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Ministers’ Blog – 26 March 2020

‘Out of the depths we cry’ (Psalm 130)

We prayed the words together, at our last face-to-face gathering for worship in the church on Sunday 22nd March.

Out of the depths we cry to you, O Lord.
Lord, hear our voice!
Let your ears be attentive to the voice of our supplications!
Lord, hear the cry of our hearts!

We wait for the Lord; our souls wait:
And in God’s Word we hope.
Our souls wait for the Lord, more than those who watch for the morning;
More than those who watch for the morning.

O people of God, hope in the Lord!
For with the LORD there is steadfast love,
And with God is great power to redeem.

Lent is traditionally a time to rediscover or hone our spiritual disciplines: those intentional practices that mould us in the cruciform – cross-shaped – way of Christ.

Fasting, prayer and giving are the three traditional Lenten disciplines. Today’s reading suggests another: the discipline of waiting. Waiting in hope. Holding in tension the cry from the depths – the heart-cry of guilt, or grief, or danger, or doubt, or loneliness, or pain, or injustice – with the fragile, life-giving cry of faith and trust. Because with the Lord there is steadfast love; with God, there is great power to redeem.

Who has not tossed and turned, or paced the floor, or pressed their forehead against the window pane, through hour after hour of darkness, longing for the first hint of pre-dawn glow to signal that the long night is finally over?

In so many matters of human brokenness – even as we do our best to love and help and support each other and our neighbour – there is nothing we can really do but wait, in hope, for God’s redemptive intervention.

And so it is in this time of coronavirus (COVID-19)… Our souls wait…

In this Sunday’s Gospel reading (John 11: 1-45) restoration and renewal flood a tomb with in-breaking light. ‘Lazarus, come forth!’ is the cry… And our souls wait, with a new hope. God is with us. Resurrection happens.

And faintly now, from the deepest darkness ahead of us on our Lenten journey, there echoes the deepest of all cries from the depths: a cry from a cross: ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ – ‘My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?’

With the Lord there is steadfast love; with God, there is great power to redeem. Not despite the cry of Jesus Christ crucified, but because of it.

Our souls wait with the deepest of all hope… We wait for the morning, knowing that the Sun will rise.
[Adapted by permission from a reflection originally written by Rev. Claire Wright for this week’s With Love to the World, Vol 16. No 2. www.withlovetotheworld.org.au]

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Worship & Devotional Resources

‘Connecting people to God’ is our core mission – even though we cannot, for the moment, meet together in person. We are committed to helping everyone maintain (and perhaps deepen) their relationship with the God of Comfort and Hope at this time.

Weekly worship resources

  • We will be publishing and sending out weekly worship resources (linked to the Revised Common Lectionary and season) so that those who wish can all ‘share’ in devotions ‘together’ each week.
    (It might be fun to call someone and chat about the week’s worship; read together; pray together…)
  • Resources will be on the Coronavirus page of our website (www.bathurstunitingchurch.com.au).
    They can also be emailed to you – or delivered on a USB-drive or DVD. Please let us know IF you’d like resources and HOW – by email to BUCconnect@gmail.com (or phone us, if you don’t use a computer!)

Some other resources for ‘at home’ worship and devotions (to be going on with)

  • Songs of Praise – 11.30 am Sundays on ABC TV (or on-demand)
  • rootsontheweb.com – Click on ‘Worship at Home’ for free devotions, family activities etc.
  • Hope Uniting Church – Podcasts available (usually from Monday) at hopeuniting.org.au
  • Terrigal Uniting Church – Services uploaded – www.facebook.com/terrigalunitingchurch
  • www.sacredise.com – Click on ‘Lectionary’, then ‘Year A’, then pick the week (22 March is Lent 4A): access to the Lectionary readings, prayers, hymns and message
  • pray-as-you-go.org – Beautiful daily devotionals with music and prayer
  • Saltbush On-line – On-line services at 9.00am on Sundays for those who have access to Zoom on computer, iPad or Phone: ask us how, if you’re interested.

And if you don’t use a computer, don’t forget your own library: Bible; With Love to the World (daily reflections: let us know if you’d like a copy); Christian books; Bible study booklets; worship CDs. We’re happy to help arrange a share/swap!

Pastoral messages from the leaders of the Uniting Church

We’ll post the text (and links) on the Website.

‘Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for the One who promised is faithful.’
(Hebrews 10:23)

Click here for a copy of the Worship and Devotional Resources sheet

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Pastoral support, Connection & Welfare Resources

Pastoral care

Coronavirus Response TeamBUCconnect@gmail.com
Email us with any questions, offers of help, requests for help or support etc.

Rev. Claire Wrightrev.claire.wright@gmail.com or 0490 678 593

Rev. Claire will be able to refer you to our Pastoral Response Group.

Keeping in contact

Please remember that we ALL have a part to play in ensuring that no-one is left isolated or left behind – and that we keep each other connected, in good spirits and even (perhaps) entertained in this time of physical distancing.

Let’s commit to calling someone each day, to have virtual ‘tea’ together, have a chat, ask how they’re going, read a book together – or whatever!

If you’d like help setting up FaceTime, Skype, Zoom or other tools to meet ‘visually’ together (e.g., for your book group or study group or neighbourly chat) – let the Coronavirus Response Team know.

Welfare Response Team

If you have ideas of how we can support each other and the community in creative, caring, practical ways (e.g., by delivering worship materials, purchasing and delivering supplies, sending outreach cards, sharing board games or books or videos) – and/or if you are willing to help with such activities – and/or if you NEED help or support in some way, please contact the Welfare Response Team: BUCconnect@gmail.com

“We, though many, are one body in Christ – and each member belongs to one another.’
(Romans 12:5)

Click here for a copy of the Pastoral support, Connection and Welfare Resources sheet

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Coronavirus Information Resources

Bathurst Uniting Church

Coronavirus Response TeamBUCconnect@gmail.com
Email us with any questions, offers or
requests for help, suggestions etc.

Check the ‘Coronavirus Response’ page
regularly for updates, information and
resources (including weekly worship)

Rev. Claire Wrightrev.claire.wright@gmail.com
0490 678 593

Information on Coronavirus (COVID-19) and safety measures

NSW Health Informationwww.health.nsw.gov.au

Click the ‘COVID-19 Find the Facts’ button

World Health Organization – www.who.int

Go to: www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public

Please note that there is a lot of false information on-line and in the media, including scams.
For best guidance on how to keep safe, please consult reliable sources!

If in doubt, contact our Coronavirus Response team.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
(Joshua 1:9)

Click here for a copy of the Information Resources sheet


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Sunday Worship

Worship gatherings will be suspended after this Sunday’s services (22 March) – weekly resources for at-home worship/devotions will be made available.

Let us know your contact preferences if you’d like to access these resources by web, email, USB-drive or DVD delivered to you.

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Church Activities

Church groups, activities and events are taking immediate steps to suspend ‘in-person’ meetings for the time being – and, where possible, going ‘on-line’ or ‘on-the-phone’, to maintain social connection and activities.

If you would like help setting up ‘virtual’ ways of meeting and sharing together, please contact the Coronavirus Response Team – BUCconnect@gmail.com

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response statement

Our Church’s Coronavirus Response Team, with the support of Church Council, has taken on board the strong advice of NSW Synod, Macquarie Darling Presbytery and civil authorities, and made some difficult decisions – for the common good, and to protect our most vulnerable.
At the same time, we are focused on ensuring that we can continue to connect people with God, people with people and people with community in new, creative and positive ways.

  • After this Sunday’s services, all ‘in-person’ gatherings for worship will be suspended until further notice.
  • All small social/outreach/activity/study groups will be taking immediate steps to suspend ‘in-person’ meetings until further notice.
  • We have put together a range of resources and mechanisms to help us all maintain pastoral care and social connection, worship/devotions (including Easter services) and welfare activity – without physically meeting together!
  • We have put in place a dedicated Coronavirus Response Team (planning, information and resources); a Pastoral Response Group (co-ordinating pastoral care and contact); and a Welfare Response Group (co-ordinating practical helps).
  • Information Packs are availablethis Sunday (22 March) at church, to take home (with spare for friends), and will then be emailed out, and posted on the website. These will tell you everything you need to know (for now) about how to access pastoral connections, worship resources and other information.
  • The Website and weekly Newsletter will be hubs for updates, information, prayer requests and resources – and we will email urgent news and information as required.
  • Please ensure that we have your best up-to-date contact details (especially email if possible) – and if you would like help with getting on-line – or setting up and using ‘virtual’ meetings tools – let us know.

Please be assured: no-one will be left isolated or left behind if we can help it – and if we all work together to connect with and look after each other, our neighbours and networks.
The God who has never failed us yet will surely not fail us now. Our strength is in Christ, and in each other, as we walk this journey together.
If you need to talk to someone, or pray with someone; if you need help in any way – please reach out.

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Pastoral Letter from our Minister, Rev. Claire Wright

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As we are all aware, our society and our church are being deeply impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As members of the wider community, and as the body of Christ called to exercise love for our neighbours, we are committed to participating in our community in wise, faithful and responsible ways. We have our part to play – both in slowing and limiting the spread of the disease, and in helping everyone to learn new ways of continuing to connect with God, connect with people, and connect with community, in a time of emotional, physical and financial stress. Fortunately, we have extraordinary resources to face troubled times – in God, in one another, and in the excellent guidance given by Synod and Presbytery, health authorities and government.

At our meeting of March 16, Church Council appointed a Coronavirus Response Team (Rev. Claire and Sharynne and David) to decide and manage our church’s response to the virus. Over the last 48 hours, we have been able to develop what we think is a positive and hopeful first plan of response – at least to things as they stand today. The Synod and Presbytery have advised us strongly to stop all face-to-face meetings and gatherings – and we have had to make some painful decisions about this. But we have also focused on ensuring that we can continue to connect people with God, connect people with people, and connect people with community.

The important ingredients of the plan, for everyone to note, are:

(a) We will be holding services this Sunday (subject to strict infection protocols) for those who wish to gather, in order to offer pastoral support and equipping with resources for the immediate future. (Please bring a hat, as morning tea – again with strict protocols – will be in the open Courtyard.)

(b) From then on, we will be stopping all gatherings for worship until further notice – but providing a range of resources for maintaining pastoral care, social connection, worship/devotion (including Easter services) and welfare activity. In addition to the Response Team (planning, information and resources), we have a Pastoral Response Group (Rev. David Wrightson and Ellie) to co-ordinate pastoral contact and care, and a Welfare Response Group (Julie and Sharynne) to co-ordinate practical helps. Information packs will be available on Sunday – and then from the Website and by email – or by mail or delivery if necessary. No-one will be left isolated or left behind if we can help it – and if we all work together to connect with and look after each other.

(c) All social/study/activity groups are being asked to suspend ‘in-person’ meetings/gatherings – and to maintain contact and activity in other ways (with lots of help from us).

Please make sure that we have your best up-to-date contact details (especially email, if possible). If you would like help with getting on-line – or setting up and using ‘virtual’ meeting tools – let us know.

We have opened a dedicated email addressBUCconnect@gmail.com – for all questions, suggestions, offers or requests for help (etc) at this time. Our website will also be a central hub for information about what’s going on – and to access weekly resources for worship and devotions. Our weekly Newsletter will be emailed as usual for prayers, prayer requests, devotionals and updates: please get on Ruth’s mailing list, if you aren’t already on it.

‘Physical distance – social connection’ is our rallying cry for the moment. I warmly encourage each of us to take responsibility for ‘being a neighbour’ at this time: using the phone, post, internet and other resources to reach out to one another; to ask ‘how are you going?’; to share bible readings, prayers and prayer requests; to generally BE CHURCH – be the presence of Christ – to each other, and others. This is our calling, our strength and our comfort. Again: no-one will be left isolated or left behind if we can help it – and if we all work together to connect with and look after each other.

And please remember: we are a people of hope! The God who has never failed us yet will surely not fail us now. Our strength is in Christ, and in each other, as we walk this journey together.

God bless you. God bless us all.


Click here for a copy of the Pastoral letter to the congregation 20 Mar 2020

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COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Response

All information and news regarding to the Church’s response to the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) will be posted regularly on this page.


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