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Worship, community, care & mission resources

Here you will find resources for the community of Christ in a time of pandemic, to release ministry for creative opportunities.

For general health information and latest updates on the COVID-19 pandemic go to the Victorian government’s page here or the Tasmanian government’s page here.

Church is always the people, not the building. We are called to be open to the Spirit for new ways of ministry and mission in this time of physical distancing and social connection in different ways. During this disruption we are finding new ways of being church to ensure we live into the call of being “sign, foretaste and instrument” of God’s kingdom in our world.

As many of us are forced to consider new ways of doing and being church from our homes, the metaphor of “home” can offer life-giving perspectives and starting points for our new ways of gathering, care and mission.

God’s offer of Jubilee in Leviticus 25 sets out a program of pause and reset, every 50th year.  God calls his people to justice, liberty and security for all.  The land is left to be left fallow, to rest.  “You shall return, every one of you, to your property and every one of you to your family”. (Leviticus 25: 10) It is a time to more actively care for kin and neighbour.

While the ancient economic program of Jubilee does not equate with our current experience of pandemic, we have seen our Church's response to this time "sheltering at home" characterised by care for the vulnerable, the marginalised and the unemployed. As we continue to work and worship from home, God's Spirit is at work in us and among us for the wellbeing of our communities, our families and the whole Earth community.  May we be active participants of Jubilee in our communities, and in our world

Many leaders, congregations and presbyteries are creating great resources for this time. Some of them are linked or reproduced here. This page will change over the coming weeks – and we would value your feedback, and suggestions for additional resources. Please contact Nigel Hanscamp at nigel.hanscamp@victas.uca.org.au

Information and guidance regarding the current changes to worship arrangements in Victoria and Tasmania is available here. [updated 20 May 2020]

Going online

Live streaming worship services is a simple and effective way of participating in worship that doesn’t involve physically going to church. Facebook and YouTube are two platforms you can use. For more information on how to live stream a service or church event, click here.

If you intend to live-stream worship from your church building, please follow the latest advice from official government sources about the numbers of people who can be involved, and appropriate physical distancing.

The latest directive from the Victorian and Tasmanian state governments is that up to five people can be involved in a live-streamed service, provided social distancing guidelines are maintained.

That rule also prohibits people who are unwell from participating as well as people who are deemed vulnerable, such as:
· People who are immuno-compromised
· People aged over 70
· People aged over 65 with a significant medical condition
· Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 50

With online worship, questions of safety look very different. Please read the Synod’s “Guidelines for Safe Online / Digital Ministry”.

With in-church worship now on hold for the foreseeable future, more and more congregations are looking to broadcast their services in other ways. Some are:

If you have found other ways to broadcast your worship, please email Nigel Hanscamp. We’d love to spread the word.

For a more complete list of VicTas congregations streaming, see ONLINE CHURCHES below.

Gathering again

Many congregations are considering when they might start meeting again for meetings, worship or missional activities. The Synod has provided the following resources for Church Councils to use in making their decisions around this. It is imperative that you use the most recent information in making your decisions, and review your processes regularly. Remember that your presbytery can also assist you.

The Synod Covid-19 FAQ page – updated weekly, including:

Other information about gathering

  • For Youth groups and their leaders, Bradon French has an informative video with things to consider before meeting together.
  • Mat Harry offers some thoughts about using what we have learned in lockdown.

Congregational worship at home

Here are some resources for worship leaders to use to encourage people to worship and pray together, using common resources in their homes. Previous resources have been archived here.

12 July 2020 (Pentecost 6)

  • The Shearwater Ministry Team of the Gippsland Presbytery worship service for Pentecost 6. This resource is ready to print and be distributed.

Pentecost Season Resources

Many of us will be celebrating Pentecost at home rather than in our worship centres. This as a strong reminder that the church is not closed – that God’s Spirit continues to be present wherever we are, and that the blessings of Pentecost continue … even in isolation. We continue in worship, mission and care wherever the Spirit leads, from wherever we are living or working.

Here are some resources to help you plan your Pentecost worship for this weekend

General Resources (For this week, and those who want to work ahead)

  • By the Well podcast from Rev Fran Barber and Rev Dr Robyn Whitaker (eLM and Pilgrim) explores one of the lectionary texts to equip preachers to proclaim the Word
  • Connectible - Worship Resources from Strandz, Children and Families ministry, Aoetearoa
  • Mustard Seeds - Worship resources from Ann Scull, Boronia Road UC
  • Spill the Beans (Downloadable Resource for Lent, Easter and Pentecost – Payment required)
  • Lost Sheep – Retelling Bible stories in a fresh way. Free resources are available here (Free Subscription required)
  • Church at Home – A general resource of ideas for growing faith at home (Downloadable resource)
  • East Gippsland Reflections. Rev Ian Ferguson reflects on Holy Week and the season of Easter with word and image
  • Passing the Peace using AUSLAN

Readings

Resources related to the readings for this week, including reflections, and audio-visual versions of the readings.

Each week on the By the Well podcast, Rev Fran Barber and Rev Dr Robyn Whitaker explore one of the lectionary texts to equip preachers to proclaim the Word.

RCL Readings

Holy Communion

Communion is a key part of our celebration of the Church’s faith and life. During times of physical distancing, this brings opportunities to think differently about the sacraments.

The Assembly Standing Committee has offered resources to help Ministers and church leaders to think theologically and practically about how we offer worship with Holy Communion.

Amelia Koh Butler offers this "Liturgy of Empty Hands" - a communion liturgy which allows for the absence of consecrated bread and wine/juice.

Sally Douglas offers a Table Liturgy for Pentecost season.

Prayer and faith practices at home

Could this time of social distancing and isolation be Jubilee, Sabbath or Retreat? This could be a time to explore some different ways of being Christian and being Church.

Community support

We are called to Love Our Neighbour, Loving and caring in the world. There are many social media groups and posts going viral. One worth considering is the Facebook group The Kindness Pandemic. This has stories and anecdotes of kindness, compassion and hope. 

Messy Church has created the #MessyNeighbour hashtag in Facebook to share stories of Christ-Centred, all-age creativity, hospitality, and celebration. 

Here is a card you could slip under someone’s door to offer kindness and care. 

Re-imagining Church

At this time of disruption, we have opportunities for rethinking church as church leaders. 

Questions to consider: 

An excellent resource worth considering is from Traci Smith, who has compiled 100 ideas for ministers and ministry leaders.

Carey Nieuwhof writes about changes in church attendance. This is relevant to the way we think about Church during a pandemic. He also reflects on changing patterns of being church, through a reflection on changes in media.

Gathering again

Many congregations are considering when they might start meeting again for meetings, worship or missional activities. The Synod has provided the following resources for Church Councils to use in making their decisions around this. It is imperative that you use the most recent information in making your decisions, and review your processes regularly. Remember that your presbytery can also assist you.

The Synod Covid-19 FAQ page – updated weekly, including:

Other information about gathering

  • For Youth groups and their leaders, Bradon French has an informative video with things to consider before meeting together.
  • Mat Harry offers some thoughts about using what we have learned in lockdown.

Financial giving to your church

For many of us, our financial offering is a spiritual practice – part of our Christian discipleship, and a practical response to a generous God. For churches, offerings resource ministry and mission. The costs of our church’s mission and ministry continue during this time, and our ongoing financial support is important.

We encourage you to have a conversation as a church and inform your congregations of the best options.

In a season of physical distancing and forced closures, here are a few options to allow congregants to still give their offering.

  • Put cash in an envelope (plain or a planned giving envelope) in an offering bowl at home. Contact your treasurer or elders to discuss how this should be collected.
  • Mail a cheque to your church’s treasurer or stewardship contact.
  • Use online banking through your bank, or set up a direct debit to your church’s account at UEthical (contact your treasurer for account details)

For more information about some online giving options, click here.

Your Presbytery has also been thinking about this and have specific responses for your situation – please contact them directly for more information.

Prayer

During this time of physical distancing, prayer is one way we can deepen our faith in God and express our concern for the world. We can pray with words, images, poetry and stillness. The following are suggestions to assist you in prayer, and suggestions of new and ancient ways to pray.

Faith practices

How could this time of physical distance and isolation be your own Jubilee, Sabbath or Retreat? What fresh faith practices could you or your household try? What new faith habits could you begin?

  • Faith 5 Five simple steps for everyday household engagement in faith
  • Kitchen Table Project Ten easy things to try as a household
  • Top five faith resources for households, from the UCA Assembly website
  • Way to Live offers resources for growing Christian practices with Teens
  • Holy Habits offers resources for growing Christian faith and practices for all ages
  • Messy Church at Home is an opportunity for you to use Messy Church in your home context
  • Church at Home offers ideas for practicing Christian faith in a household context
  • Faith in the Home Links to ideas to help families through the week
  • Faith in Homes Faith nurturing tips, activities, podcasts and resources
  • Engage at Home are providing daily family prayer and worship activities (or via Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #EngageAtHome.
  • Lost Sheep – Retelling Bible stories in a fresh way. Free resources are available here (Free Subscription required)

Financial giving to your church

For many of us, our financial offering is a spiritual practice – part of our Christian discipleship, and a practical response to a generous God. For churches, offerings resource ministry and mission. The costs of our church’s mission and ministry continue during this time, and our ongoing financial support is important.

We encourage you to have a conversation as a church and inform your congregations of the best options.

In a season of physical distancing and forced closures, here are a few options to allow congregants to still give their offering.

  • Put cash in an envelope (plain or a planned giving envelope) in an offering bowl at home. Contact your treasurer or elders to discuss how this should be collected.
  • Mail a cheque to your church’s treasurer or stewardship contact.
  • Use online banking through your bank, or set up a direct debit to your church’s account at UEthical (contact your treasurer for account details)

For more information about some online giving options, click here.

Your Presbytery has also been thinking about this and have specific responses for your situation – please contact them directly for more information. 

Live streaming congregations/Faith Communities

Recorded worship

Pre-recorded or podcast

Recorded worship

 Recorded Sermon

Presbyteries

 

Synod 

Moderator Denise Liersch and General Secretary Mark Lawrence sent this letter to everyone on March 27.

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