To those in congregational leadership
Thank you for your leadership and innovation in these challenging times. Your willingness to adapt the ways you conduct ministry in new and innovative ways is being appreciated by people far and wide. It has been encouraging to hear stories of people engaging in the different ways worship has been conducted across the church. Some congregations report more people engaging with their online worship than their usual Sunday attendance. Others have found the printed resources a useful tool to pastorally engage with those on the fringe of the congregation (with appropriate physical distancing of course).
Providing adequate and suitable pastoral care can be challenging within the social distancing rules determined by the Government. I encourage you to use the term physical distancing to remind us that, although we need to avoid physical contact with those outside our household, maintaining social and pastoral contact is important for our spiritual, emotional and physical wellbeing. I thank you for the increased connections you are making to support the members of our communities.
The Uniting Church is recognised as an important provider of welfare for the disadvantaged in society. The current situation means that many of our ways of providing welfare are not currently suitable. I grieve with those who have had to suspend their op shops, welfare meals, and other operations for the time being. Thank you to those who are exploring new ways of helping those in need that do not involve face-to-face contact.
Changing the way we do things is rarely easy and in the church the burden often falls on those in leadership. We can feel under-resourced and over-stretched as we try to keep things happening. It is alright to let some things go, to enable the essentials of ministry to continue. Across congregations there are a variety of essentials, depending in part on the resources available. We remember that supporting each other and maintaining Christian community though prayer, worship and pastoral care, in whatever form we can manage, as well as caring for those around us, are important.
Although these arrangements are for a season, and we don’t know in what ways life will be different at the end of this, I encourage all of us to think about the positives in what we are doing at the moment and how they can inform our future practices.
Thank you all for holding everything together and I welcome contact in whichever way you feel comfortable. Please let me know if you have questions or suggestions regarding acceptable processes and new ideas, in this challenging time of ministry.
This week is Holy Week, and we reflect on the events of Jesus’ last week, leading up to his death and then resurrection. In all our uncertainty, we hold fast to the promise of enduring hope and new life that is found in this significant time, in the life of our church. I pray that this may be your experience.
Blessings in your ministries,