1. We believe that Jesus is Lord. He has conquered sin, sickness and death and offers eternal life (Mark 2:1-12, Matthew 8:17, 1 John 5:11-12). We therefore don’t need to fear what other people fear. Instead we can set apart Christ as our Lord, live lives of hope, and give account of this hope to our world (1 Peter 3:13-18).
2. God calls on us as Christians to not forsake meeting together, but rather to meet and encourage each other to trust and serve Jesus (Hebrews 10:24-25). We can and should do this in public and in private (Acts 20:19-21).
3. God calls on us to love our neighbour. This means doing no harm to others (Romans 13:10).
4. God calls on us to submit to the authorities He has instituted. In our case this means our government, our denomination and our elders (Romans 13:1-7, Hebrews 13:17).
Application of Biblical truths to our current situation
1. In seeking to balance the above Biblical truths, we plan to continue meeting in our regular Sunday church services unless directed to do otherwise by the government or denominational authorities. We will take sensible precautions to minimise the risk of our meetings causing the spread of sickness. This will include providing hand sanitiser and encouraging people to use it, discouraging physical contact such as hand shaking, and carefully managing the handling and service of food and drinks. We will also consider ways to facilitate physical distancing in our meetings.
2. We stress that no one is bound to come to church at this time if they do not wish to do so. As with all of us, those who do not attend church should continue to actively find ways to encourage other Christians and to be encouraged (e.g. texts, sharing words of encouragement, praying together over the phone etc). We commend our church website, which has many hundreds of Bible talks that people can listen to [chatswoodpc.org.au/sermons]. There are, of course, also many other good resources for people to access at this time. If you are planning not to attend a service, or small group, we encourage you to contact your Bible study leader (or a member of staff) to let us know how you are going and if there is anything we can be doing to help. Please be in touch. If you have a church-wide prayer request, you can send it to Eva at the church office.
3. We ask people not to attend our church services if they are feeling unwell. We also ask anyone who has travelled overseas or who has been in close contact with someone known to have COVID-19 to self-isolate for 14 days in accordance with government regulations before coming to church.
4. We encourage people who are at risk (e.g. the elderly or immunocompromised people) to carefully consider the wisdom of attending church at this time.
5. We plan, as soon as we can, to begin streaming our service each Sunday for those who are unable to join us. This video will remain accessible for viewing throughout the day. The stream will adhere to copyright, privacy and child protection protocols. If people are unable to come to church or not inclined to do so at this time, we encourage them and their family to access this livestream service. We also plan to provide materials for parents to use with their children, including Connect Kids lessons being available along with the stream. As we believe it is best practice (in normal circumstances) for believers to meet in person, we do not plan to maintain this streaming service beyond the current COVID-19 outbreak.
6. We currently plan for our mid-week meetings to continue as usual (including weeknight Bible studies, Connect Women and the Women’s Easy English Bible study). However, individual groups may wish to modify how they conduct meetings to remain sensitive to the needs and concerns of people in those groups - this may include meeting in smaller groups or even connecting via social networking platforms.
7. We ask you to please pray. Pray for our Government as they seek to keep our community safe. Pray for our church leadership that we will make godly decisions concerning this matter. Pray for those who are fearful, that they might find comfort in Jesus. Pray for health care workers (especially the many in our congregation) to stay safe. Pray that none of our members will drift away from Jesus during this time. Pray that the gospel of Jesus may be heard and believed during this time of fear in our community.