May God’s peace and grace be with you all in these uncertain and changing times in our world.
Please get comfortable as there is much to read below. I apologise for this but we are in rapidly changing times.
Covid-19 and what is happening at Holy Trinity Tauranga:
1. Church Services:
We have been directed by our bishops that this Sunday we will have the last public worship services until further notice. This means no more Sunday services, Wednesday services or Messy Church until restrictions are lifted and our bishops have sanctioned that we can start again.
So, this Sunday, 22 March, we will be having three services in the morning so that we will avoid having over 100 people in any one service. The services will be:
8am – as usual but shorter and there will be no offertory hymn.
9am – Like usual 10am with no Sunday School
10am – Like usual 10am with Sunday School
All services will aim to be about 45-50 minutes long. The 9am & 10am services will have the following changes from our usual 10am service: One less song in the worship bracket, shorter sermon and no offertory hymn. We are relying on a good number of those who usually come at 10am to come at 9am.
Changes to all services:
- Communion will be the wafer only.
- Welcomers please wash hands and use steriliser before handing out the Weekly News and Prayer Books at 8am.
- If you touch the auditorium doors please sanitise hands afterwards with the sanitiser provided.
- Please drop your collection in the bags provided as you enter the auditorium. There will be no offertory hymn or song.
- Please observe the Ministry of Health’s guidelines of no contact, social distancing, coughing into a tissue or into your arm and don’t come to church if you are unwell.
- There will be no morning tea after the services.
- NB the water fountain and drinks machines will not be available. If you feel you may need a drink then bring your own water bottle.
I think Sunday will be a great opportunity for us to worship together before we will have to close services, so please come and worship.
2. Prayer Meeting this Sunday, 22 March, at 4pm. This is a call to prayer for the parish at this time of uncharted waters.
3. Life groups and other Small Groups:
These can all continue to meet at the discretion of the leaders and members. This includes Lifegroups, Mainly Music, ESOL, Bible studies and ALPHA. Feel free to explore using zoom, if your group doesn’t want to physically meet and all members have computers.
I have prepared a communion service that licensed lay ministers can use with small groups with the reserved sacrament (ie wafers with a little wine dotted on them that have been blessed by our parish priests). Reserved sacrament and booklets are available at Reception.
The prayer chain will continue to operate as usual.
We will be setting up Prayer Ministry by phone. This will probably mean, that if you ring the church at certain times, some of our Prayer Ministers will be available to pray with you on the phone.
Also, our bishops invite everyone to light a candle at 7pm each day and pray for all that is happening because of the covid-19 pandemic. Let us all pray that the virus will degenerate, treatment will be found and that a vaccine be found quicker than expected. Also pray for God to use each of us for His purpose at this time.
5. Keeping in Touch:
I, as vicar, will endeavour to communicate at least weekly, via email. I am also hoping that we will be able provide some on-line spiritual input. Watch this space!
We are also hoping to set up a phone tree so that all parishioners are contacted regularly.
6, The Church Building
Our plan is for the foyer and auditorium to be open Sunday – Friday from 9am to noon (at least) for prayer and contemplation. However, this will rely on us finding at least 3 people willing to be hosts at those times.
7. Retirement Home Services (This is a note for licensed lay ministers who have been taking these services)
These will be at the discretion of each Retirement Home. However, I suggest that those who do these services offer to do non-communion services if communion services are out.
Your offerings can be dropped off at the office during the time that we will be having no public worship services.
9. Our Church Freezers
Our church freezer are getting low and we need more frozen meals & soups. If you can do this then please drop off the food at Reception Monday-Friday between 9am and noon.
10. Funerals etc
Dale, Gaye and Stephen will be available to take funerals and conduct other priestly duties. They can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally, if you have made it to the end of this epistle, well done. Let us all work to be a people of peace, God’s peace, at this time and take to heart Isaiah 41:10 and let us all please stay connected with one another as the people of Holy Trinity Tauranga. Our church has survived two world wars, the great depression and much more in our 145 years as a church. We will survive this. This too will pass.
NB Not everything can be sorted out today. We will continue to keep working on this evolving situation.