MEDIA RELEASE

Uniting Church asks Congregations to continue to protect most vulnerable

Friday 15 May

The Leadership of the Uniting Church Synod of NSW and ACT and leaders from the Presbyteries and Ministers, met this week to review restrictions on gatherings for worship and meetings for groups in church facilities following the easing of restrictions in NSW and ACT.

With the safety and well-being of our community in mind, the Synod agreed on a strong recommendation that church members should not meet in person for services of worship or face to face meetings in churches.

The recommendation to congregations was laid out in an Information Update signed by the General Secretary, Rev. Jane Fry, and Moderator Rev. Simon Hansford.

“It is anticipated that the effects of COVID-19 will continue to impact our lives for the foreseeable future.”

"In the coming months we will be asked to make difficult choices between conflicting needs and imperatives.  We must avoid framing our situation in terms of a false choice between reviving the economy — or our churches — and saving lives,” the guidance said.

The note was clear in its concern for premature easing of restrictions in vulnerable communities, “If we don’t continue our efforts to contain the virus, a new wave of infections and deaths will cause further pain.  All that we have gained in this time of isolation could be quickly lost.”

The guidance confirmed that weddings and funerals were still permissible “adhering to the numbers set by the ACT and NSW Government”.

Additionally, it affirmed that Pastoral Visits are permissible if “no one is considered at risk.”

The notice made special reference of Ministers or Pastoral Visitors. It recommended a check on health status before visiting community members, and that visitors in a vulnerable category, make alternative arrangements.

Further recommendations advise Uniting Church congregations to: 

  • continue to suspend face to face worship,
  • encourage and affirm the continued delivery of worship via alternate means,
  • reaffirm the provision of essential services and activities that support vulnerable people in communities, practicing strict social distancing and hygiene,
  • encourage Ministers and leadership teams in their continued efforts to;
  • foster social contact amongst their people in safe ways,
  • encourage people to maintain fellowship and pastoral care by other means, Australia Post, telephone, internet, online resources including on the Synod COVID-19 Hub for online church activities,
  • Continue to encourage people to use this time as an opportunity for personal retreat and reflection, for enriching and renewing their life of faith, for discovering new ways of reaching out in friendship and support to others in faith, even in the midst of the challenges being experienced.”

The Presbytery and Synod leaders will continue to meet each week to monitor future developments.

Read the full Information Update here. 

For further information:

Stephanie O’Connell

M: 0439 600 312

E: stepho@nswact.uca.org.au