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West View Response to Coronavirus

March 18, 2020

Dear West View family

On Sunday I shared with you that we were somewhere between green and amber in relation to the Coronavirus Pandemic. As of this morning, there are eight cases of local transmission in Gauteng, which puts us firmly in the red category. Because we take the health of all South Africans – but in particular our congregation, staff and those vulnerable in our community – seriously, we have taken the drastic, but we believe responsible, decision to move this Sunday’s worship online. We invite those of you who have internet access to participate in online worship by streaming the service via a link which we will distribute later this week. The service will begin at 8h30am and will last about 35 minutes. Here are some guidelines to make the experience worshipful:

  1. Gather your household together for the service. If you know of a congregation member who does not have good internet access or who lives alone, invite them to join you at your home. Be sure to take precautions to prevent infection.
  2. Try and find a way of making the space you will worship in feel sacred. Light a candle, orientate your chair to your garden, or place a flower or potted plant as a focal point.
  3. Get your computer, phone or television set up 5 – 10 minutes or so before 8h30. Put your phone on silent as you would for a normal church service. You may wish to turn off notifications as well.
  4. Become aware, not just of God’s presence with you, but also of your connectedness across space with the rest of the congregation who is sharing in the worship experience.
  5. We hope to have the facility for you to post comments during the service and will have a Chat Board host responding to comments where appropriate.
  6. Show grace if there are glitches! We are exploring new territory here, and although we will do our best to minimize glitches, some may creep in.

If you are unable to worship at 8h30, the service will remain on YouTube thereafter, and you can worship later in the day and post comments (although our response may be slower)

There are many other factors to consider as a church in response to the pandemic. I list just a few here:

  1. Communication: In addition to keeping in touch more regularly with you via email, Facebook, and our website, you can sign up to join a West View WhatsApp broadcast when I email you the details later this week.  
  2. Church meetings: All church groups should decide for themselves whether they wish to go into recess, continue to meet, or explore meeting online. Meetings may continue on the church premises, and by the end of this week, our cleaning and hygiene on the church premises will be to World Health Organisation specifications.
  3. Holy Week and Easter: A day is a long time in politics… an even longer time in a pandemic! We will keep you posted during the course of next week about plans for Holy Week and Easter, but we wish to assure you that there will be creative opportunities for us to worship, meditate and journey together through Holy Week and Easter.  
  4. Tithes and Offerings: Whilst most of you give to West View via eft, about 20% of our tithes and offerings come through the Sunday collection. We encourage those of you who normally give to God in this way to consider doing so via eft, or by dropping your offering off at the church office during the week. There will be a moment during worship on Sunday for you to bring tithes and offerings electronically. Account details are MCSA West View Society, First National Bank Current a/c: 6203 4307 670    
  5. Prayer: Our Presiding Bishop, Purity Malinga, has sounded a call for us to join together in prayer on Thursday 26th March at 12h00 wherever we are. In addition to this call, I urge the whole West View congregation to set aside EVERY Thursday at 12h00, starting tomorrow, to pray for God’s intervention in this pandemic.
  6. Church Staff: Starting Monday, church staff will spend a portion of their working week working from home. There will always be some staff in the office building, but you may find that, on coming to the office, the staff member you need to speak to is working offsite.

I wish to assure you that we have not taken the decision to move worship online lightly. We are very aware that Sunday worship together with our wonderful community is a lifeline that connects us to God, to others, and to God’s grace in our lives. We are also aware that not all our congregation has access to good internet connection for video links, and so sharing in this experience may not be realistic for all. Please be assured that your wellbeing, and West View’s faithfulness to act in God’s love, has been at the forefront of our minds in making this decision.

I am reminded that most of Jesus’ most powerful moments of ministry happened when his carefully laid plans were interrupted. This pandemic is an interruption of monumental proportions. It also presents a monumental opportunity for us to find creative ways of being a community of life change as we share the gospel in creative ways.

Grace and Peace

Ian

Senior Minister

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