COVID-19 Update – Thank you for your careful attention to detail in applications to reopen church buildings

26 May – Number 1

  • Thank you for your careful attention to detail in applications to reopen church buildings
  • No changes in permissions
  • Parishes urged to make preparations for the next stage
  • Please pray!

Dear colleagues,

Reopening applications

Thank you for your careful consideration of the wellbeing and safety issues associated with the reopening of church buildings for congregations not exceeding 10 people and live streaming. The re-opening application form can be found on the Diocesan Website.

No change of current permissions

The NSW Government has not changed any of the current guidance for places of public worship. All of the existing restrictions and guidance remain in place.

In light of the changes for other activities in NSW, representations have been made to the Premier by the Anglican Bishops of NSW along with the Catholic bishops and other religious groups.

The NSW Diocesan Bishops met today. Archbishop Glenn wrote on our behalf, “I am writing in the light of your recent announcement that the maximum number of patrons in pubs, clubs, restaurants and cafes will increase from 10 to 50 on June 1. … The purpose of this letter is to urge you to likewise increase the maximum number for religious gatherings to 50 persons. Our church gatherings are vitally important for the spiritual, psychological and emotional wellbeing of our communities. Our faith communities also make a major contribution to the mental health and social capital of society as a whole. Our faith communities are taking active steps to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and protect the vulnerable, by minimising the risks associated with religious gatherings.”

There are specific risks associated with the the way religious communities gather and undertake activities that are identified as generating particular risks.

Religious groups have been seen as working hard to ensure a strong commitment to COVIDsafe practices.Our observance gives decision-makers confidence that places of worship will be safe for public participation.

What can I do now?

Before churches can open for public worship on Sunday and before opportunity shops open parishes will need to make a fresh application for permission. These will be similar to the forms but specific attention will be given to the number of people who can be in a space at any one time, the cleaning and disinfecting arrangements (especially of hard surfaces), money handling, placement of hand sanitiser, booking arrangements and the like. Incumbents and Churchwardens can be planning their responses now.

It is unlikely that congregational singing will be permitted for some time. The Medical Officer advising the Diocesan Bishops today likened it to be in the vicinity of coughing for a sustained period.

Social distancing with limited touch will also be in place for some time.

We are being encouraged to think of COVID-safe ways of living.

Please pray in this Reconciliation Week and in this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

The symbol for this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, decided internationally, is a boat, reminding us that we move forward only when all row together. The organisers remind us “that we cannot face the storms of life alone. In the face of every difficulty we recognise the need to pull together and to unite our efforts.” The theme for reconciliation week is “In this together!”

Lord God, we thank You
for calling us into the company of those
who trust in Christ and seek to obey His will.
May Your Spirit guide and strengthen us
in mission and service to Your world:
For we are strangers no longer
but pilgrims together on the way to Your Kingdom.
Amen.

+Peter