26/07/2020

Hi Church,

This week we gather physically and online, with it being the first time in four months (wow – where did that go!) for us to open our church doors again. Thank you to those who have registered and will be attending this weekend.

To be honest with you – I am probably somewhat still hesitant about meeting physically again, but thankful for our church’s leaders and volunteers who are working to ensure that as we gather we will do so ensuring that we keep everyone safe, and even more importantly, our community safe.

I don’t think we anyone has appreciated what has happened in Victoria over the past weeks, as we see this ridiculously contagious virus spread, and more people die – but it has highlighted how vulnerable any of us, individually and as a community, are, and our responsibility to each other to ensure ongoing safety and health.

We are blessed this week to be able to continue our online services, and look forward to people joining us again in this way, and please do not feel under any obligation to join us physically – especially if you are over the age of 70, or 65 with underlying health concerns as per our governments health advice.

To ensure a great experience for our online worshippers, we are looking out for further volunteers in this great area of ministry, as we seek to reach out to more people with the good news of Jesus. So if you are able, and have a calling and desire to help in this way, please let us know!

The coming weeks and months ahead are going to look anything but ‘normal’, and even as we gather together, it is not going to be ‘worship as usual’, but as we have found as we have gathered together online for the past four months – we can adapt, and the Holy Spirit can still speak to us through his word, no matter what worship looks like, or feels like or sounds like – even if it is a bit different.

So as we gather together in corporate worship – virtually and physically this weekend, I trust and pray that you will still have the opportunity to be served by God through His Word for you.

In His service,
Pastor Ben Hentschke

19/07/2020

Hi Church,

Because Queensland has had such a positive health response to the gradual easing of COVID restrictions, they have been able to kick-start our social recovery and ease those restrictions sooner than expected.

This means, that of Sunday 26th July, 2020, our Places of Worship (Bethany, Grace, St. John’s) will be able to welcome our community to worship onsite, face-to-face in our worship centres.

To ensure the health of our state, each other, and our community, when we gather together again, there will be some restrictions in place in accordance with our following of the Industry COVID Safe Plan for Places of Worship in Queensland.

This includes:
•    Physical Distancing (1.5m between household groups)
•    Hand Hygiene (Washing hands or using alcohol based sanitiser)
•    Respiratory Hygiene (Coughing or sneezing into elbow)
•    Contact Tracing (Members will need to sign-in prior to the service)
•    Frequent environmental cleaning and disinfection.

Further to this, our industry plan asks that we inform you in line with Queensland Health Guidelines that the following vulnerable groups have heightened vulnerability of contracting COVID-19:
•    Queenslanders over 70 years of age
•    Queenslanders over 65 years of age with underlying health issues
•    Indigenous Queenslanders over the age of 50 with one or more chronic diseases.

One of the changes to our face-to-face worship time will be a reduction in the number of people that can be present during the service (in line with our industry plan).

To ensure that we do not have to turn people away when they arrive to a worship service (which will be held at the usual 8:00am St. John’s; 9:15am Bethany; 10:00am Grace), we ask that you please register you and your family members prior to attending. Registration can be done from 11am Monday morning prior to the following Sunday’s worship services by going to our website: www.ipswich.church; clicking on the large orange banner at the top, and then registering for each individual person from your family who is going to attend. If you do not have internet access, please phone the office 3202 4035 to register.

Each of our worship centres have established protocols to ensure the safety of you and our community in accordance with the industry plan, and you will be advised of these changes when you register.

If the service you normally attend is ‘full’, consider joining at a different worship centre, or alternatively, you can still join us online. We will continue to have online worship services at 7:30am; 9:00am; 10:30am and 4:30pm each Sunday for the immediate future. We strongly discourage people to arrive unannounced, as some people may have to unfortunately be turned away if we have reached our attendance limit.

When you arrive, as previously mentioned, you will need to sign-in prior to entering the worship centre. This is where the information you entered online will allow for a more efficient sign-in process.

By signing the form on arrival, you will be acknowledging that:
•    You do not have any symptoms associated with COVID-19 (e.g. Fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, sneezing/runny nose or loss of sense of smell)
•    You do not have COVID-19 nor are you awaiting the results from being tested for COVID-19
•    You have not been in contact with any known or suspected cases of COVID-19 in the past 14 days.
•    You have not returned or been in contact with anyone else who has returned, from overseas in the past 14 days.

We are very mindful of ensuring we are following all regulations and protocols to ensure that we provide a safe place for you to worship, but also to ensure we are able to continue to worship into the future as well, so we ask that you please respect and respond appropriately to all ushers and their instructions at all times.

I look forward to continuing to worship with you either online, or in-person as we continue as a community ‘to know Christ and to make Christ known’, in our community, in our city, and even around the world.


In His service,
Pastor Ben Hentschke

12/07/2020

Hi Church,

During this past week we ‘celebrated’ International Chocolate Day, and if you follow our church’s Facebook Page you possibly saw my story about the best chocolate I have ever eaten.

I am not normally a fan of food that has any sort of orange flavoured something in it. But a few years ago when Kelly and I were on our way to Mt. Everest Base Camp we had some Lindt Orange Chocolate given to us. We had just walked about a kilometre at an altitude higher than any point in Australia, and it was at a gradient which was 1m ‘up’ for every 3m ‘across’ (quite steep!). This 2 hour, 1km journey (Yes – that is a speed of 0.5km/h) was one of the most gruelling I had ever done (until the next day), and at the top, another man we were travelling with offered us a piece of this chocolate. Soo delicious, but it probably could have been anything, to be honest.

But I was reflecting on that journey, and how it was probably the most difficult thing that I have ever done, and yet that pales in significance when I compare it to the past 4 months that we have had as we have faced this COVID-19 pandemic.

And the best thing about the trek to Everest Base Camp is that there was an endpoint, and you got to a place where you could actually physically see it!

With this pandemic, it appears as the end is still not within our sights. We know what might bring about an end (a vaccine or treatment), and we can continue to pray for those people who are working on that, but until it comes, we continue to live in a time of waiting.

And the message of life and hope and salvation that Jesus gives to us can maybe be a little bit like that orange chocolate was to me. Something that I don’t normally love, became almost instantly palatable because of the situation I was in.

I encourage you to continue to share the message of Jesus with those who you are able to: your family, friends, neighbours, co-workers.


Maybe this COVID-19 Pandemic is something that God can use so that the message of life, forgiveness and salvation that we have in Jesus is received by those who previously have rejected it? As we read in Romans: How can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? (Romans 10:14)

I encourage you to be the one that tells them this week! Use this opportunity that God has placed in front of us to tell others about Him, so that we can continue to see His Kingdom grow.


In His service,
Pastor Ben Hentschke

05/07/2020

Dear church,

This week we had another wonderful announcement from our state government leaders about the easing of restrictions in various places and ways, but as you might have further heard, unfortunately there was no easing of restrictions for places of worship at this stage. 

Places of worship are still limited to a 20 person limit, or if we seek to adopt the COVID-Safe industry plan, we can have up to 100 persons, but requiring 7 square metres of space per person if we seek to have singing (to give you an idea – St. John’s would only be able to have 31 persons total). The plan also means that there can be no mingling pre or post service, and no morning tea.  

So, in order to foster community (because you can have more persons than is probably practical in your home!) I would like to encourage each of you to gather as you are able, and willing to, in groups (both small and large) to participate in our online worship services. 

Maybe you could reach out to someone who you know is only joining via the phone (which will still be continuing), so that they can see how much of a beard I have grown over this isolation period as you watch together. 😊 

Or gather with those people in your engage group, or your contact group, or invite a friend or neighbour or family member to join you. Maybe you will gather as a group of only a couple, or gather a few families, but as you do, please be mindful of the current government guidelines around physical distancing and continual hygiene for the safety of yourself and our wider community. 

Just because currently we are not gathering together as an physical community in our worship centres, does not make us any less the church, because the church is you and me, the people of God. Which is why we say we don’t ‘go’ to church, but we ‘are’ the church – you are the church! 

So over these coming weeks, I encourage you to continue to be the church, showing Jesus love and grace to those around you and following His call to love God, love others and go and make disciples! 

In time, we will be able to gather together, and I pray, when we do, be able to share stories of people that have come to know Jesus through the Holy Spirit working in and amongst His church (YOU). 


May God Bless you as you continue to be the church! 
Pastor Ben Hentschke