Covid-19 Letter

2 Cutler Parade

North Ryde 2113

10 March 2020

Dear All,

We have all heard about the current Covid-19 health alert in Australia. We are taking this seriously as a congregation and in the wider Uniting Church and recommend that our members and attendees remain vigilant with their personal hygiene and illness prevention methods; pages such as the Federal Government Dept of Health website https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov are great sources of reputable information and are updated regularly with guidelines.

Proverbs 20:15; There is gold and abundance of costly stones, but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.

This is also not the time to be overreacting and changing how we love and support each other.

1 Thessalonians 5:11; Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

Following updated government advice we have determined that if you are displaying symptoms of a cold or flu including fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat or runny nose, please do not attend church worship services at all, even to sit at the back/Orana Room. Please contact James and your pastoral care leaders about this decision to self isolate and please seek personal medical advice as soon as possible.

Current reports suggest that there are less than 100 confirmed cases in a population of 25.6 million. We all need to keep calm, follow government medical and health advice, avoid unnecessary contact with each other (i.e handshakes, kisses and hugs) and wash our hands regularly. All planned services and activities are going ahead as planned and we have no current intentions of postponing/cancelling any group activity unless we are advised by government agencies to do so.

In case individuals or groups are quarantined, by need or choice, the following plan for restrictions has been developed.

Matthew 14:27; But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

Plan for COVID-19 restrictions

Below is a sequence of possible events from (1) most likely to (5) least likely.

This plan and has been developed for your consideration and dissemination at earliest convenience.

  1. If a member or members of the congregation is/are self-isolated (due to precautions for their own health) – North Ryde Community Church (NRCC) will publish a message to those members every week, in place of the church service. This will include a photo and the recording of the sermon.
    • a) As they are effectively under quarantine by self-isolation, visitors/deliverers will need to leave produce on the door step and not speak directly with the person face to face… maybe organise this on the phone with them before seeing them.
    • b) We will ask if they have access to general shopping supplies or know how to shop online. Some of us might like to try and cook for those people.
    • c) In every case the cluster leader/s of the person self-isolated, should be notified and the Minister should be notified.
  2. If a person or persons have become quarantined (due to testing positive, or being exposed to another person who has tested positive to the virus), and they had had contact with church members whilst they were in their incubation period they should follow the safety precautions set out by NSW Health and any other state or regulatory authority https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/coronavirus.
    • a) The quarantined person should notify the Pastoral Care leader and Minister (02) 9888 9978 or minister@nrcc.unitingchurch.org.au or admin@nrcc.unitingchurch.org.au as soon as possible, and no person should be made feel as though they are an imposition due to whatever has happened.
    • b) The church will also need to take sanitising precautions, including having the cleaners properly sanitise pews and other parts of the church that are commonly only wiped such as but not necessarily limited to; Orana Room and Winston Hall (if appropriate).
    • c) If there are a significant number of people affected (the Chair of the Congregation, Chair of Church Council and the Minister will decide once that threshold has been met), we may, for precautionary measures decide to cease Sunday worship services, and upload content and write content for those who do not have internet access.
    • d) We will ensure that each of the cluster leaders is equipped with bible studies and other information if this happens to allow for that information to be passed over the phone or through emails.e) If the person quarantined happens to be a cluster leader then all members of the cluster group should support each other within the cluster.
  3. If the Minister is quarantined (due to testing positive, or being exposed to another person who has tested positive to the virus); The minister will continue to work from the manse and, where possible, continue to resource the congregation through telephone and emails but should not meet anybody face to face, quarantined or otherwise.
    • a) Our pastoral care network will need to take over to fulfil some of the visitation requirements.
    • b) Council will need to consider Ministry support from the presbytery supply Ministry pool if that period looks to be over 14 days for whatever reason.
    • c) If this happens at a major seasonal day, we will need to do that also (including Easter for example).
    • d) NRCC may need to move their communion/Lord’s Supper to the following or more convenient Sunday.
  4. If there is a church wide (NRCC) quarantine, we follow aforementioned steps, where cluster leaders and the pastoral leaders will ensure that each member of the congregation is notified.
    • a) Messages from the minister, chair and bible study leaders will be broadcast to the church on a regular basis. Resources will be made readily available each week for people to worship in their homes and to pray and reflect on the lectionary readings.
  5. If there is a community wide quarantine, we will follow the procedures given to us from authorities including NSW Health, but we will roll out the aforementioned plan, providing resources for us and the wider church to use for that time.
  6. If there is a case on site, from a hall hirer, a church member or any other person, that area should be cleaned and sanitised before further use, emphasising all common contact surfaces.
    • a) Notification that this has occurred should be forwarded to those it may have affected, and those who are using the space should be offered a different space in the church to use if available.
    • b) If the whole site is closed down due to the need for sterilisation or otherwise, then this should be told to all site users for that period of time as soon as possible.
  7. In all of these common-sense and care should be in ample consideration. All Health NSW and any other authorities advise should supersede this information and advice.

Howard Clark

Chair of Council, North Ryde Community Uniting Church

Ph 0417 046 290

Email: chair@nrcc.unitingchurch.org.au