Below is a transcript of the information and reflection I shared in our livestream this evening. I trust you find this helpful and Iook forward to seeing you tomorrow for worship.
Yours in Christ,
Saturday Night Livestream Transcript
Well, good evening. We are broadcasting live from Buckna this evening. Let me welcome you to this special livestream event. This is our first livestream from our meetinghouse. We’re delighted that you are joining with us for it. We’re using this as something of a test before we meet together tomorrow.
You will know that our plan is to hold a live service in the meetinghouse and stream that online and to the church hall. We have recently installed a 4G mast to help us livestream. Thank you to the technical team who have been working behind the scenes to get it up and running and who are behind the camera this evening keeping things going.
The purpose of this livestream is to give you some information about what tomorrow will look like. I’m also going to share a short reflection from the Bible to close.
First of all, then, let me explain some of the practicalities of our service tomorrow. We’re very excited to be welcoming you back into our buildings. It has been over five months since we met together as a congregation. Some of you attended our epilogue services in August and, practically speaking, our weekly services will be very similar to those.
When you arrive, you will be greeted by a steward in the car park. They will direct you to a specific door depending on the size of your group. We plan to have certain areas for family groups and for those who come by themselves. The steward in the car park will direct you to a door at which point you will be greeted by another steward who will welcome you into the building and guide you to a seat.
You’ll have to sanitise your hands as you come in and make sure that you bring any personal belongings you have with you to your seat. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that you will be able to sit in your usual seat. We will, however, try and accommodate specific requests like sitting downstairs instead of upstairs because of medical issues. You may also find it helpful to bring your own Bible because we have removed all pew Bibles. Toilets will be open and available but we would ask that you only use those in case of an emergency.
We would encourage you to arrive early tomorrow morning but please be advised that doors will not open until 11.30am. They will not open earlier. The service will begin at the normal time of 12pm.
We would also ask that you come to the meetinghouse first, rather than going directly to the hall. We would like to fill the meetinghouse and then use the hall as an overflow. That said, however, we understand that parents with young children would prefer to go to the hall. Unless you have young children, though, please come to the meetinghouse first. That would be very helpful for us.
Let me just reassure those of you who have young children that our service will be shorter in length. Instead of being an hour, an hour and ten minutes, it will be in and around 40-45 minutes. There will be a children’s address and we have also produced activity sheets which you can print at home and bring with you. Those are available here.
Our 4G mast has provided us with varied internet speeds over the past couple of weeks. It is our hope that it will be stable enough for us tomorrow to stream the service online. If we experience technical difficulties and the livestream does not work we have taken some extra precautions. I have recorded a back-up service which can be played in the church hall. We are also going to record the service in the meetinghouse and upload this to Vimeo and the church website later in the afternoon.
This way of gathering together is different for us so please be patient with us if any technical issues arise. Please also pray that the technology works for us tomorrow.
As you will know, for our epilogue services in August we asked you to register beforehand. The reason for that was to test our buildings and to find out how many people we can accommodate with two metre social distancing measures in place. It is our estimation that the meetinghouse can hold 70 people and the church hall can hold 60.
In the unfortunate case of both venues being full, we may be required to ask you to return home. That is obviously a very strange thing for us to ask but please be aware that it may happen.
Pre-registration also provided us with details for contact tracing should there be an outbreak of Covid-19 in our buildings. To help us with contact tracing, I am going to take a photo of each section of our meetinghouse and a steward in the hall will take a photo there. This will provide us with clear evidence of who was in our buildings and where they were sitting.
I appreciate that some of you might be slightly apprehensive about this but please be assured that these photos will not be shared with anyone else or anywhere else. I will keep them securely for three weeks and then they will be deleted.
These photographs will help us in the case of an outbreak of Covid in our buildings. One of the questions that I have been asked over recent days is: what if someone comes to church and a couple of days tests positive for Covid. Will everyone who was in the building have to self-isolate.
Let me say very clearly, it is my understanding that that is not the case. The photos I will take will help us see where everyone was sitting and will help us to highlight people who were sitting near the person who tested positive. In the unfortunate case of someone testing positive for Covid following one of our services, we will inform all those who attended but you may not be asked to self-isolate. It would be very helpful if you installed the StopCOVID NI app on your smartphone. That, above all, would help with contact tracing. I hope that explanation is clear and helpful for you.
In preparing for the restart of weekly services in our buildings we have aimed to make our facilities as safe as possible. We would appreciate your help in regards to hand washing and social distancing as well. Let me also remind you that the Presbyterian Church in Ireland has strongly recommended wearing a face covering during church services.
I appreciate that some of you might find this difficult. In these days, however, it is important that we take as many precautions of possible to stop the spread of this virus and an outbreak happening in our church buildings. With that in mind let me strongly recommend that you consider wearing a face covering tomorrow. If you do not have a face covering, we will have a supply of them at all doors tomorrow.
We would also ask that you do not attend worship if:
- You feel generally unwell or are displaying symptoms of Covid-19.
- You have been diagnosed with a confirmed or suspected Covid-19 infection in the previous 24 hours.
- You are aware that you have been in close contact with a person who has a confirmed or suspected Covid-19 infection in the previous fortnight.
I hope that all the information I have just provided is helpful for you and puts you at ease ahead of our service tomorrow. I appreciate that I have shared a lot of detail with you and to help you remember it I have posted a transcript of what I have said on the church website. I’ll post that into the church WhatsApp group at the end of this livestream.
But before we finish tonight, I want to leave you with a short reflection from the Bible. It’s something of a broad overview of what we have learned from the Scriptures as a church family during lockdown.
In our online services since March we have studied the book of Ecclesiastes and 2 Timothy. I believe that these have been very appropriate parts of the Bible for us to study and consider. And broadly speaking, our studies in them have taught us the following.
In Ecclesiastes, we were reminded that there is a time for everything under the sun but that life only makes sense when we trust in the Son – the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. There is a time to be born and a time to die. There is time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing. There has been a time to stay at home. Now we are heading into a time when we can move around more freely. We’re in a time when we can go back to church.
And as we return to worship the Lord together, we return remembering His kindness to us. First of all, through what He has done through His Son, Jesus, who died the death that we deserved on the cross all so that we might know Him.
But secondly, through how He has kept us and preserved us throughout this pandemic. And of how He continues to do so. In 2 Timothy 4:17, the Apostle Paul writes: “But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it.”
We could so easily say those words as well. The Lord has stood by us and strengthened as individuals and as a church family. But He has also made it possible for the message to continue to be proclaimed so that those who don’t know Jesus might come to know Him.
These lessons from lockdown should fill our hearts and give us confidence as tomorrow comes. Life only makes sense when we’re trusting in Jesus and when we do that, He keeps us and preserves us and strengthens. And incredibly, in our weakness, He promises to use us to fulfil His purposes in a broken and needy world.
This is the God that we come to worship tomorrow. I for one cannot wait. I hope that you have the same expectancy in your heart. Please pray for all the practicalities of our service tomorrow. But pray especially that we would meet with God as He speaks to us through His Word. That we would know more of Jesus, the One who has come among us to save us.