COVID-19 & Tasmania

17 March 2020 by Wes Bredenhof

A lot has been said by other Christian commentators about the corona virus.  I don’t think there’s really anything I can add that hasn’t already been said.  As Christians, we confess God’s providence over all things big and small, including viruses.  We trust God’s power and can therefore consider the situation with a measure of calm.

Rather than offer any further theological reflections, let me just share where things are at here in Tasmania.  As you may know, Tasmania is Australia’s smallest state, an island just off the south-east coast.  The virus is here.  As of today, there are seven cases.  That might sound like a drop in the bucket, but you need to remember that Tasmania only has about 500,000 residents.  So, as far as cases per 100,000 go, Tasmania is thus far the third-hardest hit state in Australia.  Only New South Wales and Queensland have more on a per-100,000 basis.  The state government has announced today that they’re declaring a public health emergency.  It seems things will get worse before they get better.

In the stores, panic-buying and hoarding are evident.  As in other places, toilet paper is hard to find.  But so is long-life milk, bread, canned soup, soap, hand sanitizer, and even toothpaste.

At the moment, our church is still planning to worship twice this coming Sunday.  However, we will be implementing the following changes:

  • No liturgy sheets — we have a projector and screen where the order of worship is normally shown anyway.
  • We’ll have door collections instead of passing around the collection bag during the service.
  • The creche/church nursery will be closed.
  • We normally have a coffee social after every morning service — this is suspended.
  • The congregation is advised against handshakes and hugs.  No unnecessary touching.

Our church leadership is monitoring the advice of health authorities and more changes may be implemented in the next few days or weeks.  We’ve also advised our congregation members with regard to health and social distancing.

It’s a rapidly evolving situation.  We watch and pray.  And we remember: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore, we will not fear though the earth gives way…”  (Psalm 46:1,2)