Churches have had to adapt and change throughout the Covid crisis, and that means that things are looking a little different now, with congregations around the region adapting and coming up with unique strategies to meet.
Daryl Bay, lead pastor of Hope Community Church with a congregation of 700, says that they have decided to continue their online services, despite the government allowing gatherings of up to 100 people.
“The church has really embraced the online gatherings that we have been having,” Daryl says.
Throughout lockdown, the Church went online, creating services that people could tune into on a Sunday morning.
“Church has not stopped, it has taken a different a form, and people have really enjoyed the new experience.”
“There has been a deep longing to get back together face to face – but a deep gratitude for the way technology allows us to get together in times like this.”
Daryl says that despite the eagerness of his congregation to get together, they’re happy to wait until larger gatherings are allowed to go ahead.
“There is a longing to get back together, but the government is doing their best to navigate difficult circumstances.”
Peter Sommerville, Pastor of Grace Church, says their church has made the decision to split into four services, to accommodation groups of up to 100.
“From 7 June we’ll have four services, 9am, 11am, 5pm, and 7pm.”
The services in the mornings will be aimed at Families and kids.
The services will be an hour long, followed by half an hour of fellowship, then half an hour of cleaning.
“The overall vibe is that people are keen to meet. People are hanging out to get back together.”
For Paul Milson, Pastor from St Paul’s Church in Brightwater, the 100 people limit won’t be a problem, with around 30 members of their congregation.
During Lockdown the Church was sending out a sermon on video and sending that out for people to watch as well as doing a Anglican home communion video.
“We are going to do what we normally do, but things will look different due to health and safety.”
Paul says contact tracing, social distancing and hygiene practice will be key.
There needs to be a genuine commitment to honour the protocols, Paul says.
“Ours is an older congregation. They are tough, but they are aware of their vulnerabilities.
The congregation has been looking forward to meeting together again, Paul says.
“The church is actually the people, not the building or the worship events. I think Churches have been good at taking care of their people during this time.
“We haven’t been any less Church.”