Since the beginning of the year, we have been closely monitoring Queensland Department of Health and Australian Government updates on the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. In response, I have been communicating with clergy and other Diocesan leaders with guidance and information based on Queensland Health’s and the Australian Government’s latest recommendations, including through emailed Ad Clera.
Last week the World Health Organisation characterised the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation as a pandemic. This pandemic is causing profound disruption to our everyday lives and to the ministry of our Church communities. It is likely to intensify before the situation begins to improve. We are taking steps to care for and protect our clergy and members of our churches, ministries, service organisations and staff, many of whom are in the demographic groups most vulnerable to the virus.
A webpage has been created to provide clergy and other Church leaders with ongoing advice and resources to:
- Support planning for ministry perhaps in new ways;
- Provide resources for continuing ministry;
- Provide guidelines for worship gatherings and church events;
- Assist people with protecting themselves and others.
This webpage is being reviewed daily and updated as needed. I am encouraging our community’s leaders to check the webpage regularly.
While the physical health of our communities remains paramount, COVID-19 presents a danger for our Church beyond that of the physical wellbeing of our members. It could cause us to lose focus on our call to proclaim the Kingdom of God. Historically, in times of social need, the Church has always made a significant contribution to caring for and protecting others, and the current pandemic situation is no different. While there may be many usual activities and services that we cannot continue in the coming months, with creativity and planning we will have a key role to play. It is not time for the church to retreat from ministry, but to step up.
In the news and on social media over the past few weeks, we have seen people in our local communities behaving in both unhelpful and helpful ways. As Christians, this is a time to remember our call to care and compassion, as well as to protect others.
To carry out this call, we need to be patient with each other and willing to share. Importantly, we need to be mindful of those most at risk in our community who may need additional support, such as older people and those with pre-existing medical conditions who may decide to self-isolate. Simply picking up the phone regularly to check in or offering assistance with grocery or pharmacy shopping and other errands are simple, but meaningful, ways we can help vulnerable people feel connected and supported.
To protect ourselves and others we need to practise good hand and respiratory hygiene, cooperate with medical professionals and calmly heed the COVID-19 advice regularly updated by state and Federal governments.
During this time, I also encourage members of our Diocesan community to stay connected. This is especially important for those who are temporarily unable to attend church or other activities. As well as encouraging members of our Diocesan community to stay connected through their local church’s communication channels, we also invite people to:
- Subscribe to the fortnightly ‘Wednesday Weekly’ to keep up to date with general ACSQ announcements and to access Sunday Devotions, including lectionary readings.
- Subscribe to the fortnightly ‘anglican focus e-news’ to keep up to date with Episcopal and other general ACSQ news and to access Sunday Devotions, including lectionary readings.
- ‘Like’ ACSQ Facebook.
- Contact their parish priest or church leader to discuss possible alternatives if digital access or literacy is an issue.
For more information on the above options, please visit the faithful + effective website.
Please also be aware that Cathedral Precinct operations in Ann Street and St Francis College in Milton will soon undergo some changes, with the likelihood of a number of staff working from alternative locations. We are planning for this in a careful and methodical manner in order to maintain business continuity for Diocesan support services, including vital functions like payroll. Out of consideration for the health of our parishes, you might find that there are also fewer site visits and face-to-face contact from personnel based in Ann St. However, please be assured that staff are still available and contactable via phone, email and Skype.
I pray and trust that all members of our Diocesan community will think about how they can remain connected, care for each other, serve the wider community and maintain the disciplines of the Christian faith during this challenging period.
Be assured of my ongoing prayers for you and your community.
Please join with me in the following prayer:
A prayer from the National Council of Churches
We give thanks anew for your providence and presence.
We prayerfully seek your grace, amidst COVID-19 here and overseas.
We pray for those in need of healing.
We pray for your peace with those who are anxious or grieving.
We pray you will continue to strengthen and sustain all those who are serving in response.
We pray for your Holy Spirit’s discernment amidst the many choices and decisions facing our national, community and medical leaders.
We pray we each might see quickly what more we can do to help those who are vulnerable.
This prayer for our nation in the family of nations, with all that is on our hearts, we gather now and pray through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.
Yours in Christ,
Archbishop Phillip AspinallJump to next article