Archives for March 2020

March 2020 – Update on NT Anglican Church Services

Update from Bp Greg Anderson:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The coronavirus situation continues to change rapidly, with the federal government announcing on March 18th that indoor gatherings of more than 100 people are suspended. After conversation with other denominational leaders and in the light of news from other parts of the Anglican world, I am announcing that Anglican churches in the Northern Territory will suspend their Sunday services from March 23rd. Individual parishes may suspend their services earlier than this.

This decision is designed to express our love for our neighbour – we want to do all we can to minimise the risk of the virus spreading quickly in our community, with all of the bad consequences of that, including likely deaths. This decision goes beyond the General Synod guidelines which were issued today, and available at https://anglican.org.au/resources/covid-19/. However, it is prudent for a number of reasons. Our church communities contain some of the most vulnerable people, and many health workers. We don’t want them to get sick. To suspend services altogether is easier and simpler than trying to communicate a message about who should and shouldn’t come to church, or turning away any who come because they haven’t heard the message and are at high risk. We are in step with others: by the end of the month, ten of the Anglican dioceses in Australia will have suspended all their services, as also have several churches in the remaining dioceses. I don’t want to pre-empt announcements to be made by others, but I know that other major denominations in the Territory will be announcing in the next couple of days that they are suspending services, and some have already done so. Overseas, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have announced the suspension of services in the Church of England. A similar strategy was adopted a century ago during the ‘Spanish’ influenza pandemic of 1919.

This decision prompts a number of opportunities: to centre our pastoral care through small groups that might meet together through technology; or through one-to-one visiting, to connect with other churches through their own live-streaming of services, and phone calls and emails to replace Sunday church conversations. Rectors can make decisions (in keeping with our prayer book rules) about having home communions with small groups.

I know it is not within the capacity of all our churches to livestream a service that people can tune in to at home, but I understand that at least St Peter’s Nightcliff is planning to do this.

Easter will be on us soon, and we will continue to monitor the advice about gatherings and what others are doing with regard to Easter services.

Please pray for God’s mercy on our communities, that we will be spared the disaster that has hit some countries, and also that we will understand that we are in God’s hands now and for eternity through the saving work of Christ.

Many blessings,
Greg