Dear Friends

After a brief time in Level 3, including a very smooth couple of Zoom Synod sessions last week, we are now in Delta Level 2, which is much more stringent than the previous Level 2. Before talking further about Level 2, I want to acknowledge the tragic event on Friday afternoon in Lynnmall, Auckland, when a terrorist stabbed a number of people and then was shot dead by police. At such a time as this, we demonstrate our good neighbourliness to our Muslim communities by reminding ourselves and others that such terrorism is not representative of the Islamic faith.

Level 2: Diocesan life and guidance

Our Guidelines for Delta Level 2 are a work in progress as I write. After both local and Tikanga Pākehā consultation, details will be finalised through today, and they will be distributed to ministry unit leaders tomorrow, Thursday, and they will be published on our website at the same time. We are guided and directed, of course, by the following:

So far, in response to the Government’s announcement on Monday, I am recommending that services for this Sunday 12 September remain online.

We need this time to develop management plans in each ministry unit for services (and other activities) to resume safely and confidently within the stringency of Delta Level 2 restraints. I remind all readers that this Diocesan webpage lists the online or alternative services we have been provided information about. Other Covid-19 information can be found here and will be updated regularly.

While Government regulation re maximum numbers, physical distancing and mandatory contact tracing offer no room for discretion, some significant questions are being raised across the Dioceses while we have discretion on other matters, though things may change as clarification is sought from the Government: including, how do we avoid turning people away at the door of the church? Should mask wearing in church be mandatory or highly recommended? When wearing a mask, should everyone, including preacher, wear a mask for the whole service? Is Communion (even when restricted to bread only) possible when all aspects of Delta Level 2 distancing and hygiene requirements are considered? Can we sing with masks on, let alone with them off? What (as we attempt to answer these questions) will give parishioners confidence that a church service in Level 2 is a safe event? Is Communion impractical when 2m physical distancing needs to be observed when we gather?

Some readers will have received an unsolicited email this week from “Karen”, challenging the Anglican church for its pro-vaccine stance. I remain unapologetic: our way forward as a nation is to be vaccinated; our love as Christians for our neighbours means we should be vaccinated.

Thank you for support for our Get One Give One campaign here so that others less fortunate than ourselves might also be vaccinated. Late last week there was a news item on the campaign.

Questions re worship in the future
We do not know where the Pandemic will end in respect of worshipping together. Will we (for instance) require a “vaccine passport”? Is post Pandemic worship going to be constrained by government imposed conditions? How do we welcome all if the post-Pandemic era involves constraints on gatherings? The Diocese of Sydney is exploring questions about worship and has developed a process for engaging with the questions of the day. You can learn more here

Children’s resources
For churches wishing to resource children and families for online worship situations, the following two resources have been commended recently: one from Bible Explore and a weekly children’s worksheet is downloadable each week from the Transitional Cathedral’s webpage.

Ordinary Life of the Diocese
A very big thank you to all members of Synod and to our supporting staff in the Anglican Centre for a very smooth and productive couple of Zoom sessions of Synod last Thursday and Friday nights. Of particular note we approved the dissolution of the Parish of Christchurch St Luke’s, to take effect on St Luke’s Day, 18 October, 2021. Please pray for this parish and its parishioners as they prepare for a series of services and events in October to mark this dissolution.

It was good to “visit” the Online Ministry of the Word Service offered by the Parish of Highfield, Kensington and Otipua on Sunday morning. (While thinking of Sunday, a belated Happy Fathers’ Day to all fathers reading this message).

As we move into Delta Level 2, some of our parishes will be hoping more intensely than others that we do not go back to Level 3 or 4 because they have major post-quake building projects nearing completion which have been set back a few weeks: Akaroa-Banks Peninsula, Avonside, Bryndwr, East Christchurch, Glenmark-Waikari, Opawa-St Martins, South Christchurch and St Mary’s Timaru. At the end of last week Ms Suzanne Price concluded her work with us as Recovery Programme Manager—thank you Suzanne for your extraordinary involvement in this massive programme of works!

Opportunities to Help Others: I continue to commend to readers three appeals for funds (in no particular order of preference—they are all important):

  • An NZCMS appeal for support for the Mirpurkhas Hostel in Pakistan which Kiwi mission partners have had a long association with, including a present partner, who is well known in this Diocese. Details of which are given elsewhere in this e-Life.
  • The City Mission here in Christchurch so that it has funds to purchase food for its foodbank which is having an even greater run on it than during the last Lockdown. To donate click here
  • A CWS appeal for Afghanistan and Haiti—the Christian World Service is appealing for funds to assist people disrupted through the takeover of the Taliban and the impact of a massive earthquake respectively. Details are given elsewhere in this e-Life.

This Sunday, Ordinary 24, our Gospel reading is Mark 8:27-38, the story of a dramatic conversation between Jesus and his disciples in which Simon Peter reveals that Jesus is the Christ, God’s Anointed. Strikingly, Peter having received top marks for answering Jesus’ question correctly about his own identity, then completely misunderstands the character of Jesus’ mission. Always in Mark’s Gospel, the disciples are flawed people. Why doesn’t Jesus ditch them and get a better set of disciples? Answers in a sermon near you this Sunday!

Kia haumaru te noho—Stay safe,