As you will be aware, we live in a world now where the Prime Minister and NSW Premier, in line with health advice, have announced that religious gatherings and places of worship are temporarily closed.
As well as complying with government directives, we consider that churches should do all they can to encourage people to remain at home and limit the range of people with whom they have contact. Remaining physically isolated as much as possible and moving in very limited social circles will be the best way in which Australians will be able to help limit the spread of the virus.
This situation is evolving rapidly and we will keep you informed through this webpage and our regular e-mails to ministers and treasurers.
We would like to share with you the words from GracePoint Presbyterian Church to their congregation: “Remember that we are not a people without hope or without God, and we are certainly not a people without a community!”
Like GracePoint, we encourage all ministers together with their elders to use alternative ways to keep caring for each other, staying connected, and meeting around God’s word and prayer.
We have formed a COVID Steering Committee, led by the Moderator and supported by Ministry & Mission, the Trustees and the General Office to help you be prepared and adjust at this rapidly changing time. As the Moderator and the Committee receive questions and requests, we will post the commonly-occurring questions and responses on this page.
Please be in touch to let us know if there is more that we can be doing to assist you and your Church family at this time.
Grace and Peace,
Can we live stream or prerecord church services?
We are pleased to confirm that following a direct approach from the Archbishop of the Anglican Church, NSW Health has officially informed that Church that:
“Church buildings are deemed workplaces for the purpose of live streaming church services. Therefore, more than two church workers, paid or volunteer, can gather to record or stream services. While there is no maximum number, it is expected the number will be kept to a minimum with social distancing measures observed and closed to the public. Social distancing must be modelled on-screen. The building must be closed to the public.”
We commend this advice to all Presbyterian Church ministers. In doing so, we affirm the requirements of all workplaces be strictly adhered to, including to:
- ensure prescribed social distancing measures are followed by those involved in the Church premises, including maintaining a distance of 1.5 metres between people and having at least four-square metres per person in a room.
- ensure that social distancing is modelled on screen.
- ensure increased hygiene measures are undertaken before and following these activities, including disinfecting all hard surfaces.
We also recommend that a sign be placed on the outside of the Church building, along the following lines:
“In accordance with Government regulations, this building is closed for worship until further notice. Access only by permission of the Minister.”
Can we include music clips from Youtube in our streamed or prerecorded church services?
We are receiving lots of questions about copyright and licensing considerations if a congregation streams hymns and worship songs from YouTube. We have taken legal advice on the issue. Although these songs are all freely available for anyone to watch on YouTube, the material has been licensed by the users uploading to YouTube, which then licenses it to those downloading. In short, the YouTube license may not permit you to broadcast YouTube material to congregations or in public. We are in touch with our lawyers and are checking whether this would be problem on other music platforms. We will keep you advised.
Please note that churches doing music over livestream need to upgrade their regular CCLI licence to a “streaming” licence: au.ccli.com/streaming-licence-manual/. This license gives permission to share their live-performed music over the internet, as long as it is not for download.
Dave Phillips, General Manager of Presbyterian Youth, will be making resources available on the PY website soon. Please contact Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
How shall we continue to share The Lord’s Supper?
We have received several questions from Ministers about the Lord’s Supper. These questions are answered in the appended paper: ‘Virtual Lord’s Supper?’.
We also refer you to this this article on church meetings on the GS&C site: http://gsandc.org.au/church-and-meeting/.
What do I need to think about with regards to children and youth in my congregation at this time?
Jericho Road have provided valuable resources with Breaking the Silence and child protection in mind: https://jerichoroad.org.au/breaking-the-silence/info-sheets/
Presbyterian Youth also have some useful guidelines and links in their Resources page: https://pynsw.org.au/resources/
Are Church Offices still open?
Church Offices remains open with staff working from home and all calls redirected. This includes payroll, finance, accounting, insurance, property, trust services and the Trustee Investment Fund. Please contact us at any time.
Jeof Falls and Peter Merrick are receiving many emails of enquiry, which they encourage and to which they will be responding as quickly as they can.