Kia ora e te whānau,

In response to the government announcement today (Thursday) to ban gatherings of 100 or more, we have decided with heavy hearts, to close St Andrew’s to church services for the time being.

Despite our gatherings usually numbering less than 100 we feel it only right, and safe, to follow the Ministry of Health advice to reduce close contact, so as to minimise the risk to our community and beyond from the COVID-19 virus spread.

So, there will be no Sunday gathering from this week (23rd March).

Instead, the order of service, reflection and prayers will be posted on our website – www.standrews.org.nz

Our special thanks to Pat and Rosemary for preparing a lovely service honouring Shirley Murray and her work.

In the next few weeks we will explore other ways of holding ‘virtual’ church services perhaps by live streaming and certainly by video. We will keep in touch about this by email and let you know what you need to do.

The St Andrew’s office will remain open at present. Laetitia and Jillene will be focusing on keeping the centre running even though there have been lots of cancellations in the last week. Smaller groups are still meeting and next week members of the NZSO will be doing a recording session, which gladdens our hearts. A new focus for Laetitia and Jillene will be working with the service leaders to record or stream services,  put them on line and help you access them. We will be learning together how to do that. We encourage you to be in touch with them if you need help. They will print paper copies of reflections for those who want them, and mail them. The office email address is office@standrews.org.nz

Catriona’s plan is to ‘attend’ church on Sunday morning at 10am by going to the website and quietly following the order of service, reflections and prayers. Perhaps you’d like to join her?

Ken Irwin wrote a piece for this week’s e-news, a beautiful tribute to his friend, Shirley:

We are in for real delight at worship this Sunday as we acknowledge the death in January of Shirley Erena Murray. That’s no contradiction. We’ll be saluting Shirley’s intimate connections with St Andrew’s on the Terrace.   And we’ll be celebrating her wondrous contributions to faith and worship across the planet, principally as a Hymn writer but also as a vibrant Artist.  Pat and Rosemary have put together a worship service that will honour and inspire.

I have counted Shirley as one of my close friends. We have enjoyed the precision of language and also its playfulness. We share a disdain of doggerel and yes, I’ve flinched from her penetrating scrutiny when I’ve overcooked a metaphor. Most of all I’ve enjoyed her sparkle and sheer fun. Sometimes she brings a sense of mischief into her crafting though the end product is always poignant and apt.

To write about her is necessarily to mix adjectives and flip clichés upside down and inside out. Shirley is an indigenous Theologian, a graphic Poet, a verbal Sculptor. Through her hymns she preaches what she practices. Her Communion hymn ‘Take my Gifts’ is a classic example:

Spiced with humour, laced with laughter
Flavour of the Jesus life,
Tang of risk and new adventure

Taste & zest beyond belief.

Shirley Erena Murray’s lyrics touch souls, lift hearts, sharpen minds, and expand horizons.       That’s ministry folks, it’s poetry in motion, and yes, it has positive and lasting impact.    Shirley’s death does not contain it and that’s Gospel stuff.  That’s what we’re in for this Sunday. Enjoy.  

Ken Irwin, Honorary Associate Minister

Ken also writes in anticipation of times ahead where we are more physically isolated and confined:

“Marking time need not mean wasting time. Embracing a sense of pause into our lives allows opportunity for refocus & fresh perspective on life and its issues. And physical restriction & limitation need not mean a halt to connectedness with those we care for and care about. I learnt very early in my hospital chaplaincy ministry [yonks ago J] that the Catholic Chaplain’s “I’ll say a prayer for you” was a very-much-appreciated gift for patients.    So was a tiny prayer card left discreetly for pickup later. Prayerfulness takes many forms other than face-to-face engagement”.

So although we won’t be meeting with one another in person, let’s hold each other in mind, through prayer and thought, and as always, in Love.

Finally, this appeared on a Facebook page this morning:

“Love like Jesus, but wash your hands like Pontius Pilate!”

Arohanui

Catriona, Lynne and members of Parish Council

To view the full e-news click on this link: https://mailchi.mp/a83a55a6ff77/this-weeks-newsletter-from-st-andrews-on-the-terrace-3836513

Greetings

As fears mount about the impact of Coronavirus (Covid-19), I wanted to reach out to all within our Church.

We are concerned about how Covid-19 will affect us, our families, our churches and our communities. For many of us, there is added stress that our livelihoods are at risk, as measures to contain Covid-19 impact our jobs.

I urge you not to panic. The New Zealand government response to Coronavirus has been swift and comprehensive and is helping to minimise the impact on Kiwi families. But, these are indeed difficult times, and it is at exactly these times that our faith becomes even more important. I look to Jesus’ words for comfort: “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).

While many things have been cancelled by the Coronavirus, love has not, and I urge you to take all practical steps to care for yourself and others. (See the Church’s Coronavirus resource for advice about actions to take at church.)

Please respond to the call to introduce measures into your daily life – not shaking hands, keeping personal distance, limiting travel – to slow the spread of the virus.

Faith communities typically come together in times like these, and while most of our congregations (those under 500 people) can still gather, there may come a time when this isn’t possible. If this was to occur, I remind you that you are not alone – God is with always with us: “This is my command — be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

We are in this together – as Kiwis, as Christians and as communities, and I ask that you keep in your prayers the sick, all the medical professionals and others working hard to help keep Kiwis safe.

Rt Rev Fakaofo Kaio
Moderator, Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand

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