Changes To Church Services - Covid19 Update
Changes To Our GracePoint Church Services From Next Week Due To Covid-19
As all of you are aware because of Covid-19 things have been rapidly changing. The elders and I believe it’s important to let you know of our plans from next Sunday that we believe would be best for GracePoint and the wider community.
We want to let you know WHY we are taking this step. As an eldership we are taking precautionary measures for the next few weeks that we believe is in the best interest of our congregations and the wider community. While we are aware that those over 70 are most susceptible to the virus, we are mindful of those who have pre-existing medical conditions. We’re also mindful that many in our congregations have also got elderly and vulnerable family members they would have contact with. So we would rather take preventive steps to look after our church community and our wider community by minimizing contact in a large group.
We want to let you know WHAT our plan for church will be from next Sunday the 22nd of March. From next Sunday we’ll be live streaming a pre-recorded worship service at 10am and 4pm – which will be through a live feed on our FB page (https://www.facebook.com/GracePointSydney/) and Website (https://www.gracepoint.org.au/)
At present our plans are to encourage you to meet for Sunday worship in community groups worshipping with us on our pre-recorded live stream of a full worship service on Sundays. We recognise that it might not be possible for everyone to do this. Some of you might want to worship as families, some of you might want to get together in your home with people close to you from church, or some of you who feel more cautious or unwell might want to worship privately within the confines of your home.
- This means there will be no Sunday School. We’ll be working to make sure all our families will have access to material each week to use with their children which we would encourage you to use if you’re a parent.
- This means there will be no Extreme Youth. Pastor Peter Hughes has made arrangement for our youth leaders to continue meeting in online groups with our youth.
- This means our Friday Students Allelous Community Groups will not meet in its current form. Pastor Elliot Ku and our micro group leaders will be contacting our students. Information will also be available through the ACG website (https://allelouscg.com/) and the ACG FB group.
- Community group meetings each week will continue as normal. If you’re part of a weekly community group, nothing has changed apart from making sure your community group adheres to the meeting hygiene guidelines we’ve released at church. Our CG leaders are meeting this Tuesday to prepare to work out how to facilitate small group worship through our livestream for next Sunday. So please be patient and wait for them to contact you.
We want to let you know HOW long we are going to do this. At this stage we will be doing this as a church for the next 3 weeks leading up to Easter. During this time our elders and pastors will be constantly assessing the situation. We’ll keep you informed leading up to Easter based on what the government says and what’s happening in our wider community.
As your pastor I want to remind you that even though our circumstances have changed, church will still meet next Sunday. We might not be meeting in the same way, but in a different way for a while. It won’t be forever. Just over 10 years ago I reminded our church when we lost our place of Sunday worship that we have always been and will always be a church without walls. We have never been defined by our building or the physical space we meet in. Our identity as the people of God is not defined by a location. Our mission is not determined by a building. Worship is not determined by the way we have previously done our Sunday gatherings. We are still God’s people meeting in different places under God’s rule. Our mission and vision at GracePoint has not changed. We will continue meeting to Magnify God in worship, as Members committed to each other, growing in Maturity in word and prayer, Ministering and serving each other, for Mission in our city even in times like this.
Let me also tell you that you needn’t be afraid or fearful in the coming weeks. Some of you are worried and anxious about the uncertainty the next few weeks will bring. You may be more susceptible, you may have elderly family members, you might have a pre-existing medical condition or illness, or you might be worried for yourself. I want to assure you that you are not alone at this time, which is why it’s important that you stay connected with our church community. We believe church is family and we want to make sure no one gets left behind or is alone in the weeks to come.
This will mean 2 things:
- We will do our best to keep you in the loop so that you know what’s happening at GracePoint week to week. We want to make sure that you can get in contact with us and we want to be able to keep you updated. Let us know how we can keep in contact with you using this link – www.tinyurl.com/gpstayingconnected We will also be using our Website and GP Page to keep you updated. If you have questions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- If you are not in a community group or an ACG micro group but are a regular worshipper here on Sundays, you’re welcome to join a group for Sunday worship and I would encourage you to join one. You can let us know using this link – www.tinyurl.com/gpstayingconnected
Let me also encourage you to remember that we are not a people without hope or without God. I want you to remember that God alone sustains all things - even the air that we breath (Acts 17:25). He alone 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. The fires, the floods and now the Covid-19 virus is a reminder to us that we are not in control. But as a people who know the eternal hope of the good news of Jesus this is an opportunity for us to show Christ-like love, to serve each other and our wider community, and to care for the weak and vulnerable. We need not be fearful but neither should we be careless.
So we’re going to keep doing church in a different way from next week. We’re going to keep worshipping and loving each other. We’re going to keep reaching out and doing good. We’re going to keep loving our neighbours. We’re going to keep anchoring in the hope of the gospel. I want you to remember that Christ is still King and that He is the peace, hope, security and healing we and everyone needs!
Hebrews 10:23-25, 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another —and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 13:8, 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
This will mean 3 things for you:
- Look out for people you know who are going to be struggling the next few weeks – those who are anxious, those who need comfort, those who are living alone, those who are sick and unwell. Reach out to them, include them in your community, and where possible share the hope of the gospel you have at this time.
- Extend practical care to those you know who will need help the next few weeks – your neighbours, those who are unwell and can’t go out, share with them as needed.
- Be wise and take the necessary steps to maintain the recommended hygiene measures by NSW health and minimize physical contact at all times. We have outlined these hygiene measures in our guidelines letter here (https://www.gracepoint.org.au/news/covid-update-letter-gracepoint)
The eternal hope of the good news of Jesus gives us courage in times like this, to not run and hide, to not be fearful and selfish. It gives us courage and confidence to keep trusting God, to keep caring for each other, to keep doing good and practically help those in need, to offer hope to the anxious, to remind each other of the eternal hope Jesus gives.
Let me invite you to pray with me as we enter into a season of change from next week.
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.
Eugene Hor – GracePoint Lead English Pastor