From Andrew Bennett, Chair Joint Church Council

Dear Members of the Banyule Network,

It is clear from experience in countries throughout the world that the COVID 19 virus is spreading rapidly, and this is now happening in Australia. There is no vaccine for the virus. The only effective prevention of the spread of infection is isolation. The countries that have been most successful in reducing the spread have taken drastic measures to restrict the movement and gathering of people. 

In this context, we are acting early in the Banyule Network to reduce the risk of spread, particularly because many of our members are in the vulnerable age category. 

A decision has been made to suspend all worship services and face-to-face Network meetings as of Wednesday 18 March 2020.  

The Ministry Team are working on the preparation of resources so that people can worship God where they are. We recognise that many people may not have access or capacity to use electronic/digital resources and so there will be print material provided as well to ensure that worship material is accessible to everyone. Members will be invited to use the material at 10 am on Sunday so that, although not face to face, we will be worshipping together. 

Pastoral care of all of our people will be critical through this time. The Pastoral Care Committee is developing a Telephone Support Program to ensure that we keep in touch with people. They will be working with representatives from each congregation and community to ensure we have contact details for everyone and to develop a strategy for making regular contact.

We realise that this news will come as something of a shock, but we believe it is in the best interests of us all.