20 March 2020, 4:58pm
This page will be updated if the situation changes
Changes To Our SWEC Church Services From Sunday March 22
Due To COVID-19
Dear church family,
As all of you are aware because of Covid-19 things have been rapidly changing. The pastors and elders believe it’s important to let you know of our plans from Sunday that we believe would be best for SWEC and the wider community.
We want to let you know WHY we are taking this step. As a board we are taking precautionary measures for the next few weeks that we believe is in the best interest of our congregations and the wider community. While we are aware that those over 70 are most susceptible to the virus, we are mindful of those who have pre-existing medical conditions. We’re also mindful that many in our congregations have also got elderly and vulnerable family members they would have contact with. So we would rather take preventive steps to look after our church community and our wider community by minimizing contact in a large group.
We want to let you know WHAT our plan for church will be from Sunday the 22nd of March.
Our 9am Mandarin service will be live-streamed from church using YouTube. Please be in contact with Pastor Stephen Fei if you would like to join in this live-stream or need assistance with setting this up (email@example.com). At this stage, a very small group will gather at our church premises to be part of the live-stream. We will take every precaution with social distancing and hygiene to ensure that everyone who attends in person will be protected.
Our 11am and 4pm English services (at both Kingsgrove and Bankstown) will be suspended until further notice.
While services at these congregations are suspended, we still take seriously Scripture’s command ‘not to give up meeting together’ (Hebrews 10:24-25). At present we encourage you to meet at the set times of 11am and 4pm (depending on your congregation) but ONLINE, based around community groups.
Sermons will be pre-recorded and made available for these meeting times and be able to be watched at any time after 11am on Sundays.
Regardless of format (whether Mandarin live-stream or English small groups), please be aware that:
There will be no Sunday School and kids church. We’ll be working to make sure all our families will have access to material each week to use with their children which we would encourage you to use if you’re a parent.
There will be no Friday XiaoPengYou Playgroup at least until next term.
Youth groups will also be on break at least until next term. Your leaders will be in contact with youth and parents during this time with online forums for youth to learn and grow and interact.
If you are not part of an existing group and would like to know how you can gather online on Sundays or mid-week, please fill out your details on this form and we will contact you ASAP: https://go.swec.org.au/connectme
Alternatively you can contact our pastoral team directly via Pastor Dom firstname.lastname@example.org
As your pastor I want to remind you that even though our circumstances have changed, church will still meet next Sunday. We might not be gathering in the same way, but we will still be gathering. And God tells us that when we gather, no matter if it’s two people or two hundred, we are the church and God is in our midst. We are effectively adopting a ‘house church’ model of meeting - both mid-week and on Sundays. When the early church was formed, we read in Acts 2:42-47 that the believers met in homes, and ‘the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.’ Church is not about buildings, it’s about God’s people gathered around him by his Word and by his Spirit. We believe that this presents opportunities for us to go deeper in discipleship and community, as well as every member ministry. By God’s grace we believe we will be a stronger church when this is all over.
Let me also tell you that you needn’t be afraid or fearful in the coming weeks. Some of you are worried and anxious about the uncertainty the next few weeks will bring. You may be more susceptible, you may have elderly family members, you might have a pre-existing medical condition or illness, or you might be worried for yourself. I want to assure you that the Lord Jesus is your refuge and stronghold (Psalms 27 and 91). He is with you and will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). And he has given us all each other, which is why it’s important that you stay connected with our church community. We believe church is family and we want to make sure no one gets left behind or is alone in the weeks to come.
So we’re going to keep doing church in a different way from Sunday but we’re going to keep worshipping and loving each other. Our core values of Worship, Word, Community, and Mission will continue but in a different form. We believe that this is the time for God’s people to experience how our worship and love extend beyond buildings and limitations of gathering size. We also have a special call on us to hold out the hope of Jesus for those in our wider community in new and creative ways. As God’s people please look out for those who are lonely, need community, with young kids; those caring for the elderly, with special needs; and those who may need to be isolated because of COVID-19. Also please continue to take the necessary steps to love our neighbours by observing strict protocols of hygiene and social distancing as recommended by our health authorities.
With love and peace from the Lord Jesus,
Pastor Pete on behalf of the SWEC pastors and elders
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