So it’s the new year, and we all hoped things would be different, and in some ways they are. We are no longer required to wear face masks in every public space; offices have returned to half capacity; restaurants and pubs are bustling. And so I know some of you are wondering when on earth we get to go inside the building. Unfortunately, the short answer is, ‘Not for a while yet.’One of the blessings of Sanctuary is that we are, for an Australian church, very young. We have a relatively high number of children, and those children like to touch things and be on the move. What this means, however, is that it is very difficult for us to go inside the building. The regulations are clear:
1. Households must sit together, and maintain 1.5m physical distance from members of other households. This means children MUST sit with their parents, and cannot move about during the service.
2. There should be no shared objects. This means no toys, blocks, sand trays and all the other lovely things which make inside a good place for kids. If anything is shared in common, it must be disinfected between uses; and all furniture and surfaces must also be cleaned after every service.
3. Singing inside the building is discouraged, and involves a list of extra recommendations. The size and shape of our building would make singing inside inadvisable if not impossible.
4. COVID-19 is serious, and so are the penalties for breaching regulations (nearly $10,000 for a church for a single breach, and yes, there are spot checks). We are not prepared to take risks here, particularly since the evidence from overseas shows that churches are among the most significant sites of transmission.
Therefore, we will continue with a combination of Zoom and outdoor services until 28 February, at which date we will consider together what we sense God is calling us to next. We will ponder this question during the service as part of our congregational reflection time.
A reminder that, for physical gatherings, we have moved to electronic record keeping. We are using the Victorian Government QR code, with manual sign in as back up. So before you come to the next service, why not download the app so you are ready to sign in on the day.
Image credit: Matt Seymour on Unsplash
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