I write to you today to update you on our church’s response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
On Friday morning the Presbyterian Church of Queensland - PCQ (our governing authority) made the decision to cease all worship services and all congregational gatherings until further notice unless otherwise authorised by the Commission of Assembly.
This means that from today, our Sunday service will be suspended for the foreseeable future. The way we proceed from here will be outlined in future communications.
God is NOT Suspended
The scriptures are clear that Jesus still reigns and is still on His throne ruling and caring for His world. As we have been continually reminded in recent weeks, He is and always will be sovereign over all. In amongst a season of this current world where things seem out of control, we can rest assured that He is 100% in control.
Jesus also promises to never leave us or abandon us and we know that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. In these difficult and changing times, we need to continue to grow as healthy disciples of Jesus. As God’s primary way of speaking to us is through his word, I encourage you to read your Bible and pray. Bring your concerns, worries and thoughts to the one who cares and loves you and is longing for you to come to Him.
Church Is …
There is something precious and distinct about meeting together as a whole local congregation which will be lost for a time. At its most basic, church is God’s people in God’s places sitting under God’s word. This can happen in a range of formats apart from the weekly gathering. For the time being this will need to take the forms of our Growth Groups during the week, families gathering together or one on one conversations. As we meet in all these situations God is present with his people through the Holy Spirit.
Church is also family. In particular in these weeks and months ahead, we want no-one alone and no-one left behind. As your pastor, I cannot do this on my own. It will need to be a community effort as we visit (where allowed), call on the phone or over the internet. Our Growth Groups will play a vital role in this and I want to encourage you if you are not a part of one, now is a good time to join one. Ring me and we’ll organise this.
Church will look different in the days ahead, but the leadership team will be investigating the best ways for us to come together. This may change from week to week as we trial new things. I and the leadership would really appreciate your feedback on what is and what is not working.
Mission and Vision Unchanged
I want to assure you that our mission and vision at DPC remain unchanged. We will still be making and growing disciples in the Top End and beyond through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We still want to be a connecting, growing and serving church for all ages and all people. How we do this will change for this season and I pray that this will actually make us stronger as we reach out not only to each other, but to our neighbours and those who are vulnerable in our society.
Change and Uncertainty
We acknowledge that this may come as a shock for you or maybe even give you some relief in amongst these uncertain times. There are a range of emotions that may be evoked and it is important to recognise that not everyone will feel the same. Please be caring of each other and reach out when needed.
Ongoing Pastoral Care
During this time, we have great opportunities as a congregation to care for one another. There is some training planned for the future to equip and encourage all of us to do this well. One of the challenges ahead is to ensure that everyone is connected and cared for while we are not meeting in a large group face-to-face.
At this stage, I intend to work from the church office (Mon-Thurs, 9-4) and am still very happy to meet up with people one on one as they need (or over the phone). This is new territory for all of us, including the church leadership team. Please be in touch when you need us, and don’t wait because you think we’re too busy.
Care for the Greater Community
There is also great potential for us to care for our neighbours and community beyond DPC. There will be people who will be lonely and in need of things. Look out for them and care for them. This will be a great opportunity to pray with and for them and most importantly to introduce them to the hope that we have in and because of Jesus Christ.
Please pray with me as we think how best to extend Christian community to them.
It seems likely that COVID-19 is going to have far-reaching economic impacts. Some at DPC may need to rethink their giving. Some at DPC may face significant financial hardship in the months ahead. This makes it even more important that we remain generous with what we do have, even if what that looks like may need to change for some. In particular, if you haven’t already, now is a really important time to switch to electronic giving. You can get bank details by emailing Curtis (finance at darwinchurch.org). We still need to finance the ministry of DPC, and as discussed at our AGM last week, our finances were already tight this year.
Pray, Read and Care
The eternal hope of the good news of Jesus gives us courage in times like this, to not run and hide, to not be fearful and selfish. It gives us courage and confidence to keep trusting God, keep caring for each other, offering hope to the anxious and reminding each other of the eternal hope Jesus gives.
Let me encourage you to pray in amongst all of this. Pray that God would be glorified, God’s people strengthened and not afraid, but continue to trust in Him, to serve each other in love and reach out to the lost. Pray also for those dealing with all aspects of this virus. From those affected, to those treating and those who are making decisions about how to best look after people at this time.
In our media saturated world, I encourage you to disengage from everything that you can read online and hear in the news, and spend time with our Heavenly Father and his word so to be constantly reminded about who is in control in this whole situation and be strengthened by Him.
Finally look for ways to care for the sick, the vulnerable and to love and care for your neighbour as yourself during these times.
If you have any questions or concerns about this and the decisions we make moving forward, please get in touch with me – 0428 280 988 or richard at darwinchurch.org