Dear Members and Friends of New Church Westville,
Following President Ramaphosa’s statement on Sunday evening declaring a national state of disaster we are taking appropriate actions at Kainon School and New Church Westville to do our part to help slow the spread of coronavirus and COVID-19—to “flatten the curve” of its rate of spread and so reduce the strain that is put on our medical system.
Kainon School closed on the 17th of March and, at this stage, is scheduled to reopen on Wednesday, the 15th of April. You can read the full letter from Jane Edmunds, the Principal, about what measures are being put in place at the school here: COVID-19 Communication.
As a church here are our plans at the moment. If they change, we will let you know via email (subscribe here) and WhatsApp. (Please let us know if you are not receiving emails or WhatsApps from us and would like to.)
No In-Person Services for the Next Month
We will not have in-person church services on 22 March, 29 March, 5 April, 8 April (the Easter Week Family Service will be cancelled), or 12 April (Easter). Beyond that we will have to follow the guidelines issued by the government. We are basing this choice on the schools being closed until after Easter. This may be an overreaction but we would rather overreact than unnecessarily put people at risk.
Online Church Services Instead
We are fortunate to have the technology in place to broadcast video of our services to you via the internet. You can watch them as they are happening or you can watch an archive of all the services that we broadcasted in the past. Go to www.facebook.com/newchurchwestville or search for New Church Westville on the Facebook app on your phone. You do not have to have a Facebook account to watch the videos of our services.
We’ve put together a page on our website with more information about how we will be doing worship services and other Bible Studies and meetings online. Take a look at newchurchwestville.co.za/online for all the information about how to connect, the schedule of what’s happening next, how we’re planning on doing worship, etc.
If possible, I would encourage you to try to “attend” the Sunday services as they’re happening. We still need to be keeping the Sabbath during this difficult time. And I think you’ll find that the experience of watching the service on your computer or phone is better when it’s happening live (instead of just watching the recording afterward) because of the feeling of immediacy and also because it can give you a feeling of connection to the other people also worshipping together with you at the same time in their homes.
Bible Studies Online and Other Meetings Too
This morning we had an online meeting of Women’s Bible Study using free software called Zoom. On Friday we will have a Men’s Bible Study (at 6:45am) and a Women’s Bible Study (at 8:30am) online. Everyone who would like to is invited to attend.
See newchurchwestville.co.za/online for the full schedule of what we’ve got planned so far and for instructions about how to install the software you need on your computer or phone. Let me know if you need assistance getting that set up (email@example.com).
I plan to use Zoom to host other Bible Studies and doctrinal classes or just opportunities for people to have some form of church community online. This is going to be an isolating time for people but we can use technology to maintain a connection with each other. We will be updating newchurchwestville.co.za/online as we schedule more offerings.
As we adapt to these strange and worrying times I am feeling grateful—grateful for the people who are figuring out how best to respond to this worldwide pandemic so that we can know what to do locally, grateful to all the health care workers doing their jobs, grateful for the technology that allows us to stay somewhat connected, and grateful for the sense of connection and shared purpose with people locally and worldwide even as we work to physically isolate ourselves from each other.
Joel wrote in a message earlier this week, “At this time I’ve been thinking of Psalm 37:3 – ‘Trust in the Lord, and do good.’ Let’s do what we can to strengthen and restore trust in the Lord, and to keep reaching out to people as and when we are able.” Amen to that.
- Read “From the Bishop | A message about worship and trust” from Pete Buss, Jr., the Executive Bishop of our church.
- Find New Church live-streamed services from around the world.
- OfftheLeftEye YouTube Channel – Check out this great YouTube channel from the Swedenborg Foundation. (Just click that link and see what happens.) They have hours and hours of high quality videos about topics from a New Church perspective. A good alternative to just watching more depressing TV news.
- Corona Virus South African Resource Portal (sacoronavirus.co.za)
- South African WhatsApp Support Line: 0600-123456