Anglican churches and whare karakia across Aotearoa New Zealand will remain closed to in-person services this weekend, as bishops up and down the country direct clergy to move worship online, and undertake ministry via phone or other non-contact interactions.
Two significant in-person Anglican events scheduled for this week have already been postponed, including 'The Abbey 2021: A house without walls' youth leadership festival that was due to happen in Waikanae this weekend, and the Pākehā Deans’ conference that was due to take place in Otepōti Dunedin from Thursday-Sunday this week.
On the eve of lockdown, the Pihopatanga o Aotearoa Facebook page invited Te Hāhi Mihinare and all to join twice-daily karakia at 7am and 7pm that will now be streamed during Level 4 lockdown.
“'Let peace be the pandemic, let kindness be the contagion, let love be the miracle," the post began, reaffirming Archbishop Don Tamihere’s call for everyone to prioritise love and care for one another as the Covid-19 pressure comes back on for whānau around the country.
Bishop of Auckland, Rt Rev Ross Bay encouraged his people to go back to virtual services this weekend and to plan for online worship again next week, as experience now proves that a slow reduction in alert levels is more likely than a quick return to the “almost normal” of Level 1.
Bishop of Tai Tokerau Te Kitohi Pikaahu reported that three ministry teams in his Amorangi have continued to stream weekly services since last year’s lockdowns, so for them this weekend will in some ways be worship as usual.
In a message to his Hui Amorangi on Tuesday evening, Bishop Kito asked his people to stay home and to stop physically gathering for worship in favour of praying together online. He reminded them to stay put, trust in God and wait patiently on the Lord,
“Kia ata noho koutou ki o koutou kainga, ki runga ki o koutou nohoanga, ki raro i o koutou tuohutanga. Ma to tatou Matua i te Rangi tatou katoa e tiaki, e whakau, e manaaki hoki.”
Bishop of Wellington Justin Duckworth encouraged his churches to gather online this weekend, and to remember to tap into their churches’ resources for bubble-based ministry activities, especially for gospel-centred activities with children.
In the central South Island, both the Bishop of Te Waipounamu Richard Wallace and Bishop of Christchurch Peter Carrell have called off all physical services for Sunday 22 August, recognising that ministry teams need more than one day’s notice to prepare for an Alert Level change in time for Sunday, even if the South Island reopens on Friday night.
Meanwhile, Bishop of Nelson Steve Maina and Bishop of Dunedin Steven Benford reminded their churches of the Level 4 protocols and encouraged them to share online prayers, but to also pick up the phone and check on anyone who may be feeling vulnerable or alone under the sudden lockdown.
The bishops will now keep a watching brief on nationwide Alert lLevels and make sure churches know how to manage their ministries to ensure they are doing their best to keep everyone safe and well.