Letter from Revd Andrew to the People of St Pauls 6 February 2021

Greetings in Jesus’ name!

Return to services in church

The Dean/Vicar-General has written as follows in respect of the return to church services: “I urge extreme caution in the months ahead. A third wave is expected in our winter season.” (see full letter at end).

Our Province (ACSA) has issued new guidelines for services to be followed (below see their guidelines on Funerals and Weddings.)

They indicate that all health protocols must be observed and that we “must remain vigilant.” They reiterated that the requirement that we sit at least 1,5m apart “even applies to family members as well as those living together. It is for everyone’s safety and, difficult as it may be, applied at funerals too.” They added that “the COVID virus and its mutations is part of the reality we have to contend with now and possibly for the next five to ten years.”

We will resume services this Sunday at 7.30 and 9.15. Attendance is limited to 50 persons per service. As usual we encourage those who will be attending services to arrive early to allow sanitising and the taking of one’s temperature and tracing details (and to ensure a place in the service). Masks must be worn by everyone throughout the service and still no singing is permitted.

Sunday 7th February

This Sunday our preacher is Revd Natalie Simons-Arendse, Associate rector of St Phillip’s, Kenwyn in the Cape. Her recorded sermon will be sent out on Sunday and broadcast at the services. (We were not anticipating in-person worship!).

As the first Sunday in February the focus is also on Education please use this Collect for Education Sunday to pray for all involved in education.

Lord God,
your Son Jesus Christ sat at the feet of others to learn,
and sat on the mountains to teach:
bless those who teach and those who learn,
those who seek and those who find,
so that our homes, schools and churches
may be so filled with a longing to learn and to grow,
to serve and to give;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Ash Wednesday 17 February

The Provincial guidelines for Ash Wednesday include the following, the observing of all health protocols including no singing, and “[f]or 2021, Ash Wednesday will only have the distribution of the Ashes in the APB liturgy for administration of the Ashes outside of a Eucharist; service must be limited to one hour; no communion will be served.” Special precautions to be taken around the distribution of ashes are given.

We will hold Ash Wednesday services on 17 February will be at 7.00, 13.00 and 19.00.

Numbers as indicated above are limited to 50 per service. If you are able to attend one of the two earlier services in the day it will enable those who can only attend the evening service to do so.

Rest in Peace

Mrs Trudgeon, the mother of one of our lay ministers (Dennis Trudgeon), sadly passed on this morning. Service details will be given soon.

Informal sellers

As you may be aware the foreign nationals who were (legally) selling outside the workshop and in front of our church were illegally chased away in December and have been prevented from resuming their trade. As one of the churches in the CBD we were approached by Refugee Social Services to ask if we were able to provide food vouchers/parcels to any of these families who have not been able to earn an income since before Christmas. If you are in a position to contribute in some way please contact our parish office.

Surviving Covid-19

David Hughes sent me a message this week as follows: “A cheerful note today which makes a pleasant change from all the doom & gloom around. I was informed this week that Emmie de Billot is alive and well, now at 102 years of age. I was also told she recently got the Covid19 Virus……and has since made a full recovery!”

(Emmie has moved from TAFTA Lodge to live with the de Billot family -where she unfortunately caught the virus).

Further Provincial (ACSA) Guidelines

Below are some of the main points:

Funerals

 As with other services and observing all Covid protocols (mask wearing, sanitizing and social distancing), for St Pauls a maximum attendance of 50
 Funerals to be completed within two hours. One hour for the actual
service and the next hour for the committal or cremation service.
 No night vigils or prayer meetings, or other services normally held
before the funeral are allowed.
 No social gatherings to be held in the homes too; no after tears gatherings, including lunch or tea etc.
 There is now a change: the body of the deceased, including those who died from Covid can enter the church. The face of the deceased may be viewed if precautions of a viewing window is available, – so a plastic or glass covering is needed to avoid any touching of the body of the deceased.
 If going to use mourners to do so, then spade handles, and the hands
of the diggers need to be sanitized before and after digging and filling.
 In order to reduce pressure on mortuaries, every effort to be made to
conduct funeral within five days.

Weddings

 Marriages may be conducted in church under the strict guidelines
and protocols as set out.
 A negative Covid test result not older than 48 hours must be produced by both officiant and the bridal couple.
 The bridal couple to do all the rites/symbols that require touching,
the joining of hands with the stole, the lighting of candles etc., under
direction of the priest.
 The couple may not remove their masks during the service
 Witnesses who need to complete the register as well as other
parties need to sanitize before and after signing and the pen used
to be sanitized after each use. Register also to be wiped down –
please don’t erase other ink!
 The photo of the bridal couple immediately after the exchange of
vows may be taken without masks with the priest and all other
parties to be positioned at least two metres apart.
 Blessing of newly-married couple to be done with all parties masked
and priest’s hands to not touch the couple’s heads.
 All other photos MUST have masks on when taken. Especially on
church premises.
 Given the restrictions we have had, bishops to please consider
having weddings during Lent and to also discuss the holding of
weddings during Holy Week if necessary.
 Marriages to be conducted at venues other than churches require
Bishop’s permission and guidance as venues may not always be
fully observant of regulations and this poses a risk to us as church
and so it ought to be discouraged.
 Given the possibility of resurgence, this may be a short window to
conduct them.

Giving

We give thanks to those who have returned their giving envelopes for the past few months. Thanks too to those who are giving into the loose plate collection when they attend services. 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 and donations in this way. This enables us to continue to pay staff salaries, our assessment and most of our accounts.

Please continue to give. (The St Paul’s banking details are: Account Name: St Paul’s Church; Account Number: 50854628623; Branch Code: 221426; Bank: FNB.)

But those who trust in God will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will walk and not be feint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
Yours in Christ
Revd Dr Andrew Warmback
Rector: St Paul’s, Durban

The Very Reverend Ndabezinhle Sibisi Vicar General – 2nd February 2021

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Greetings! President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Monday night (01/02/2021) that some COVID-19 restrictions are being relaxed. Religious gatherings are now permitted subject to limitations on the size of gatherings and continued adherence to strict Covid-19 protocols. Parishes that feel they are ready may reopen as from Sunday 7th February 2021 (the Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany).

No more than 50 people are permitted indoors at funerals or worship services (and may not exceed 50% of a venue’s capacity). No more than 100 people are permitted outdoors. Non-essential establishments must close by 10pm.

Please take note of these changes when planning your Lent and Easter services.

I urge extreme caution in the months ahead. A third wave is expected in our winter season. It will take time for our government’s vaccination programme to be widespread. Do not relax your standards. Continue seeking to minister in creative ways to the communities in which you live and worship.

I know I am asking you to persevere when you are tired. The second wave was greater than the first wave. Many people we know have died. Many of you are exhausted from the number of funerals and pastoral load you are carrying. I see you. I hear you.

You are in my thoughts and prayers. Lean on fellow clergy to get through Lent and Easter this year. Collaborate with one another. Console one another. Care for one another.