Dear members and friends of the Auckland Unitarian Church,
Yesterday (15th March 2020) our Management Committee met to consider how to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. There is much more we don’t know than we do know about how the pandemic will play out in New Zealand. Thanks to what I consider strong leadership from the government to contain the virus, we have had only eight reports of infected individuals as of this morning. There is no indication of a community outbreak at this time. However, that does not mean things could not change rapidly as they have in other countries. Therefore, we should be vigilant and take every precaution not to spread the contagion and to protect our most vulnerable members. Part of that means being aware of government advice and applying it to our situation where appropriate.
Yesterday at worship we sanitised frequently used surfaces with wipes, rearranged seating so there was at least a metre of social distance between chairs, greeters asked those who attended to use hand sanitiser or wash their hands when they entered, we kept a record of those who attended should we need to contact them later, before morning tea people were reminded to keep social distance and earlier in the week I encouraged members I know to be particularly vulnerable to take a sabbatical from attending services until further notice. During the service a conversation was held asking for the congregation’s thoughts about how we should respond. Amongst other things, most hoped we would not suspend services.
Following the service, the Management Committee reached unanimous consensus on the following:
- For the present we will continue to hold services much as we did yesterday.
- All non-essential meetings will be postponed until further notice, which includes our annual quiz night and Dances of Universal Peace.
- For the present we will allow renters to continue to use the building.
- We will keep a record of who attends services and ask anyone who later does not feel well to notify me so those on the list can be notified.
- If you are unwell for any reason please do not attend.
- We encourage all those over 70 or with health issues that would be exacerbated by the virus to consider taking a sabbatical.
- If you are responsible for morning tea please offer only pre-packaged items.
- As we know the situation changes rapidly. The MC has asked me to make the call if it is time to discontinue in-person services and close the church until the situation improves. I will be looking to government guidelines. If it becomes a community outbreak and/or schools are closed, I will definitely make that call. We will be exploring online options to continue with virtual gatherings in the interim.
- If we discontinue in-person worship, the building will be closed to renters with possible exceptions on a case-by-case basis for weddings, funerals and very small groups.
- Our paid volunteers (RE teacher, cleaner, pianist and minister) will continue to be paid should the building be closed.
- In order to communicate quickly about any changes, please download the app WhatsApp and email Kay Parish with your mobile number. She will include you in our Auckland Unitarian group so we can broadcast the latest information to you promptly. The latest information will also be on the website, in our newsletter and on our Facebook page.
- Lastly, if you live alone we encourage to arrange for a “church buddy” to check in with you every day to make sure you are well and to help you with any needs you might have.
This is clearly an unprecedented time. But I believe we can come through it stronger than ever. All we have to do is be there for each other.
Meditation by Lee Allison Paczulla
Blessed are the elderly, and the immunosuppressed
Blessed are the fearful, the anxious and irritable
Blessed are the ones who use humour to get by
The ones who could use a vacation anyway
The ones who fear for their life
Blessed are the ones who are sick of it;
All the flawed logic, the security theatre
Blessed are the ones who cry out
“this is why we need a safety net! A kinder society! A new world!”
Blessed are the health care workers,
the administrators catching heat for every decision,
the messengers with no power over the message
Blessed are the sad, and the lonely
Blessed are the healthy and the sick, the well and the unwell
Blessed are all of us just trying to do our best
Blessed are those who stay kind and clear,
who keep our eyes open to each other
Blessed is our neighbour
Blessed are we all
Blessed are we all
Blessed are we all
And blessings to you all,