Updated As Of: March 19th, 2020
I hope that you are well and keeping positive in the midst of these difficult days.
I watched a lovely video this morning of dolphins playing in the canals of Venice for the first time in living memory. They have ventured into the canals because of the lack of noise and activity in the canals. While the virus and the tragic loss of life in Italy is a terrible thing, seeing the dolphins was a reminder for the people of Venice that there is still life and beauty and good things to enjoy in this world. Certainly as I listened to the Prime Minister yesterday there was a call to keep Australia working and (taking all the necessary precautions and social distancing practices into account) to keep living life as best we can. I would encourage you to stay healthy, practice good hygiene and social distancing, but to also remember that God is good, and there is life and beauty and things to enjoy and treasure even in the middle of such trying times.
One of the things that will need to be done differently for the time being are our Sunday services.
We have received direct instructions from the Queensland Synod yesterday that we are to cease all worship services. (See Media Release_Coronavirus_18 March 2020). This however does not mean that we are to cease worshipping. Instead it gives us a chance to look at new ways of doing things, and become creative in terms of the ways that we will connect with one another. Starting this Sunday, we will live-stream the sermons through our Facebook page, which you can log onto and watch at the time of the service (09:30am) You can find us on Facebook by searching “Bundaberg Uniting Church In Australia” like the page and then start watching. Here is a link to help. https://www.facebook.com/BCCUnitingChurch/
If you’re not on Facebook, you will be able to listen to the sermon on the church website on the “Listen” tab. Here is a link to that page for your convenience. https://bundaberguca.org.au/listen/ You don’t need anything else other than to turn up your computer volume and listen to the message.
For anyone you know who has no online access at all, please would you tell them that printed copies of the sermon will be available for collection from the office, and we are also exploring the possibility of CD’s for those who need them.
We are also looking at some creative ways to experience Easter. We don’t have all the information yet, but please watch this space, it will be exciting.
When we face times of trial and adversity, it is amazing how creativity can birth new things. When we went through the flood, everyone ended up worshipping together, pulling in the same direction and at the end of it all, we discovered the joys of Messy Church as a ministry. We are in one of those times of adversity now, and as we seek to find new ways to worship, it will be interesting to see how the creativity that we are forced into, may create some “outside-of-the-box” ministry that serves our church well into the future.
I would also like to say, that just because we are not meeting does not mean that we do not care for one another. We are all aware of the importance of Social Distancing. I am sure that I don’t need to tell you what it means, and I fully support the practice, but I fear that the name can have an unintended negative consequence. In reality what we are practicing, is physical distancing. Socially, we need to still be loving, caring, connecting, serving, sharing and showing kindness to one another. Sure, the methods through which we do this may need to change, but let us not allow physical distancing to stop us from being socially caring and being the church in the world. In these times of heightened anxiety and significant uncertainty, more than ever people need to know that there are others who love them, who care and who are looking out for their needs. Things like phone-calls, prayers, messages, buying only what we need, checking in on your neighbours and remembering that we are a community even if we are not in physical contact. There are so many ways to care. I pray that in an uncertain and frightening time such as this, the Churches light will shine brighter than ever.
Lastly, while we are unable to meet, there is still opportunity to worship God through our offerings and tithes. Giving is always part of our worship and worshipping differently means that we also need to be creative in the ways in which we think of and do our giving. Your faithfulness will really help us to function as a church through this crisis. Whether it be through a debit order, or if you setup monthly giving through your internet banking, simply mark it “City Offering” and leave out your name. For your convenience, our Bank details are in the attached letter linked below. If it is easier for you, (or for those without internet facilities) the church office has an EFTPOS machine and we will be open in the mornings.
Stay Healthy and I look forward to “seeing” you in the Live stream worship on Sunday. Please feel free to pass this onto anyone who hasn’t got it, and let us know if one of your church friends has not received this email. Thanks
Have a great day.
Rev Stuart Bosch
Resident Minister: Bundaberg Uniting Church.
March 15, 2020
We have received updated instructions from Synod, and with the first case of Coronavirus confirmed in the Wide Bay, we would like to keep you informed as to the life and functioning of the church and also hopefully set your mind at ease knowing that we are doing all that we can to adhere to health directives as well as doing our part to slow down infection rates and help contain the spread of the virus.
I believe that the church can set the example in being sensible, not panicking, maintaining hygiene and exercising common sense. To this end, the Bundaberg Uniting Church (BUC) will operate and hold services as we usually do until we are directed otherwise. However, we will also continue to modify our practices as needed. We are people whose aim is to love God and love others, and in the case of the Coronavirus, the best way to love others is to do our bit to keep them healthy even if it means adjusting some time honoured traditions along the way. Synod has also given us instructions that will help the community see that the Church is leading by example and doing its bit to help the in the fight against the Coronavirus.
Minimising Physical Contact.
While I enjoy a good handshake and a warm hug, we need to take steps to minimise physical contact. This means that our greeters will welcome you with the warmest of smiles and friendliest of faces, but won’t shake hands or hug you. When we pass the peace, we will also do so just by saying to one another, “The peace of the Lord be with you,” and responding with, “and also with you.” The fact that we will skip the handshakes and hugs in no way diminishes the sincerity of the words and demonstrates only that for a period of time, our most loving and peaceful act to another is to not physically touch. After the service, I won’t shake hands at the door, but I will greet you warmly out on the deck and would love to engage in conversation about all the things we usually talk about, …after all, normal life and its other issues still continue. (Plus we can share tips on where to buy loo paper. 😉 )
Worship Services and Communication.
…and because life continues, the Church will do all in its power to continue to provide, love, support, care, kindness, and worship during these difficult times. For now, our regular services will continue, but we have a range of contingency plans if we are unable to gather together. Should this happen, we will live-stream the service through Facebook (please like our page) as well as record it and post it online on our website. For those unable to access the Internet, we will email you a copy of the sermon, and for those without email, we will post it to you. We will also be available telephonically and will conduct pastoral care and prayer for people this way if need be. Being ministered to and prayed for over the phone may take a little getting used to, but God’s signal is never engaged and He doesn’t mind if we are not physically together when bringing our needs and difficulties to Him.
While always an emotive topic, an important part of our services is our worship of God with our giving of offerings and tithes. Whether we gather together or not, the costs of running the church are ongoing and so our continued giving will enable ministry to continue in these difficult times when ministry is most definitely needed. We would ask you to please seriously consider online giving through internet banking, or debit order giving, so that your giving to God and support of the work of the Church is not dependent on whether or not we meet for services, because as we’ve mentioned above, ministry will continue in one form or another even if we can’t meet. I know that this method of giving may not be your preferred method, but as I mentioned, extraordinary times may call for an adjustment in our thinking and in some time-honoured traditions. Our bank details can be accessed by clicking the link up top and downloading the letter. Simply mark your gift, “City Offering” and leave your name out.
We know that hand washing and good hand hygiene is essential in curbing the infection rate, and we will have hand sanitiser available for you to use in the church and hall and wherever we meet. Please feel free to use a squirt or two in helping you maintain clean hands. We will also use hand sanitiser prior to serving Holy Communion.
On the subject of communion, we have also made small changes to ensure that this is not a time for the virus to spread. Our elders who prepare communion elements will take special care to be extra hygienic when doing so. All servers will use hand sanitiser prior to serving and as you take communion, individual wafers (gluten free) will be used instead of bread for the time being. These wafers will be laid our so that in taking one, you will only come into contact with the wafer you will take. The same is true of the little cups.
A VERY important last note:
To keep you updated with the latest information from the Church, please make sure that we have your latest and correct email address. We have recently had several changes to our computer system and we want to ensure that we have the correct details, …so even if you think we have it, please do one of the following:
1.) Please send an email to email@example.com with “Correct email address” in the subject line. Please include your mobile number(s) in the email.
2.) If you don’t use email, please phone the office (note the new number – 4167 0670) this week (Mon – Fri, 8:30am – 1:30pm) and give us your postal address and best contact numbers.
3.) Let your friends who may have missed today’s service know to send an email or call us, or if they so desire, please notify us on their behalf.
As always we adhere to the strictest privacy protocols in regard to your details.
In taking all of these steps, we are not being fearful or panic driven, but we believe that we are being responsible and caring as we seek to play our part slowing this disease, taking pressure off our health resources and being loving and caring to one another. Our motivation in all of this is to honour God in keeping ministering as effectively as possible and providing you with every kind of support that may be needed at this time. Please be assured of our prayers for you, and indeed all of Australia and the world. We do serve a mighty and powerful God; our hope and trust is in Him and we give thanks for the wisdom that we are blessed with and we pray for those in the medical field who God is using to bring healing and for those in the scientific field who need wisdom as they work towards a vaccine that will bring an end to the virus.
Stay healthy and God bless,
Rev Stuart Bosch
Mrs Ann Vautin
Church Council Chair