UPDATED communication from Rev. Jeremy Smith regarding our worship services going forward.
Dear Brothers and Sisters
This is a follow-up E mail to inform you of the decision of Session following our prayer and deliberations of Tuesday evening 17th March.
We have concluded that we should meet for public worship at the scheduled worship services but that we are committed to apply every practical and reasonable measure to safeguard the health of all congregants and visitors and thereby limit the possibility of spreading the Corona virus.
The decision to attend worship services is entirely yours, however, when you make your decision, be aware that we will endeavour to provide an environment that reduces the chance of viral contamination or infection (please familiarise yourself with the protocols listed below).
We have recognised the great need at this time for the Church and this nation to repent and turn back to God.
And whilst our president Cyril Ramaphosa has made a statement and declared a national disaster, all of the otherwise well intentioned proposals will fail if we do not place our Lord first.
This crisis, generated through corruption, racial hatred, criminality, social disruptions and now the Corona virus, cannot be properly addressed unless God intervenes and there is a transformation of the hearts of people.
We must intercede and we must all intercede, if you are unable to attend the worship services, you should intercede at home; ask God in the name of Jesus Christ that He would help us, pray that the Holy Spirit would convince us so that we thoroughly repent and turn from our wicked ways, and that God would graciously hear our confession, forgive our sins, have mercy on us and heal our land
People need to hear the Word of God and be reminded of the hope that we have in and through our Lord, Jesus Christ.
There are at least two mistakes that could be made in our response to the Corona virus issues;
- The first would be to adopt an attitude of dismissive contempt of the “hype” and of the people that are genuinely concerned for their health and the health of others. Whilst the virus might not represent a threat to most healthy people, we have a significant number of congregants that are undergoing rigorous medical treatments and chemo, or those that have serious lung conditions. Exposure to the virus represents a mortal danger to them. Respect these people and their faithfulness to continue in worship as they have for the past months and years under so-called “normal” conditions. It is an act of Christian love to defend them from possible infection. Please respect their decision to remain home at this time. Pray for them and encourage them.
- The other mistake would be the opposite extreme; to live in paralysing fear and complete isolation
We ask you to be aware, prepared and meticulously follow the guidelines listed below
- Please do not attend any of the services if you are unwell; if you are coughing and sneezing or running a temperature, remain at home and call us to inform us of your need.
- Upon entry to the sanctuary you will be asked to sanitise your hands with a product provided by the church
- We should limit physical contact in the worship services; therefore there will be no physical contact in greeting, or passing the peace and no physical contact at the end of the service.
- We will seat the first 100 worshippers in the sanctuary. As the sanctuary is well ventilated and has fixed seating for 230 people, you can carefully situate yourselves to keep a reasonable distance from each other (about a meter apart), obviously family members may sit closer together.
- Should any extra worshippers arrive (over the 100), they shall be accommodated in the church hall adjacent to the sanctuary and seated on the plastic chairs (at reasonable spacing), they can therefore participate in the worship from this separate venue
- The offering will be placed in a box provided at the front of the sanctuary and worshippers may then come forward at the time of the offering to place their offering directly into the box
- We would encourage you to keep contact with members of the congregation through the appropriate use of electronic media, people need to stay connected.
- If you are at all concerned about “overcrowding” in the morning service, we would encourage you to consider attending the evening service (this is generally a much smaller service) this will also give more space for other worshippers in the morning service
- We will, as always, ensure that the Communion elements are prepared in a hygienic manner and that the servers have observed the protocols
- After the close of each service, the pews and the surrounding areas and door handles will be sprayed with a disinfectant, over the next few weeks you might gradually become aware of the smell, I trust it will not distract you.
- We will endeavour to disseminate the sermons and perhaps other parts of the worship service in audio format as soon as practically possible after the service has ended
- You will be most welcome to stay for refreshments but please observe the “social distancing” protocols.
We would urge you to continue to meet in your small groups during the week and immediately communicate pastoral needs to the church office, minister or elders
Letters circulated from office bearers of the UPCSA asked us to re-evaluate our Easter services,
I can personally assure you that we have re-evaluated the Easter services and we recognise there has never been a better time to celebrate Jesus Christ’s victory over sin and death.
Let us face all these trials in and through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Yours in Christ Jesus