Because of COVID-19 no public church services will be held until further notice. In the days ahead we will be posting information and resources on how we as a St John's community are going to become a different sort of church in these coming months. Pray at home, connect online, love and support those in need.
On Monday's 'Canberra Times' our Lent 5 Service was mentioned. MORE...
Life is changing in these uncharted times
I’m not sure about you but I’ve gone through stages of shock, information overload and concern for my health. Our life is changing and will not be the same again due to the Coronavirus.
How quickly things have changed. COVID-19 is causing havoc for millions of Aussies who live pay cheque to pay cheque. People who have always worked have been stood down. There have been long lines of people outside Centrelink offices. We can no longer travel interstate or overseas and the stock market has continued to decline, including my superannuation.
Worship has ceased and a government order has closed church buildings. Sadly, this means that St John's Church can no longer be left open, perhaps for the first time in its 175+ year history.
The Prime Minister has also asked that gatherings of any kind in private homes be kept to an absolute minimum. Bishop Mark has advised that clergy should carefully consider whether Bible studies or other home-based small groups should continue to meet face to face.
We certainly are in uncertain and unchartered times. Being a part of the Church is going to look very different for us in the days ahead. Preserving the health and vitality of our congregations and keeping connected must be a priority.
Canon Margaret was rostered to preach this Sunday. Therefore, she has written a shorter homily called “Hope in uncertain times” where she says, “Like all of you, I’m looking for answers.” Margaret then speaks into the situation the people of Israel found themselves in which is recorded in the Book of Ezekiel. They were a community in exile, cut off from their homeland and were struggling to find hope.
It’s my hope you can join us via YouTube in your lounge room or study (on Sunday or another day) where we will gather as a St John’s community in God’s name to hear the Scriptures being read and then expounded by Margaret. We will also lead you in prayer and there will be a final blessing. You will find an outline of the Service in this email. We have explored livestreaming, but our thick stone walls and beautiful new slate roof hinder a decent internet connection!
If you cannot join us via YouTube, you will find Margaret’s homily attached to this email. You can also access six worship songs chosen for this week. The YouTube links can be found by going to the front page of our website
We have signed up to Zoom which is a video conferencing platform. Next week, our Parish Council/Leadership Team will meet in this way to plan and make decisions for the coming months.
The closure of worship, loss of parking and other income will have significant financial implications. We will need to consider whether there are expenses or projects which can be postponed and whether we can continue paying clergy as usual.
Therefore, we are urging parishioners to commence online giving if they are not doing so already. Our bank transfer details are: BSB Number: 702.389; Account Number: 05209450 Account Name: St John the Baptist Reid. Cheques can still be posted to GPO Box 219, Canberra. 2601.
St John’s Care is also facing an unprecedented crisis. Food collections by volunteers at supermarkets have had to cease. Therefore, they have launched an Emergency Appeal to raise an extra $50,000 so they can continue to provide food and other services for the most vulnerable people in our community. You can make a donation or find out more by going to their website
Please by assured of our prayers and continued pastoral support. We haven’t forgotten our families, youth and children. Michael and Margaret are working on resources which will be forwarded separately. You can contact me on 0416 159 814, Margaret on 0417 423 472 and Kevin on 0450 676 864.
Please remember to pray at home, connect with one another (via YouTube, Facebook, website, email and phone), practice physical distancing, love and be kind to neighbours and strangers.
26 March 2020
* On the Fifth Sunday in Lent join us for worship on your computer, laptop, tablet or smart phone via YouTube (on Sunday or another day), including a homily from Canon Margaret and six worship songs chosen for this week. You will find an outline of the Service in this email.
* Go to the home page of our website for the links. They will be added on Saturday.
* Join us for Morning Prayer at 9 am on Tuesday 31 March via Zoom. You will need to sign up for Zoom (which is free) and email Paul at so he can send you an invitation at 8.55 am. If this is popular we will add other days.
* Be nourished and sustained through Daily Payer by quick and easy access to the Anglican Daily Offices on your smart phone or tablet. Download the epray DAILY app free from your app store. Log into the app with your four-digit parish access code, set your default Bible (NRSV) and you’re ready to go! The parish’s code is 6571.
* We are also exploring a Home Group/Bible Study via Zoom.
* Bishop Mark has also recorded a reflection for this week. You can find it at
A radically different kind of church
Following the Prime Minister’s announcement of further measures to combat the spread of COVID-19, the Anglican Bishops of NSW/ACT have been in consultation with each other about the wisest way to reflect the care and compassion of Christ for all people in these challenging times.
As a result, they agreed that no public church services will be held in Dioceses in NSW and the ACT until further notice. That includes, of course, our Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn.
“I want to emphasise that the temporary cessation of public services does not mean the end of ministry by Anglican Christians in our Diocese, wrote Bishop Mark Short. “This is the beginning of a season to show Christ-like care for our neighbours and develop new ways of connecting with each other.”
The situation is the same in England. With our church buildings closed the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have called for churches to become a “different sort of church” in the coming months as we to face the challenge of coronavirus. They said that far from having to “shut up shop”, we must face the challenge by becoming a radically different kind of church rooted in prayer and serving others.
They urged congregations to be in the forefront of providing practical care and support for the poor and the most vulnerable during the crisis. “Being a part of the Church is going to look very different in the days ahead,” they wrote.
“Our life is going to be less characterised by attendance at church on Sunday, and more characterised by the prayer and service we offer each day.” We may not be able to pray with people in the ways that we are used to, but we can certainly pray for people. And we can certainly offer practical care and support.
St John's church will remain open for private prayer and reflection during daylight hours and as a faith community we are going to explore different ways of connecting with each other by various means, e.g by phone, email, web resources, Facebook facebook.com/stjohncanberra sermons posted online and live streaming. On our website we will put up resources and other information.
The parish office will be closed from Monday. You are encouraged to ring the office on 6248 8399 and leave a voicemail message or send an email to email@example.com If the matter is urgent you can contact me on 0416 159 814.
Bishop Mark says:
What about Home Groups / Youth Groups / Children’s Ministry / other mid-week meetings?
If you can ensure that non-public groups meeting in homes are able to operate with appropriate social distancing (e.g. in a large space maintaining a 1.5 metre distance between people) then it may be possible to continue to meet in this way. Youth groups, children’s ministries and other mid-week meetings are considered to be public gatherings and therefore they ought to cease. Rectors can exercise discretion in deciding which small groups will continue to meet.
What about our Annual General Meeting?
We have no mechanism to have a “virtual” AGM. Our AGM will be postponed and our elected office holders (current parish councillors, wardens) will remain in office until such time as it is possible to elect their successors. Practically speaking this means that the current parish councillors, wardens, clergy appointment board members and Synod representatives continue in office until further advice is provided.
What about Weddings?
While highly disruptive and understandably distressing for all involved, weddings may only proceed with the bridal party and their families and the minister officiating.
What about Funerals?
Unfortunately, funerals held in crematoriums, chapels or church buildings can only include immediate family members. It is suggested that families hold a more public thanksgiving (i.e. memorial service) at a later time, when it is possible to gather.
What about St John’s Care?
Unfortunately, staff and volunteers at St John’s Care may have been exposed to someone who is potentially carrying the COVID19 Coronavirus. That person has now been tested and has been cleared. St John’s Care will remain closed until Friday 20 March. The Centre will re-open on Monday 23 March.
We will keep you informed with updates as we seek to develop pastoral care strategies and plans to help you stay in touch with one another.
In our gospel reading for this Sunday (John 9:1-41) Jesus proclaims, “I am the light of the world”. You will find a short reflection on this reading below. The other readings set for the Fourth Sunday in Lent are: 1 Samuel 16.1-13, Psalm 23 and Ephesians 5.8-14.
Please join with those around the Diocese in praying that the light of Jesus might shine in and through us, for the glory of God and the good of God’s world.
Canon Paul Black
19 March 2020