Diaconate newsletter, 21 August 2020

God’s second message during COVID’s second wave

Covid-19 in Australia has changed dramatically from the positivity last month, to a second wave. We are seeing record numbers of people being infected and dying. In NSW, we are on the verge of another lockdown. And we may face further disease, death, unemployment, poverty and isolation.

This second wave is the second Covid experience for us. In the Bible, God often gave second messages to his people. What is God telling us during our second wave? Perhaps we might think that we were OK last time, and be tempted not to take a second wave seriously. But that was the attitude of the Israelites in the Book of Judges, who failed to learn from their cycles of turmoil. They grew harder and harder in their hearts towards God.

During this second wave, God reminds us again that Covid is under his control and timing, and not under our own plans. It is a reminder of his sovereignty. The first wave was not about the success of human measures. Instead, the entire Covid pandemic is in God’s hands alone. Perhaps we need to recognise this and respond seriously. The second wave is a second reminder – a second warning.

May we as church heed to God’s second message: to renew our call to be wholeheartedly prayerful, trusting in his deliverance, to be personally godly, united as one spiritual body, committed to our church’s needs, radiant with our witness, generous to the needy, and submissive to our governing authorities.

WSCCC and Covid

Covid’s second wave has resulted in reintroduction of increasing restrictions to social interaction in places of worship. As a church, we will comply with the requirements for WSCCC before rushing back to services on site.

Our priorities remain:

  • Health and safety of our attendees of all ages.
  • Continued ministry to our attendees through other means.
  • Consider new ministry needs or opportunities brought by Covid.
  • Continue financial support for our pastors and missionaries.
  • To complete the building project at Croydon Park.

Being a Covid-safe church

WSCCC is registered with the NSW Government as a Covid-Safe church. This means that we have an accountable Covid response plan, based on NSW Health guidelines. These are constantly being revised, and we ask all members to update themselves with the plan, available on our website here: https://wsccc.org.au/news/. All leaders and organisers of ministries are required to be familiar with these guidelines please and ensure that your activities comply.

As of 1 August 2020, the general guidelines are as follows (please see the Covid response plan for specific details):

Church development plan (CDP) update

The Croydon Park stage of the CDP will be going ahead soon! We have signed the contract to go ahead with the same builders
– Reitsma Constructions – who renovated our Strathfield buildings. Since we cannot meet for church onsite during Covid restrictions, this is an ideal time for the building work to take place. We do not need to hire alternative premises, and there is no additional inconvenience to our members, who already share in on-line worship. The target completion date for the project is June 2021.

We are thankful to our members who have worked hard to clear out the Croydon Park site, and the many people who are storing items at home during the renovation. May we remember that the vision for our building project at both sites is to grow and build God’s church for people of all needs, in future generations, to be able to come together for worship, outreach and ministry.

Financially, we have reached the stage where we have raised enough money to commence the project. This does not mean that we have raised the total budget yet, but based on past building fund giving patterns, we should be able to reach the target by the time of completion of the building.

For the 2020-21 financial year, our budget target for the building fund is $360,000, part of which includes repayment of some interest-free loans. May we continue to give generously to the building fund as our offering to the Lord, and with the goal of growing his kingdom through our church.

Note that our regular bi-monthly special building fund offering will be collected on Sunday, 30th of August.

Annual General Meeting and Deacon Election

Our Annual General Meeting (AGM) will be held at 12:30pm, Sunday September 27, 2020. Covid has resulted in restrictions on our church meetings. Therefore the AGM will still be held at the Strathfield chapel, but with the following changes:

  • Members intending to attend on-site need to indicate by RSVP to info@wsccc.org.au by Sep 25, so that attendance numbers are not exceeded, and seating plans are organised. The church can accommodate up to 100 people in the chapel, hall and foyer (by video link).
    The usual Covid hygiene measures will apply.
  • An online video broadcast of the AGM will be available via Zoom. Pre-registration is required by Sep 25 – please RSVP to info@wsccc.org.au to get the login details. This broadcast would be only for viewing (due to challenges of a registrations, shared screens etc). It would not be for online voting, questions or even members’ online attendance recorded. Home viewers would still need to submit proxy votes prior to the meeting.
  • Voting will be by ballot papers for those attending, and those unable to attend may submit proxy votes by Sep 25. Proxy voting forms will available from deacons, and may be returned by paper or email (instructions on the papers).

More detailed instructions will be circulated on August 30. Members will receive by email (or if you request, we can send to your home) all relevant papers: AGM agenda, Annual Reports, Deacon Candidate Profiles, and proxy voting forms.

If Covid restrictions require complete lockdown or public meetings for less than 30 people, then the AGM will be held entirely online, and all voting by proxy. In this case, the members will be informed accordingly. The deacon candidates have been confirmed, and we will publish their profile information on Aug 30. We are thankful for the members who have come forward to offer to serve the church in the ministry of deaconship, which is particularly challenging during this time of Covid. Please pray for God’s wisdom as you elect deacons to oversee the church during the next Diaconate term.

Update on staffing

Our church’s pastoral team has been working hard during the past few months, adjusting to the major changes required due to Covid. Not only have they managed to conduct new worship services on-line, but they have had to work out effective means for pastoral care for our members.
If you have any pastoral care needs, please don’t hesitate to contact any of our pastors.

Following review and discussion, the Diaconate has also agreed to renew the contracts (which were due) of the following staff.

May we thank God for each of their ministries, and may we take time to encourage them as they serve the Lord in our church.

Pastor Lee

Pastor Billy Lee (3 years)

Zion Lai

Children’s ministry worker Zion Lai (Strathfield – 1 year)

Georgie Day

Children’s ministry worker Georgie Day (Croydon Park – 1 year)

Update on overall church finances

For exact figures, please contact the church for details.

How did we do last financial year?

We thank God that he continues to provide for the church’s needs throughout the Covid period. We were able to complete the last financial year (2019-2020) covering most of our costs:

  • General fund: We covered 91% of our budget.
  • Mission fund: We now have a significant accumulated reserve.
  • Building fund: The remaining shortfall to be raised is now small. We have also received a large amount in interest-free loans to be paid back over the next 3-7 years.

What about this financial year?

These are all good reasons to give thanks to the Lord for his provision. However, it is also a challenge for us to keep giving to the Lord. Our budgets for this year are significant, but our spending is with the vision to grow God’s kingdom and share his gospel throughout the world for generations to come.

A brief explanation of the budgets for 2020-21:

  • The general budget is similar to last year’s budget.
  • The mission budget is also similar to last year. Note that there is a significant reserve brought forward.
  • The new building fund budget includes part-repayment of interest-free loans.

We encourage you to make your offerings to the Lord in full knowledge of the needs of the church’s 3 funds. Please give in a “balanced” way, to each of the funds, as each has its different purpose, but all ultimately to minister the gospel and bring glory to God.

Thank you to all for setting up your electronic banking methods to give your offerings. We hope that this has been a helpful method for giving, as you can choose wisely how much you want to give, and to which fund. It is also convenient, as you can set up an automatic debit each week. In the future, when church services return on site, we encourage you to continue electronic offerings, due to hygiene concerns when passing an offering bag. A reminder of the offering details:

  • Via secure credit card at https://wsccc.org.au/giving/
  • Via electronic bank transfers to the church accounts:
    • General fund: BSB 082 080. Acc 48 243 6244. Name: WSCCC.
    • Mission fund: BSB 082 080. Acc 52 856 0495. Name: WSCCC.
    • Building fund: BSB 082 451. Acc 73 932 0475. Name: WSCCC.

Prayer points

  • Please continue to commit our church and the world to God in prayer:
  • Pray for God’s mercy upon our world as we face the second wave of Covid. Pray especially for people in Victoria, as well as the USA, Brazil, India and South Africa. Pray also for the unity of the Australian people, and their compliance with the government’s guidelines.
  • Pray for our church leaders’ wisdom as they work out the way to continue to grow God’s church throughout Covid.
  • Thank God for that we are able to start the building project at Croydon Park. Thank him for the smooth preparation of the site, and pray for the project team (church CDP committee, the architect Andrew Blamey, and the builders from Reitsma) as they commence work. Pray for God’s continued provision of finance to achieve the required budget.
  • Pray for the upcoming AGM and deacon elections. Pray that God will lead us to elect godly and wise deacons to oversee the church.
  • Continue to pray for the church’s finances. Thank God that he has provided graciously for our past financial year, and commit the next year to God’s grace. Ask that we as a church will have the faith and generosity to give what is required for 2020-21.