In these COVID days it seems important to make the most of opportunities as we do not know when we will have them again. So we will be back in the church this Sunday. Together. This could be a ‘mountain top’ experience after weeks of the challenge of technology.
I see this as a privilege. As we know from Auckland, a Church service can be a mass transmission event. So read the COVID-19 guidelines below. You do not have to come back. The service will be available on the St Andrews web site next week.
And as glad as you will be to see friends again remember they might be glad to see you ‘at a distance’.
Back to ‘mountain top’ experiences. As our month of creation comes to an end the subject will be “the mountains”. When given the topic I thought this is not something our Presbyterian Church fathers would have preached about. (Our Presbyterian Church mothers were not given the chance to preach though I’m sure some had a great deal of influence, if the matriarchs in my family are any indication. But I digress.) Reflecting on the mountain over a couple of months has been very rewarding. I have had the opportunity to reflect on a couple of passages which were important in my late teens. Some old ‘scripture in song’ songs have come back to me. And I have given significant though to the mountains that have been in my life. I will be talking about some of this on Sunday.
I invite you to reflect on the mountains in your life. Places of inspiration, comfort. Mountains that are part of your identity. Mountains that have been a back drop to important events in your life. You might want to use Mountains as a conversation starter!
So COVID willing I will see you Sunday.
Faith-based gatherings at Alert Level 2
At Alert Level 2, places of worship can host services and ceremonies to a maximum of 100 people in any indoor or outdoor defined space. The gathering limits do not include staff — for example, clergy.
Advice for places of worship
- All places of worship must have ways for attendees to record their visit. This can be done by asking everyone to scan in using the NZ COVID Tracer app, or by recording their contact details manually.
- Offer online services so people who cannot attend in person can participate.
- Some religious rituals or practices need close contact — for example, a christening. Try to keep the time spent in close contact to a minimum.
- Remove communal resources such as prayer mats or prayer books.
- Encourage attendees to wear a face covering.
- Clean and sanitise musical instruments and other shared surfaces thoroughly before and after use.
- Singing, for example church choirs and other types of performance can go ahead. Performers do not need to wear a face covering.
- You can serve food and drink and host events or functions such as catered morning tea — as long as you keep to the gathering limits.
- Encourage contactless donations instead of a cash collection box.
If you are going to a place of worship
- We strongly encourage you to wear a face covering when visiting a place of worship.
- You can mix with friends and whānau, but please be considerate of others and leave enough space for people to keep their distance if they want to. Leave at least ONE seat vacant between you and the next bubble.
- Do not attend a service or prayer if you are unwell.
- Scan in using the NZ COVID Tracer app or give your details to the place of worship to support contact tracing.
- Take home any personal items you bring in with you — for example, a prayer mat or prayer beads.
Celebrations and festivals
At Alert Level 2, you can get together with up to 100 people for a faith-based celebration or festival. The number of people who can attend a gathering or celebration does not include anyone leading or working at the gathering.
If you are organising a faith-based celebration, you need to do the following:
- Make sure you do not exceed the gathering limits. You can offer a livestream option so more people can attend from home.
- Keep a record of everyone who attends. You can do this by creating a NZ COVID Tracer app QR code for your venue or location and asking your guests to scan in, or by recording their contact details manually. You do not need to keep contact tracing records if you are hosting a private gathering at your home and everyone knows each other.
- Make sure the venue is big enough for people to spread out comfortably if they want to.
- Provide seated table service if you are serving food or drinks. Try to seat extended household bubbles together at one table and place the tables 2 metres apart to help with physical distancing.
Travelling to a faith-based gathering at Alert Level 2
At Alert Level 2, you can travel to other regions that are at Alert Level 1 or 2 to attend a faith-based gathering — such as services, ceremonies and festivals. If the gathering is in an Alert Level 2 region, the gathering limits apply.
If you are travelling to an Alert Level 1 region to attend a faith based gathering, make sure you do it in a safe way. This includes:
- keeping a record of who you have been in contact with, and what transport services you used
- wearing a face covering on public transport services and flights
- keeping a 2 metre distance from people you do not know
- regularly washing or sanitising your hands.