Latest information from Pastor Darryl and the PST in regards to COVID-19 and Brookside Baptist Church

Co-vid19  – The road back!  27th May 2020

No doubt you have heard the news and or seen that our federal and state governments are starting to relax some of the coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions. With this in mind, we want to inform you of our six-stage plan to reopen Brookside Baptist Church.

We would also like you to know that the PST and I are carefully and continually monitoring this situation. As information evolves, our plans might change; this means that we will be sending e-mails like this one with the most up-to-date news. We will also post information on our webpage www.brookside.org.au and on Facebook. We are committed to doing everything we can to provide a safe environment for our church family and surrounding community.

Guiding principles

  1. Our first concern is towards the health and safety of all members of Brookside Baptist Church and to the local community
  2. We want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem
  3. Our mission has not changed, but we need to be creative with our methods
  4. The church is not a building, it is the people
  5. We want to be wise and safe when it comes to gradually opening up
  6. Once the advice changes, we are aiming to start our changes the following week.

Brookside’s reopening six-stage plan

Stage 1. Online.

The Church building is closed to all groups.

Sunday sermon online/live streamed video available via Facebook or website.

Stage 2. When the government says religious institutions are allowed 10 people plus a facilitator; (Our current stage from 27th May 2020)

The Church building will be open for use by groups with fewer than 10 people. Such as the Saturday Morning Prayer Group.

Social distancing and other criteria will need to be met.

Sunday Church service/sermon online/live streamed video available via Facebook or website.

Stage 3. When the government says religious institutions are allowed 25 people plus a facilitator and social distancing must still be adhered to;      

The Church building will be open for use by small/connect groups, as arranged with Sonya.

Social distancing and other criteria will need to be met.

Sunday Church service/sermon online/live streamed video available via Facebook or website.

Stage 4. When the government says religious institutions are allowed 50 people plus facilitator and social distancing must still be adhered to;  

The Church building will commence Sunday services. Limited to 35-40 people and a church attendance roster will be issued.

Social distancing and other criteria will need to be met.

Online/live streamed video for those who are not able to attend.

The Church building will be open for use by small/connect groups, as arranged with Sonya.

 Stage 5. When the government says religious institutions are allowed 100 people plus facilitator with social distancing measures still in place;

The Church building will continue Sunday services.

We will still be limited to 35-40 people and a church attendance roster will be issued.

With online/live streamed video for those who are not able to attend. Social distancing and other criteria will need to be met.

The Church building will be open for use by small/connect groups as arranged with Sonya.

Stage 6. When the government removes all restrictions on meetings;

The Church building will be fully open to all people to attend a Sunday service.

The Church building will be open for use by small/connect groups.

The Church will start to seek to re-establish Brook Kids Program, morning tea and so on.

Some Frequently Asked Questions about reopening

Why will we be capped at 35-40 people, when gatherings of 100 are allowed?

This is due to social distancing measures, which we are encouraged to follow. At the moment we are encouraged to allow 4 square metres of space for each person. That means in the main sanctuary (church meeting area) a limit of 42 people is in place.

If we are allowed 42 people, why will our service have a limit of 35-40 people only?

If we are at the 42 people, it does not allow for people to move about.

We would also like to have room for unexpected visitors to join if they want.

What happens if I am person 41 to a church service?

This is why we will have a roster, in order that this does not occur. But, if you arrive without a ‘rostered place’ and we have already filled the visitor spaces, sadly, you will not be allowed in. We will be sorry if this does happen to you, but we are aiming to have a system to make sure that this does not happen.

How will I know if it is my week to come to church?

We plan to organise a roster system to attend church. On the week that you are selected to attend church we will email or SMS you, to let you know. We also acknowledge there might be some people who do not have access to online services, which might mean that they will be prioritised. We also acknowledge that there are people in our church who are on rotating employment rosters. If you let us know your employment roster, we will accommodate you as much as we can.

What will we find on Sunday morning?

Once inside, you are encouraged to use the hand sanitiser in the foyer and then find your seat and maintain social distancing. Unfortunately the crèche and kitchen facilities are closed until all restrictions are removed.

What will our service look like?

The answer is, different.

At this point, one issue we are working our way through is worship. We will have worship, but it will not start off as community singing. Singing in this way produces more airborne droplets, this increases the chance of germs spreading. While we might not have community singing, we might have reflective community worship, singing in our heads as our music team play. With this, we might also use some of the things we have been using in our home church order of service eg putting artwork up on the screen and reflecting on it; maybe using small videos or other such things.

We will not be passing the offering bags during the service as we were previously. We encourage any offerings to be directly deposited into the church account.

Will there be morning tea?

Sadly, initially no.

This does not mean that you cannot hang around after church to catch up (while maintaining social distancing guidelines).

What about Brook Kids/Sunday School?

Once again, until social distancing measures are no longer in place, the answer is no we won’t be having Brook Kids.

If we take the 4-meter squared principle and apply it to the Brook Kids rooms, we would be allowed 5-6 people max. This is not enough space for the number of children that attend each of the groups, nor to allow movement within the rooms.

At this time, our goal will be to recommence the Brook Kids program in its pre-COVID 19 format, when allowed. Until the restrictions are removed we will provide an online Brook Kids program. We look forward to having the normal Brook Kids program back as soon as possible.

When will morning tea, Brook Kids and community singing start again?

There is no easy answer to this. But at this stage we feel that once all restrictions are removed these things will recommence in one format or another.

I am in a small/connect group, what will I need to do to use the church?

You will need to arrange a time with Sonya, who will advise you of all the necessary procedures you will need to follow. Any group who uses the building will be required to keep a detailed record of people who attend. This is to help the government if an outbreak occurs. You will also be required to wipe down and disinfect objects such as chairs, bathroom facilities and door handles.

We are asking all groups using the church, during stages 2, 3, 4 and 5, NOT to use the kitchen, nor to use the cutlery, crockery or equipment in the kitchen.

We also acknowledge that these things might change rapidly, so we will be trying our best to keep you and ourselves up to date as the information and regulations change.

Should I come to Brookside if I am not feeling well?

We strongly encourage anyone who is feeling sick or running a fever to stay home (and away from small or large group gatherings) and let someone in the church know that you are not feeling well. We want to care for you well in every way we can, as your church family, without unnecessarily exposing others to potential sickness. Particularly if you are elderly or more physically at risk, in light of the coronavirus COVID-19, we encourage you to minimise social interactions during these days while still staying connected to your church family through other means. Specifically, we invite everyone who is unable to come to a physical gathering for any reason to worship online with the church family.

WHAT PRECAUTIONS CAN PEOPLE TAKE WHEN THEY COME TO OUR BUILDING?

We encourage everyone to take certain steps to protect themselves and others from the coronavirus, flu, and other illnesses, including:

ON ARRIVAL, USE HAND SANITISER PROVIDED IN FOYER

  • Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds BEFORE YOU ARRIVE at church AND WHEN YOU ARRIVE HOME;
  • Using hand sanitiser when soap and water is not available;
  • Not touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands;
  • Avoiding close contact with people, especially those who are sick;
  • Staying home if you are sick;
  • Covering your cough or sneeze;
  • Disinfecting objects and surfaces regularly.
  • Please do not shake hands, hug or kiss as a greeting.

I came across this saying the other day. The church never closed. We adapted! Rather than be part of the problem, we became part of the solution. We found new ways to worship God and new ways to serve a broken world. And that is what we still need to do. We need to adapt and show grace.

We also want to thank you for your support of our church and of each other at this time.

Pastor Darryl Spicer

Co-vid19  – Where did the church go?  24th March 2020

Greetings Brookside,

There can be no doubt that co-vid 19 has our world in a spin, I am sure like me you have had things canceled or postponed, and while the advice is changing daily we must seek to do the best we can not just for ourselves but for our church and our wider community. This letter is to inform you on how I have come to make some choices as well as give you some information as to what is next for you and me and our church.

Last week I had multiple discussions with our Baptist Association and with different pastors to listen to their thoughts and to hear how they are approaching co-vid 19 to help both myself and the PST make choices on where to from here. Our choices have not been easy to come to. We have spent time praying and seeking God and his will.

The advice we were given last week from the Australian Government and the Baptist Association is that groups/gatherings of 100 should not meet inside buildings, the government also has recommended that as a rule of thumb we should give each person 4 m2 to maintain social distancing.

This means for us that the Church sanctuary which is 14 m x 12 m or 168 m2 equals to about 42 people.

Last night the Prime Minister has made the call to shut down venues like pubs and cinemas as well as indoor sporting venues from midday today. (Monday 23rd March 2020) This forced closure also relates to place of worship.

Main Point 1:

This means that we as church will be putting our Sunday morning gathering and other face to face ministry on hold for the foreseeable future.

While the PM has forced it, truth be told I had already made this decision based on last week’s recommendations and a few other factors. Let me explain them to you. The first is that I cannot guarantee your safety from the virus if you come to church and more importantly, I cannot guarantee the safety of our church members who are at higher risk. Which is a real concern for me.

The second reason is that we cannot put the extra pressure on those who volunteer. One of the ways I thought (and was suggested by others) we could do church is by splitting our service into three groups and meet at three different times. The problem is that we would need to clean every chair and surface between services, which is a huge task. But then we face the problem of what do we do with our Brook Kids’ program, do I ask the leaders each week to present the lesson three times? Or do we have a family with children’s time, then have another time where there are no children? The problem is that what happens if some miss the children’s times and bring children later? Not to mention that our Brook Kids programs cannot safely fit into the allotted space while maintaining social distancing.

My third reason is out of respect for the community. Can you imagine what people who drive past Brookside and see 50 cars would think? Do you think that they would think “Wow look at these people who have such a great faith” or will they say, “Man these guys are fools meeting at a time like this”?  I am willing to bet the latter.

What does this mean for Brookside?

It means for the time being we will be moving to an online message delivery for those who will are able to access it and we will be setting up a point at church where you can come and grab a copy of the message in printed form.

What we will be seeking to do, is to have not only the message but have teaching for kids, sermon notes, ideas for worship in different ways and styles. We want to encourage you to do your best with what you have.

I am also encouraging all small group leaders to pause their groups as of this week or move it to online.

But the doing of church is only half of it. Truth be told you can simply jump on your computer and listen to a podcast from some famous speaker or go to YouTube and listen to your favorite worship song. We can easily fill those parts the harder and more important part is how do we do community? How do we connect with people, with each other?

And that is where you come in. I want to encourage you to contact people in our church. Yep that’s right grab your directory, ring and ask people how they are going physically and spiritually. Don’t just start at the A’s of the directory, start with the family after yours in the directory. Send emails and text messages maybe take a leaf out of Paul’s book and write a letter to someone. And if you hear that someone is sick or needs help please, please, please contact the PST or myself. We are here to help as best we can, for we are in this together.

If you are well and able to go and visit someone and have a fence post conversation, I want to encourage you to do that, because Pastoral care is not care that comes from the pastor only, it is not care that comes from the church’s leadership, Pastoral care comes from every one of us. Do not assume that the leadership will know, do not assume that someone else will contact them. We all need to be on our A game. We all need to be looking out for each other.

Main point 2:

We need to care for each other.

If you are needing prayer, please contact me, phone, email or text anytime.

In the coming days and weeks we will be adding to our list of things that we can do to keep going with our faith journeys.

That being said let me also encourage you to do some other things as well. Keep living your life, go for a walk, say hello to people (from a safe distance) wash your hands, go to work, get takeout, spend money in the community. Trust me it will all help. It will keep things rolling until this is no longer an issue.

Also please do not horde food or supplies as this is starting to effect people who are already struggling. Please do not go into another town/city and buy all their supplies.

To sum up at this stage the advice has been given is that we should pause our regular meetings. Once again let me stress that our main goal is to protect people those who are at greater risk and to help slow the infection rate. Yes, this may come at a cost, but I feel it is in the best interest of the church in the long run. And please remember we are flying in uncharted skies and we will need to adjust things as time goes on, and we are open to your feedback as to how we can improve.

Kind Regards,

Darryl Spicer