe that to make this decision at this stage is the prudent thing to do.

We also want folks to know that if they decide that they would rather not attend church over these next few weeks, after which we will review the situation, then they should have the freedom to do so without any sense of, or feelings about, doing the wrong thing.  Some of us are simply at higher risk than many others due to their health conditions or susceptibilities and therefore it is wise to act cautiously rather than recklessly.

So just to reiterate, we will be holding a single combined service at 10.00am on Sunday morning over the next few weeks during which time reviews of the situation in our community will be monitored.  Based on the unfolding situation, decisions will be made to reflect the then current situation and you will all be kept informed appropriately.

But please do not go into panic mode as some seem to have been doing recently.  Simple precautions, such as washing your hands thoroughly in soapy water for 20 seconds and/or using hand sanitiser, avoiding touching your face, being friendly but not shaking hands, keeping away from sick people or staying away from others if you’re sick yourself can make all the difference. 

Blessings,

Tom

(p.p. First Church Session)