Some News, Should Churches Open? & Last Night's Bible Study

Hi Table View Methodist Church Family,

With Heather having gone back to school I’m now the homeschool tutor.  I do OK with Maths but I’m not sure about Afrikaans.  I think the kids are enjoying the change so far.  I’m not sure if the headmistress is going to be too happy with my classroom management.  I have a deal with the kids:  30 minutes hard work = 10 minutes screen time.  Bribery and Corruption :)  

I make them cringe by telling them that our school is called:  "Dad’s Cool”

I’m not sure why the government decided that churches should be allowed to open as from 1 June.  Even churches that have strictly observed social distancing protocols have become major spreaders of the Corona Virus.

I appreciate the words of Reverend Deon K Johnson,  Bishop-elect of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Missouri:

"The work of the church is essential. 
The work of caring for the lonely, the marginalized, and the oppressed is essential. 
The work of speaking truth to power and seeking justice is essential. 
The work of being a loving, liberating, and life giving presence in the world is essential. 
The work of welcoming the stranger, the refugee and the undocumented is essential. 
The work of reconciliation and healing and caring is essential. 
The church does not need to “open” because the church never “closed”. We who make up the Body of Christ, the church, love God and our neighbors and ourselves so much that we will stay away from our buildings until it is safe. We are the church."

Although I don’t think we should gather for worship ‘as usual’ the relaxing of regulations should open up opportunities for us to offer some different ways of doing church during the pandemic.  I also hope that we can enable groups like NA, Living Sober and Alcoholics Victorious to meet safely.  

With the extended lockdown and need we’ve changed our food parcel ministry a bit.  Instead of giving a small package once a week we’d like to give a larger package every 2 weeks.  So please take the list you have and instead of buying the smaller portions buy the bigger ones.  We continue to thank Table View CAN for their contribution.

Bible Study from Last Night is Available on Facebook -

It is a reflection on Revelation 13:16-18 which many people think has to do with microchips… (spoiler alert - it has nothing to do with microchips).

As the lockdown continues and as many people return to work I pray for your safety and wisdom.  I am also aware that as much as church has changed, so work has changed too.  May you be able to rise up to the new challenges in new ways.

God bless,

Rev Gus

From “The Southern Cross” - 27 May 2020

President Ramaphosa has allowed the places of worship open for service of not more than 50 people. Dr Margaret Blackie, a senior lecturer in the Department of Chemistry and Polymer Science at Stellenbosch University, believes this to be a terrible decision.  Blackie writes:

Whilst many church buildings may be sufficiently large to ensure that people are a good bit more than 1.5m apart, spending an hour or more in the company of others is problematic. Time spent together is as important as the physical distance.

With every breath an infected person is breathing out water droplets laden with the virus. The more virus particles you breathe in, the greater the chance you have of contracting the disease. The 1.5m distance means that most virus containing droplets will drop to the floor before they reach you under normal breathing circumstances. Talking and particularly singing increase the speed with which droplets leave your mouth and therefore they travel further. (Have you ever been trapped by someone who really does spit when they speak?)

Nonetheless, even with physical distance, some droplets will reach you. If you spend five minutes with a person then the number of virus particles you breath in will be very low. If you spend an hour with someone you may well be exposed to sufficient virus particles to contract the disease. In a church service, the normal air circulation will mean that even those who are 5m-10m away, or perhaps even further, may well breath in sufficient amounts of the virus to fall ill.

Bear in mind, that the person most at risk in all of this will be the priest, because he is exposed to the whole congregation, just in small batches.

Masks reduce the transmission of the virus but they do not offer anything like near full protection. Perhaps a good analogy is to think about using a newspaper to protect you from the rain. It works for a short distance with a light shower. But for a longer distance and with heavier rain it will not suffice. A mask will work well for quick encounters, but will not be effective in a sustained interaction. A church service could be the equivalent of a viral downpour!

To all priests, pastors, and ministers, I strongly implore that you do not open your churches to formal services any time in the next four weeks. June will see a massive spike in the rate of infection transmission. Please do not allow your churches to be a hotspot for transmission. Your desire to serve your congregants will result in people falling ill and potentially dying. You will be directly contributing to worsening the situation.

To all people, if your church leadership decides to start services, please do not attend.

Shane Claiborne tweeted this last week: ‘Wouldn’t it be great if churches were the last places to reopen because of how obsessed we are with loving our neighbours and protecting the most vulnerable?’