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COVID-19 Update—Unprecedented National Changes
as at 20 March 2020, 2:30pm.
Dear Friends,
 
Greetings in the Lord
 
I begin with news about the induction service tonight, news about the death of one of our clergy and then share with you an advisory about worship services and other matters.

It is vital that all readers—especially clergy and wardens—read the advisory at number (3) below.

 
  1. Tonight’s induction service at St Mary’s Timaru will be open to the first 100 people arriving and this limit will be strictly enforced.  For those who choose not to attend and would like to follow the service on YouTube, it is available at: https://youtu.be/6EuJ1shnHM8 (For full details of Archdeacon Indrea Alexander’s message, go to (4) below).
 
  1. On Tuesday evening the Reverend Paul Heard died peacefully, surrounded by Kay and their family.  He will be greatly missed by family and friends, including the church family of the Parish of Sumner-Redcliffs, where Paul served for many years as Associate Priest then as Vicar, and where he and Kay have continued worshipping in retirement.  Ever since I met Paul on the night I was ordained deacon, December 1986, I have enjoyed his company—his joy in the Lord, his commitment to evangelism, his humour, his love of people and a shared love of cricket and other sport.  Paul and Kay’s ministries took them to Rangiora (1986-87), Waihao Downs (1987-91), Waimea (Diocese of Nelson) (1991-2002) and Sumner-Redcliffs since then.  Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus crisis, no date is set for a memorial service for Paul.  Please remember Kay and their sons Luke and Tom and their extended family in your prayers.
 
  1. NEW ADVISORY RE SERVICES OF PUBLIC WORSHIP AND OTHER CHURCH ACTIVITIES 

    Following the announcement by the government of restrictions in size of gatherings, the bishops of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia have agreed to issue the same instruction to all clergy and parishes: until further notice, all services of public worship in our churches are suspended from Monday 23 March 2020.
 
(Some parishes here and in other dioceses, and at least one whole diocese are suspending services one Sunday earlier.But all episcopal units of ACANZP, including the Diocese of Christchurch, will be suspending services from this Monday.Please see a Press Release at the bottom of this e-Life message for the full statement released at midday today by our archbishops and bishops.Note that all government requirements and
recent instructions from me to clergy concerning communion etc. must be met by any parishes holding services in the Diocese of Christchurch this Sunday 22 March.)
 
Further directions:
  • All AGMs not yet held in parishes, from Monday 23 March (or, depending on local decision, including Sunday 22 March) are to be postponed until it is permissible to meet again.
  • Mid week outreach activities are not subject to the suspension notice above i.e. can go ahead, providing all government requirements for gatherings are met, and local decision makers are confident they can conduct the outreach ministries safely.  (This advice is subject to change at short notice by either the government or further determination by church leadership).
  • Funerals and weddings are in the nature of public services and are subject to the suspension of all services of public worship (unless otherwise advised – we understand the government may yet issue further regulation specific to weddings and funerals.)
  • All Easter services are included in the suspension of services of public worship.
  • All parish churches should be kept open in the usual ways that already happen in local contexts for individuals to be able to enter in order to pray.
  • Livestreaming of services in the Transitional Cathedral this Sunday 22 March is available to all parishioners unable to access a local livestreaming of worship and devotional material led by vicars (go to the Transitional Cathedral Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ChristChrchCathedralNewZealand/ )
  • Dean Lawrence from Sunday 29 March onwards will be leading a livestreamed service of worship available to all from the Cathedral Facebook page,
  • Local initiatives from your vicars and priests in charge re regular worship via the internet, Bible study materials, pastoral care etc. are being worked on and local communications will take place within parishes.
  • At liturgy.co.nz Bosco Peters will be providing essential guidance to using A New Zealand Prayer Book (print or online) for praying the daily office, morning, and evening prayer in your own homes.
Additionally from me at this time:
  • The above is a diocesan, global view of matters.  There will be many questions about what to do and what not to do about matters not covered above.  Please answer those local questions locally as far as possible.  Archdeacons are available to assist with further guidance.
  • Please be assured that national and diocesan work on the many consequences of suspending services, and of the recessionary time we live in are being worked on.  In due course, when we have further announcements to make, they will be clearly communicated via e-Life.
  • Pray.  Read Scripture (especially the Psalms).  Look out for one another.  Stay safe.  May God’s peace which passes all understanding guard and sustain your hearts and minds.
  1. Update from The Ven. Indrea Alexander, the Archdeacon of South Canterbury re Rev Ben Randall’s Induction Tonight 20 March in Timaru
    Tonight’s induction of Rev Ben Randall as Vicar of St Marys Timaru will take place in a revised, smaller form, in light of COVID-19 concerns.  If you wish to watch from home, it will be live streamed at https://youtu.be/6EuJ1shnHM8. There is no obligation for any who were to take part to be present—that includes the choir, people who were to present items of daily life and work, and those who had speaking parts.  Everyone is asked to simply make their own decision whether to attend.  We are complying with all government requirements.  The doors will be open for up to 100 people—with sign in sheets to ensure we do not exceed 100, and to collect contact details in case they are subsequently required for COVID-19 tracking.  God is Good.  All the Time.  Every blessing in this strange and challenging time.
    Ven Indrea Alexander, Archdeacon of South Canterbury

Finally, my friends, this is one of the most difficult e-Lifes I have ever sent and I hope it is the worst during my remaining time as bishop. 

We believe in a God of hope and God never changes.
May God be discovered in new ways as we respond to this global crisis.
Arohanui,

Press Release – 12 noon Friday 20 March 2020.
 
The Archbishops and Bishops of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia have called for churches to suspend all in-person public services of worship after services on this Sunday 22 March.
 
The Anglican Archbishops' and Bishops announcement follows in full below:
 
The Archbishops and Bishops of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa New Zealand have together made the decision to suspend all public services of worship until further notice.
 
This suspension will take effect following those services being held this coming Sunday 22 March.
 
Those parishes that regularly have congregations of more than 100 are already making arrangements to ensure that Government guidelines and regulations are met. 
 
Assistance will be offered by each Hui Amorangi and Diocese to those parishes holding services this Sunday to ensure their people gather in smaller groups with appropriate social distancing.
 
We wish to stress to our priests and leaders that all current Church and Government requirements about the conducting of services must be strictly observed.
 
We have made this decision prayerfully and with a sense of abundant caution and care for our people.
 
We know that the Church is more than just the buildings that we worship in. The Church is made up of believers who pray for others, care for others, serve others, love one another, and love their neighbours as Christ taught them.  
 
We ask our people to continue to pray and serve wherever they may be. We encourage them to care for their communities and ensure that the most vulnerable are regularly checked on and supported.
 
Plans for online worship services are under way and will be widely publicised by each Diocese. Bishops commend to all Anglicans and all people of good will the call of the Archbishop of Canterbury to join in a world-wide action of prayer.
 
At 7pm local time on Sunday 22nd and at 7 pm every Sunday that worship services are suspended please light a candle in your home and pray with and for others. 
 
Pray for your families, your neighbours, our country, and those ill with the virus. Pray for our health professionals and all those on the frontline who are working tirelessly to care for our community. Pray for the lonely and the frightened. Pray for the courage and grace to be a comfort and a light to the world.
 
“I roto i te pōuri te mārama e whiti ana; heoi kihai i mau i te pōuri /  The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.” John 1:5
 
For further comment on this press release please contact:
Julanne Clarke-Morris
Anglican Communications and Media Office
027 581 9791
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