Welcome to our COVID-19 updates page. The purpose of this page is to make various statements and viewpoints available to our Hope Community so that we are well-informed of a range of Christian perspectives on COVID-19. We realise that this is a dynamic and fluid situation and emails can easily get lost, so an updates page will keep all the relevant information together.
Irrespective of your point of view, there will be important and potentially far-reaching implications for many of us who are employed in various sectors of society and how we serve our communities and people, so our desire is to keep you all up to date as best we can.
We ask that you continue to pray for one another, our communities, and nation, and we trust that this information will be helpful and assist in your prayerful consideration of your responses to what could be a new “normal” across all of society.
Please see our latest update below along with other church statements.
UPDATE 16 SEPTEMBER
Kia ora koutou Hope Church
Although September 2022 is only 16 days old, we have witnessed several significant moments jam-packed into it already. The beautiful daffodil bulbs are on display. Kids of all ages enjoyed a snow fight or two on the 6th of September. We have the Big Haul Day for the Firewood Mission coming up this weekend and it was great to see a number come together for the Hope Women’s conference last weekend (9th and 10th September).
We have also witnessed a significant moment in world history as the 70-year, 214-day reign of Queen Elizabeth II came to an end. In an age when so many leaders are acknowledged for their shortcomings, it is refreshing to celebrate someone who, while not perfect, has continued to lead with a heart of service, and loyalty to the people, and who continually recognised and honoured her faith in God. I felt encouraged to pray again for all our leaders; that they too would be drawn in faith to walk with and serve the Lord.
September 2022 also brought another change in the New Zealand Government’s COVID-19 response. As we have heard, at 11:59pm on the 12th of September 2022 New Zealand ended The Covid-19 Protection Framework, also known as the traffic light system. We rejoice that one of the reasons behind the change is a lessening of the grip of Covid-19 on God’s world.
As a team, we acknowledge that this Framework change will impact many of our people and those they serve in different ways, from minor changes to more significant implications. We especially recognise the ongoing challenges for those in healthcare, education, business, protection and law enforcement, and community services and the need for many to again pivot with Covid-19 setting changes. At Hope Presbyterian we also need to wisely grapple with the changes. So, in consultation with the eldership an update has been provided about what this specifically means for Hope Presbyterian Church.
- Follow the government guidelines concerning gatherings and the requirements for mask wearing.
- Affirm people’s right to choose to continue to wear masks in gatherings, and we support that choice.
- Continue to serve the Hope community by providing an online service option.
- Encourage wise decision-making as we consider the needs of others, particularly those of us who are immunocompromised and/or hesitant for other health reasons. It has always been the best practise health-wise, and the most loving thing to do, to stay home when you are unwell. That has not changed.
- Limit the impact of illness and promote safety as far as we can.
- Continue to monitor the situation as it unfolds and keep you updated with any specific changes.
We want to affirm that we desire to continue to be a church that gathers around one another in support of the varying needs that we come across. To be joyful when others celebrate, and to stand alongside when others are mourning. So, if you have any specific needs, then please reach out to your local site team. We are stronger together as the Body of Christ.
At this time let’s remind ourselves of the principles that have underpinned our approach, and that we have endeavoured to uphold, as we have all navigated these challenges:
- Prayerful dependence on God.
- Unity in the gospel while a potential diversity of response.
- Caring for the vulnerable and those who are sick.
- The urgency of evangelism.
- Caring for our ministry teams, our church family, and our communities.
- Respecting those in authority.
- Being wise, selfless, responsible and God honouring in our decision-making.
As we work through the changes for us as a church, thank you for
- The ongoing prayer and biblical reflection that has occurred during this time. Please continue to uphold our elders, pastors, staff, and one another before the Lord. Push deep into His word.
- Your preparedness to adjust with your church whanau as we have walked this road together and wrestled with the turns we have faced. We ask that you continue to encourage and spur one another on as a faith community.
- Your desire to continue to keep God at the centre. For he is our ultimate foundation and together we echo the word of 1 Peter 1:3
3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation…
Kia ora rawa atu (many thanks)
Interim Senior Pastor
UPDATE 13 APRIL
Hi Hope church,
You may have heard the announcement this afternoon that the whole of New Zealand is moving to Alert Level Orange at 11:59pm this evening. This is exciting news for us as it means the removal of all gathering limits, both indoor and outdoor. I can’t help but feel it is a wonderful parallel to the Easter story as there is no limit to the love or the lengths that God will go to in order to bring us into relationship with him.
This means a couple things for us as a gathered people:
- We have removed the registration forms from our website for these services. Some sites have been taking attendance as people enter the doors and we would encourage you to continue this where practical. This is a great pastoral tool to ensure we are reaching out to those who may not feel comfortable to join our gatherings yet.
- The language around mask wearing remains virtually the same. This is also confirmed on the Unite Against Covid website:
- As a result of larger groups gathering at the moment, we will continue to encourage masks.
- Workers and volunteers at gatherings must wear face masks – unless they are exempt.
The change to orange seems like another small step toward normality. We recognise that uncertainty still exists when it comes to earthly matters. We, who build our houses on and tie our eternities to the rock of Jesus, may be certain that he holds this and all things in his very capable hands.
UPDATE 7 APRIL
One of the nature documentaries on polar bears found in the Arctic has an episode that captured the onset of springtime in the Arctic region; ice starts to melt, white frozen forests begin to show their foliage again, and most fascinating to watch were the family of polar bears coming out of months of winter hibernation into the freshness of Spring. As we received the news that the withdrawal of vaccine passes is imminent and the gradual loosening of restriction of numbers, it did feel like we are about to come out of hibernation. There is freshness in the air as we anticipate regathering and reconnecting. A few thoughts could be helpful in shaping our approach and attitude to navigate the upcoming transition and we invite you to join with us in prayer over the coming days into these areas:
Thanksgiving – Our online platform has continued to offer a means through which we can adapt our ministry and communities. Thank God for the tech infrastructure in our country as well as the teams of volunteers that sacrificially serve to connect us through the online space.
Time for Everything – Jesus Christ seemed to know what was appropriate for the time and the audience. He passed by towns knowing He could meet with those who needed His message, he paused his journey when he saw the pain of a mother who had lost a child, he went to be with God in quietness when the crowds demanded his attention and when it came time to face the cross, he resolutely set for Jerusalem. His life affirmed Ecclesiastes 3 that identifies the different seasons of life and how everything has been made beautiful in its time. As we look to regathering, acknowledge the shift in season, review what God has been teaching you and see His guiding hand leading you (us) into a new season as he makes all things beautiful in His time.
Connections – The last couple of months living under vaccine passes and mandates admittedly added complexity to the situation and put strain on families, communities, and ministry teams which impacted relationships and livelihoods. As we have connected with a number of you, we have felt the weariness brought by times of uncertainty. We also recognize those that reached out to encourage and to express appreciation for how Hope responded. We also recognise the feelings of disappointment some of you had over some of the decisions the church leadership made as we navigated the season of uncertainty, and we appreciated the heart with which they were communicated.
We believe that as we open our hearts to each other while we invite God into these spaces and others not mentioned, we will experience an outpouring of God’s grace to strengthen us, remind us of the Living Hope we have in Christ Jesus and to continue to develop, and mend where necessary, relationships to wholeness again. An overarching theme in the gospel is this idea that God in Christ celebrates restored relationships. From the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15 to the celebration in heaven of one sinner who has turned to God. It both touches and reflects the heart of God when out of our restored relationship with God, we seek to restore relationships with each other. We will create deliberate times of prayer and connection in our weekly services and small groups to allow God’s Spirit to move.
- Weekend Services Starting from the weekend of the 9th / 10th April we are able to resume gathering at our sites within permitted number restrictions. Each site will clarify individually how this will be implemented
- Ministry Leaders – We will be asking ministry group leaders to engage and interact with their groups to determine the best approach to ease any restrictions that could have been in place because of covid mandates. We’ll be looking to support our leaders on this.
- Round Table Discussion – We intend to host a panel discussion sometime in May with a few of our pastors and leaders to share lessons and learnings from the past looking into the future.
- Combined Service – We will be looking to have an All-Site Combined service in the first half of the year to celebrate our coming back together.
- Hope Online – We shall continue to offer Hope Online for the rest of the year and the foreseeable future thereafter. We sense this ministry will grow and evolve to continue to serve God’s purposes within and outside of Hope.
UPDATE 1 MARCH
Hey Hope Church
Yesterday was a wonderful, sunny and glorious day as we entered the final day of February. The sun was intense and shining brightly for all to see. It reminded me of the call to Arise and Shine, and to shine with an intensity that comes from knowing we are loved, have a place with each other and from the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. As we continue in our Arise and Shine series, please continue to pray for God to inspire, teach and grow his people as we step up and step out together. We desire all people to know their place before a loving God, who calls each of us into his ministry for the purposes of seeing his name glorified.
I wanted to give you an update as to what is happening with our response re: COVID. As you have probably heard in the last couple of days, this continues to fluctuate and we are moving when, and as, required. I also want to acknowledge your patience as we have been working through this and trying to be as proactive as possible without being too reactive to the predictions that have come our way. So, see below regarding the latest updates:
- Site Teams: We have decided it is prudent to prevent intermingling between the staff at each of the sites to minimise the risk and provide redundancy in the case that one of our team members becomes unwell or needs to isolate. This looks like the following:
Hornby Site has been divided into 2 teams, West Melton site is one team and the Rolleston site is one team. While this is not ideal, we are just simply wanting to limit interactions across site teams to provide contingency options to support our in-person ministries and weekend services and to look out for you.
- Online service: We have made a subtle change to the online service with a focus on it being a Hope Network service. If you join us online, you may notice some slight changes as we adopt that perspective.
- Weekend Services: We are continuing to offer both passport and open options at all sites. Each site is ensuring we continue to meet the needs of the people at each site as best we can.
- Isolating: We are aware of a few people who are isolating to assist in limiting the spread of COVID, while others are in isolation because of being a close contact or having caught Omicron. We have people who have offered to assist others as needed, so please let us know if we can make a connection for you to assist. To aid this, we have created an Isolation assessment form which you can access by clicking here. Let us know how we can practically assist you at this time.
Also, the Elders of Hope – at all sites – recognize the massive demands COVID has had – and continues to have – on everyone. Be assured of their prayerful and practical support for the ministry team and for you also. Alongside this I pray that even in these times when the outworking of decisions means different things for different people that we can remain united and “tight”, knowing that God is our refuge and “ever-present help in times of trouble”.
If you have any questions or concerns, then please reach out to your site team.
UPDATE 23 JANUARY
Hey Hope Church
Over the last couple of days we gathered together in services at all our sites for the first time in 2022. Across the board the feedback from the teams has been the joy that was felt as we worshipped together again as a body of Christ – it was special, it was a privilege, and it was inspiring as we started our 3 weeks of prayer series called Dangerous Prayers. I would strongly encourage you to jump online and check out the message from today’s Dangerous Prayer sermon “Speak to Me…”
I was at the Rolleston site this morning and as I turned on the phone while stepping into the car I was greeted with 20 odd texts informing me about the change to Traffic Light Red. My first response was thankfulness to God. Thankful that we were able to meet together at our sites over the weekend at both Saturday night and Sunday services. Thankful that we got together to hear the same message establishing where God is leading us. Thankful that we could lift our voices together in worship of a God who knows, who sees and who cares for his people.
We are all aware that the Traffic Light Red setting means that there are increased restrictions for gatherings. I just wanted to simply let you know that we are working and firming up our plans. We have learnt that often it is in the next couple of days following an announcement like we have had today that more clarity is given. So while we have draft plans in place we just want to see if any further clarity is forthcoming and we will update you on Tuesday. We also realise that for some people this is going to have an impact for you in your work place, business, study etc. Please reach out to your site teams to let them know so they can support you.
In the meantime….remember we have set up the next 3 weeks as a period of prayer. So take the learnings from today, take the messages that God was speaking to you, take the dangerous prayer of Speak to Me and if you are willing – pray that prayer and begin the process of outworking God’s leading in your life.
As I finish, I strongly encourage you to download the 3 weeks of prayer bookmark and the cell phone wallpaper off our website (https://hopechurch.net.nz/3-weeks-of-prayer/) so you can be reminded to pray every time you open your phone.
Remember 1 Thessalonians 5 says….”In everything give thanks”, not FOR everything, but IN everything. So as I close I once again want to thank the Lord for what he did in my life, your life and the life of our people as we gathered this weekend and we look forward to what he is going to do in the days to come.
Blessings and talk soon
UPDATE 2 DECEMBER
HOPE PRESBYTERIAN AND THE TRAFFIC LIGHT SYSTEM:
Please download our document for a detailed plan around services going forward into December and January.
Hi church –
We have just heard the news that all of the South Island will enter the Covid Protection Framework at the orange setting this Friday, 3rd December. While the government has given some guidelines around what this means on a larger scale, we still have a few decisions to make as a church. For this reason, the Church Council will be meeting this week. We know you will have questions and we will work to answer these as quickly as possible.
For now, we ask that you follow the advice offered in 1 Thessalonians 5, to “pray without ceasing”. Pray for wisdom and discernment for the council, for the leadership of the church and for our government.
Special note regarding the opening of our new West Melton Building:
We will go ahead with the Walkthrough on Saturday 4th December 11.30am to 2pm.
The formal opening that was to start at 10am has been postponed to next year, February 2022.
Blessings and we will talk soon,
Interim Senior Pastor
UPDATE 26 NOVEMBER
Hi Hope Church
A couple of weeks back I managed a quick trip to the West Coast with dad to engage in some whitebaiting. While the whitebait was scarce, the beauty of the scenery and the reminder of God’s creative and sovereign hand was all around us. We even had the blessing of a little caving trip into the limestone caves behind Charleston….well worth it if you get the opportunity.
On one of the still, crisp and clear mornings, I heard dad talking. I went over to see what he wanted….”nothing, I was just praising God for this beautiful scenery” was his reply. As I reflected on that, I was reminded of the bible’s instruction to “Praise the Lord”, whether we are:
- On the West Coast and the whitebait is scarce,
- In a cave like King David as he hid from Saul
- Reflecting on God’s faithfulness and steadfast love at the end of another interesting year
- Or. like Paul and Silas, imprisoned and in chains.
While David was in the cave hiding out, he penned these wonderful words in Psalm 57: “I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.”
There is a determination for David to praise the Lord….to rave and boast about who he is. And so, even during a year where things might not have gone according to plan, we invite you to take the opportunity to simply “Praise – boast, rave, celebrate – God”, for who he is and that he is faithful to his word and to us at all times and together we will do this at our celebration service at each site on the 28th of November as we ‘Seek first the Kingdom of God” – but especially today we praise God that the council Code of Compliance came through for the West Melton build!
I also want to say ‘thank you’ for all those that were able to complete our short survey. We appreciated the response and feedback, and we will digest this information as we chart our way forward. However, from the over 430 surveys completed, key themes that were identified included:
- A continued desire to gather in services.
- There was a clear message communicated that you desired energy to be put into Sunday Services, growth groups and online services.
- We thank you for the suggestions about how we can serve people better with our online service and we will work towards those.
- There was a desire for an in-person conversation so we have been making these available at all sites.
- There was little difference between people’s preferences for attending a passport service versus an open service. This does provide us with a unique opportunity to serve the needs of the people and we will be looking at how best we can do that alongside serving people with online services and connections.
- We received valuable feedback on how we can develop and increase the value of our growth groups at Hope.
For those that requested contact we will step into that this week…however, as a little heads up a number of people requested contact but forgot to give us their details – so please reach out if you have not been contacted by the end of the week.
We also have set up a reference group to support us with medical, legal and health and safety expertise as we identify what the changing environment looks like as we move to the traffic light system. We continue to work with the PCANZ as they provide input, too.
We continue to encourage you to reach out to those in your groups and especially if you have missed seeing someone in particular. We encourage you to simply pick up the phone and reach out. It is a wonderful thing to bring that blessing of showing care and concern into someone’s life….so who can you bless today by simply reaching out?
Once again, thanks for your prayers and we look forward to praising God together again this weekend.
Interim Senior Pastor
25th October 2021
Kia ora koutou
I want to give you a brief follow-up on the Government’s announcement today, about the revised approach to managing COVID-19. If you missed the announcement please check the Government’s Unite against COVID-19 website.
In summary, the new COVID-19 Protection Framework will be introduced once 90% of eligible New Zealanders are fully vaccinated.
The framework has two main parts:
1. A new traffic light system that will replace the current Alert Levels.
2. A focus on vaccinations and vaccination certificates. The certificates will be a key part of the new system, and will enable businesses and the public to have more freedom across all three levels: Green, Orange and Red.
We have supported and complied with the government’s requirements relating to COVID-19 to date and we have been working in the background over recent days looking at what any changes might mean for our sites, our people, our kaimahi (ministry team) and community.
We’re also staying connected to other churches and the national church to ensure any decisions we make are aligned and God honouring and we are awaiting further information and updates from the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ) on some on these matter.
We will continue to work on what this latest announcement means for us all, and keep you informed, and we want to affirm that we remain dedicated to looking after the needs of our church community. In the meantime, if you have any questions please talk to your local leaders or Site Pastors.
Interim Senior Pastor