COVID-19 Update #6
Good morning everyone!
Yesterday afternoon COVID-19 Response Group met to look at strategies for implementation in coming days as our churches adapt to the constantly changing social environment. The COVID-19 Response Group comprises, Regi McKinlay (WGC), Aaron Mitchell (WGC), Ps Tony McKinlay, Ps Faith Battistella, Ps Milton Oliver, Kerry Looi (RPCC), Josh McKenna (RPCC) and our Admin Staff, Yanina Oliver (RPCC) and Deb Mitchell (WGC).
This group has been empowered to make decisions and see them implemented as quickly as is practicable to address all the church life issues facing our churches right now. If you have information, ideas or resources you think may be helpful to this group, please send these through to Aaron Mitchell on firstname.lastname@example.org – all contributions are valued and discussed.
Following yesterday’s meeting the following was decided for immediate implementation:
– Corporate Worship services will pause from this coming Sunday until further notice.
– All other ministries such as Youth, Little Blossoms, Kidz Ministry of Dance, Men’s Shed and so on will pause operations until further notice.
– Healing Rooms, School of the Prophetic and Foodbank will remain open, but will operate within new social distancing and health risk minimisation protocols.
– Connect Groups will pause gathering in the usual way. Below will be information for everyone concerning how to attend your Connect Group on-line.
Of course, we learned last night that the federal government has now banned a range of gatherings indefinitely, including at places of worship, in an attempt to slow the spread of infection. We’re asking all our people to do all they can to comply with the social distancing requirements stipulated by our federal health administration and limit their non-essential contact with others.
Although our corporate worship service have been paused as of today, we’re not going to pause worship and fellowship – we’ll just do it differently. We will continue the live streaming in the same way as yesterday. How you logged into the live stream yesterday will be the very same way you log in for next Sunday’s worship service. We learned so much about live streaming yesterday and we’ll be putting that knowledge to good use in coming weeks, as well as acquiring new knowledge and better equipment for constantly improving viewing experiences. The good thing out of all this is that when this crisis is over we’ll have significantly increased our ministry and mission capacity and be able to keep on doing things we’ve never done before.
I want to particularly thank our worship and tech team for working so hard around the clock to overcome all sorts of challenges to bring us the live stream yesterday – you guys are awesome! We had overwhelmingly positive responses from many viewers.
Tithes & Offerings: Obviously, in this season we will have expenses we did not anticipate in the budgets and we so appreciate peoples’ faithfulness with their giving. Here are some practical ways you can bring your tithes and offerings while our public gatherings are in pause mode.
a) Online bank transfer
We encourage everyone, if not already doing so, to convert to on-line giving as we then have pretty much instant status of what is in our general account.
Bank: Churches of Christ Financial Services
Account Name: Wallan Gateway Church General Operating Account
b) Deposit via branch
Drop by any branch of the National Australia Bank and make a deposit.
Bank: National Australia Bank
Account Name: Wallan Gateway Church
(If you would like some deposit forms sent to you, advise us and we’ll get these sent in the mail in a day or two. If you need help filling out a deposit form, contact Deb in the office!)
c) Cash Tithe
Drop by the office on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays between 9am and 3pm with your cash tithe in a sealed envelope marked “Tithes”.
We have had a record start to the year with our tithes and offerings and this has helped reduce debt and get some pretty big bills out of the way early – thank you everyone! Going forward we will have unforeseen expenses as we make necessary adjustments to the way we do things. If you would like to assist with an offering towards new technology for live streaming that we have not budgeted for, please speak to Aaron Mitchell or Ps Milton.
ADDITIONAL DONATIONS (TO COMPASSION NORTH)
If you would like to make a tax deductible donation to Compassion North, to the Foodbank, or “Other Emergency Responses”, you can do so by depositing in the bank account below and marking it clearly (Foodank = FB), (Other Emergency Responses = OER) – make sure you let us know it’s you so that we can send you your receipt for tax time.
Bank: Westpac Banking Corporation
Account Name: Compassion North
We will do all we can to ensure anyone in our church families will have food on the table and so on. Several of our people have already had their livelihoods cut off.
The main thing is that with everyone maintaining their giving we will get through all this – pausing public worship services doesn’t make our expenses go away, unfortunately. Thank you for being so faithful with your giving!
The Vibe: the fortnightly e-news will continue to encourage you each fortnight.
The Pastoral Care Team: will continue to assist all those needing support, prayer and practical help.
Attendance Recording: Each week we note who was in attendance and who wasn’t. The simple reason is we want to know that if someone is missing we can follow up to make sure they’re OK and/or they get the care that they need – we don’t want anyone falling through the cracks and feeling left out. Obviously, our pausing of public gatherings makes this more difficult.
Therefore, if you we part of the live stream service yesterday, please let us know by emailing Deb (email@example.com) , so that we can track swift pastoral care responses:
The Latest Health & Safety information: check out this website https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/victorian-public-coronavirus-disease-covid-19
Senior Pastor’s Announcement Broadcast
on Sunday, March 22, 2020
“Good morning everyone, whether you are here or watching the live stream. In this very changed landscape where we live, lots of familiar ways and things have been suspended, some are passing away and we might never see them again. New things are now in place will become a normal part of our routines in the future. We’re not going back to the exact same world as before. So much has quickly changed, and there is probably a lot more change coming as we adapt to the challenges of a pandemic. Plagues and epidemics have ravaged humanity throughout its existence often changing the course of history. The pandemics of the last 100 years, there have been several of them, spanned the globe in just months.
The world changed, or rather, we changed and adapted to live differently on a new normal level. Several times. This is happening again, and we will adapt and overcome with God’s help.
As we navigate our changing circumstances we again ask of you all the following:
1. Practice social distancing for the time being.
2. Practice the best hygiene practices you can, washing hands thoroughly and often.
3. Check the church website often – the latest information will be there.
The COVID-19 Response Group will meet later today and consider the challenges before us and work with teams to find solutions. We expect that there will be more changes before this crisis is over. We will keep you up to date with Updates as often as needed, and via the website.
With the changes forced upon is, we’re not losing heart, but trusting God more than ever, and we want you to do the same. Our pastoral team will work hard in this new season to ensure that …
1. No one falls through the cracks – but we want you to ensure that, too. If you see something, do something – and alert us – we are the body of Christ. Everyone in this church family is precious.
2. There is special support for the vulnerable. These changed circumstances will make it difficult – even shopping for essentials is now a major challenge for some. Some will need technology support to stay connected – we’ll meet these challenges.
3. Ministries are sensitively adjusted/recalibrated as necessary, that’s inevitable, to meet changing needs.
We ask that during this time everyone be really “other aware”. That is, look out for those in your Connect Group or friendship circle – often. For some, isolation will become alienation if we don’t look out for them. Practice simple acts of love and kindness. If you have plenty in your pantry share with others who just can’t get much into their pantry right now.
Pray for one another. Call one another, often, text each other, email each other – while we have today. Do these things in love, do them often.
The New Testament speaks of those first Christians who were filled with God’s love and grace …
Acts 2:42-47 “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
God is going to release great power, even do miracles, in our midst as we do these things in faith and grace – people will come to faith, maybe in your very home … because of the way we face these challenging times.
If you’re not in a Connect Group you need to be in one, you really do, even if it is via Skype or Zoom. Now is the time to rise up as God’s people on this planet and minister hope and love and mercy and generosity to a world in panic. Only the church in the power of the Spirit of God can do this! That’s why we’re deployed here!
Let’s be diligent in love and prayer and let’s sow into our unity in Christ together, let’s protect it and enrich it, so that the world may know that by the way we love each other, we are his disciples, and will want to become one, too …
NEXT COVID-19 UPDATE, will come later today concerning Connect Group meetings. Please watch for this as it will have IMPORTANT INFORMATION for everyone.
In any case, please check the church website each day for the latest updates that may affect you.
If you have any concerns, please call a pastor, an elder or the office.
COVID-19 Update #5
Hello everyone! The Lord is with you!
This is a further update concerning our worship service tomorrow, March 22nd.
For those able to physically attend at the Wallan Gateway Centre, all is as usual but with social distancing protocols being practiced for the safety of all.
For those not able to attend, we are going to live stream using Facebook. Here is how to connect with the live stream tomorrow.
No Facebook account yet? OK, this is what to do to create one on any computer, tablet/iPad or smartphone.
A Final Word
On your behalf I want to thank the worship team for working so hard to get the live stream happening – we’ll do better and better as we upgrade equipment and keep on learning. Thank you worship team, your efforts have made it less isolating for those unable to gather in the physical space.
Aren’t we blessed to have such talented people assisting us?
I’ve said it, or hinted at it in previous Updates and messages, but I’ll say it again: we are in testing times right now – no doubt. BUT, we have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16). What does that mean? It means that we don’t have to know everything about everything all the time because, as ‘born agains’, our spirits have been renewed and this capable of receiving or hearing the wisdom of Christ, himself, through revelation that is projected onto the screens of our minds – just when we need it. We have all the wisdom we’ll ever need in Christ, whether that’s a prompting to ask someone with expertise, or the download from God of wisdom that confounds even scientists! He is the source of all knowledge and wisdom.
1 Corinthians 2:16 “… for, ‘Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.’”
Thank you again for the many messages of support and wonderful expressions of unity! Well, I’d better go and finish of the message for tomorrow morning, now. Please pray for me and each other.
There will be another Update on Monday at the latest.
You are loved.
COVID-19 Update #4
Good morning everyone.
Further to Update #3 and our Prime Minister’s announcements later yesterday we advise the following.
The pandemic situation is changing by the hour with new developments and responses to ensure best practice and the minimisation of any health risk. Please read the following very carefully …
Worship Services at Wallan will go ahead as planned, but with management strategies in place to comply with the Federal Government’s new directives yesterday. We have calculated space requirements and we’re good to go tomorrow.
For those who are self-isolating and those who are in the most vulnerable categories as described in Update #3 we will are working around the clock to set up live streaming solutions to that you can still participate, albeit very differently than usual. Here is what we are putting in place:
- We will have the sermons for tomorrow prerecorded and uploaded to our website prior to worship times tomorrow so that you can listen in. We encourage you to start listening at 10:45 am so that the whole church will be listening in some way together with everyone else. This is worst case scenario.
- We are working to establish direct video (live streaming) so that you can tune in to the entire service from beginning to end. We are working on this today, hopefully with some success – and as the days go by we’ll get better and better at this.
NB: PLEASE CHECK THE WEBSITE REGULARLY AS OFTEN UPDATES
WILL APPEAR THERE BEFORE AN EMAIL UPDATE IS SENT.
Connect Groups are meeting as usual this week – these are more critical than ever! However, in anticipation of more stringent government directives, we’re working on a suite of solutions to support the Connect Group Leaders and provide resources for all Connect Groups.
SUGGESTIONS & QUERIES
Many great ideas and suggestions are coming in – thanks everyone! However, to ensure that communications are clear and we don’t get bottlenecked here is how we’d like you to be an effective part of that.
- All suggestions/queries regarding worship, please contact Deb Mitchell
- All suggestions/queries regarding Connect Groups, please contact Ps Milton
- All suggestions/queries regarding Pastoral Care and support, please contact Ps Tony
- All suggestions/queries regarding Youth programming and ministry, please contact Ps Faith
- All suggestions/queries regarding tithes and offerings and how to organise that, please contact Deb.
I want to thank the people who, although prevented from coming to worship of a Sunday, have called, texted and emailed thanking us for being proactive in this strange new space. Although we are all being challenged with the suddenness of change and there is disappointment because of the impact, our churches are remaining positive, prayerful and strong in unity. Of course, we all have our moments, but our love for Jesus and each other is powerful and overcomes the enemy’s attempts to exploit the situation. I have been, personally, overwhelmed by the amazing support of the people and our various teams working on solutions.
Please keep praying for me and the other pastors and elders as we work hard to adapt to the new landscape.
At Healing Rooms this morning (RPCC), the Lord gave me a very clear prophetic command. It is this: he said, “Now is the time for my church to be bold and use the authority I have given it to overcome my enemies and to bring hope and calm in the chaos. Even if some are very new, like rookie police officers on the first day out in the field – they all have my badge and all the authority they will ever need to destroy Satan’s works and be light and salt for my Name. Be encouraged. This is the time for my church to arise and shine for me and be my royal priesthood.”
Like I said last Update, God is about to do a new thing. I want to be part of that!
ANOTHER UPDATE WILL COME LATER TODAY, WATCH FOR IT, BUT PLEASE CHECK THE WEBSITES OFTEN.
You are loved.
COVID-19 Update #3
The world is rapidly changing. We are rapidly adjusting to new challenges. Some of this is not easy, but the changing landscape will give us some amazing new opportunities we’ve never had before – and that’s exciting.
The first thing I want you to hear in this Update #3 is that although the COVID-19 pandemic has surprised and shocked many, it has been no surprise or shock to God, at all. He knew it was coming, and He hasn’t beamed His church up to heaven or anything, but He left us deployed here to be light and salt knowing that His church will trust in Him for the spiritual and wisdom resources that He wants to release. We have never handled a pandemic before, but God will show us how!
This is about to be one of the Church’s finest hours!
In a world where fear is being fanned by the media and panic merchants, we are the church and God is fanning our faith.
This Sunday, March 22nd
Both Roxburgh Park and Wallan congregations will meet for worship, but with some health and safety boundaries designed to protect everyone. These are as follows:
- There will be no communion.
- There will be no morning tea.
- We ask that people in the following categories not attend in order to minimise your health risk – we don’t want anything to happen to you. This is just sensible risk management:
- Anybody over the age of 65.
- Anybody who is immunodeficient (illnesses like HIV) or are on immuno-suppressent medication (for example chemotherapy).
- Anybody who suffers from chronic respiratory illness (like emphysema, chronic asthma).
- Potentially pregnant women (not enough known about the virus yet, but precautions are advised.)
NB: People at risk can certainly keep attending Connect Group, of course.
For those unable to be in worship in the interim because of the restrictions, we will advise in the next Update about Live Streaming options so that you can be part of the service at home. We will give you step-by-step instructions about how to connect in to the worship service via your phone, iPad/tablet, or computer. We’re doing all we can to maintain as much unity as we can. Look for the next Update and check our websites often.
COVID-19 Response Group in Action
On Sunday afternoon the COVID-19 Response Group comprising elders of both Wallan and Roxburgh Park will meet and strategise about logistics and resourcing that will support the various ministries of our churches in these changed circumstances. A new Update will be released on Monday to advise everyone about what is happening and how these will affect you.
Sunday Worship Services – future
It is likely that our public worship services will be paused in the near future – but that doesn’t mean we’ll pause gathering for worship! No! We are the church! We’re a community of God’s people, we don’t stop worshipping, praying and fellowshipping. But we will find new ways of gathering and this will be based on our extensive Connect Group network. We are yet to finalise all the solutions (the COVID-19 Group will tackle this on Sunday), but all of this points to one really big issue: if you’re not in a Connect Group right now you need to be. We don’t want anyone missing out, especially at a time like this. Please call the office direct (see main lines below), and we’ll organise a Connect Group near you.
We are also putting together resource packages for Connect Groups where people with health concerns will still be able to link in to their Connect Group via video link.
Tithes and Offerings
COVID-19 has already proven costly in many ways. A pandemic doesn’t reduce costs of operations but increases them. We are NOT asking the church family for more money (unless this is something the Lord has commanded you to do), but we do ask that everyone remain faithful in your giving as you have been. 2020 has been the best financial start both churches have ever had! We need your commitment to continue, but we know we’re challenged in receiving that because a significant amount of our tithes and offerings still comes in during worship services. We’re looking at three key ways of supporting your ongoing giving if you cannot get to worship this Sunday, or future Sundays.
Option 1: It might be time to convert over to electronic giving (bank transfer or set periodical deductions. If so, the banking details are set out below for you.
Bank: Churches of Christ Financial Services
Account Name: Wallan Gateway Church General Operating Account
Option 2: You can place your tithe/offering in an envelope and drop this in at the office nearest you. Please ensure this is clearly labelled as such.
Option 3: All Connect Group leaders will have marked offering envelopes for you to use week to week, and a master envelope to receive these. The master envelope will be sealed and dropped in the office.
If you have any special needs or concerns, please contact the office, or a pastor (see contact numbers below). Our pastoral support programs will particularly focus on supporting the vulnerable. Everyone needs to be in a Connect Group! (I think I already said that!). Send in any prayer requests at any time.
If you have any helpful ideas – we need them, please! – contact a pastor or speak to your Connect Group leader. If you see someone about to fall through a crack alert us, please. If you see something that has been overlooked, tell us. If you see a resource we can use, tell us. If there is someone in need, be generous, even if it is a toilet roll, or a packet of pasta. Practice simple acts of love. The team is working hard to resolve the issues and find solutions to the challenges. We’ll work hard to resource you and the ministries God has raised up here.
Check the website regularly. We will ensure the latest information is posted.
As I write this, I have paused to pray and I have realised as I’ve prayed that it is well with my soul, I am not anxious about anything. I am so grateful. No one has done this before. It is new territory, uncharted waters … but God is already there ahead of us. I’m looking forward to meeting Him there, with you. On resurrection morning the two Marys, still in shock and fear at the horrific events of the last few days, approach the empty tomb. This is what happened next …
Mark 16:6-7 “Don’t be alarmed,” the angel said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him, just as he told you.'”
He has gone ahead of us into these uncharted waters …
Together we will come through this, be changed by the season, and be re-calibrated to be salt and light to the world. We need your help now more than ever. We need your prayer more than ever. Pray for your pastors and elders who will shoulder much more in coming weeks.
Watch and see, God is about to a new thing amongst us!
You are loved so very much.
Ps Milton Oliver
0412 368 918
Ps Tony McKinlay
0412 575 430
Ps Faith Battistella
0434 630 489
COVID-19 UPDATE #2
Most of you will have heard by now of the Federal Government’s ban on indoor meetings – these must now be no more than 100 at one time. This will affect our churches in some ways, for sure. But we want you to know that we are working on strategies to cope with these challenges and still ensure that our families are looked after and that we can still fellowship in some way.
We aim to bring you an update of what needs to happen and how it will happen for this weekend and following by Thursday evening (March 19th).
There is no need to panic – we trust that in all of this God will guide our leaders and churches to be expressions and experiences of hope, calm and generosity to our communities. This is the season and moment for the church to shine and be at her very best. What an opportunity in God we have. I have included a famous quote (below) to encourage you all.
“The remarkable thing about God is that when you fear God, you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.”