In her Easter message, Moderator Rev Denise Liersch reminded us to look to Jesus for a way forward during this time of seismic upheaval. The congregations and faith communities in the Presbytery of Tasmania have many ways of being Church during this ‘non-contact’ time – and show us that there are new ways to worship, share, remain connected, and care for each other.
Congregations and faith community members are discovering new skills (Zoom, videoing, photography, YouTube) to learn or share, are finding creative ways to worship in their communities, and new ways of caring for all members of their congregation and their local communities. During this time of ‘non-contact Church’ some are:recording their Sunday worship and sharing with the congregation.
- connecting on Sunday mornings by holding Zoom Worship
- using ‘faith at home’ resources from the Presbytery website
- increasing the frequency and size of their regular newsletter
- sharing resource material by email and letter box dropping
- updating contact lists to staying in touch by phone, email, letter, Zoom
- making a phone call to have a shared devotional/prayer time with another member of the congregation, or a cuppa and chat
- check out TV and radio stations for Christian programs
At Longford UCA we have gone from a fortnightly newsletter to a weekly newsletter. The newsletter includes the usual stuff, extracts from communications of Presbytery and a contribution from the worship leader for the Sunday. The newsletter is emailed to those with email and letterboxed for those without. The worship contributions vary in content depending on the leader. Some might include a printed sermon; they usually include prayers and suggestion of a hymn to read, sing or follow on Youtube. For example Graham Booth was responsible for Good Friday and Easter Day services. The Good Friday service began by asking participants to make a cross from found objects in their home and on Easter Day to add something to this that spoke of life. People were encouraged to take photos and share or keep to share later. This enabled members of the congregation to “preach” to others. The emailed ones were also shared in the next newsletter. (Some examples are above) We went this way of the newsletter because many are not confident users of Internet technologies.
In addition to this, before all face to face meetings were stopped a group of us met and divided up those on our list of members in order to maintain phone and or email contact in order to maintain a further sense of community (body) in isolation.
Graham Booth, Lay Preacher
When we aren’t able to meet face to face, how do we be the body of Christ? At Kingston Uniting we have been managing this in a number of ways.
We are all staying in touch by phone, email, letter and Zoom, with the Pastoral Care team making a number of calls each week, and everyone spending time making contact with others within our community and beyond.
Michael, our minister, has discovered previously unknown wizardry within his mobile phone and talents within himself, managing to bring a worship service to us each week via YouTube. This has involved camera work, sound recording, editing and artistic direction. I guess he has become a Producer and Director of worship in a new way. This has been a wonderful gift, and with the help of our rostered worship leaders, we have been invited to a beautiful service, that includes time for the children, and which we can view in our own homes each week. A number churches are offering their own style of “gathering” in this way.
We have had Zoom meetings and are planning a prayer and reflection group which will begin soon. We are also encouraging those who can, to give to Uniting or other aid organisations, to help those who need support at this time.
Those who do not have access to a computer are cared for by a weekly delivery of the newsletter and words for worship.
KUC is trying to live out Kindness, Understanding and Connection in these isolating times.
Bronwyn Morton, Retired Minister
Hobart Scots Memorial
The Scots-Memorial congregation had its last in-church service on the 15 March 2020. Since that time we have arranged an “Our Church at Home” written Order of Service that we provide on a weekly basis. We have done this because about a third of our congregation don’t have internet access and the order of service is posted out to them.
We have suggested to the congregation that they set up their own worship space at home (see photo attached) and go through the service either by themselves, with a friend or in a group. Six members of those without the internet have been conducting their service for the last 3 Sundays at 10 am by telephone conference. The group service has been very successful in connecting our people to a Sunday service.
The Order of Service includes our regular “Sharing Time” where individuals share news from the last week. Its another link joining us together at this time. Those who have internet access can use the Order of Service or one of the many options available on the internet.
Steven Kaczmarski, Chair Scots-Memorial Church Council
“We ARE part of the Community of Christ and while we may not be able to gather in one location as Community we are still gathered in spirit and in His love through His Holy Spirit which He has left with us for all eternity. We should not be disheartened by current events and difficulties because we do have the HOPE and the ASSURANCE of God’s presence with us, in us and through us to others.” Derwent Cluster newsletter