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Covid Update Letter - GracePoint

An Update Letter on Covid-19 to our GracePoint Church Community (11/3/2020)

Dear church,

There have been some significant changes this last week in regards to the coronavirus (Covid-19) and we are updating you on how as a church community we should respond. We will be working to do our best to care for our church community and our wider community, especially to those who are most vulnerable to the virus.

At this stage the Government has not made a recommendation to limit public meetings which would prevent our church from meeting on Sundays or for mid-week meetings. While statistically those over 70 are the most susceptible to the virus, we must be mindful that those with medical conditions would also be vulnerable to serious illness caused by the virus. At GracePoint we have elderly and vulnerable people in our church community, not just within our English speaking congregations, but also within our Chinese speaking congregations. And even in our younger congregations there would be elderly and vulnerable family members they would have contact with.

In light of advice from NSW Health, we’ve decided to put some protective measures in place at all our GracePoint meetings. We want GracePoint to be a place where those who come are safe and looked after. But before you read them, please stop and pray:

Almighty God, who is our present Help in time of trouble; uplift our hearts as we face the uncertainties of the weeks to come caused by the spreading coronavirus.
Sustain and comfort all who are fearful and struggling until this sickness passes.
You cause the sun to rise on evil and good, and you send rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

So we look to you for grace and mercy on all who need you now who are afraid or sick facing uncertainty the coronavirus has brought.
Heal the sick, console the bereaved and afflicted, protect the young, the elderly and the helpless, and deliver any who are in danger for your mercy is great.
Protect our many health care workers, nurses and doctors on the frontline in hospitals, clinics and aged care homes seeking to care for and look after the sick.  
Shelter them from danger in their work; keep them safe from all evil, and give them ongoing courage in their efforts.
As God of heaven and earth you command the clouds; you bring lightning with the rain and the winds from your storehouses.
You form the light and create darkness, you bring prosperity and create disaster, so we look to you for relief, protection, healing and security in our time of need.
Open the floodgates of heaven, and bring the healing and security we so need, for our broken and sickness ridden world at this time.
More than anything else in our time of earthly need, help us see that you have provided for our eternal need in our Redeemer and Savior, Jesus Christ.
So help us and all in need look to Him for protection, comfort, relief, healing, security and hope at this time. Amen.

What we are asking you to do:

  • If you have been to mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Iran, Italy and South Korea we would ask that you self-quarantine for 14 days after you arrive back in Australia.
  • If you have been in close contact with someone who has recently returned overseas from the above countries, we would ask that you self-quarantine for 14 days.
  • If you or your children have recently returned from traveling overseas and are experiencing any flu-like symptoms like shortness of breath, fever, cough or cold, we would ask that you self-quarantine and call your GP before seeking medical attention.
  • If you or your children are experiencing any flu-like symptoms like shortness of breath, fever, cough or cold, we would ask that you self-quarantine and call your GP before seeking medical attention.

Our main goals are:

  • To minimize opportunities for people to touch or breathe on food that will then be consumed by others.
  • To reduce physical contact on surfaces that could be touched by large numbers of people (such as door handles, urns and water dispensers/jugs, door handles, communion cups/bread, offering bags)

Therefore, out of a desire to love each other and our neighbour, and a desire to be safe, we will be adopting the following actions:

  • All our planned ministry activities and programs will be going ahead as normal. This includes our Sunday Public Worship Services, Friday Night ACG (Allelous Community Group for students), Extreme Youth on Sundays, Community Bible Study Groups and any upcoming church events like our upcoming Mission’s Morning or Women’s Event in April.
  • Everyone is encouraged to follow the recommended personal hygiene by NSW Health (https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov#prevention) which includes washing your hands regularly with soap and water, covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing (cough into your elbow), and minimising physical contact.
  • Everyone is to use the alcohol based hand sanitizer gel that’s made available around our church premises on arrival. Parents, please note that your children are to use the alcohol based hand sanitizer gel to wash their hands on entry to Sunday School as well.
  • To minimise physical contact, we would ask that you refrain from making physical contact as much as possible e.g. shaking hands, kissing, hugging, high-fiving or other forms of embrace, in line with advice from NSW Health.  
  • We are encouraging people to bring their own Bibles to church or use an online one on their mobile devices rather than use a shared one from church.
  • We will be making changes to our weekly Morning Tea and Church Lunches/Dinners. Food when served will no longer be available for children or adults to help themselves off serving plates or tables. Instead food will be distributed by individual servers, wearing gloves and using tongs. Hot and cold drinks i.e. coffee tea or water when served will be distributed by servers who have washed hands and are wearing gloves. They will also pour the milk and add the sugar to avoid common handling of the hot water urn, water dispenser, milk and sugar.
  • At any time, in any of our church meetings or in small groups, where there is food or snacks served, there is not to be shared plates of food. There should only be a designated server wearing gloves serving and handling the food or snacks.
  • We will have our doors propped open to enable easy access to the toilets and halls to minimize the need to touch door handles.
  • We will no longer be passing an offering bag around during our services, instead we will have an offering box at the back of the church for those who would like to continue giving to support our ministry. Alternatively we would encourage people to give electronically by direct debit.  Parents, please note that we will still be using an offering bag at Sunday School for the children, but the bag will no longer be passed around from child to child. A Sunday School teacher will be handling the bag.
  • We will no longer be passing around and handing out open cups and bread for the Lord’s Supper. We will be using individually pre-packaged sealed cups and bread which will be handed out by our servers wearing gloves.

Furthermore, to provide for those who are sick or vulnerable and unable to join us on Sundays we will be looking to livestream our full Lidcombe AM and PM Sunday Services. Our media team is looking into getting this up and running over the next 2 weeks, and we will let you know which online media platform we will be using. We are aware that it won’t be perfect, but we hope it will serve those unable to attend.

We hope you’ll understand why we are taking these measures. We don’t want to foster panic and we are confident the risk is low. However, it is important that we do our part to ensure our church community stays safe, and that we are being diligent and responsible in caring for the most vulnerable within and outside GracePoint.

Our hope and prayer is that God will bring about healing, and that He would strengthen and protect us, our health workers on the frontline and those who are vulnerable. In all of this we must remember that God is the One who sustains all things - even the air that we breath (Acts 17:25). He is providentially sovereign and our lives are in his hands. Sickness and disease are a tangible reminder that we live in a broken world and that we are desperately dependent on God. As a people who know the eternal hope of the gospel this is an opportunity for us to show Christ-like love, service and concern for others. We need not be fearful but neither should we be careless. So let me encourage you to not be tempted to stay away from meeting with others on Sundays at church for worship, or your regular Community Group. And I would also ask you to remember that we are doing this not for our own benefit to protect ourselves, but to love and care for others around us.  

In Him,

Eugene Hor – GracePoint Lead English Pastor/Elder

 

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