The Archbishops and Bishops of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia have together made the decision to suspend all public services of worship until further notice.
This suspension will take effect following those services being held this coming Sunday 22 March.
Those parishes that regularly have congregations of more than 100 are already making arrangements to ensure that Government guidelines and regulations are met. Assistance will be offered by each Hui Amorangi and Diocese to those parishes holding services this Sunday to ensure their people gather in smaller groups with appropriate social distancing.
We wish to stress to our priests and leaders that all current Church and Government requirements about the conducting of services must be strictly observed.
We have made this decision prayerfully and with a sense of abundant caution and care for our people.
We know that the Church is more than just the buildings that we worship in. The Church is made up of believers who pray for others, care for others, serve others, love one another, and love their neighbours as Christ taught them.
We ask our people to continue to pray and serve wherever they may be. We encourage them to care for their communities and ensure that the most vulnerable are regularly checked on and supported.
Plans for online worship services are under way and will be widely publicised by each Diocese. Bishops commend to all Anglicans and all people of good will the call of the Archbishop of Canterbury to join in a world-wide action of prayer.
At 7pm local time on Sunday 22 and at 7pm every Sunday that worship services are suspended, please light a candle in your home and pray with and for others.
Pray for your families, your neighbours, our country, and those ill with the virus. Pray for our health professionals and all those on the frontline who are working tirelessly to care for our community. Pray for the lonely and the frightened. Pray for the courage and grace to be a comfort and a light to the world.
“I roto i te pōuri te mārama e whiti ana; heoi kihai i mau i te pōuri / The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.” John 1:5
Church leaders planning for this Sunday can find updated Covid-19 pandemic response advice here from the Diocese of Dunedin and the Diocese of Christchurch