What if COVID changes the church?

It may seem that our church is dying…
What if our Church will never be the same again?
What if we no longer have the strength to serve as we did before?
What if when we return we can’t face the church rosters?
What if we can no longer travel outside on a cold winter night for meetings?
What if, as a church, we cannot sustain mission, outreach and hospitality any longer?
What if we don’t have the energy to save the old cocoon of traditional church, with all its structures and large leadership demands?
And the old ways of doing things need to be let go of…

What if new ways of being church are being born?
What if we let go of the old ways of doing things… and instead chose ways of joyfully serving ?
What if we stopped forcing people to come into church and instead worshipped in the midst of people?
What if instead of catering fellowship group at the church … we took the church to the café and supported the local business post-COVID ?
What if we gave up all the mission programs we run … and instead told our neighbour why we believe in God and why God is so important to me? And let that story sit with them in the depths of all they are experiencing.
What if we no longer went out for meetings at night but zoomed each other?
What if we continued on-line worship as a meaningful cornerstone to our faith?
What if we sold our buildings that burden us and were a people of faith in our community?
What if we forgot the words to Holy communion liturgy and broke bread at the pub and gave thanks to God!
What if this new way of doing church was lighter, simpler, and more joyful!

Rev. Linley Liersch, Presbytery Minister, Presbytery of Port Phillip West

Lockdown 5.0 – Changes to arrangements

Unfortunately once again we are changing steps in the COVID dance and cannot meet in person this Sunday.  Fortunately though, the Rev. Kevin Yelverton who is covering for Paul this Sunday will be able to be beamed to your computer or device via YouTube with the help of our multi-talented Council Chairperson and brother in Christ, Lloyd Walker and his technical crew.

The buildings are now closed in accordance with COVID restrictions and we pray that this early intervention will mean that this is only a short lockdown.  With exposure sites in our local area it is a good thing for us all to stay home as we can and hopefully allow this outbreak to fizzle out.

A quick update also from me, Robyn – many thanks to Shaghek, Barbara, Linda, Paul and everyone else helping to cover the office while I am away on placement.  Some family illness delayed the beginning of my placement and so I am due to return to the office in August – COVID willing.  I am still keeping an eye on email and will respond to anything urgent.

A reminder that Rev. Paul Stephens will be on leave from this Saturday the 17th of July to Tuesday 27th of July.

Our congregation annual meeting has been rescheduled to the 1st of August after Sunday worship, so please save the date.

In the meantime let us hold each other and our community in prayer, especially the helpers who are so weary by now.  We offer this collect from Julie Perrin:

God who knows no forgetting,
who companions those who suffer.
Be present to people alone in lockdown,
and to those forced to share crowded spaces.
As fault-lines reveal our divided community,
may contrition form new mercy in us.


Blessings to you and let’s continue to care for one another as we journey through these strange and challenging times,

Coronavirus update and contact tracing at St Luke’s

News this week from Synod:

Two important changes from May 28, 2021:
The Victorian Government has announced density limits will lift on small to medium-sized venues, including places of worship.

From 28 May, venues including places of worship with less than 400m² can  have up to 200 people per space without any density limit, provided
COVID marshals are on site ensuring all patrons are checking in to each space using the QR Code system.

All venues must use the Government QR Code Service to maintain electronic record keeping.

How do QR codes work?
1. Register for a FREE QR code service from the government at  https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/register-to-use-vic-gov-qr-codeservice.
2. Once you have your QR Code, you will need to display this prominently, eg at all entry doors.
3. Everyone entering the building can then scan this QR Code using the camera on their smartphone or tablet device. This automatically opens the registration app, which knows that they are registering at your building.
4. They will then be asked to enter their name, phone number and residential postcode, and have the option of providing details of other individuals in their party.
5. When using QR codes, every gathering will require a designated greeter at every door by which the public can enter. Each greeter will need to have a smart phone or tablet device.  The role of the greeters is to ensure that
everyone entering the building registers using the QR code, to assist with registrations as required, or to use their own phone or tablet to register any attendees who do not have the capability of registering themselves.

How do older people, or those without a smartphone sign in using the QR Code?
The government QR code allows you to sign in another person. By having event greeters at every entry door, they can sign in any attendee who is
unable to register themselves. The requirement for every attendee to be signed in using the QR code method is a government requirement as of April
23, 2021.

What does this mean for St Luke’s?

Currently we have 8 people who have indicated that they are prepared and able to scan people in on Sunday mornings.  These same people are also rostered on for other roles, and don’t want to be rostered on every week, so more people are needed for this role.

Knowing that many of our regular attenders do not have mobile phones that can host the Victorian Services app, and that many others do not have mobile phones at all, I made contact with the people in the Victorian Government responsible for the app.  I explained our situation with many people needing to be checked in at the same time who are the same people who come each week.  This is their response:

Good afternoon Robyn,

Thank you for reaching out regarding the check-in requirements.

As long as you are recording the manual entries for each person in your venue for more than 15 minutes, and keeping track of this in a consistent manner that can be supplied to contact tracers when requested, this will be sufficient.

This does not need to be via the Service Victoria app, but can instead be through a paper form with names and phone numbers, or a spreadsheet maintained by your team.

Please ensure the manual check-in form has a way to contact each guest, ideally via mobile phone.

We appreciate your work in protecting Victoria through maintaining contact tracing efforts.

So, while we are still able to sign people in with pen and paper,  should there be a case of Coronavirus exposure at St Luke’s, those recorded through the QR code can be contacted more quickly.   If you would like to be able to do this but are not sure how to go about it, please register your interest with Robyn at the church office.