24 March

Dear Parish Family

I pray this finds you all still well, and prepared for the lock-down which commences at midnight tomorrow night (though many who can have wisely already gone into self-isolation).

Thank you for all the positive feedback about the service uploaded to the website on Sunday morning. It was a somewhat surreal experience for those of us involved in putting it together, but we’re so pleased we did, and that it brought us together as a church family to worship the Lord.

In terms of yesterday’s announcement that the nation is moving to Level 4 at midnight Wednesday, I note the following:

  1. Charities and churches are not classified as essential services. We are therefore bound by the full restrictions.
  2. This means that staff will not be allowed to go to the office to work, and the whole church complex (and Youth Hub) will be in lockdown.
  3. All face to face meetings, including Connect groups, are prohibited.
  4. The basic rule is that existing households have to isolate themselves, totally. This means that even visiting other family members (in another location) is prohibited. You can though drop off essential supplies (without any personal contact) if necessary. This means that there can be no pastoral visits in the parish. However we will keep in constant touch with you by phone, email, text and skype/zoom.
  5. All public gatherings are banned (from Wed midnight), and this includes funerals and tangi. This could well be tightened further, probably meaning very small private (family) gatherings only. Memorial services at a later date are always an option. Let’s pray we don’t face this situation, but if we do be assured that we will do our best to ensure a Christian funeral in which the person’s soul is commended to God. From a personal perspective, only the strong arm of the law will keep me from being involved if any parishioner dies during this period.

Consequently the AGM is now postponed.  We will try to reschedule this in the next few weeks via a Zoom meeting. Details to follow in due course.

The 10.30am Sunday podcasted service will continue, but can do so only if we abide by the one-household meeting rule. The only way we can do this is if the Hewat household does the service (Kimberley, Andrew and myself). So, with regret, no one else will be involved while we are at Level 4.

Children’s ministries will be delivered by email from Heather. She will be in touch with the families concerned and have material to them by the end of the week.

I will put out another update tomorrow, following a final meeting between myself and the Wardens this afternoon.

Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

In Christ’s love
Michael