Uniting Church moves to protect the most vulnerable in congregations
Leaders of the Uniting Church in Australia Synod in NSW and ACT, have given guidance to congregations throughout the state and territory to suspend church worship services, especially where people are most vulnerable.
The Moderator of the Synod, Rev. Simon Hansford, said that the Church has always acted in support of the most vulnerable in the community. In a meeting of Synod staff and regional leadership this week, leaders discussed additional measures to protect the spread of COVID-19 amongst church goers, a high percentage of whom are elderly congregants.
The Church has more than 600 congregations in NSW and ACT.
“Our congregations have already taken all the necessary action to ensure they are up to date with the latest recommendations from NSW Health and the Department of Health. This next guidance is mindful of the fact that so many regular church service attendees are seniors and now among the most vulnerable in the community,” said the Moderator.
Rev. Hansford says that the Synod’s concern is for gathering congregants for church services, the elderly and senior volunteers continuing to service the community.
“We have been in regular contact with our congregations in recent weeks. Some have already chosen to take this precautionary measure due to the vulnerable nature of their particular congregations,” he said.
The Uniting Church has a presence online that is growing significantly, “There are other ways of staying connected during this time, said Rev. Hansford.
“Many aspects of church life have gone online in a big way. We have congregations reaching out to members and putting in place plans to ensure they don’t become socially isolated in this period of physical isolation,” he said.
Rev. Hansford noted the church facilitates other services for the community that will be reviewed and continue to operate under the guidance of NSW Health, Department of Health, Office of the Children’s Guardian and Department of Education directives.
“Church facilities are the base for community activities relied upon by some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. It’s a long list of activities that includes Wesley Mission, Wayside Chapel and the Exodus Foundation; we provide emergency relief, food banks and many services provided by Uniting NSW ACT, the Churches’ social justice arm, who support 90,000 people across the community each year,” said Hansford.
“The Church including Uniting NSW ACT will continue to serve the most disadvantaged, families and communities who will be more affected at this time. We acknowledge that this is a rapidly changing situation and will continue to monitor in days and weeks to come,” Rev. Hansford said.