Letter from Revd Andrew to the People of St Pauls 26 June 2020

Dear People of St Paul’s

Greetings in Jesus’ name!

We are people of hope

Our Christian faith enables us to be people of hope.  In the midst of despair we have hope because, in the words of “The Blessing” performed by virtual choirs around the world, “God is for us.”  We believe God is with us in all circumstances and strengthens us in facing hardships.

We are people of prayer

A common phrase I hear from our members is “we must pray.”  Prayer too is a mark of our faith.  When we feel there is little we can do we can pray, knowing that prayer is also action.  We pray to support one another. We pray for those going through particular struggles.  Let us pray for the family of Sheila Moorgas, a member of our parish, who died recently in Pretoria where she went to stay with family last year.

Over the last few weeks I have been made aware of  and prayed for parishioners who have been in hospital (including Faith Gushu who returned home this week- thanks be to God for her recovery), and others who have lost immediate family members (including Dolly Dlamini on the death of her father).  Yesterday Jimmy Ssemafumu’s mother in Uganda passed on.  May they rest in peace.  We pray for those who are sick and suffer loss, that they may know God’s healing and comfort.  Let us share the names of those who need our prayers.

We give thanks for Portia Nodangala’s continued improvement in her physical health; and for the Phillip family of Church House that all have recovered and now tested negative for Covid-19.

In praying for our Diocese and the Worldwide Anglican Communion make use of the Diocesan Prayer Diary.  The July one may be accessed on our website .

 We are people of worship

We worship God in all that we are, say and do.

Our church remains closed for corporate worship.  Our parish “Covid Team” continues to work on the preparations needed before we can reopen for services.  You will see from the Dean/Vicar-General’s letter at the end that July will need to be used for further preparations.

This Sunday we have invited an ordinand from our archdeaconry, Debbie Moorgas, to be our guest preacher.  If it was not for lockdown she would have been ordained earlier this month by Archbishop Thabo. Currently based at St Thomas’ Church, her home church is St Aidan’s Church.

The Collect for this Sunday is:

Faithful God,

your love stands firm from generation to generation:

open our hearts to hear your word

that we may seek Christ’s presence

in everyone we meet;

through the same Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

Amen

We are people of the Bible

The Bible guides us in our daily lives, providing inspiration and guidance.  The lectionary we use (The Revised Common Lectionary) is used by churches of different denominations around the world.  I find this method of reading the Bible helpful.  These (mostly) continuous readings are divided into Morning Prayer (MP) and Evening Prayer (EP), with a Psalm (Ps) and both Old, New Testament and Gospel readings daily.  The readings for next week are:

 

Monday 29th    MP  Ps 55   Number 22:1-21; Romans 6:12-23

EP Ps 56,57, 58   1 Samuel 10:17-27   Matthew 21:12-22

Tuesday 30th    MP Ps 59, 60   Number 22:21-38; Romans 7:1-12

EP Ps 61, 62   1 Samuel 11: 1-15   Matthew 21: 23-32

Wednesday 1st  MP Ps 63, 64, 65   Number 22:41-23:12  Romans 7:13-25

EP Ps 66,67   1 Samuel 12: 1-6; 16-25  Matthew 21: 33-46

Thursday 2nd     MP Ps 68  Number 23:11-26; Romans 8:1-11

EP Ps 69   1 Samuel 13: 5-18 Matthew 22: 1-14

Friday 3rd          MP Ps 70,71  Number 24:1-13; Romans 8:12-17

EP Ps 72  1 Samuel 13: 19-14:15 Matthew 22: 15-22

Saturday 4th      MP Ps 73 Number 24:12-25; Romans 8:18-25

EP Ps 74   1 Samuel 14:16-30 Matthew 22: 23-40

 We are a people in community

We form community when we get to know one another.  One way of doing this is to share with one another our experiences. Over the last four weeks we have had a series on “Reflections on the pandemic.” If you would like to share your story with us all please send it to me.

We are a people of celebration

The following are the birthdays and wedding anniversaries that we have in our records. (Please point out any omissions).  We thank God for these people and pray for rich blessings on their special day.

Birthdays

1  Dumisa Mdhladhla

2  Doreen Senoge

3   Zakithi  Dludlu

4  Bea George

6   Nonhlanhla Cele

9  Julia Mchunu

10 Dumisani Gumede; Melokuhle Gushu

11 Favour Mchakama

14 Oluchi Udoka ; Ncamisile Zondo

15 Mansy Eunica Kubeka; Sally Miles

16 Natalie Duru; Nandipha Gasa; Basil Ogle

18  Shirely Ajodhia; Bongiwe Mahlati

20 Ampie Niehaus

21 Muntuza  Bhengu

22 Minnie Raymond

24 Sindi Mtshawu; Marlene Warner

25 Dorothy Samuel

26 Lynette Weldon

28 Judith Serafim

29 Thandeka Dludlu; Thelma Francis; Tarryn Phillips; Irene Pillay; Vuyo Zozo

Wedding anniversaries

7 Nokwanda and Sipho Mtoboyi

10 Harold and Thelma Francis

We are a generous people

We are grateful to those who have continued to give their Planned Giving directly into the church bank account and to those who have also given loose plate collections in this way. (The St Paul’s banking details are: Account Name: St Paul’s Church; Account Number: 50854628623; Branch Code: 221426;  Bank: FNB.)

 We are a people of justice

We believe that everyone is created in God’s image and should be treated with dignity and respect.

The Anglican Communion Environment Network has produced a statement on Environment Racism signed by our archbishop and a number of other Primates and bishops around the world.  The full statement, which starts off as follows, can be accessed on our website.

“Black lives are disproportionately affected by police brutality; COVID-19 sweeps through crowded vulnerable communities unable to socially distance; toxic dump sites are placed next to poor communities of Black people; indigenous people are forced off their land.  The world is slow to respond to climate change, hanging on to an increasingly precarious and unjust economic system. It is predominantly Black lives that are being impacted by drought, flooding, storms and sea level rise. The delayed global response to climate injustice gives the impression that #blacklivesdontmatter. Without urgent action Black lives will continue to be the most impacted, being dispossessed from their lands and becoming climate refugees.  We stand at a Kairos moment – in order to fight environmental injustice, we must also fight racial injustice. In the words of Archbishop Tutu  “If you are neutral in times of injustice you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

Prayer

“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in all ways. The Lord be with all of you”. (2 Thessalonians 3:16)

Yours in Christ

Revd Dr Andrew Warmback

Rector: St Pauls, Durban

26th June 2020 TO: Rectors, Priests-in-Charge and Churchwardens

Dear Friends,

Statement from Chapter

On 23 June 2020 the Diocesan Chapter met to consider the state of readiness of parishes in the diocese to open church buildings. We noted that:

  • The rate of Covid-19 infections is on the rise and that infections have doubled in the past 14 days, from approximately 50 000 infections on 9 June 2020 to over 100 000 on 23 June 2020. [World Health Organisation statistics ] The peak has not yet been reached, even in the Western Cape. Epidemiologists are predicting that the peak will occur sometime from mid-July to mid-August with 700 000 to 1.5 million infections.
  • SA Covid-19 Modelling consortium]There are a number of parishes that are not yet in full compliance with the government regulations and SACC guidelines relating to opening churches.Some parishes and/or parish leaders have indicated that even if all the protocols were in place, the majority of the parishioners in those parishes are not in favour of re-opening the buildings at this time. This is particularly, but not only, so in parishes where there are a majority of members of 60 years or more.
  • As long as church buildings are not opened, there is an exacerbated adverse financial impact on the diocese and individual parishes.
  • Clergy and their teams are engaging in online ministry through various platforms. This ministry will continue until all parishioners are able to worship together in one physical building.

The Chapter has concluded that for the next month, as a diocese, we continue to prepare for re-opening. In order to assist with this preparation the SACC guidelines are attached. Also attached is checklist which helps parishes assess their state of readiness. The Chapter has also recommended to the Vicar General that another clergy forum be convened in order to offer further training to clergy and lay leaders from a health professional.

Preparing churches, especially in parishes which have a number of chapelries, is expensive. It would be wonderful if better resourced parishes were able to assist those less well-resourced.

Recognising the family nature of the Diocese, we would like the decision to re-open church buildings to be made collectively.

It should be made absolutely clear that even when the decision is made to allow buildings to be reopened:

  • No church building may be opened for worship services until a completed checklist has been submitted to the relevant archdeacon who should sign off on the decision to re-open;
  • No cleric or lay minister will be forced to lead services in church, particularly if that cleric or lay minister is 60 years or more or has an underlying health condition (such as diabetes, hypertension, a heart or lung or kidney condition) that would exacerbate a Covid-19 infection.
  • Each Parishes’ Compliance will be advanced by surveying the willingness of its parishioners to attend services or not when we agree to open our churches for Physical Worship.

We recognise that some members of the diocese will feel frustrated that church buildings are not already open for worship services. However, we feel very strongly that the utmost caution is called for and the sacredness of life paramount.

Yours in Christ

Ndabezinhle Sibisi and Members of Chapter

The Dean/Vicar-General

The Diocese of Natal