Pastoral Notice - March 2020

Dear Members and Friends,

This message has been written to inform you in person of the very difficult decision made by Pitt Street Uniting Church Council last night to suspend Services of Worship and other gatherings of the Church for the time being effective as of today, Friday, 20th March 2020.

This decision, made in response to the rapid escalation of the COVID-19 Virus Pandemic experienced world-wide, did not come easily and forms part of a wider response of the Uniting Church and indeed other faith communities who find themselves needing to make the same decision at this time.

Ultimately of paramount concern is the wellbeing and good care of members, friends, their families and the wider community. Together with like initiatives across the country, we join with others to try to slow the spread of infection so that our health systems are able to cope with and ultimately stop this insidious infection spreading.

We are aware that some members and their families have already begun to feel the effects of the COVIC-19 Virus in their lives, not necessarily because of infection but because of changes in social practices generally, in industry and commerce, in the limited availability of goods and services etc. A significant number of members have indicated in recent times the need to gradually isolate themselves from gatherings and public spaces due to them or their family being more vulnerable due to suppressed immunity etc. Indeed, at our community gathering following last week’s Church Service the need for us to consider alternative ways of meeting and worshipping was raised. We all knew, at some time or another, it would come to this, but only until the threat of the virus is no longer with us. We look forward to that time when we can again meet and celebrate being community in person. But of course it is not the building that makes community, it is the people and their relationships.

In ceasing to meet in person for the time being, we have no want for you to feel alone or isolated. Already we have a team working on preparing a simple but hopefully meaningful Service of Worship for this coming Sunday that will be available online on the PittStreetYouTube channel and/or our facebook page which can be accessed via the Pitt Street website or Facebook directly. Please also keep watch of those spaces during the week for reflections, prayers, devotions and information on other activities taking place online across the life of our faith community.

We are aware that this time of increasing separation in society generally, coupled with associated challenges of access to goods and services and for many, less or no work and income while still needing to pay overheads, can be frightening. Our Pastoral Care team aims to be even more active in keeping in touch as we face the challenges ahead. Please do not hesitate to contact your pastoral partner should you have any particular concerns or needs. We will do our best to ensure you are not left unattended. In the mean time we also encourage members to keep in touch with each other via phone calls and messages, perhaps to share a time of prayer or reflection, to share a cuppa ‘over the miles' while separately watching a service online or simply to keep in touch and let each other know how you are going.

There is an old saying that ’necessity is the mother of invention’. May this time of disruption be an opportunity for us to explore and develop new ways of being Church while not able to meet in person. Perhaps develop some times of relaxation and reflection each day and share them over the phone or online with others. Let us know how you are going and what you discover. We could all learn from your experience and may develop some new spiritual practices of our own.

There is no doubt we will experience real grief and loss in not being able to meet regularly. It is likely that none of us has faced an experience quite like this before. Please remember it is only for a short while until the world and our community is better able to cope and function again. We pray it will not be long.

In the mean time please keep one another in your prayers. Importantly, remember you are loved and respected and cherished as part of our community. Be kind to one another as everyone faces change, challenge and more demands on their time, efforts and resources. And, may all our efforts be steeped in love, the kind of life-giving, life-nurturing love that God has for each one of us, for all humanity and for all of creation.

These are extraordinary times and in such times very ordinary acts of goodwill and friendship become extraordinary because they bring us closer together in ways never imagined.

God bless you
We look forward to us all meeting together in person again soon.

Rev. Karyn Burchell-Thomas
Rev. Gareth Thomas-Burchell

Supply Ministers
Pitt Street Uniting Church