From the Hertford Street Baptist Church Leadership:
On 19 March 2020, the Leadership Team (including me, online) discussed the next step of our COVID-19 response. Although the COVID-19 situation is concerning, we are not to give way to fear nor be complacent, for our trust is in the Risen Lord Jesus Christ. After prayerful deliberation, and in accordance with our COVID-19 response framework (agreed on 5 March 2020), we are implementing the following:
- As a temporary measure, starting from this Sunday (22 March), there will be no physical church service conducted by HSBC.
- The corporate worship of HSBC, including the preaching of the Word, will continue and be available for all to view online (www.hsbc.org.au/live).
- 22 March will be an abridged recorded service uploaded at 11am.
- From 29 March onwards, the full service will be live streamed at 9am and also recorded for later viewing.
- We encourage all attendees to participate in the online gatherings as you would in a normal gathering by taking time to focus, sing, pray, reflect, and learn from God’s Word together.
- Post-service Christian fellowship over morning tea will be replaced by encouraging the church community through other means. For example, you could connect with each other by phone/video calls and messaging to promote social and spiritual fellowship.
- Community Groups will continue as directed by the CG Leaders.
- Other events have been postponed until further notice.
We will release further instructions to aid these implementations over the following days.
What else you can do
- Put into practice loving one another and our neighbours. Check in and offer assistance to the elderly and those more vulnerable to COVID-19.
- Pray for our leaders including the HSBC Leadership, other church leaders and the government authorities, that we would turn to God in faith.
Why the changes?
COVID-19 infections increased rapidly this week in Australia. The virus spreads very easily between people and is considerably more deadly than influenza for individuals with existing health issues or 50+ years old. Younger infected individuals typically have much milder symptoms, and can therefore unwittingly infect others, either through close contact or by contaminating surfaces.
In the past week, the Australian government limited non-essential indoor meetings to 100 people. Restrictions on aged-care visitations were implemented to limit the exposure of the virus to the elderly. New regulations announced today requests social distancing of 1 person per 4 square metres.
Due to our smaller size, current regulations do not prevent us from continuing to meet in person. However, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee advised that their COVID-19 recommendations for protecting aged-care are also applicable to other settings that involve significant numbers of elderly and individuals with co-morbidities or low immunity.
Therefore, we have elected to temporarily suspend our physical Sunday gatherings, as this will help protect these at-risk individuals, who represent a significant proportion of our congregation. Moreover, the temporary suspension will support the efforts of the government to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our nation; this is a proactive act of love that will contribute to the health of our society, especially those who are particularly vulnerable, in this highly critical situation.Therefore, we believe that these temporary changes are measured and appropriate for our HSBC context; indeed, they are necessary for fulfilling our Christian calling to love one another and to love our neighbours as ourselves.
During many uncertain times over the last 2000 years, Christians have exalted Jesus’ name by their demonstration of Christ’s love. While the weeks and months ahead will be challenging, our prayer is that HSBC, together with all the saints worldwide, will hold onto our assured hope won on the cross, and seize this opportunity to live out our calling as Jesus’ disciples.
Please reply to this email so that I know that you are aware of the plan ahead. If you have any questions or would like more information, please feel free to contact me or any of the HSBC Leadership.
Pastor Josh Tan
(On behalf of the HSBC Leadership)