Kia Ora First Church Family,
Grace and Peace to you all in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. In this season of uncertainty and rapid change may you know the assurance of God’s love and continue to trust in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Over the last week the situation with COVID-19 (coronavirus) has continued to develop and it’s impact is being felt in all areas of our country and world. First Church has been continually monitoring the situation and implementing the advice provided by the New Zealand Government and the Ministry of Health. This has seen the cancellation of our church fair and the closure of our Heritage Centre.
In the light of the recent advice from the government, the First Church Session has decided to suspend worship services and any other gatherings at First Church until further notice. Recent
directives from government health authorities have put the emphasis on
limiting the size of public gatherings and reducing human contact
(“social distancing”) to slow the spread of the coronavirus. We take
our duty of care to you and the wider public seriously and we want to
limit the chance of people at First Church contracting this disease or
inadvertently passing it on. Session will continue to monitor the
situation and when it is appropriate we will reconvene for worship.
The life of a Christian community is the response to the gracious work of our God who meets with us in Jesus Christ. John’s Gospel opens with the declaration that the Word has become flesh and made a home with us (John 1:14). God continually takes steps to meet with us and we are invited to respond. Our worship is a response to this grace, where we gather to praise and thank our God. Although we are not responding to the call to worship by gathering at First Church this Sunday morning, we can respond in a whole variety of ways as we pray and worship in our homes. And above all we remember that our God’s grace continues as the basis and foundation of our life together.
Whilst it is a challenging time, over the coming weeks we have an unprecedented opportunity to discover different ways to respond to God’s grace. We are currently refurbishing our website so that we can provide resources and communication to encourage you in your life and faith over the weeks ahead. A podcast will be on website over the weekend, which will include a short reflection on the Scriptures.First Church will continue to offer ministry, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Strong and supportive relationships are essential to our well-being. Maintaining connections through challenging time is critically important. If you can’t catch up with friends and family face to face, find other ways of doing so! Phones, Skype and social media apps can bring people together and overcome isolation. If you know of people who don’t receive our church emails, please telephone to let them know what is going on!
Please continue to follow the advice offered by the government. The government have launched a new website which is updated with the latest information available.
We will continue to stay in touch by email over the days and weeks ahead.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all
Rev Ed Masters, on behalf of the First Church Session.