A Network Update
8th October, 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
This has been a big year for the 11 churches in our Network. COVID-19 has affected us all, including the way church communities have been connecting. I wanted to update you on some of the significant things that are happening right now.
October 18 is turning out to be a Big Sunday!
Trinity Church Pooraka are having their public launch at the Pooraka Primary School. Trinity Church Modbury had been planning to plant a church this year but, when COVID-19 struck, these plans were thrown up in the air. As Modbury was planning to resume face-to-face meetings, they worked out that they would not be able to fit everyone into their current venue. The need for a new church was still there. The planting team were still keen. So, Modbury commissioned and sent the team of 70 to start this new church in a gospel poor part of our city.
On the same day, Trinity Church Colonel Light Gardens are starting a new Sunday morning gathering at the Tonsley Hotel. Again, they had been planning to plant at the end of this year or early in 2021. However, like Modbury, there was no way they could fit everyone back into the RSL at Colonel Light Gardens. So, instead, they have taken the missional step of starting a new meeting to reach new people.
Trinity Church Woodcroft and Trinity Church Victor Harbor have been unable to meet in their normal venues. However, Woodcroft have now secured the Reynella Neighbourhood Centre and, you guessed it, their first meeting will be on October 18. Currently, Victor Harbor have a monthly meeting happening at the McCracken Golf Club conference facility.
Trinity Church Adelaide have experienced similar space problems at their 10:30am Sunday meeting. So, on October 18, they will start a second all-age gathering at Temple College, Mile End. They have been wanting to plant to the west of the city for some time. This may not be a church plant, but it does create new ministry outreach opportunities.
All our churches have been stretched by our current circumstances. However, every single one has responded with faith and agility. Pray for all our churches, that God will keep helping us to grow in our trust in Him in this fragile world.
Singing when we meet together
When we started meeting together again, we followed the public advice of S.A. Health to ‘avoid’ congregational singing. Singing in our public meetings was not banned by the government, but the best health advice indicated that it was more appropriate to refrain from singing for a time. The Network Board adopted this strong recommendation and all the churches in our Network have not had congregational singing to this time. Many churches in South Australia decided not to follow this advice, but it seemed to us to be an appropriate way to care for one another, and our wider community, as we navigate our way through this COVID-19 period. Like you, I have been looking forward to the time when we would be able to sing when we meet.
In their most recent public communication issued last week, S.A. Health have modified their advice. They have now provided guidelines for congregational singing. As a result, the Network churches will now be able to resume singing when they meet. We will be working hard to follow the advice of S.A. Health about how we can do this in a safe manner, and will also continue to monitor the situation. It may be that infection rates rise, or that community transfer occurs in South Australia. The government regulations or the advice from S.A. Health may also change. If that happened, it may mean modifying the approach to singing. Being able to flexibly respond to the situation is just a reality of the time we are in.
I want to thank you all for your patience throughout this period. Meeting with social distancing, not being able to sing as well as the other COVID-19 requirements have been tedious at points. In particular, I want to thank all those who have been working so hard on the extra requirements each Sunday to help to facilitate our meeting together.
Finances across the Network
At the start of May, the senior staff in the Network all took a voluntary pay cut. We could see the potential for the churches to experience significant financial stress as the year unfolded. On average, these staff households took a 19% reduction. The willing sacrifice of these families was another reminder to me of the love they have for the Lord and for you, God’s people.
The Network Board and the Leaderships Teams at each of our churches have been carefully monitoring the situation. It has been wonderful to see the way in which God’s people across our churches have responded with generosity during 2020. The leadership anticipated there could be a decline in giving, but this has not occurred. Some have understandably and sensibly needed to reduce their giving, but others have been able to dig deeper. This is how the family of God works. We are a body of believers, not just a group of individuals. As a result, the Network Board decided to return the senior staff salaries to their normal levels from the start of October. On behalf of us all, I want to thank those staff households for their generosity over the last five months. I also want to express my appreciation to all of you for the way you have responded with grace and generosity to our current circumstances. The Network Board, staff and Leadership Teams have been very thankful to God for being at work in our church communities in this way.
This year has been very unusual. Yet, from a gospel perspective, in some ways nothing has changed. God is still at work in His world to glorify His name and achieve His purposes. For our part, we are to continue to put our trust in Him, even when the future seems more uncertain. I love what the Apostle Paul says at the end of 2 Corinthians 4:
“We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
Right now, it is easy to fix our eyes on what we can see – COVID-19 and all its implications. It reminds us of our mortality and the questions marks that hover over us right now. We live in insecure times, but we live as people who have rock solid confidence because of the eternal faithfulness of the One we serve.
Your brother in Christ,
Trinity Network of Churches