Grace and peace to you from God our Father and His Son Jesus Christ.
“What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of human beings. That is what love looks like.” St Augustine of Hippo.
Today I understand better than ever, the predicament that the Government Official had in making announcements about opening schools and businesses etc. One single comment or query can derail the whole process and delay the announcement. I think we all realise that it is complicated.
“We are not going back”
We have a lot to work out as a community of believers, and we are committed to the processes that are required to do that. As your Rector, I want you to know that there is no going back and returning to what was. There is a new reality and it is an emerging reality that will require bold adaptation and evolution of what we do and the way we do it.
Chapter met on Tuesday and yesterday released a Statement:
Permission is hereby given for the parishes of the Diocese of Natal to resume in-person gatherings in their places of worship, from Sunday 13th September 2020, subject to the following conditions
1. No parish, or place of worship within it, is permitted to resume gatherings without the authorisation of the Archdeacon;
2. However: No parish is obliged to resume gatherings.
3. All gatherings are to maintain strict compliance at all times with all relevant regulations, policies and protocols, including those that require maximum attendance of 50 at any gathering (including service leaders), social distancing, wearing of masks, and hygiene precautions etc. This applies to worship services as well as all other forms of gathering.
4. SACC guidelines continue to advise against the resumption of Ministry to Children and the Archbishop of Cape Town’s directive that Communion should be offered in only one kind, remains in force.
5. As the church, we are obliged to take responsibility for all those who enter our premises and therefore must maintain the highest standards in relation to health and safety. This is even more pertinent, given the highly contagious and life-threatening potential of the Covid19 virus. Consequently, any parish, and their clergy, found in breach of the above conditions, will be subject to measures to be determined by the Vicar General.
6. The Vicar General reserves the right to reverse or modify this permission at short notice, should infection rates change or other circumstances require it.
The statement continues:
While this permission is general, parishes are encouraged to err on the side of caution, especially if they are uncertain of their readiness or they have a significant number of parishioners who fall into a vulnerable category. It is better to take the time to prepare thoroughly than resume in haste and take unnecessary risks. Wise words from Dr Joanne Abrams: “A second wave is totally dependent on us and our behaviour. Just because we could, doesn’t always mean we should”.
Furthermore, Chapter would like to commend those parishes who have developed on-line ministries and encourage them to continue with this innovative way of including within our Anglican family, those who cannot yet gather safely for worship.
When our Council met on Tuesday 25th August and discussed what the options would be depending on what the Chapter decided to do. We deliberated on what staying closed would mean or what opening would mean.
While we are working out the details of how and when, we will be continuing as follows:
ONLINE MINISTRY will remain the primary focus of ministry in the Parishes and the St Francis Toti platform will continue. As we progress, we will integrate “in-person” gatherings into this model. We will be producing a video explaining exactly how worship services will be conducted so that people understand what to expect.
The first step is to gauge the response of the people, knowing your own circumstances, we need you to indicate who would be interested in returning to “In-person“ services in September. Once we know who the individuals are, we can plan around that.
I urge you therefore to explore ways that you can participate in our ONLINE platform.
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/stfrancistoti/ @stfrancistoti
Twitter: https://twitter.com/StFrancisToti / @StFrancisToti
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/StFrancisToti
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2334411520153662
Website address: www.stfrancistoti.co.za
The Church will go on! We will not go back, but we will go on.
Our commitment to ministry in this place continues despite the challenges.
Together we need to rebuild our community, adapt our worship practices, and commit to Christ Jesus our Saviour above all else.
As St Augustine taught us let us pray:
the light of the minds that know you,
the life of the souls that love you,
and the strength of the hearts that serve you:
Help us, following the example of your servant Augustine of Hippo,
so to know you that we may truly love you,
and so to love you that we may fully serve you,
whom to serve is perfect freedom;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Feast of St Augustine of Hippo 2020