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COVID 19: CHURCH STATEMENT

Update: Tuesday 17th March 2020

In light of the recent announcements by the prime minister and the world health organisation, we have taken the decision as elders to cancel all church services until further notice.

Please be aware that we are putting contingency plans in place to continue to communicate with our church family on a corporate and personal level. We will be updating this website, our facebook page as well as continuing to make announcements via the church WhatsApp group.

We have launched the Covid 19 Task Team to serve our own church family and the community in Portadown / Craigavon while this situation continues.

A prayer schedule has been made available on the site here.

We will be announcing video messages and services etc will be streamed to keep you connected. More details will be announced in the next 24-48 hours.

Thank you for your understanding and continued support at this time.

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Update: Saturday 14th March 2020

As the situation re covid 19 unfolds daily in Northern Ireland, we want you to be aware that the leaders of OAC are acutely cognisant of developments. We have a duty of care to our congregation and church family. This statement seeks to address concerns, and outline steps we have put in place to enable as much ‘normality’ in church life as possible.

GENERALLY

1. Follow all public health guidance provided by state authorities – the Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland (www.publichealth.hscni.net) and the Health Protection Surveillance Centre in the Republic of Ireland (www.hpsc.ie).

2. Physical interaction during services, should be suspended.    Shaking hands on greeting and departure at church services/gatherings should be suspended.  Observe good hand and general hygiene – thorough hand–washing with soap or sanitisers and disposal of tissues. Hand sanitiser is provided in the entrance hall of the church.

3. Offering bags will not be passed around from hand to hand but will be available at the door as you arrive – and/or you can use the givt app. See below.

4. The doors will be held open for you to minimise your contact with any surfaces. Please use the sanitiser in the hall when you arrive and before leaving.

5. Chairs will be spaced further apart than normal. Tea will not be available before or after the service.

6. Stay at home if you feel ill and display influenza–like symptoms.  The symptoms to be aware of in the case of the coronavirus include cough, shortness of breath, difficulty in breathing, and fever.  Do not come to church services until you feel well.

7. Everyone preparing and serving Communion on our church rota should wash their hands or use alcohol–based hand gel before beginning.  Many churches are moving from chalice to small disposable cups as we currently use anyhow and only those preparing the bread (after hand washing) and those individuals partaking of the bread should have contact with the bread. There will be no communion served this week.

N.B. We will be keeping this under constant review and with advice from the PHA/HPSC

This statement has been collated in response to the “guidance for religious services” which has been provided by the PHA in Northern Ireland and the Health Protection Surveillance Centre in Ireland and is available at this link.

Any further guidance will be circulated as and when available.

MOVING FORWARD

We are committed to ensuring normality of church life in these challenging circumstances.

1. The Church’s duty of care extends to the pastor/elders.  If you have influenza–type symptoms, do not call for pastoral visitation.  Pastoral support for the church family who are unable to attend church services will be provided by telephone or online (e.g. Skype/Facetime etc)

2. Services streamed via Video.  We are working to make church services available via live video link on the church facebook page. This is intended, not to encourage non-attendance but is for anyone not able to physically attend the church service. Updates on this will be announced on this page, the website and in church services.

N.B. We don’t want to see this contribute to an empty church if unattendance is not absolutely necessary.

3. Giving and Supporting Financially. The GIVT app recently introduced could prove to be a vital lifeline for the church financially at this time. It allows anyone irrespective of being able to attend or not to continue supporting the church. Full details are here.

We are determined that for as long as possible OAC will be a haven of sanity, peace and hope in all of our lives in these times. We want to worship and hear from God. That does mean there will be changes to our routine. The situation in the country is very fluid and changing on an hour by hour and day by day basis.

Everything will be reviewed and decisions taken if we receive different advice from the authorities. We will keep you updated via our church website and via the church WhatsApp group. We want to see as many of you as possible on Sunday, but we will also fully understand and respect the decision some of you who are in good health may take to remain at home. If you are unwell in any way, please do not attend church.

We are endeavouring to be and do the best we can for our church family at this time. Please know we are praying for each of you, and we would ask that you join us in praying for each other, for our health professionals and for the businesses and jobs affected (some in our church family).

Pray for our government and their advisors at this time. Pray also for planned events (John Lawson, Action Cancer bus and Baptism service) which are all placed into uncertainty at this time. Finally, if you come to church this Sunday, you will hear a message of hope and encouragement. If you need anything or have worries, please don’t hesitate to let us know how we can help you. We are a family. Bless you OAC. Be safe and love you all. Psalm 86 v 11

This statement will be updated as and when necessary.

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