Dear brothers and sisters in Christ at BPPC,
Where is our Focus?
It is indeed a very interesting time that we are experiencing, not just in Australia, but worldwide. It seems as if people have lost all common-sense leading to almost mass-hysteria, and all this being blown up by the media.
Having said that, we as Christians should know better, because we should not be driven by fear or materialistic values such as only protecting our “stuff”, personal interests and investments. Now, more than ever, our eyes should be focussed on our great God, the One who we believe is sovereign and therefore even in control of the Coronavirus situation.
Luther Gives the Lead
We should have the heart and mind of Martin Luther, the great reformer who, when he was asked how to respond to yet another outbreak of the black plague in Europe during his lifetime, answered:
“I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbour needs me however I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God” (Martin Luther, Works v. 43, p. 132. Letter “Whether one may flee from a Deadly Plague” written to Rev. Dr. John Hess).
It is with the same pastoral heart and intent that I’m writing to you. In the light of the developments around the world, the announcement by our Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, and also the advice of our own denomination’s leaders, BPPC’s Session had a second special meeting last night. The following decisions were made:
- We are strongly advising that those who may be more vulnerable do not attend worship services. People fitting into this category are:
- Those over 65 years old,
- Those with a disability,
- Those with long-term health conditions, such as cancer, diabetes or chronic lung disease, and
- Those who feel sick, or who have a member in their family who displays flu-like symptoms.
- We will approach people this coming Sunday to commit to coming either to the morning or the evening service. This way, we can still have people coming, without creating a crowded (more than 100) situation. Not only will this leave room for possible visitors, but it will also allow people to “spread out” and observe the recommended 2-metre space between different households.
- We will no longer have morning teas or lunches after the church service.
- We will live-stream the services so that those who are not attending can still be part of our worship and fellowship. More information about how to access these online services will be given separately. It must be understood that this is a special measure for those who cannot attend or those who choose not to attend at this stage. When the situation has eased, this technology must never be used as an excuse to neglect the gathering of the saints.
- We will still spray all areas at the church before and after meetings with disinfectant spray. Similarly, all frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, taps and toilets seats will be wiped as well.
- We ask that we all refrain from handshakes and hugs. Respect people’s personal space and do not ridicule those who follow this advice.
- Continue to be vigilant with personal hygiene and consideration of others:
- Wash hands regularly with soap and running water – this is even more effective than hand sanitizer.
- When you sneeze or cough, do so into your bent elbow, upper arm, or use a tissue (please dispose of the tissue into a bin as soon as possible).
- Some of the above may have to be revised as more information becomes available or other directives are issued.
- Both Kids R.O.C.K. and the Youth Group have been suspended as of today. These activities will recommence after things have settled down.
- This also means that the annual Youth Camp will be postponed until later in the year, possibly during the September school holidays.
- Messy Kidz because of the lower number attending, as well as the fact that most activities are outside, will continue for this term, unless the numbers drop too low by itself (there’s 2 Mondays left this term).
Home Groups and Bible studies
- Since all Home Groups have numbers below 20, these will continue for the time being.
- As mentioned above:
- If you feel sick, or if any other member in your family displays flulike symptoms, please stay away,
- Respect the other attendees by keeping a physical distance as far as it is possible, and
- Refrain from handshakes and hugs.
- This may also have to be revised as things unfold.
- Young at Heart – this will be suspended until the virus scare has passed. This is done to protect one of the most vulnerable age groups at this stage.
- Mum ‘n’ Bubs – this will be allowed to continue since the number is reasonably low and they mostly meet outside.
- Missions movie evening – This meeting will be allowed to go ahead, with all the precautions and advice as already been mentioned above. All those who bring something for the supper to the gathering are requested to bring a bought dessert of some sort, rather than a self-made one. This is in accordance with a directive from PCQ.
- Session and CoM meetings will proceed as normal unless there are changes to the situation.
- At this stage, the elders will still do visitation as usual.
- If you need a visit or have other needs please contact one of the elders.
- In order to maintain pastoral and organisational connections, we as a Session are committed to being proactive and creative should the situation deteriorate. This may include using regular phone calls, online meetings, video calls or other means.
Tithes and freewill offerings
There is the possibility that, as people start to self-isolate or stay away from church because they fall in the high-risk category, they may neglect or just plainly forget to give towards God’s work here at BPPC and beyond.
One area the Committee of Management has seriously been looking into for a while now is the availability of online direct depositing of the tithes and offerings. As we have always been conscious of the area of privacy, we have already put in place a system whereby the accounting reporting does not show individual deposit names. We would also like to assure you that the names of donors using direct deposits into our bank account, will not appear on any reports presented to the CoM. Therefore, if anyone wishes to donate online you have that assurance.
We also would like to mention that an ANON(ymous) deposit can be issued at your end, where a recurring online transfer comes directly from your bank account showing as ANON (or tithe) before it even hits our bank statement. That way it is completely private, between you and God.
So, we would urge you to strongly consider this way of giving in order that God’s work can continue uninterrupted and as smoothly as possible. If anyone has any questions regarding this, please see the treasurer and she will assist you. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We did not make these decisions lightly or just on the fly, but prayerfully and always with the safety, well-being, and care of all people attending BPPC as our goal; at the same time submitting to the government and authorities that God has put over us as Scripture demands. Even though there has only been one case of the COVID-19 reported and treated in Logan city, and no case in our church community, we are still following the guidelines as communicated to us.
As per this link to a great article written by a Christian man from a large church in Seattle, who also assisted the World Health Organisation (WHO) during the SARS outbreak, BPPC is still in the green category. However, it seems that the PCQ and the Australian government are classifying most of Australia as in the orange to red categories. This means that we should not panic but rather exercise wisdom and err on the side of caution, following the health department’s guidelines.
In coming to the above decisions, we have also weighed up many options in order that we might continue fulfilling all necessary, biblical duties for the care of the church and eldership; and the above actions seem the most appropriate for BPPC at this point in time.
Finally, please see this whole situation as a Gospel opportunity, as was outlined by the GiST paper send out previously, but available here.
Let’s not despair as if we were people without hope, but rather, let’s look to our great God who is in control of all things, holding His own children securely in His hand, and working all things to His glory, even in these difficult and trying times. Let’s get on our knees together and pray for each other, encourage each other and care for each other and our community in simple, loving ways and with childlike faith.
May God bless you all!
Your caring pastor,