All of our consideration is in the context that COVID-19 represents a significant health risk and many people associated with our church or seeking ministry from our church are recognised to be more vulnerable to the virus than members of the wider community. Our attention to detail and commitment to compliance are of great importance.
Jesus gave to the disciples a new commandment – “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” He called us to have great compassion and concern for our neighbours. He helped us understand that through love and loving service the grace of God is made known.
We are in a season where our actions in response to COVID-19 are a tangible expression of love. There are elements of sacrifice and service as well as commitment to the health and wellbeing of those around us.
The Public Health Orders in NSW are changing enabling us to have gatherings in our church buildings or on church land of up to 10 worshippers. Accordingly, I am inviting parishes to apply for permission to use church buildings for Church Services (including the Holy Communion), study/growth groups and individual prayer. I am inviting parishes to apply for permission to use church buildings for recording or live-streaming worship.
Our return to using church buildings in this way must be attentive to the health and safety needs of all involved and must be compliant with the NSW Government directives. Australia remains vulnerable to this pandemic. Either the NSW Government or the Diocese may change directions in response to changes in understanding of the risk posed by COVID-19.
The Diocesan Office staff have developed a framework to enable us to open church buildings in a way that addressed key risks. You can access the re-opening framework here.
Anglican Bishop of Newcastle