Greetings to our members scattered throughout NZ and the Pacific! Here is the news from this week.
The NZ Board members attended services in Wellington last Saturday afternoon.
As it happened, the Prime Minister announced at lunchtime that all 70 year olds were to stay home, which caused the cancellation of Auckland services since David Wong was to be the speaker. That gave rise to some hurried ringing around because many were on the point of leaving for church. In Wellington, they’d had a Bible study in the morning so several over 70’s were there already and they stayed on for the service then went home after we’d finished and had a cuppa.
As you can imagine, dealing with the coronavirus pandemic loomed large in the Board’s discussions. With services cancelled for at least the next four weeks as NZ goes into lockdown, we considered the best way to put together some sort of video presentation and make this available each weekend for as many members as possible. It was opportune that our new trustee Lianne Trevarthen was at her first meeting, as we leaned heavily on her computer expertise in this area.
Lianne gave a demonstration of the Zoom platform we hope to use for online services, as well as for our next board meeting in June.
As usual, Dennis gave a pastoral report and I presented the latest financial updates. The board made some changes to the 2020 budget, reducing spending in as many areas as possible as it is clear our investment income is going to be badly impacted for some time.
The Board also held its AGM, at which the 2019 Performance Report was accepted. This will be posted on the Government’s Charities website. Peter Lindop presented his 2019 Chairman’s Report, which I will post out to all members along with the annual receipts early in April. Peter was reappointed as Board Chairman for the year ahead.
From Dennis Gordon: "On Monday 23rd, Dennis Gordon performed the New Zealand church's first e-wedding. For logistical considerations relating to the COVID alert levels, Maureen MacDonald and her fiancé John Rogan brought their planned wedding forward. As the only registered GCI celebrant in the lower North Island, and being over 70, Dennis couldn't go to Maureen's house in person so he conducted the wedding by Skype, and signing of forms was achieved by scanning and emailing. Funnily enough, the occasion did not lack for joy and excitement, even though it was just Maureen and John at one end and Brenda and Dennis at the other. Maureen and John recorded the ceremony for a second witness who stopped by Tuesday, Brenda being the other witness. Both parties are still chuckling over the unexpectedness, happiness and novelty of the event."
I'm sure everyone will join me in expressing hearty congratulations to Maureen and John. It's great to have some good news at this time!
From Isei Colati: "We are back from our tour of the North. Everyone is OK. We now have 5 confirmed cases in Fiji. Lautoka city is on Lock Down at present. We have 2 members from Lautoka, Mrs. Mere Tora and Ms. Margret Franklin with us at our home in Suva. They were in Suva when the Lautoka City lock down started. Both are OK.
"All the members in Fiji are OK at the present time. Everyone is using technology for communication. All needed information for members to know is passed on to Mrs. Kanaimawi who passes on all the information to all.
"Everyone is preparing for the fast on the 29/03/2020 with the theme from 2Chr 7:13-14 'If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.'
"Our prayers are for all. Many thanks for all your concern prayers and assistance for us.
"Loloma levu and warmest regards, Isei and Va"
From Les Evans: "Southland is quiet with most people isolated. Kaye is an essential worker and is still hard at work as a community worker helping the most at risk people. Our prayer is that everyone involved stays safe and well, and can still obtain the safety products they need. We were able to go out for coffee after work on the first day but the site was on a bench in the open air on a creek bank close to home."
It's great that Les and Kaye can still go out for a coffee in the midst of a lockdown!
Day of Prayer and Fasting:
The World Evangelical Alliance has called for a day of prayer and fasting on March 29th, coinciding with our denominational day. There is some helpful information available on https://worldea.org/en/news/wea-calls-for-global-day-of-prayer-fasting-on-sunday-march-29-and-prayer-beyond/ including a downloadable 10-page Guide with suggested scriptures and study material for the day.
Digital Church Service:
Our first online service will be available this weekend. At this point it looks like it will be a video service with short messages from Dennis, Phil and myself, accessed on the gci.org.nz website. We will email the link to everybody on this email distribution list (all who receive the NZ Update) either later today or early tomorrow morning. Please pass the link on to anyone in your congregations who has a computer or phone internet connection.
In the past, the NZ Update has not been sent to all members in NZ, but in some cases to congregational leaders who announce the news in services. Now that services are cancelled, if there are any individual members in your area to whom I should be sending the updates, please let me know their email addresses and I'll be happy to add them to the distribution list.
We're sorry that members who don't have internet access won't be able to watch this weekend's service, but we are endeavouring to enable a landline link so they can at least listen in to future services. In the meantime, we will make arrangements to post sermon notes to them.
If you have anything to share with us, please let us know, and I can pass it on to the other members in these weekly updates. Let's all take care and stay safe, and keep up as much contact among ourselves as we can during these unprecedented times.
Warm regards to all, Rex