THE UNITING CHURCH IN AUSTRALIA
27th March 27, 2020
FROM THE MODERATOR
There is a song that always echoes in my heart all the time when dealing with situations in life:
“Hidden down the road, close or still far away, I am guided by God’s hand to a land that I do not know.
Father teach me to follow what you purpose may be. No doubt or fear, my faith remains steadfast.”
For the last month we have all been shocked by the COVID-19 Pandemic, and at the same time all Christians are in contemplation of the Lord Jesus Christ’s suffering. Now, after the government has been appealing to the community to practice social distancing (including closing places of worship), the church must take action and not lose its prophetic voice by inviting congregations to worship at home.
All of these occurrences that shake our faith should make us aware of how to become an extension of God. Instead we ask: Where is God? What are God’s concerns are for humans? The Apostle Paul gives hope to believers who suffer saying that God also works to bring good to those who love Him (Romans 8:28). The suffering of the believer does not mean God’s indifference to His people, but serves as a megaphone of God, so that we reflect on ourselves to seek God’s best will in suffering. Prayer must be our personal encounter with God because the Spirit prays for us and teaches us how to pray despite difficulties.
You are the creator of the universe and everything in it. In the love of your Son Jesus Christ who is the Lord, the saviour of men, and by the guidance of our Holy Spirit your people come to look up to your eternal and holy temple.
We offer prayers and thanksgiving for your faithfulness. We are grateful because you love us so much.
You guide us and let us witness the miracles and the strength of Your power through events that are difficult for humans to understand. COVID-19 seems so frightening because it has claimed many victims, and until now there is no antidote.
In our faith, this is not a punishment but an opportunity for us to reflect on what is wrong in interpreting God’s grace.
In this belief, God, we ask for forgiveness.
Let Your will be done, not ours. Amen
Rev Thresi Mauboy Wohangara
FROM THE GENERAL SECRETARY
Dear Northern Synod UCA Family,
RE: COVID-19 Coronavirus
I understand that you have been following constant updates by Federal and Northern Territory governments on COVID-19. On Monday 23rd March the government made the announcement that directly related to Places of Worship. As such, I would like to provide the following guidance to the Synod Office, Presbyteries, Congregations and all related services within the Northern Synod.
I strongly urge you to follow social distancing and good hygiene and to encourage others to do the same. I also urge you to undertake self-isolation if you feel you may have been in contact with someone who has the COVID-19 virus, are presenting with flu-like symptoms and/or if you have recently traveled overseas. For further information, please visit the Department of Health website if you have not been doing so already.
Federal and Northern Territory governments and medical experts emphasize that this is the best way to stay safe and stop the spread of COVID-19.
I kindly ask that you IMMEDIATELY implement measures below and encourage adherence to them in the interests of not only following Government direction but to also ensure your health and those around you.
I urge you to consider my strong and sincere request that:
People are advised to stay home and exercise from gathering with others as much as possible and avoid visiting other people and crowded space. Please stay at home and only leave when necessary such as to do the shopping;
All church buildings be closed indefinitely until further notice.
Any gatherings in church buildings, regardless of the number of people in attendance such as small devotion groups, bible studies group and congregation related meetings, be cancelled and perhaps be moved online where possible;
The usage of any part of the church property including hiring of rooms to communities, parents and children ministry, private gatherings and operating of Op Shops located within the church compound cease until further notice;
Church offices be allowed to be used only by the church administration person and the Minister/Pastor only when absolutely necessary from them to do so and where work cannot be done from home; and
All Ministers /Pastors and people in placements to work from home unless it is absolutely necessary for them not to do so.
I announce that the Northern Synod meeting on 5-7 July 2020 is cancelled.
I urge you to not travel interstate if you can avoid it. As you are aware travel to aged care facilities, remote communities and internationally is not allowed by decision of the Northern Territory and the Federal governments.
Synod and Presbyteries meetings
All meetings of committees within synod and within presbyteries are to occur online by video link where possible. People can partake in those meetings from home.
The Synod office at Parap is now locked and off limit unless there is prior arrangement made to visit on essential matters only. Some office staffs are now working from home.
Leaderships are considering several matters arising from the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. One of those matters being the matter of placements and employment. I always want to take care of our staff and people in placements and employees within presbyteries and congregations. We have responsibility for our Synod and where possible we need to put measures and make decisions to ensure this has been done so in a thoughtful and prayerful way.
The synod will organize an Inter-grated “Community Connect Hub” with practical ways of connecting with each other. We are mindful of the need to stay connected and supportive of other people during these uncertain times.
Again, I would like to thank everyone, our congregation members, church leaders, church councils and presbyteries in all regions within the Northern Synod. I am humbled by the unity and resolve that we display during this distressing and painful time.
I am saddened by the impact of COVID-19 on our worship and on our lives. We trust that God’s caring and Grace will be upon you and your families and friends during this time.
If you have further questions, please contact The Communication Unit Liusem.Mauboy@ns.uca.org.au Mob 0412180798 or Synod Office Administration by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 8992 3400
With Prayers, In Christ,
Rev Haloti Kailahi