Pastoral letter re: COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
Sent to members – 13/03/20
Dear Hume PC Congregation,
As you would be well aware COVID-19 has come to Australian shores and has officially been declared a pandemic. This has caused many to fear. The challenge for us is to react in a different way—with faith and not fear. Faith not in the stars or in some unknown deity. Rather, faith in Jesus Christ, the good shepherd who is also the resurrection and the life. Surely only Jesus is in control of this situation; surely only he can guide us through this storm. He calls us to trust and believe, to have faith and not fear. There is no need for panic, as we can have complete trust in our Sovereign God who created and sustains this world. This does not mean that we shouldn’t take any precautions. We should use the practical wisdom that God has given us.
A helpful article to read through is Should Christians Be Anxious About the Coronavirus? It can be found at: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/christians-anxious-coronavirus/
The Victorian Health and Human services are telling us that many people who contract COVID-19 will suffer only mild symptoms. However early indications are that the elderly and people with pre-existing medical conditions are more at risk of experiencing severe symptoms. The most common symptoms reported include:
- Breathing difficulties such as breathlessness
- Sore throat
- Fatigue or tiredness.
Our desire is for everyone to be at church, but we are asking that if you have any of these symptoms that you please stay away from others for your own health and the health of others (if you feel the need, please call your doctor). This includes all church activities. Even though we all want to be at church, sometimes the most loving thing for others is to keep away (when we are sick). We would expect that people who have the flu would stay home from church (so that it is not passed on) and so this is much the same.We must be proactive in caring for the more vulnerable and in seeking to reduce greater levels of risk and inconvenience for the whole community.
Research seems to show that social distancing is the only effective way of slowing down a pandemic and reducing its overall impact. It is also important to start the process well before reports of infection reach Craigieburn or close by. In the light of this, we will implement three levels of social distancing and Level One starts now!
Level One: Reduce physical contact by refraining from hugs, kisses and handshakes. Some people have invented other fun ways of greeting each other which you are free to adopt. Sunday sermons are recorded each week which Luke can send you a link to listen to, or email you the text.
* We will do our best to provide hand sanitisers and tissues at church. If you have spare sanitiser to donate that would be appreciated.
Level Two: The next step, maybe very soon, will be to shut down less essential gatherings like Bible Study groups and prayer meeting. Slowing down the number of times we gather will slow down the potential of the virus spreading. Your group may choose to implement this before we make an official announcement.
Level Three: We will be attentive to recommendations from the Victorian government and that may mean the need to shut down our Sunday morning services. Luke still aims to be in contact (via phone) with everyone throughout this period if it eventuates.
As you come to church this Sunday, as always, please be mindful of your personal hygiene. Please wash your hands before coming, as you arrive and even while at church. We need to be especially cautious when it comes to handling food as well.
Your level of vulnerability: Those with vulnerabilities due age or medical conditions need to take extra precautions and take social distancing very seriously. Please err on the side of caution. Please feel free to stay at home, but please inform us of this decision.
Caring for others: Let us be extra mindful of each other’s needs and how we can help the more vulnerable. This might mean offering to shop for someone or sharing some of our own resources. It might also include phone calls or even personal visits to help combat potential loneliness for those who choose to stay at home over the next weeks or months.
Impact on church finances: As you know as a church we are receiving funding to remain open. We can’t afford for giving to cease. One answer to this current situation is for more people to use direct giving via the internet. We can help you work out how to do this if you have never done it before. The banking details are:
Account Name: Hume Presbyterian Church
Westpac Account details: BSB 033-338
Account Number: 133768
If you still want to keep you giving by cash but can’t come to Sunday services, consider putting your usual amount aside each week until you return or even have a member of the Board of Management collect it in person regularly.
Pray: In response to COVID-19 we should pray!
- Pray for the authorities running our countries and cities.
- Pray for the medical teams treating the sick.
- Pray for the men, women, and children who have been infected, for the people afraid to leave their homes, for those living in red zones, for those at high risk with other illnesses, and for the elderly.
- Pray that wise social distancing has a significant impact and pray for the scientists working on a vaccine.
- Pray for businesses and the world economy.
- Pray for the Lord’s protection and for His mercy upon us as a congregation, the state of Victoria, our country and the world.
- Pray to him, that he might show us his mercy. In the end, pray that we accept what the Lord has ordained us to journey through in these uncertain times and that our faith will be strengthened no matter what comes.
- Pray that God would use this to humble humanity and bring many people to salvation through Jesus.
- Pray also for the Lord Jesus to return, that he might come back to take us to the new creation that he has prepared for us, a place with no tears, no death, no mourning, crying or pain (Rev. 21:4).
Pastor Luke Brownley