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Dear Friends, Thank you for your continued patience as we all long to return to our beloved Church building. Whilst there have been encouraging signs lately with the announcement of the government allowing up to 50 worshippers in places of worship (social distancing permitting), many mainline churches are still choosing to keep their doors closed and remain online, which is what we will continue to do for the foreseeable future in alignment with the recommendations of the Uniting Church of Australia (NSW & ACT Synod). The reasons for this are complex, but include;

  • Concern for the increased risk we would impose on those who already have a compromised immune system and/or who are over 70 years old

  • Concern for the increased risk we would impose on those taking public transport to attend services

  • Inability to offer live worship music and Holy Communion

  • No Hugging/handshakes during the Peace

  • Safety issues with community singing

  • Lack of current infrastructure and resources to deep clean facilities after every use (light switches, door handles, books, counters, tables, seats (the list goes on and on!)

  • The logistics of cleaning and disinfecting toilets after every use

  • The complexity around privacy issues and tracking the names and contact details of every person who walks through the doors incase of an outbreak

  • Managing and ensuring social distancing is adhered to at all times which would make worship services challenging, and community room socialising impossible

  • Concern around the increased risk serving food and beverages after church poses for a potential outbreak

These are a few of the concerns I have in reopening our doors too soon. For this reason, I am also asking those of you with keys to the premises to refrain from any face to face meetings at this time. I have come to realise there is little point in closing the church for worship if we are all still coming into the premises during the week at different times which can present an outbreak risk, albeit a lower one, but the safety issues are nonetheless still present and real. I know this update is not what we want to hear at this time. It's certainly not the kind of update I want to give either, but for all the reasons listed above and more, I would pray for your continued patience as we navigate these unchartered waters. We shall indeed return soon to our church building, but just not yet. In the meantime, know that we will continue to be the church together online and that I am reaching out to those not online to provide spiritual support. We have many wonderful opportunities to connect with one another through our church services and programs every week, please continue to join us for these events and invite a friend or neighbour to come along also. May we use this wilderness experience as an opportunity to be refined and grow by the grace and power of the Holy Spirit who falls on us anew this weekend on Pentecost Sunday, comforting us, inspiring us, and leading us into the future God is calling us into. I leave you tonight with a special message from our Moderator that I received today on this very issue. May God bless us all during this time, know our love, prayers, and support are here for you as we navigate this wilderness journey together, with God faithfully by our side. Blessings, Rev. Dale A MESSAGE FROM OUR MODERATOR REGARDING REOPENING MCC CHURCHES May 29, 2020. Dear People of God, As we know, COVID-19 is a global pandemic and is impacting countries at different times. Even within one country, there are varying levels of infection rates and localised decision-making on restrictions. We are called to be good stewards of all that God has given us and this includes being good stewards of our people. This is particularly important when our church members may be at risk in other areas of their lives, such as in work or in public spaces. This is not just about us individually, it is about us loving our neighbours. I urge us all to focus on who we are as MCC, even in the midst of such uncertain times. In MCC, our core values are inclusion, community, spiritual transformation and justice. It is important to consider these values as part of the discussion on physically gathering for worship. How are we going to balance the challenges of keeping everyone safe with living out our core values? I strongly encourage every MCC to act on best public health advice, to exercise caution and to only open for physical worship when you are certain that you can establish a clear plan and maintain the actions needed to keep everyone safe. We know that COVID-19 is affecting some in our community more than others. Our loved ones who already have health concerns, who are elderly, those of us who are Latinx, People of Colour or who are struggling economically are all at greater risk. The number of people who will be able to worship together physically will be limited for some time, in order to keep within social distancing requirements. For many churches, the most effective way of serving the community will be to continue with online worship. I know that these are challenging decisions to make; for the pastor, for the local Board, for ministry leaders. You are in my prayers as you discern the best way forward for your church. God bless, Rev. Elder Cecilia Eggleston Moderator

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