We have communicated with the Mentone family our policy for COVID-19. Of course, with changing circumstances, the policy may well change over coming days. I’ve posted a copy here for readers as an example of what one church is communicating.
Over the last two Sundays at Church we have explored Jesus’ apocalyptic teaching in Matthew’s Gospel. Our preaching schedule is usually organised months in advance and in God’s providence he has been provided us with a timely word. In light of living in this age, the Lord Jesus cautions us against both alarmism and complacency. We don’t need to resort to panic or irrational behaviour because God is Sovereign and the Lord Jesus remains on the throne. Neither should we be careless or thoughtless.
The certainty of our hope in Jesus Christ gives us great freedom and impulse to love our neighbours. A significant way we can serve one another during this current health crisis is to adopt sensible measures as a church.
Mentone Baptist Church will follow government and health department advice and wish to put forward the following as our policy from today:
1. If you have been in countries now on the travel ban list or have high cases of infection (China, South Korea, Iran, Italy), you are required to quarantine yourself for two weeks before gathering with your brothers and sisters from Mentone Baptist Church.
We expect this list will expand in the near future. In light of this, we are requesting that anyone who has recently travelled internationally to not attend Sunday services for 2 weeks (upon the date of your return to Australia).
2. If you suspect you have been in contact with any of the community COVIC-19 infections that are being reported in the news, please consult a GP and also self-quarantine.
3. There are also regular colds beginning to circulate among us that aren’t and won’t be COVID-19. We ask that you use commonsense. If it is not COVID-19 there is no need to quarantine yourself. However please be mindful of others in the church community and minimise the chances of infection by taking care in your personal contact and when we gather.
4. As a policy, we will now be urging our church members not to shake hands or hug (or high-five) with one another. Given the nature of Christian community, this is not easy among brothers and sisters in Christ, but we do so in order to love our neighbour and honour those who are in authority over us.
5. In addition, cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing with a tissue, or cough into your elbow.Dispose of the tissue into a bin and then wash your hands afterwards.
6. Wash your hands regularly, using soap and water, including after using the toilet, and before eating. Alcohol-based sanitiser (greater than 60 per cent alcohol) is a good back-up if soap and water is not readily accessible.
7. If you are planning not to attend a service, we encourage you to contact us (Mike or myself) and let us know how you are going and if there is anything we can be doing to help.
We are monitoring advice that is being issued from the BUV (Baptist Union of Victoria) and from Government agencies. We will keep you informed if the situation arises where we need cancel public gatherings for a period of time (inc. Sunday services). In the event of cancelling public gatherings, we will inform you of alternative arrangements (ie livestreaming).
We encourage you to look after each other by following these steps. Also, given there is a shortage of some supplies in supermarkets, if you are needing something please ask people in our church family. The church’s private facebook group is an easy way to do this. Let us show generosity toward one another. Let us check on the elderly in our church and ensure that are ok. Let us pray for each other, and pray for our local community.
Above all, know that the Lord Jesus is sovereign over his people and he tends his flock like a shepherd (Isa. 40). We have his love and peace and security over our lives because nothing can separate us from his love (Rom. 8). So go in peace to love and serve him even in the midst of this crisis. Speak liberally and graciously about the peace Jesus offers to those who are most anxious and worried at this time.