Churches hesitant to open too soon

SAYING there will be no morning teas or singing, churches are welcoming the easing of restrictions allowing 50 people to congregate but are in no rush to open their doors.

Physical closeness – once a source of spiritual solidarity – now comes with the high risk of spreading infection.
Revesby Presbyterian Minister Peter Barnes said they had switched to live-streaming their services but then found pre-recording easier.
“The 50-person limit is okay if you are St Mary’s Cathedral but we would be looking at 20 to 25 to ensure social distancing,” he said.
“We will get everyone back eventually but are going to start small.”
Richard Hanna, chairperson of Georges River Presbytery which manages congregations throughout Canterbury Bankstown, said they were looking forward to getting back to church but still considering the implications.
“We need to ensure our sites are up to scratch; we want to do it safely and responsibly,” he said.
Padstow iShine Pastor Paul Jabez has actually seen a growth in congregation numbers after live-streaming services and inviting new attendees via Zoom.
“All of our programs including for children, young people and women, are all online; just the food and coffee is not there,” he said with a laugh.
“We are keen to avoid a second wave of infection so we’re going to give it a couple of weeks and see how things pan out.”
Maronite Bishop of Australia Antoine-Charbel Tarabay said: “We are very pleased with the decision to increase the number of worshippers to 50.
“All our churches, including St Charbel’s Church in Punchbowl, have taken safety precautions from early March, including sanitisation and social distancing, and will continue to do so.
“Many people shed tears when the doors were closed. Similarly, the news of churches reopening was received with tears, but this time they are tears of joy.”