Letter from Revd Andrew to the People of St Pauls 30 May 2020

Greetings in Jesus’ name!

Lockdown

As you are aware we move on Monday from Level 4 to Level 3.  (For a brief comparison between the two see the short summary provide by the Archbishop’s Communications Group

Two further developments take place from next week.

  1. Reopening of services in places of worship

The President announced on Tuesday this week that places of worship could reopen with various strict hygiene and social distancing measures in place, and limited to a maximum of 50 attendees.

Our Archbishop responded by writing that, “We should not all start flocking to our parishes….”  (See his full response at very end). This is picked up in a letter which we received yesterday evening from the Dean/Vicar-General after he had consulted with Chapter. The following are two extracts from the letter, which is given in full below.

Our first and primary focus is to ensure the health and safety of our parishioners, employees and clergy in so far as this is possible….  Furthermore, there is yearning in some communities to gather immediately, but also deep concern about the risks of doing so too soon. We agreed that the loving thing to do at this time is to wait.

Chapter is of the mind that it is premature for any gathering for worship to happen immediately as Parishes need to be COVID-19 compliant –It would not be feasible to open on 1 June 2020 as, at the very least, we need time to prepare, sanitize, implement mitigating policies and protocols as issued by Government and monitor trends of the COVID-19 infections.”

Chapter will review the situation at the end of June.

For those interested in seeing the conditions under which churches could reopen, as proposed by the SACC, can view them here.

For me it is important that we as a parish not only prepare ourselves to be “Covid-19 compliant” for the possible holding of services again but also prepare ourselves to provide support and hope to the many who will suffer much through the continued spread of the virus.  Parish Council will be taking up the challenge and involving others to assist in this.

  1. Schols return

There is a certain level of anxiety around the return to school with concerns for learners’ and teachers’ safety.  Parents anxious about their children returning to school may find the Anglican Church’s response helpful, entitled “Schools are good for children”

Let us pray for our learners, students and educators (including at tertiary level too) and support them in whatever way we can.

Let us continue to do the same for our nurses and doctors and other health workers who continue to face very stressful situations.

Prayer Diary

The Prayer Diary for June is accessible here.

We are all encouraged to use it regularly in praying both for our Diocese as well as the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Collect for Pentecost for Sunday 31 May

Almighty God,

with wind from heaven and tongues of flame,

you poured out your Spirit on the disciples:

set our hearts on fire with joy and power.

and send us out as witnesses

to the wonder of your love;

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

Amen

 

This Sunday has also been set as a National Day of Prayer.

 

Parish News

Revd Mduduzi Mathe – This Sunday will be Revd Mduduzi’s last day at St Pauls.  We will say farewell to him after lockdown.  Please pray for him and Mhlengi as they settle into the rectory in Morningside and start a new ministry next week.  There is still an opportunity to contribute to his Pentecost offering. (“The Church Wardens invite you to make your contribution directly into his bank account.  The details are as follows: Bank: FNB; Account Number: 62064028220; Branch Code: 250655; Account Holder: M Mathe” )

Portia Nodangala – Portia, a lay minister of St Paul’s, who has been working away from the parish for a few years, was recently involved in a serious car accident.   Her son, Shaun, who was with her in the car at the time, died in the accident.  Portia, who suffered various factures, is in hospital in Ladysmith in a critical but stable condition.  Please pray for Portia and her family, for God’s healing.

“Perspectives on the Pandemic – This week Revd Martin Brower continues our series on “Perspectives on the pandemic,” with a contribution entitled “Lockdown: Past, Present and Future.”

Birthdays – We have available a list of the following birthdays for June.

May God bless you all with health and protection as you celebrate another year of your lives:

3rd John Clark

5th Adelaide Zwane

6th Andrew Warmback

7th Zimasa Magwensthu

8th Lungile Ndaba and Thembisile Ngcobo

9th Derrick Candy

10th Serita Pillay

14th Joy Dennis

16th Gifford Sparks, Charmaine Dangers and Nokwethu Dlamini

18th Dr Nox Mbadi

21st Mary Phakathi, Busisa Xaba and Enhle Zuma

24th Matthew Orangwa

26th Moses Kinda Semulimi

27th Basi Rathulwana

29th Bahlebonke Soni, Richard Roland and Raphael Ugwu

Conclusion

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.  And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.(Romans 8:26-27)

Yours in Christ

 

Revd Dr Andrew Warmback

Rector: St Pauls, Durban

 

LETTER FROM THE DEAN/VICAR-GENERAL

29th May 2020

To: Rectors, Priests-in-Charge and Churchwardens

Dear Friends,

We the members of Chapter met on 28 May 2020 together with the Vicar General to consider the announcement made by the Honourable State President on 26 May 2020.

We also note and welcome that churches have been empowered to make wise decisions. We take heed of the advice from our Archbishop Thabo Makgoba,

“As we wait for guidance and contemplate the way ahead, I urge you, as scripture says, to be gentle as doves and wise as serpents. We should not all start flocking to our parishes but take a lead from bishops and clergy as well as churchwardens or cell group leaders.”

The context of our response: 

Our first and primary focus is to ensure the health and safety of our parishioners, employees and clergy in so far as this is possible. We are mindful that some of our clergy and parishioners fall into the category of vulnerable people.

We are mindful of the different contexts that exist across the Diocese from rural to urban, small to large, well-resourced to under resourced parishes. Furthermore, there is yearning in some communities to gather immediately, but also deep concern about the risks of doing so too soon. We agreed that the loving thing to do at this time is to wait.

Chapter is of the mind that it is premature for any gathering for worship to happen immediately as Parishes need to be COVID-19 compliant –It would not be feasible to open on 1 June 2020 as, at the very least, we need time to prepare, sanitize, implement mitigating policies and protocols as issued by Government and monitor trends of the COVID-19 infections. We note that the rate of infections is on the steep increase and we have a pastoral concern that gatherings in church buildings could be epicentres of outbreaks of COVID-19 infection.

Preparations for re-opening:

As the country enters into National Lockdown Level 3, the situation is rather fluid. Chapter will meet before the end of June to review our state of readiness to resume worship.

During the month of June, the entire Diocese is called upon to work towards full compliance with the COVID-19 regulations. We are encouraged to share resources and work together to enable every Parish in the Diocese to become compliant.

We were reminded that the “church has not been closed during this time of Lockdown”, it is buildings that have been closed. The people of God have been faithfully gathering as families in their own homes and online to worship and pray which we celebrate and encourage to continue. We remind all members of the Diocese that visiting in one another’s homes for worship remains prohibited even under National Lockdown Level 3.

Archdeacons will provide leadership and regular updates to Chapter on the state of readiness of parishes in their respective Archdeaconries. Chapter will be circulating guidelines and further information to assist Parishes to become compliant.

Ecumenical responses:

Chapter received and endorsed the words of retired Bishop Peter Storey, of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa “In any case I’m fairly sure that right now God is less interested in life-threatening praise gatherings and much more concerned to see people of faith on the front-line of ministries of service to the suffering, the poor, the hungry, the fearful and the dying….Speaking for the religion I know best, certainly such compassionate service was always more important for Jesus.”

In the light of the threats and dangers of the COVID-19 pandemic we are encouraged by the theme of this Week of prayer for Christian Unity following: “They showed us unusual kindness” (Acts 28:2). As Christians together facing these crises “do we collude with the cold forces of indifference, or do we show “unusual kindness” and become witnesses of God’s loving providence to all people?”

National Day of Prayer:

Finally, we warmly support and endorse the National Day of Prayer called for by the State President on Sunday 31 May 2020 and encourage all members of our parishes to pray for those who have been bereaved, those who are ill, and those who care for them.

Please be assured of the love and prayers of us all.

Yours in Christ

Ndabezinhle Sibisi

The Dean/Vicar-General

 

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Archbishop Thabo’s message on returning to worship

 

Dear Parishioners, Clergy and Bishops

It is with awe and trepidation that I welcome President Cyril Ramaphosa’s acceptance of the representations made by religious leaders that faith communities will be responsible and careful enough to return to worship under conditions which will not allow the spread of the coronavirus.

In the next few days, once the government has published its new regulations, we will, with the help of our COVID-19 advisory team, consolidate the regulations and the guidelines that religious leaders have drawn up and update our own ACSA guidelines accordingly.

Until that happens, we will not be able to brief you fully on the conditions under which services can resume. I hope that we will be able to issue a Pentecost message on how we will proceed, especially as we face the cold weather ahead and note that older members of our congregations are among the most vulnerable to becoming seriously ill if they contract the virus.

In the meantime, I want to assure you that the representations we made to the government are comprehensive and detailed. For example, they require enforcement of a limit of 50 on services, disinfecting surfaces between services, physical distancing in churches, the avoidance of shared hymnals and prayer books, the wearing of masks during services, restrictions on singing (because it has proved to play a big role in spreading the virus), avoidance of the common chalice at Eucharist, no gatherings after services and rigorous hygiene in church toilets.

As we wait for guidance and contemplate the way ahead, I urge you, as scripture says, to be gentle as doves and wise as serpents. We should not all start flocking to our parishes but take a lead from bishops and clergy as well as churchwardens or cell group leaders.

We worship a loving God who in Jesus constantly reminds us to “go and do likewise”. This is of course means thinking about and doing the right things. We are just as able to do that as the businesses that have been allowed to open under their own strict conditions.

God bless.

††Thabo