Services move online

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Positive aspects . . . Dunedin City Baptist Church pastoral leadership team member Mike Simpson says there have been positive aspects to the Covid-19 lockdown, such connecting with fellow church members. PHOTO: JESSICA WILSON

Dunedin’s churches and religious communities have had to find new ways to worship and support their people during the Covid-19 crisis. For some, the internet has proven a boon, while others have focused on prayer at home. The Star reporters asked how congregations have handled the crisis and the 10-person limit on gatherings. The Government will review its Alert Level 2 restrictions on Monday. 

Dunedin City Baptist Church members may be unable to attend their usual services, but the services are going to them.

The church was unable to operate during Alert Levels 4 and 3 but pastoral leadership team member Mike Simpson said the church had been able to adapt and keep members connected.

Services had moved online and Zealand, and the world, had been tuning in.

“It’s been very, very positive to meet like that,” he said.

The church had also created “church-to-house” groups for people living the same area.

Initially, they were about keeping in touch with each other, and since Level 3 members had been able to meet in small groups.

Members even volunteered to do the grocery shopping for elderly people.

“It’s been really nice.”

At a typical Sunday morning service some might not catch up with others they wanted to see.

“This way, perhaps we were more connected than we would be.”

While missing church services was a sacrifice, especially as businesses seemed to have “looser restrictions”, it was one members were happy to make to keep vulnerable people safe.

“If we have to sacrifice that for them, then it’s OK.”

While no-one particularly liked having restrictions, there was a “bigger picture” to think about.

He thought it would be a while before the whole church could meet again, as there were about 400 members.

“We will have to wait until all these restrictions are gone to meet together.”

Smaller groups, such as the youth group, would be able to meet, he said.