With worship gatherings cancelled and significant constraints imposed on people’s travel and social distance, we are being challenged to develop new ways to be church and to do church, for our own people and in service and witness to the wider community.
South Moreton Presbytery is keen to encourage and resource Congregations and ministry agents for these times. On this page, we’ll recommend various resources, mostly coming from within the UCA context. These are also being published on our Facebook page.
You can find Synod’s formal advisories about coronavirus here. This also includes a range of ideas and advice for Congregations engaging in ministry in this new context.
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Rev. Beth Nicholls has compiled a great list of online resources available for children’s and families ministry, including through Holy Week and Easter. Check them out here.
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If you’re familiar with The Bible Project, you’ll know the excellent resources this team continues to produce on the books of the Bible and major biblical themes. During COVID-19, they are providing a free weekly Church at Home resource which includes video, audio and written material, ideal for individual Bible study. Certainly worth a look, and recommending to your people.
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Here’s a beautiful, evocative video reflection for Palm Sunday or Holy Week, based on the renewal of bushland after the fires in East Gippsland, by Rev. Ian Ferguson in Melbourne. He’s offering it for online use as churches wish. .. click here ..
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There are several Christian music streaming offers to assist with online worship during COVID-19. Here is one from Resound Worship Music in the UK.
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Here’s a beautiful video reflection piece, called Presence, created by Rev David MacGregor who also wrote the instrumental music. David is offering it for inclusion in online worship as people may wish.
Posted by David MacGregor on Monday, 30 March 2020
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Rev Ralph Mayhew (Burleigh Heads UC and Village Church) has applied his expertise in photography to offer 3 excellent video tutorials on basic techniques to improve home-based video recording. Each runs about 10 minutes and the content is all very practical and low tech.There’s a general one and then 2 focusing on getting good audio and lighting. With video platforms central to Congregation life in many places during COVID-19 and, for certain, beyond, these are a helpful gift for us at this time. The playlist is on YouTube:
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Some Australian Christian songwriters are offering their music for free, for worship streaming or recording during COVID-19. Craig Mitchell is curating a page indicating composers, songs and links.
The page will be updated as information comes in: click here.
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Starting this weekend, the UCA Assembly is offering worship streaming through its Facebook page. On Sunday April 5, Rev. Alex Sangster in Melbourne will lead an online Palm Sunday service at 10:00 am. Here is a list of the services and leaders each week through April and May. Join in via the Assembly Facebook page, “Uniting Church in Australia.”
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Good article in Eureka Street (Australian Jesuit online journal) this week on social connectivity in a pandemic. Lots of good examples, and maybe some ideas to spark a Congregation initiative or two.
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Project ReConnect (Hunter Presbytery, NSW) provides a lectionary-based sermon on video for every Sunday. Can be used in church or home, but has been especially valuable for small Congregations. The sermons have all been uploaded to the end of May 2020. Our former PresMin, Rev. Alan Robinson, is the preacher for April 19!
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Adrian Taylor is the eLearning Facilitator for the VicTas Synod / Pilgrim Theological College and a theology student at Pilgrim. He posted this in the UCA Assembly Transforming Worship circle Facebook page. It makes some good points abouty where our expectations and energies might best be placed as we seek to adapt to ‘dispersed church’. (Reposted with permission.)
Hi all, many of you are dealing with having to do church online in a really short period of time, as a former Assistant Media Director for a mega church I have spent most of the last ten years being asked to think about ways to take church online. Since I don’t have time to answer every question, I’ve listed some ideas here:
1) Start simple. We don’t have the time to do this right, we are responding to an emergency we haven’t planned for.
2) Prioritise connection over production or liturgical beauty. The best thing you can do for your community this weekend is connect with them. Instead of stressing about Facebook Live, write a separate text message to each person in your church, asking how they are.
3) Reduce screen time. We’re all being asked to spend more time in Zoom meetings or reading emails on top of being glued to news feeds. Send people something they can print out or a playlist they can listen to.
4) Move away from scheduled activities. While people need to maintain routines in isolation, we’re all being asked to attend more meetings and this is causing schedule anxiety. Find ways people can connect in flexibility.
5) Focus on spiritual practice over liturgy and preaching. What we need most is assistance in letting go of stress and regaining connection with God and with others.
6) Lower expectations. We all need a little grace. Think twice before asking your teenager or church tech guy for help. Everyone is coming to us.
7) Invite don’t ask or tell. Make everything you do optional. Listen to your congregations needs and let them reflect.
8) Keep reassessing. None of us know what’s going to work. Last Sunday I would’ve told you to consider a small group on Zoom. I’ve spent all week on Zoom meetings and would rather not go to another one. People don’t know yet what is going to work for them.
9) Thank you. For every person who is trying to do things differently. For every person who is caring for others. For every person who is feeling exhausted. Thank you.
10) Forgive the mistakes. If your church isn’t getting it right or doing it the way you would like, be patient. None of us trained for this, we’re all learning.
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Going online for worship invites creativity in use of visuals and sound. A poetic imagination can be expressed very simply. A script, some lovely images, and sensitive editing can produce a memorable engagement with scripture, and a gentle worshipful space. Here is Rev. Ian Ferguson’s video reflection on Ezekiel 37 (can these bones live?), which he has shared for others to use this Sunday if they wish. It might also inspire you, or others in your Congregation, to try something, especially for Holy Week, Good Friday and Easter.
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Communion: Sacrament of empty hands.
Rev Dr Amelia Koh Butler offers this liturgy for Communion without elements, with Easter options. If you’re developing liturgies like this, please email them for others to share.
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A handout associated with online worship from Southside UC this morning included this beautiful affirmation from Christian songwriter David Haas as part of their benediction. Seems like the kind of thing we could circulate across our dispersed peoples as a word of mission:
Love has not been cancelled.
Mercy has not been cancelled.
Prayer has not been cancelled.
Attentiveness has not been cancelled.
Goodness has not been cancelled.
Thanksgiving has not been cancelled.
Loving relationships have not been cancelled.
Kindness has not been cancelled.
Music has not been cancelled.
Conversations have not been cancelled.
Learning has not been cancelled.
Poetry and storytelling has not been cancelled.
Courage has not been cancelled.
Meditation and contemplation have not been cancelled.
Painting and dancing have not been cancelled.
Families have not been cancelled.
Community and solidarity have not been cancelled.
Faith has not been cancelled.
Hope has not been cancelled.
And … God’s presence with us, has not been cancelled.
UNITY IN DISPERSITY #9: Great resources from Tassie
Here is a great list of resources and ideas on ‘dispersed church’ from the Presbytery of Tasmania. One resource listed here is a series from Rev. Denise Savage of Sacred Space Postcards for people worshipping alone over this period. These are simple catalysts for reflections, which can be done in each person’s home while still building a common journey with others. Here is the current series which Denise is happy for people to use; more are to come. This idea can be adapted for any context. But there are other ideas here as well. More is being added to this page in coming days and weeks, so you might like to revisit from time to time.
UNITY IN DISPERSITY #8: Prayers in a pandemic
Rev. Jon Humphreys is a UCA school chaplain in Sydney and an eloquent writer of prayers. His Facebook page is worth following as he reflects on the challenges of worship and ministry in a time of pandemic.
UNITY IN DISPERSITY #7: Online isn’t the only (or first) consideration
Not being able to gather for worship doesn’t mean we need to rush into the online streaming space. That can be one strategy but there are other (and deeper) questions to think about. Coming from outside the UCA is this reflection about how we might inform our imagination about what our gathered community might seek from ‘church’ when they can no longer be together for worship. From The Contemplative Cottage (the name itself is rather evocative of self-isolation!).
UNITY IN DISPERSITY #6: Lenten journey
Craig Mitchell (Presbytery Minister – Church Development, Port Phillip East, Vic-Tas Synod) produced a 5-part Lenten series on the theme ‘Water for the Journey,’ and has now adapted it for use by people who can’t go to a study group or attend worship. Have a look, and see if it inspires you for creating similar adaptations of study or worship material for sharing among your dispersed Congregation.
UNITY IN DISPERSITY #5: Saltbush connections
Saltbush – Uniting the Scattered Community, seeks to encourage and connect smaller, Uniting Christian communities, irrespective of size or location. Saltbush seeks to embrace the reality of being Christian community in the 21st. century and to affirm the place and capacity of smaller Christian communities both to gather and be in mission. It’s an activity of Uniting Mission & Education (NSW-ACT Synod).
In the lead up to Easter, the Saltbush team have been trialing Zoom Cafés. The online gatherings will continue through to Easter with a plan to continue throughout the year. Saltbush Zoom Cafés meet every Wednesday morning at 10:30 am and every Thursday evening at 7:30 pm.
And now, in the wake of COVID-19, starting this Sunday, they are offering a special weekly worship streaming for people who need to self-isolate, or whose church community can’t gather for worship. Sundays, 9:00 am (AEDT), via Zoom. So easy to connect!
UNITY IN DISPERSITY #4: Handy guide for Zoom online meetings
If you’re thinking of using Zoom as an online meeting platform for Church Council, etc, in preference to face-to-face meetings, then Kelly Skilton, a youthworker at Murrumbeena UC (Vic-Tas Synod), has written a handy 1-page guide, available for download here.
UNITY IN DISPERSITY #3: Video guide to online worship streaming
For those thinking of moving into online worship streaming, Ps Craig Hindman of Newlife Church Robina provides this informative quick guide. Thanks very much, Craig!
UNITY IN DISPERSITY #2: UCA Assembly ‘Transforming Worship’ circle
The UCA Assembly’s Transforming Worship Circle is a Facebook page where people are sharing their resources, liturgies and ideas, with a current focus on worship when we can’t gather as community. If you’re not already a member you’ll be asked to join.
UNITY IN DISPERSITY #1: UCA Assembly resource page
UCA Assembly is gathering a range of resources (liturgies and ideas), curated from various places, called Ministry During COVID-19. Visit here.
South Moreton Presbytery Office is at 106/58 Manila street, Beenleigh, Qld. 4207
Postal Address: PO Box 125, Beenleigh 4207
Ph: 07 3807 7421 Fax: 07 3807 7620 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org