Updated Sunday 22 March, 9:30pm
Public worship and all Cathedral study and teaching programs will be delivered exclusively via livestream from Monday, 23 March 2020, the Dean of Melbourne, Dr Andreas Loewe, informed members of the Cathedral community on Saturday, 21 March. From Monday, 23 March, the Cathedral Office and Anglican Centre will also be closed to members of the public.
‘This morning, the Cathedral’s governing body, the Chapter, resolved to suspend all public worship from next Monday until further notice’, Dean Andreas said. ‘We are putting these far-reaching measures in place in order to enable our visitors and worshippers to isolate and so reduce the risk and speed of infection through Covid-19.’
The Cathedral will close as a place of private prayer at midday on Monday, 23 March, the Dean said: ‘In line with the mandate of the national cabinet on Sunday night, we will be closing to members of the general public on Monday lunchtime. We will continue to reach out to the people of our city and province through our live-streamed worship’.
Dean Andreas explained that, as long as feasible, live-streamed daily worship would be led by members of the Cathedral clergy, joined in Holy Week by the Archbishop, assisted by the Cathedral’s team of lay and music ministers. Services would be streamed via the Cathedral’s social media channels.
Dean Andreas said that the Cathedral would now deliver its programs, including social programs, via Zoom: ‘Members will be able to join our study groups and even social groups via Zoom. We will be spending the next week making sure that all our members – especially those who have little or no experience of video-conferencing, are able to join in our activities, so that they can continue to meet – even though we will be unable to meet in person’.
Dean Andreas urged members of the Cathedral community to continue sharing in worship through the Cathedral live-stream. ‘This is emergency distance worship’, the Dean said: ‘but at every stage of the Christian church there have been crisis points when people were unable to meet in person for whatever reasons. As Christians we believe that we are made members of one another and of Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit. It does not matter how we meet together for worship – in person or online – as long as we continue to worship together’.
The Cathedral invites all to share in prayer, and for members to share their own prayer points with the Cathedral’s clergy via email. ‘Wherever we are united in prayer, we are in fact meeting’, the Dean said. ‘Please join us in praying for healing, protection, and for those delivering essential services, especially medical professionals and researchers, at this time’.
The following prayer has been used at St Paul’s Cathedral Melbourne during the Covid-19 pandemic:
Lord Jesus Christ,
Great physician and healer of souls, now give us your peace:
protect those working with the sick and infected,
enable researchers and laboratory staff as they seek and test a cure,
grant swift and complete healing to those infected,
calm the hearts of those fearing the impact of the pandemic on their own lives,
give your wisdom to leaders of nations and organisations
as they make plans for the people in their care,
be present with all who are lonely and isolated,
comfort those who are dying and those who mourn loved ones.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit enable us
to know you, love you, and place our trust in you,
the God who heals and restores life, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.