We appreciate that the last few months have been challenging for us all. We know that many are looking forward to being able to gather as a church in worship once more. We are equally aware that some remain at risk and will hope to stay connected in whatever ways we can find. It is in this context that we are implementing our next steps towards a mixed model of worship. These steps include the commencement of gathered worship on Sunday 19 July at 9.30am and Wednesday 23 July at 9.30 am.
In line with the recent easing of COVID 19 restrictions, our parish is signing up to the Industry Plan for Places of Worship. This Industry Plan is now the only way a church may offer gathered worship in any form. Although restriction easing was announced on 3 July, the actual industry guideline is not yet finalised, and so some aspects might yet change. We have chosen to approach this return to gathered worship cautiously and in a stepped manner.
We believe that we take our part in ensuring the gains we have made as a community by following carefully the Health Directives issued by the State Government. As part of this commitment, we are required to appoint COVID Warden(s) "to champion safe practices ... and monitor and enforce compliance measures." To assist these Wardens, we ask you to be aware of the following;
- All individuals must stay away if feeling unwell, even if mildly so.
- Maintain Physical Distancing of 1.5m to the extent possible. This means we are to avoid shaking hands, hugging or kissing as a greeting, farewell or during the greeting of peace.
- Practice good hygiene habits, including the use of hand sanitiser before entering the church.
- Please avoid queuing or crowding especially at the church entrance.
We are setting in place several changes that will assist us in complying with the Industry Plan. These include;
- The current maximum congregation is 40
- There are 40 individual chairs appropriately distanced in the nave of the church. People living in the same household can sit together.
- We will hold only one service on Sunday and one service on Wednesday to allow proper cleaning between services
- All liturgy and hymn lyrics will be displayed on the screens although singing is now allowed.
If you intend attending the service you must register through our website or by phoning the parish office. For those who do not have internet access, we ask that you call the office by 10 am Friday for the Sunday service, or 10 am Tuesday for the Wednesday service and leave your name and how many people will be attending with you.
We are required to remind people who are at a higher risk of serious illness that they should stay at home and avoid contact with others. Those identified at risk include those over 65 with chronic medical conditions, people over 70 years old and those with compromised immune systems. The decision to attend ultimately rests with the person in the high-risk group and should be made with advice from one’s own GP.
It is a requirement that we keep a record of persons who have attended each service. These records are kept for 56 days for contact tracing if required by the relevant authority. Please be assured that all documents are kept in a secure location.
Please contact us with any concerns or questions regarding any of the matters raised in this letter. Our aim as a Parish is to continue to find ways to moving closer to God and each other, even in these times.
The Rev'd Michael Stalley, Priest in Charge
Karen Green, Warden
When I was at High School, I remember a thing called the Metre ruler. It was meant to be used for drawing straight lines on Chalkboards. This Metre ruler was also regularly used for a purpose it was not designed; ensuring physical distancing between amorous teenagers. In these circumstances, this implement was useful in creating distance and ensuring compliance.
It is curious to me that I am now observing a similar artifact entering use in our churches. It is 50 cm longer but similarly effective in ensuring compliance with distancing requirements.
At St David's, we are committed to playing our part towards further easing of restrictions. This commitment means doing what we can to comply with the current Queensland Government Health directives as they apply to us. As we move towards Gathered worship, the wardens and I ask that if you choose to come to gathered worship, you will willingly comply with these guidelines.
In the next week, the wardens and I will prepare detailed correspondence regarding our planned return to offer gathered worship in St David's during July. This letter will be informed by the most recent Government Health Directive and our industry approved plan. We continue to follow our plan to move towards providing gathered worship from 19 July.
In summary, we intend on beginning with one service on Sunday morning and one service on Wednesday morning. The maximum number of people who can attend will be 50. We will be required to maintain strict physical distancing (hence the introduction of the newly improved Metre Ruler). Other health directives we will need to follow include;
- no handshaking, hugging or kissing
- registration to attend
- individual seating that is separated by 1.5 m (unless you are with people from the same household)
- no queuing at the entrance
- following the guidance of appointed COVID safety wardens
- electronic donation options only
We remain aware that even when we can return to gathered worship, many will remain at risk. We are taking a cautious step by step approach, so what we start we can continue.
“We are facing tough financial moments now as [we have] no group meetings, nowhere to take our goat or chicken since the markets are closed and the hotels too. We are just praying to God to help the situation pass so that life goes back to normal,” says Christine, a member of the Anglican Development Services, Eastern (ADSE). This story about the Anglican Board of Mission’s work with one of its partners in Kenya provides a typical picture of how COVID-19 is affecting people in many poorer countries of the world, and what action people are taking to deal with the challenges. It shows the value of working long-term with communities to develop relationships of trust, and strong community structures. [Read the article here](https://anglicanfocus.org.au/2020/06/09/communities-coming-together-to-fight-covid-19-in-kenya/).
A few months ago, we turned upside down the way we gathered and worshipped. It all happened in a very short period requiring very long hours for some. It took us some weeks to adjust to the new way of being. We are now working towards being together in gathered worship again. It too has many challenges, particularly as our circumstances change.
For example, we all remain concerned about increasing cases of infection in Victoria. At the same time today, there is some discussion of smaller venues being able to double the number of people able to gather at one time.
I am aware that there is some keen for us to return to gathered worship. I continue to ask for your patience as we make deliberate and careful preparations for an expected return in mid-July. At this stage, we continue to consider how we will ensure compliance with State Health Directives and the care for the more vulnerable in our church. It is possible that when we start, we will hold only one service on a Sunday and one service on a Wednesday.
On Friday we held the funeral of Dorothy Marsden in St David's. Dorothy was much loved by her family, her friends at St David's and the Ipswich Girl's Grammar School community. At 101 years old, there was much to celebrate about her life. She was committed to her family, friends, school and church. It was the first live-streamed funeral that I have celebrated at St David's and is still available for viewing through our website.
On Monday we will also host the funeral Beryl Erskine. Beryl's family are strongly connected to the life of our church. A number of her Great Grandchildren have been preparing for their first communion at St David's this year. This funeral can also be viewed via a link provided on our website.
These funerals have provided us with an opportunity to test the seating arrangements in our church to suit a limit of 40 people. To do this, we have moved all the pews from the body of the church. These pews are now stored in the old Sanctuary in the western end of the church. We have then placed forty individual chairs for seating 1.5m apart. This just one part of the necessary restrictions we will be asked to follow when we return to gathered worship.
“In contrast to the BCA, which does not support rural ministry in the Anglican Church Southern Queensland, the BMF only supports rural ministry in parishes of our Diocese and gives at least 98 per cent of all money donated to support rural ministry,” says Bishop Cam Venables, as he updates us on the BMF’s vital ministry.
[Read the full article here.](https://anglicanfocus.org.au/2020/06/19/bush-ministry-fund-news/)
Are you wondering why 2000 people can attend a football match this weekend, but we are not gathering for worship as yet? Can I particularly name the loneliness that many are feeling from the loss of the essential caring relationships that are nurtured when we meet together regularly?
We are in an uncertain environment where we have got used to sudden changes of directions from our civil leaders. They too are responding to the information they have at hand at any one time. We decided some weeks back that we were best preparing ourselves to return to gathered worship when the next level of restrictions is proposed to be eased in Queensland that is currently set for 10 July.
Current restrictions mean that no more than 20 people can attend an indoor religious gathering; excepting funerals. Even when we return to worship, many limitations will make what we do feel strange; I wrote about these[last week](https://www.stdavidschelmer.com.au/news/we-are-well-placed-june-14).
The parallel I made with the football codes is a reminder of one of our main challenges. The footy already has a hybrid model of participation. Although 2000 might turn up in a large outdoor stadium, many more will watch from home. It is our desire that when we return to gathered worship, we continue to provide a connection with those who remain isolated and at risk. We can't manage all of what we are doing now as well as go back to gathered worship. For this to be possible, what we do together in St David's must also form the basis of what we share. This new hybrid model will require some logistical and technological planning to implement live streaming of our worship. We also need to consider how we can increase our connection with some beyond the regular telephone call.
We are committed to finding ways of moving closer to God and to each other that lead to abundant life. Return to gathered worship will be one part of this as we also consider how we offer care to those in need, service to the community and grow deeper in our faith. I continue to think we are well placed to meet these new challenges with God's help. I pray that you will continue to find your place in Church as together we commit ourselves to live and share God's love found in Jesus Christ.
“Might this culture of publicly saying ‘thank you’ be something that remains once COVID-19 passes. What would our world look like if such grateful messages endure beyond this time,” says Bishop John Roundhill on a new culture of gratitude he has seen emerging.
Read more from the link below
It is a bit of a struggle to feel properly connected as a church at the moment. Usually, on a Sunday, we can connect with between 50 to 70 people. Those encounters may be no more than a smile and handshake at the door, but they are significant to feel belonging. Despite best intentions, there is little we can do that adequately replaces this vital connection that comes when we gather face to face.
Life is taking some small steps forward towards renewing our connection to God and one another. There is still some way to go, but I hope the following information might help you see how we continue to be working to meet the challenges that are before us.
- Preparing for Gathered Worship
Current restrictions in Queensland allow for up to 20 people to gather for worship. At this stage, we are choosing to work towards a mid-July date when we think we will be able to have up to 40 people gathered in St David's at one time. We know when we return, we will need to be ready to continue to provide for those unable to join face to face. There are some logistical and technical challenges we are working on, and this time allows us to get prepared.
When we return, it appears that we will still need to implement physical distancing practices. These will include no gathering before or after the service, use of hand sanitiser, communion with bread only, registration before attending and potentially no communal singing.
I applaud those of you who are finding ways of gathering in smaller groups in private homes to share worship. I think with the current limitations that this might provide a more satisfying sense of community for some to consider. Perhaps you might let me know if you are interested in this option.
- Crows Nest
We continue to partner with Crows Nest Parish as we seek to support one another in our shared mission. This week I was able to help them from a technological perspective to allow their Parish Council to meet for the first time in some months. They continue to express gratitude for the partnership, particularly in recent times. It is worth noting that the Crows Nest parish has provided financial support to help make our new website and phone app possible.
- Parish Building Project
This week saw the completion of the demolition work to remove the Tennis Court. You will notice in the photographs the care that has been given to protect the Pine Tree, which is some 150 years old. Further work will be done in the coming months to connect utilities to the blocks in preparation for sale.
We are certainly hoping to be engaging builders to complete the internal refurbishment and necessary maintenance work in St David's later this year.
- Memorial Hall Use
We have several community groups preparing to begin using our Memorial Hall as soon as possible. There continue to be strict guidelines and practices to be put in place to make this possible.
- Sale of Pews
We have begun to sell some of the pews that were removed from the Church. These pews were approved for removal by the Archbishop as part of the reconfiguration. A period of advertising to promote their sale concluded at the end of March. This period provided an opportunity for people to show interest in purchasing one of 20 pews available. At this stage, about half of these pews remain available for sale at $400 each.
Updated 2pm 5 June
It feels like the last week has moved very quickly. A lot is happening around us, and it seems to change daily. This last week is a reminder of why it is essential to be ready to adapt and respond as a church as we seek to move closer to God and move closer to each other for an abundant life.
I want to update you on some parish news as we seek to respond to the changing environment.
- Parish Building Project
We continue to meet with representatives for the Diocesan property team to move forward the refurbishment of the Western end of the Church. This project also includes the necessary repairs and maintenance to care for this precious building.
The slow processing of approvals through Brisbane City Council has delayed the removal of the Tennis court. These approvals are now in place, and the contractors have begun removal today.
- Memorial Hall Use
We are working with tenants who regularly use the Memorial Hall to return to some limited use. At this stage, the Hall can be used for groups up to 20 people. There are strict guidelines for this use and practices we need to set in place before each tenant can begin. We expect that some tenants will return to regular use in the coming weeks.
As the current guidelines stand when we return to face to face worship, there will be several restrictions on us.
a. Those attending worship will be required to register before attending,
b. we think the churches capacity will be 40 people
c. we are required to set up physical distancing in seating and movement
d. family groups will also be required to maintain physical distancing (updated - this has been changed and is no longer required)
e. communal singing will not be allowed.
f. communion in one kind will be possible
g. we will need to implement extra cleaning between services
h. those who remain in higher-risk categories are discouraged from participating.
As you can see, these restrictions are onerous and may make a return to worship very strange and unwelcoming. We continue to work through our response as well as continuing to maintain worshipping opportunities for those who cannot attend.
I am grateful for the work of our Wardens and administrative staff who continue to actively work on our behalf in responding to each circumstance as they arise.