Thank you for your understanding as we seek to keep each other and our community safe during this time.
Church remains online.
Everyone is invited back to church.
We ask only fully vaccinated people to come to 8:15am Early Church.
Kids Church & Creche resume onsite (Zoom and @Home packs finish)
Other ministries begin resuming onsite.
Live-Streaming continues for those who can't come onsite.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Lockdown has been so exhausting, hasn’t it? Be assured that we have been praying for you all, and also praying about the difficult decisions relating to reopening our Sunday services. In fact, we have agonised over them. It seriously weakens our spiritual health when we can’t gather physically as Christ’s body around his Word. But of course, COVID-19 is still a huge threat to many people’s physical health.
With that in mind, I’m writing to let you know the plan for reopening our services.
For the next 2 Sundays (17 and 24 October) there will be very little change. Church will be livestream-only for most people.
Then, from 31 October, we will open again for church in person. We will continue live-streaming, and I'm sure some people will choose to continue watching from home for a time. But everyone who wants to will be able to return. (Note that even if NSW reaches the 80% vaccination rate earlier, we will stick with the 31 October as our reopening date.)
There are four key questions I’m sure many of you would like answered.
Will we allow unvaccinated people to come?
The short answer is: Yes, except to our Fairfield 8:15 Early Church.
As you may know, the government has said that after we reach 80% double vaccination, places of worship have a special exemption to allow unvaccinated people to attend.
This is both excellent news and difficult news. It’s excellent news because Christ welcomes all. So even though in a pandemic, extreme measures may be necessary for a limited time, excluding one group in society from gathering with Christ’s people is a precedent we really don’t want to set.
But that will be very difficult news for some, because it makes the decision of whether to return yet even more difficult. We are very sorry about that, and wish there was an ideal solution for everyone. Please don’t think we care less about you in any way!
As I said above, Fairfield Early Church is the only service where we ask that only vaccinated people attend, because of the number of older and more vulnerable people.
Also, if you are not vaccinated and plan to return to church, please take every precaution to keep others safe, out of love and consideration for them – as well as for your own sake.
How many unvaccinated people will there be at church?
The good news from our recent survey is that the vast majority of members have been fully vaccinated, and most of the remainder have had at least one dose. We also had a good response rate to the survey, so the results should be fairly indicative.
Of course, under-12s are not vaccinated yet. We also cannot guarantee how many unvaccinated adults there will be – we think only a handful, but we cannot be sure.
What will the COVID-Safe requirements be?
We won’t know the details until closer to the time, when the government updates the Public Health Order. But it will probably look like this:
Everyone must check in with our Service NSW QR code (or if they can’t, leave their name and contact details in case we need to pass them on to NSW Health).
All people 12 and older must wear a face mask indoors at all times.
No congregational singing (only song leaders).
Numbers limited to 1 person per 4m2 in each building.
Children’s ministries will be on, and all leaders will be fully vaccinated.
The conditions may be relaxed in December, though again, we can’t know anything for certain yet.
Should I return to church on 31 October?
Of course, I can’t answer that question for you! We would love to see everyone back, because meeting together as God’s people is such a vital part of the Christian life. But the decision is up to you, as you pray and seek to honour God.
Some of you may have good reasons to be hesitant, whether because of your own health or because of vulnerable family members. You will need to weigh up those concerns with the importance of gathering with God’s people. Let me gently remind you that COVID is here to stay (just as there have always been diseases present in society), so at some stage, you will probably need to simply take a deep breath, entrust yourself to your sovereign Father, commit your anxieties to him, and ask him to give you his peace and help you not to give in to fear (see Luke 12:6-7 and Phil 4:6-7).
Another factor to keep in mind, whether you are vaccinated or not, is that the ones most at risk will be those who are unvaccinated. The vaccine really does reduce the chance of contracting COVID, as well as the seriousness of the disease if you do get it.
So especially if you are not vaccinated, you will need to weigh up your own safety with the importance of gathering, as well as the Bible’s call to use our freedom in a way that puts others before ourselves and seeks to love them (Gal. 5:13-14; 1 Peter 2:16-17). We would love to see you back, but again, if you do choose to come, please follow all the safety requirements out of love for others.
I’m sure there will be many more questions (about other ministries, food, and so on). Your ministry leaders will help sort all those things out as needed.
And of course, if you want to talk to me or one of the other ministry staff about any questions or concerns, please get in touch. We would love to hear from you, and we are eager to listen.
With love and prayers in Christ,
By entering St Barnabas Church property, you understand and agree with the following conditions:
If you have experienced COVID-19 symptoms, you must not enter - self-isolate and find out how to get tested.
You must use the Services NSW Checkin QR Code.
You must practise social distancing: avoid physical contact and keep 1.5m away from others.
You must clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitiser at the start and end of any gathering, and at other times as needed.
If a staff member, warden or authorised volunteer asks you to leave because of our COVID-19 safety plan, you will comply with the request.
Strict limits are also in place for the number of people permitted on each church site and within each building.
Congregational singing is currently not permitted.
Masks must be warn onsite.
You must not enter if you are subject to stay-at-home orders.
You must not enter if you are not fully vaccinated or have a medical exemption.