Anglican Churches to close with immediate effect

18 March – Number 4

Dear colleagues,

  • Anglican Churches to close with immediate effect

Earlier today the GPs of the Hunter region joined with other medical practitoners urged citizens to take unprecedented action for their self-care and the care of the community. They echo the voices of many medical leaders in saying, “Protect yourself, family and community by social distancing and personal hygiene, especially by frequent hand washing and not touching your face or eyes. Avoid all social contact including family and friends, crowded venues, clubs, etc. Self isolate.” [Emphasis added]

I have reviewed the guidance from the Prime Minister and the advice of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. I am profoundly conscious of the age and frailty of many to whom we minister and their vulnerability. The Diocesan Bishops of NSW have been in conversation. I anticipate that in just over a week all Anglican churches in NSW will cease holding public worship.. The Diocese of Sydney has done so today.

With an immense sense of grief but with an equal sense of responsibility, I have decided that we should suspend all public worship in our churches. Where it is safe to do so, churches may be open to allow people to enter for private prayer in designated areas.

The bishops of NSW and this Diocese are encouraging all our churches to consider innovative care. This is a time for Christians to be innovative in their ministries of care, worship and teaching. We live in an age of unparalleled technological resources to demonstrate love and care.

We shall make every effort to care for our church communities and the wider public, especially those who are isolated and vulnerable. Our welfare and aged care agencies continue their vital work of showing Christ’s love in ministering to all people, especially older Australians.

Please pray for those affected and their families, health workers and those seeking to develop a vaccine. Pray that the spread of this disease may slow.

I will be in touch with you about re-opening at an appropriate time.

+Peter Stuart

Anglican Bishop of Newcastle